The only place to be on the upper Rogue River

This hunk of steel went way into the backing of my Cabela's fly reel and tested the Rulon disc drag.

Drippy and dreary, yesterday’s weather front soaked the Rogue Valley with moisture. I watched the Rogue River water flow graph spike from 1360 CFS to over 2000 CFS. That left only one option for flyfishing for late April Rogue River steelhead and we set our sights and destination for the far upper river.

These hard fighting fish really desire their freedom

I arrived and fished early without much happening. Chanced upon Will Johnson of the Ashland Fly Shop . Will was encouraging stating that he had hooked several fish in the lower water. A fine fly shop by the way, seldom lacking in anything one needs to buy. Check it out at

The water of the far upper Rogue River remain clear even in significent water fall. The rain continued cold and soaking until about mid-afternoon when the sun came out in fits and a small hatch of mayflies came off. I’d hooked a heavy steelhead early, but the real action began then about 3:00 PM.

This steelhead took the Beadhead Steelhead Prince Nymph tied on a size 6 Dai-Riki #270 hook.

The hatch brought considerable life to the cold, clear water. I watched the smaller trout and smolt make numerous rises. Then alongside a long, submerged log I saw a steelhead leap clear of the water.

I changed up the flies of one of the rods for a Beadhead Steelhead Prince Nymph and a Salmonbagger Nymph with orange legs. After several cast and drifts along the log, the line tighted and the above steelhead was on! She’d taken the Prince Nymph!

This wild steelie took off like a Rogue River chinook. I certainly was relieved when she was finally landed for the photo.

On my switch fly rod I continued casting my tried and true Carpetbagger and Beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymphs combination. For tradition and stick-to-it-ness I was duely rewarded. After the hook up on the G.R. Hare’s Ear the above fish took off like a Rogue River chinook. The first run ended in the backing and with an explosive leap. She definitely put on the “epic” battle of the winter for me. I eventually landed her about 100 yards downriver.

We ended the day with two keepers for the larder. These fish were in very good shape and definitely will highlight Friday night’s fish fry!

Reviewing the take home catch with Guy and Linda at their 'Guides Quarters' in Shady Cove


Earth Day on the far upper Rogue

My guest for the day works the slow water with a spey rod.

Beautiful weather for this April 22nd day on the upper Rogue. The water is cold, and you can see how low the flow is. By this time of the year there are plenty of steelhead up in this stretch of the Rogue River.

The first glimpse of a silver rocket as you work it towards shore.

Always a welcome sight…to see that long slice of silver fish.

The final pull towards shore.

A pretty conventional spot to land a steelhead with a fly rod. Wait till you see the next photo.

Some of the far upper Rogue requires being able to negotiate big rocks and holes.

Some of this upper Rogue stretch of water offers a real hiking problem. Jumbled rocks the size of small boulders hinder the fly fisherman in many ways. Not only is it hard to get to them, but in some instances how best do you get them in once you do?

Say bye bye Mr. Steelhead!

The fly patterns that worked well today were the Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymph and the Beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymph.

Late action on the Rogue.

The afternoon sun highlights the April yellow morels of the Rogue Valley.

Great thing about the Rogue is that the steelhead continue to come through April.

One thing about steelheading is that you never know. Like for instance what time of the day is best? Generally I’m a morning fisherman, but that just hasn’t been cutting it lately. So I gave the late afternoon a try on the first sunny day in a while. Most everyone was unrigged and gone home by now. Except for these guys. I’m glad I found them and rediscovered that the afternoon can be golden.

April steelhead goose eggs and morels.

Came across this Canada goose nest with six eggs on a spit of land sticking out into the Rogue River.

Bag of large yellow morels gathered while flyfishing steelhead on the Rogue River.

Took time for a hiking river sortie on the Rogue River today. The river is looking fine, clear water and down to 1450CFS. I could wade across the width at several key locations…prime for my accessing by foot good steelhead lays. Laid a big goose egg as far as catching a nice fresh upper Rogue steelhead. I’ve found this happening before in April, the steelhead are on the move, out of reach up the tributaries, busy spawning or maybe the better numbers or fish are somewhere further up river. You just have to be lucky and find a fresh receptive one here or there. I got lucky and found more fresh (and good sized) yellow morels on private land. I also stumbled upon a lone Canada goose sitting out on a point near the river. She had also laid an egg…actually six of them!