The view from the shade tree.
It can get hot here in the Rogue Valley. 100°F plus in the direct sun makes you want to hide back in the 80°F shade of the bank. I’m so hot I don’t have any story for this. So I’ll let Hathaway Jones, famed story teller of yesteryear on the Rogue River, tell us about “The Hot Weather.”
One day Hathaway came into Agness from a trip down from Paradise Bar. He told everyone that although it was hot at Agness it was even more so up at Paradise. When asked how he knew so, he told of watching a lizard in the shade under a porch at a cabin at Paradise. The lizard wanted to reach a stump out in front of the cabin. Every once in a while it would edge out of the shade to run to the stump but the heat drove it back. Finally the lizard took off on the run to the stump but did not make it–he curled up and died, for it was too hot to make it that far. (1)
(1)Stephen Dow Beckham, edited by. Tall Tales From Rogue River: The Yarns of Hathaway Jones. Indiana University Press ©1974, Bloomington, London ISBN 0-253-18654-4
The fly box is open on the Drifter's command center!
An early morning start on the upper Rogue River. After all the details and preparations are attended to, the question becomes what fly pattern should I start with today?
The steelhead pattern called The Skunk.
For this morning one of the fly patterns we concentrated on was the tradition Skunk with jungle cock cheeks.
The morning sun finally lights the water.
Sunday morning because it was going to be real hot, I scheduled a half day on the Rogue. What this means is that we start at Oh Dark Thirty and complete the float before the air temperature gets too hot for comfort. If the bite is exceptionally good, we go beyond the comfort limit.
Releasing trout along the Rogue River
Besides rowing and maneuvering the Drifter to good fishing spots, I spent a lot of time releasing trout.
A cutthroat with open mouth and Hare's Ear comes along side the Drifter.
We finished up the morning with the sun growing hotter and the best cutthroat trout of the day. The spotted,dusky, villian thought he could steel my G.R. Hare’s Ear nymph!
This Rogue River cutthroat fell to a G.R. Hare's Ear nymph.
Early morning sunlight on the Rogue River
Our morning started early with sunlight peaking through the bankside trees. There was cold chill to the water and shade. We dressed light as temperatures were forcast to rise above 80°F.
My guest throws a nice loop.
We cast both flies and plugs. Primarily flies, as that is what we love best. We began with the usual heavy Rogue arsenal…weighted Ugly Bugs, G.R. Hare’s Ears, Carpetbaggers…but I had an ace up my sleeve. It produced small trout early on, but later…
Rogue Guiden grins wide as the fish runs far and fast.
The big pull came as I was swinging a large Silver Hilton from the rowers seat. Fish on! I advised John that we would have to exchange places. I could fight this steelhead best from the bow of the drifter. The move was made and the play began. These early summer steelhead can really pull in the high, cold, flow of the upper Rogue.
Finally he shows under the strain of the long, switch rod.
There’s about 850 of these fiesty early summer steelhead counted into the upper Rogue at this time. The water flow has dropped a little. It is about 2500 CFS now. The weather is going to remain warm, so I predict continued excellent conditions for success. Just remember you don’t always need to dredge the bottom with heavily weighted flies. With these warm air temperatures, every once in a while give the traditional summer steelhead fly a try…like a Silver Hilton!
Rogue Guiden and the drifters fish friendly net.
P.S. And thank you John for the good photo work, netting the steelhead, and for handling those oars when I really needed it!