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). Continue reading Steelhead Outing on the Rogue River→
The Rogue river is famous for Steelhead fishing. It has good-sized runs of both summer and winter steelhead.
The best months to steelhead fish on the Rogue are September, October and November. During these months there are both late summer steelhead and early winter steelhead.
During the month of October, most of the Rogue is fly fishing only. This means steelhead can only be fished with artificial lures, this means no bait, and no weights.
The most productive method for catching steelhead is to nymph fish. Dragging streamer flies on the surface can also be effective, but I have much more success nymphing; particularly when the Salmon are spawning and working the redds.
Here’s how it’s done: use a nine foot leader made up of 6 pound test. Tie on a heavy “ugly bug”, or something dark and fairly large. Then tie about 18 inches of 6 pound tippet onto the shank of the fly and attach another, smaller fly pattern to that. I like to use a number 8 or 10 Prince nymph. I’ve heard of fisherman tying the second fly from the eye of the first fly, but I’ve never tried it. It seems like it would get tangled easily.
Now you’ll need to attach the strike indicator. Decide what the approximate depth of water you’ll be fishing is, and put the indicator about a foot higher up the leader than that depth. For instance if you think the water is 4 feet deep put the indicator 5 feet up from the highest fly.
My new favorite indicators are thingamabobber indicators. These are air-filled balls which are extremely easy to cast and easy to attach to the leader. Yes, they resemble a bobber in every regard, but since were steelhead fly fishing were calling them indicators.
Summer’s winding down, but don’t think the rafting season is over, because September and October are great times to raft the wild and scenic stretch of the Rogue river.
A permit is still required to run this section of river, (the permit season is from May 15 through October 15th), but you won’t have any trouble getting a permit. Every remaining day of September and October are loaded with unclaimed river permits.
All you have to do is figure out which days work for you, call the BLM office on the link above and grab a permit.
This is one of the greatest times to float the Rogue River because not only are you getting a great whitewater rafting trip in, but you’ll also probably hit some great Steelhead fishing too. Lots of folks choose to bring their Drift Boats instead of their rafts just so they can fish more efficiently.
Summer’s Last Gasp
This time of year in Southern Oregon is what they call Indian summer, in short, there’s not much precipitation and the days are warm. You’ll need a coat and long pants at night, a cozy sleeping bag and probably a tent, but the days can be wondrously warm.
Of course the days are shorter and the nights longer, but you’ll still have plenty of time to get to your next camp without having to work too hard.
If you want to maximize your time on the water and don’t want to camp at all, you can look into booking a couple of nights at one of the lodges in the river corridor. They provide a huge family style dinner, clean sleeping areas and a send you off with a hearty breakfast. Continue reading Autumn Rogue River Trip→
It’s Fall which means it’s time to start thinking about hitting the lower Rogue for the annual half pounder steelhead run.
If you’re unfamiliar with just what a half pounder steelhead run is, let me explain.
Normally Steelhead (basically sea run trout) are born in the river, stay until they’re around 7 inches long then head downstream to the ocean where they stay for 2 to 3 years, getting big and strong.
Half pounders, though return to the river after only a couple months. This is an unexplained phenomenon which happens only on the Rogue the Klamath, and the Eel rivers.
The half pounder steelhead aren’t sexually mature when they come upriver, so they don’t spawn and die, but hang out eating then return to the ocean in the Spring. They return again the next year as fully grown mature steelhead.
What does this mean for steelheaders? It means some amazing fishing. Though they’re called “half pounders” most are more like 2 pounders.