Wings along the Rogue River

Highly prized bronze mallard plumes are used for wings on many steelhead flies.

A secondary benefit of hunting waterfowl is the collection of choice feathers for steelhead fly tying. Duck flank feathers are often used throats or wrapped collar hackles. Mallard flank feathers are light grey with faint dark barring. American widgeon suppy flank feathers that are barred and of a rosy-tan color. The bronze feathers from the back of the mallard drake supply the necessary plumes for the characteristic strip wings of Spey flies like this Lady Caroline. Prized bronze mallard plumes are eagerly sorted and paired for the creation of great wings.

The Lady Caroline features a classy bronze mallard wing.

The Lady Caroline features a classy bronze mallard wing.

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November Fisherman’s Pluck

There's nothing tough about coots (except the taste). Good camera fodder!

The Medford wetlands have been more of my environs lately than the Rogue River. With the steelhead run and numbers low right now it is a good time to check on the local waterfowl. The local coots are fair company on a cold, foggy morning. I let them raft around me like friendly decoys.

Greenwing Teal are a ready find along the Rogue River.

Along the Rogue River ponds and sloughs I’ve discovered plentiful greenwing teal. There are mallards present too, usually just in pairs. So far the greenheads have been very elusive.

View from a wetlands duckblind.

The A60 Canon camera is coming back from earlier near dunkings. Occasionally it has an issue or two with cold wet mornings. At home I’ve taken to storing the Canon in a bag of white rice. That very much has helped take the wet out of the electronics.

Rooster pheasant makes a day very pleasant!

The Denman Wildlife Area still holds a pheasant or two in late November. I was lucky and tickled to stumble on this bird as he took to wing. A picture perfect flush still imprinted vividly in my mind’s eye.

Jon headed up to northern California for the trophy trout. Cold weather and hot fishing!

Jon ventured north from central California. I was hoping he’d come up here, but this November he opted to veer off to the trout of Eagle Lake near Susanville, California. He did quite well. This was his largest fish caught with a black mud dog jig. Brrr…that pretty northern California scenery looks cold.

November rain and near snow on the Rogue

Below normal cold weather and icy precipitation nearly send us home early on this mid November day, but we endured the conditions and eventually connected and landed a nice Rogue River steelhead on a conehead leech. Several early hookups had come unglued.

Finally a solid, cold water hookup!

Finally a solid cold water hookup!

It took sweeping the driftboat and fly back and forth across some wide, featureless water. I could imagine the black rabbit strip undulating beneath the surface. The take was deceptive. Many of the cold water takes right now feel like no more than a soft tension and pull to the line…a mouthy glom on.

Stuborn to the end we finally slipped the net under him.

Stubborn and wily we finally net him.

The conehead rabbit strip obviously is a leech pattern. It is not a fly that I am that familiar with. Appears that behind the conehead comes first a deer hair collar, followed by a silver chenille body, overlayed with a narrow black rabbit fur strip. The black rabbit fur is ribbed to the hook and body with strong silver wire. Additionally sparse red flashabou and pearl crystal flash are added as further attraction.

A long and indicing coldwater steelhead fly.

A long and inticing cold water steelhead fly.

Obviously the steelhead will go for them. I’ve found small leeches under rocks before. Like the abundant stonefly nymph, they are natural to the river.

Early November along the Rogue

Great Fall action abounds along Oregon’s Rogue River.

"Steelhead and large arbor fly reels!"

This steelhead took on only my second cast of the day.

"Rogue steelhead take flies!"

This Rogue steelhead fell for a Copper John nymph.

Blacktail buck

Twilight blacktail buck drawn to a doe.

November begins on the upper Rogue River

The Rogue River

The Rogue River near twilight during November.

November has arrived on the upper Rogue and now is a safe bet that good numbers of biting steelhead are there. I stopped by a familar stretch this late afternoon and after a few cast hooked up with this beautiful male steelhead.

Steelhead and fly reel

Rogue summer steelhead wrestled from November cold water on the Rogue.

On only the sixth or seventh cast into a familiar run with a Silver Heron Atlantic salmon pattern I struck to a deceptively trout like pull. I felt solid weight and I knew I had a fish. He ran strong downriver and showed with a couple of nice jumps. After a matter of time I pulled him to shore from the cold cover of the Rogue River.

Rogue Steelhead with Silver Heron Fly

He took the Silver Heron fly!

The second half of October has been a whirl of waterfowl, blacktail deer and wild mushroom hunting for me. The Siskiyou Mountains have held the lure of the latter. The wild, shaggy mane mushrooms finally made their appearance during November. For a look at the first of them go to the More Wild Fungi page.