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Fall Boating in Oregon
Wickiup Sunset
Each Season Has Its Pleasures and Problems
For many boaters, the boating season ends on Labor Day. For others, this is only the beginning. There are many advantages to fall boating:
  • Great fishing: Trout, bass and other popular game fish become more active in the fall, gorging for the dormant winter months. Salmon are busy returning to their natal streams, and crab are entering Oregon's bays in large numbers, too. Fishing can be excellent!
  • Beautiful scenery: Many of Oregon's rivers and lakes are lined with deciduous trees which begin changing color in mid-September or early October depending on the weather.
  • Abundant wildlife: Wildlife becomes more active in the fall as animals prepare for winter.
  • Lighter crowds: Camping is plentiful, boat ramps are generally uncrowded and the waterways are more open.
However, each season brings with it unique issues:
  • Low water: Fall is typically a low-water time for Oregon's reservoirs and rivers. Reservoirs have been drawn on during the summer for irrigation and power generation, exposing rocks, gravel bars, stumps and other hazards. Some rivers become impossible to navigate by propeller-driven boats and may even be dangerous for jet-powered boats. Navigate with extreme caution - check here for links to current conditions.
  • Fewer people: Fall is great if you like solitude, but if you have equipment problems or become grounded, getting help is more difficult.
  • Storms: September is one of the nicest months of the year in Oregon, but about mid-October, the first storms of the winter bear down on Oregon. These can be major events. In a matter of several hours, a severe thunderstorm can swell a river making it dangerous to navigate. Also, expect cold (even freezing) morning and evening temperatures on Cascade Mountain lakes and reservoirs and on water bodies east of the Cascades. As always, be aware of the weather and watch river conditions carefully.
  • Hypothermia: Waters of the state begin to cool in September and become downright cold in October, right along with the weather. Dress appropriately and carry a good coat. A good life jacket provides warmth, too.