July 18, 2017
Nonfiction | Nature Writing | Rivers | Fish
[youtube width=”325″ height=”183″]https://youtu.be/HKxhGyM2ysI[/youtube]
Lee Spencer (SW Oregon)
Author of A Temporary Refuge
ABOUT THE BOOK
Every May to December, Lee Spencer camps next to a deep pool along the North Umpqua’s Steamboat Creek in Oregon. He’s been going there for 17 years, many of those years with his companion, a herding dog named Sis. Their explicit job is to protect the 400 to 800 cherished wild summer steelhead that come up from the Pacific to spawn in Big Bend Pool from poachers who had been known to dynamite the pool to create a massive kill. His implicit calling is to observe and record the web of life that nurtures the pool and its surroundings and inhabitants.
A Temporary Refuge is a distillation of 14 seasons of Spencer’s detailed observations of Big Bend Pool, capturing natural history teeming with fish, water, vegetation, birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians, seasonal changes, interesting events and stories, and the companionship of his “good dog” Sis, a fellow keen observer.
- Writing about Natural History: Lee Spencer as a modern-day Thoreau
- A Man and His Dog: Lee Spencer and Sis, who spent 10 seasons at Big Bend Pool with Spencer
- Closed to angling since 1932, the North Umpqua is known as a “finishing school” of steelhead fly fishing
- Spencer cuts the points off the hooks on his flies (riffle-hitched moose-hair muddlers) so as to not pierce and tear the skin of a steelhead’s mouth
- Steelhead live at 57 F or below – as climate change continues to reduce snowpack, Big Bend Pool and the other cold-water pockets on Steamboat Creek become even more important
- Hatchery fish and the multitude of threats they pose to wild fish
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lee Spencer is the FishWatch caretaker at the Big Bend Pool of Steamboat Creek. From May to December of each year, he watches over the remote pool and the summer steelhead that gather there. He lives on site in a trailer provided by the North Umpqua Foundation. He has no phone, email, or internet access, but occasionally drives back to civilization for supplies. Spencer has lived at the pool for over 17 years, which has given him the chance to study the fish and other wild animals that come there. In addition to his duties of educating visitors and deterring would-be poachers, he takes careful notes about his observations for field research, which are often used by biologists and employees of the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Spencer was featured in the documentary “DamNation.” (Patagonia, 2014).