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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great Fall action abounds along Oregon’s Rogue River.
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.
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.
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.