Last hurrah for winter steelhead

Upper Rogue scenery. The crispy cool morning warmed to a 79 °F high.

I ventured up to the upper Rogue to flyfish for winter steelhead yesterday. The water flow had bumped up about 100 CFS so any last flush of winter fish would be motivated to move into the far upper reaches of the river. There was also the chance for Spring chinook as the word is that they are already reaching the hatchery at Cole Rivers.

The river was up and wading the slippery rocks was very much harder than it had been of late. The warming sun took the chill off the morning air very quickly. The first of the salmonflies made their appearance, fluttering across the river to land on the trees at my back. I plucked one from the bank and threw it out upon the water to watch a big trout whack it after floating half a minute.

Steelheading was slow. My favorite water was lacking of the “bite” of the big pullers. Later in the morning I finally found a nice buck who bite on the original Carpetbagger Nymph. That’s the stonefly nymph imitation made with the Midnight Fire color of New Age Chenille. He fought really good and I was satisified with my catch, but I got the feeling that this might be the last of the winter steelhead catching for this year. Later I saw more fish, but they were in the spawning runs.

Up near the hatchery I watched the guys fish the “infamous hatchery hole.” I was soon rewarded with the sight of a big net being employed. The “boys” along the concrete and rock bank pulled a large and thrashing chinook from the deep water. Yes indeed, the upper Rogue is making that fishing transition from winter steelhead to Spring chinook, and just as the Rogue Valley air temperatures trend from mild and unseasonably cool to climbing and getting near warm with the approach of June.

Scrappy winter buck just before the release in wadeable water.


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