The Fish Sniffer - A Trip to The Big K Guest Ranch Produces Shad, a Wide Open Smallmouth Bass Bite and Life Long Memori
A Trip to The Big K Guest Ranch Produces Shad, a Wide Open Smallmouth Bass Bite and Life Long Memori

Written By: Ernie Marlan, June 21, 2014
Species: Bass Shad
Location: Umpqua River,

A Trip to The Big K Guest Ranch Produces Shad, a Wide Open Smallmouth Bass Bite and Life Long Memori
A Trip to The Big K Guest Ranch Produces Shad, a Wide Open Smallmouth Bass Bite and Life Long Memori A Trip to The Big K Guest Ranch Produces Shad, a Wide Open Smallmouth Bass Bite and Life Long Memori

When friends and family ask me how my trip to the The Big K Guest Ranch was, I have a feeling they expect me to respond specifically about my fishing experience. However, when I talk about The Big K, it does something else for me which is more than just fishing.  

The amazing experience starts with about a three mile drive from the main highway down the dirt road to The Big K. The relaxing drive, in my mind, symbolizes leaving reality and the rat race many of us get caught up in with our day to day activities and making the trek to a place which offers an opportunity to slow down, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and some quality time outdoors.

 Some of the scenery included bald and golden eagles soaring in the blue sky, pheasants and wild turkeys walking out in the open, deer and their little fawns hiding in the brush, elk often times crossing the road right in front of you, and occasionally a bear or two drinking water from the river. All of this allows one to breathe the ultimate breath of fresh air.

After explaining and trying to give the beautiful scenery, landscape and wildlife justice to my friends and family, I then explain how The Big K does everything to perfection.

From the delicious made to order breakfast in the morning before the fishing trips, the tasty lunch on the boat while enjoying the beautiful Umpqua river, and finally to the flavorful dinners and desserts shortly after arriving back to the lodge after a full day of fishing. The perfection also includes the onsite staff at The Big K. Everyone there was helpful, friendly and they all had their own stories to tell.

Only after I explain all of this can I talk about how good the fishing on this particular stretch of the Umpqua River is. The river is loaded with smallmouth bass. Combine the abundance of fish with the New Bait Ball Series of baits by Live Target and you end up catching 50-100+ per person, per day!  

The baits of choice for me on this specific trip were the Emerald Shiner jerkbait in pearl/flesh color combined with 8 lb test fluorocarbon by GAMMA. We also caught fish on the Glass Minnow popper and Threadfin Shad crankbait, all of which are in the Bait Ball Series by Live Target.  

My wife, Kim and I also spent a few hours targeting shad which produced many fish for the short amount of time we spent fishing for them. We had plenty of double hookups which produced several larger sized shad.

Our guide, Todd Harrington, made sure to put us on both the shad as well as smallmouth bass on many different locations on the scenic river. Kim had never caught a shad and was very impressed with their aerial display and power once they were hooked.  

Not only was my wife impressed with the fishing experience, she was also excited about some of the other activities The Big K offers. Kim was able to go on a 2 hour horse ride around the Big K property. Now, I’m not a rider myself, but from what Kim told me, her ride was one of the most wonderful experiences she has had while on vacation.

She and her riding companions were guided up the trails to the top of the mountain where they overlooked the beautiful landscape and the gorgeous Umpqua River. They rode up and around the trails, under the majestic trees and back down into the valley on the other side. At various times throughout the ride, her guide would point to plants, trees and flowers along the trail naming them and what they were used for.  

We also spent an evening or two sitting on the back porch watching the bald eagles overhead, overlooking the hills and watching the stars slowly appear. We had good conversations and sparked friendships with other people staying at The Big K whom we would most likely never have met elsewhere. That’s another wonderful thing about staying in their spacious cabins, you can choose to keep to yourself, or you can strike up a conversation with others. Either way, you’re sure to have a wonderful experience.

In addition to my wife, I was also accompanied by several loyal readers and contributors to The Fish Sniffer on this trip. Aside from the horseback riding, the stories they shared and their experiences were very similar to ours. We all had an incredible adventure. When the time came to pack up and head home, every one of us said we’d be back and asked about the dates for the trip next year.  

If you want to learn more about The Big K and have your own adventure, you can find them on the web at or give them a call at (800) 390-2445. Also be on the lookout in the coming months for the dates for the trip to The Big K Guest Ranch in 2015. 


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