Fly-fishing documentary is a winner for Atkinson

An in-production, full-length documentary by former state Sen. Jason Atkinson is gaining some early love in the fly-fishing world.

A three-minute trailer for "A River Between Us" garnered two awards and earned a showing last weekend at the Fly Fishing Film Tour during its stop in Portland.

The trailer won Best Documentary and Best in Show awards, Atkinson says.

The movie, which is still being shot, is about the various people and interests on both the Oregon and California sides of the Klamath River, which is mired in fights over water allocations, potential dam removals, drought and protected wild fish.

The documentary addresses many of the political issues, but it focuses more on the people who live along the storied stream, including those who cast flies for its fish.

"It's a long and complicated story that most people don't know," he says.

Atkinson's family has owned a cabin on the Klamath for five generations, and family members have long fly-fished the river.

Atkinson began working on the documentary about 18 months ago and he expects to finish the film this summer. It would hit the fly-fishing circuit and other film festivals in early fall.

Atkinson expects a local showing here, as well.

"This has been one of the greatest adventures I've ever been on," Atkinson says.

Since stepping away from politics, the 43-year-old Atkinson also has written a book — due out this spring — about "people who feel left out of conservation," he says.

It didn't take long for winter steelhead to move through the Applegate River system once the rains came.

Cole Rivers Hatchery workers collected seven winter steelhead Wednesday in the trap at the base of Applegate Dam, the third-earliest showing of steelhead there in the past decade.

The only earlier steelhead collections at the trap were Feb. 14, 2006, and Feb. 17, two years ago.

Most years, the first steelhead don't make it to the trap until mid-March, hatchery records show.

The river's run of hatchery fish are bred from those captured at the trap. They are spawned and reared at Cole Rivers Hatchery before they are released near the trap.

The Applegate is open for winter steelhead fishing through March, but there is no angling from a floating device and all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

Bear hunters can now go online to learn whether they were successful in drawing a tag for controlled spring bear hunts in Oregon.

That doesn't apply to those hunting bears in the first-come, first-served Southwest Oregon spring bear hunt. All 4,000 of those tags already have sold out, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This year the agency will not send notification cards to controlled-hunt applicants to inform them about whether they drew a tag, says Michelle Dennehy, the ODFW's Wildlife Division administrator.

But those who applied can learn of their success, or lack thereof, through the license website at They can also call 1-800-708-1782.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or

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