The Umpqua river starts in the North East part of Roseburg, Oregon and flows to Winchester bay, Oregon. This river has huge runs of salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and small mouth bass. During December-March Randy Wells guides this river for winter steelhead.

There is vast history to this amazing area of Southern Oregon. In the early 19th century the river valley was largely inhabited by the Coquille tribe of Native Americans. The tribe ceded most of its land to the U.S. government in the 1854 Treaty with the Umpqua and Kalapuya, agreeing to move to a reservation in Lincoln County as part of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz. The river itself is named for the Umpqua, a band of the Coquille.

The Umpqua River valley was inhabited by several different bands of Indians: primarily the Athabaskan-speaking Upper Umpqua, Takelman speaking Cow Creek Band of Umpqua, the Yoncalla (a Kalapuyan people) in the north, and the Quich (Lower Umpqua) from Scottsburg/Wells Creek to the coast. The Quich spoke a language distantly related to Alsea/Yakonan and the Coos Bay languages.

In the Great Flood of 1862, the Umpqua River had the largest flood known to all of the area’s Indians at the time, and water was 10 to 15 feet higher than the 1853 flood. It rose from November 3 to December 3, subsided for two days then rose again until December 9. At Fort Umpqua, communication up river was cut off above Scottsburg, and the river was full of floating houses, barns, rails and produce. At Port Orford, the Coquille River swept away settlers’ property. Great damage also occurred on the Rogue River and on other small streams.

The main Umpqua is known for large numbers of native winter steelhead, however, catching a hatchery is very difficult. You are allowed to keep two hatchry fish and zero native fish on the main Umpqua. The South Umpqua has the largest run of hatchery fish while only about 6% are hatchery fish on the North Umpqua. With 30,000-40,000 steelhead expected to return to the Umpqua river system in 2014, this river is one to hit. Peek season starts in mid-January and goes until mid-Febuary.