Tag Archives: steelhead

Gold Ray Drift

I finally got on the new stretch of river that was created as a result of the gold ray dam removal on the Rogue river. It was a quick trip in my drift boat to check out the new area and try to catch some wily Rogue river steelhead. 

Of course the top part of the stretch is the same as it’s always been with one exception. There were tons of spawning Chinook Salmon. This is the time of year that spawning occurs but I’ve never seen so many salmon in this stretch of river. It was weird, I literally couldn’t keep from hitting them with my oars. they were darting around like great logs just beneath the surface. 

Rogue River
Rogue River with Table Rock in the Background

 

I was perplexed as to why this area was so full of them, but finally got my answer when I got to the area below where gold ray dam was taken out. But first let me tell you about my float. 

I’ve done this stretch before but always in my tiny pontoon boat. Now that the dam is removed I can row my drift boat and use the never before accessible boat ramp. For a further explanation see my previous post

Besides tons of spawning salmon, I didn’t see a change in the river until I was about 2 miles above where the dam used to be. At this point I started seeing some of the silt and mud on the side of the river. 

First signs of silt
Silty banks

 

This silt is an accumulation of 104 years of a stopped up river. It was thick, loamy, and black. For many years to come this is the stuff that will run off and muddy up the Rogue with every rise in the river. Hopefully, we’ll have some big rainy winters and get the Rogue to really flush all this shit out of there in one or two seasons. Continue reading Gold Ray Drift

Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water

Since 1904 there has been a pour over dam on the Rogue river called, Gold Ray dam. It was built by some locals, C.R. and Frank Ray, before there were rules and regulations about such things.

The original structure was built of logs. The Ray’s dream was to produce hydroelectric power from their makeshift dam. They were successful and were the first suppliers of hydroelectric power to the Rogue Valley.

Eventually the dam was bought and rebuilt with concrete. A fish ladder was also built to accommodate the migrating Salmon and Steelhead.

In 1972 the hydroelectric feature of the dam was shut down. The dam remained and eventually was named one of the biggest hindrances to migrating fish on the Rogue River.

To make a long story short and to get to the point of this post, the dam was removed with federal and local money in the Spring of 2010. The Medford Mail Tribune reported extensively about this process and can be read here.

The nearest upstream boat ramp to Gold Ray dam is Touvelle boat launch. Before the dam was removed you could launch your boat from Touvelle and float this great Steelhead water, but you needed a jet boat in order to climb back upstream to the boat ramp. Continue reading Dam Removal Opens New Stretch of Water

Half Pounder Steelhead on the Rogue River

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.

half pounder steelhead
hatchery steelhead perfect for eating

What they lack in size they more than make up for in viciousness. They’re amazing fighters, hitting a fly like a ton of bricks, jumping, shaking and spooling line like they’re much larger than they actually are. Continue reading Half Pounder Steelhead on the Rogue River