Steelhead Outing on the Rogue River

I took Thursday of last week off and headed out early with my brother and dad to the Rogue for a full day of steelhead fishing.

I was excited because I hadn’t put a full day in on the river in a long time. I’ve been fishing all season, but mostly from the bank for an hour or two. I haven’t put in a whole day of hard fishing for quite a while. I was stoked and excited at the proposition of getting into some steelies.

The fishing reports from the previous week were all positive, with many anglers seeing 7 and 8 fish days.

We met up at Touvelle park and headed upstream to Dodge bridge. There were a few other trailers at the put-in but the pressure looked  fairly light. It was cold and the river seemed a little off-color, but we were confident.

My brother has a drift boat that has a casting station behind the rower and in front. It’s a sweet setup, perfect for two fly fisherman to cover a lot of water. Cover a lot of water we did, but by midday we still hadn’t touched a steelhead. The water looked perfect, and we skillfully plied the waters but we found no fish.

My brother introduced me to a new indicator, the thingamabobber. It’s an air-filled ball that you attach to your leader. I really like this thing, it is much lighter and easier to cast than the indicators I was used to. The indicators are brightly colored so seeing them is a breeze as well. The bright colored balls brought up some funny conversations though, (ie. Pulp fiction, red ball in Bruce willis’ mouth).

We pulled over, ate some lunch and popped a few beers. We hoped the brew would turn the fish gods to our favor, but it wasn’t meant to be. We tried different flies, different indicator lengths anything we could think of but nothing worked. The fish simply weren’t biting.

My brother theorized that the previous evening had been the coldest of the year, dropping down into the low 20s. He figured this must have dropped the temperature of the water slightly and put the fish off. It was as good an excuse as any, but I couldn’t help but think we were doing something wrong. After all we’d been getting such glowing fish reports.

As it got dark we pulled into the takeout…fishless. We were quiet, I was thinking that instead of fishing for the remainder of my days off, I’d head to the marsh for some duck hunting. I knew i’d at least get some shooting.

A few days later I went to a chili cookoff party and saw a buddy of mine who steelhead fishes a lot. I told him of my fruitless fishing day. I was expecting him to pick apart my methods and shake his head in wonder as to how someone could fish all day and not touch the abundant steelhead, but instead he informed me that he heard Thursday was the worst day of fishing thus far. He had many guide friends on the river that day and not a single person had hooked up.

Thank goodness it wasn’t the other way around. I’d have had to hang up my rod for good. Oh well, it was a beautiful day and fishing with my bro and dad is always a treat.

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