Touch and Go on the Rogue River

I came across this action the other day on the Rogue River near Medford. For a good amount of time this helicopter prevented my progress down river. Numerous times it circled and decended to river level where it commenced to put the rear wheel of the tail section underwater as it submerged the water hose in the Rogue. I believe that they are practicing for the upcoming fire fighting season.

Sort of a touch and go, just like the fishing lately. Touch a trout here and there and then let them go. The springer salmon count is above 14,000 fish and the summer steelhead count has slowly grown to 800 fish plus. Surprised I haven’t got one yet! Persevere and it will happen. Rogue Valley weather has turned warm and hot. Perfect time for an early morning or evening outing. I’m fishing the Carpetbagger Nymphs and G.R. Hare’s Ear nymphs. Since it’s warmed up quite a bit, I’m also pitching the surface with the Steelhead Caddis and Steelhead Caddis Emerger. No fly pattern has really been a killer yet. The Muddy Buddy continues to produce some good surprise hits and one never quite knows what it going to grab the big streamer.

Federal Migratory Bird Stamp

2010 Migratory Bird Stamp

The Federal Duck Stamp goes on sale Friday June 25, 2010. This stamp is necessary for fall and winter duck hunting during the season in Oregon and elsewhere in the United States. Further the proceeds from the stamp sale go a long ways for conservation. Nearly 98% of every dollar used to purchase Duck Stamps goes directly to buying or leasing wetland habitat for wildlife. For 75 years this conservation program has been working well and is one good government fee we should continue to support.

I don’t know about you, but I love duck hunting, fly tying and stamp collecting. All three activities compliment each other for me. I can’t wait to get a couple stamps for 2010-2011. One stamp for the actual hunting and the other for my wildlife stamp collection. This year’s stamp features an American widgeon painted by wildlife artist Robert Bealle of Waldorf, Maryland.

Spey Play

It’s all new to me and that makes it a lot of fun. From the switch rod I’ve jumped up to swinging a 13 foot spey rod. It’s punching out some good cast. Most every cast I’m throwing I’ve been able to observe from the more experienced guys around. The roll cast is pretty basic and easy. Spey and double spey cast take a little time to come together because of all the varibles. Timing, power, body positions, balance and an assorted bunch of other details, they all slowly come together with practice.

Roll casting

Applying the power

Spey line action

Line control

Punching it out at the Grapevine

I’ve already hooked and landed several small trout. The spring chinook count continues to climb. There are over 12,000 springers into the upper Rogue River along with about 200 summer steelhead. The Rogue Valley weather improves daily with slowly climbing air temperatures and a lot less rain. The upper river flow is settling out around 2500 CFS with slightly over 50°F temperature for the time being. Good flies to cast out continue to be the Carpetbagger Nymphs and G.R. Hare’s Ears.

Far upper Rogue River

Clear water flowing bank to bank and at a good clip!

The far upper Rogue is a spring chinook haven right now. With over 10,000 fish and water flowing at around 3200 CFS the fish can be found and they are in good shape.

I fished the water with my new 13 foot spey rod recently. I fished downriver from the crowds that line the bank at a certain point. Casting a new rod for the first time is always a special treat. The 8 weight felt a little heavy at first, but by the end of the day I was quite used to it. My first “pull” came after only 5 minutes of two handed casting. A nice heathy rainbow of 13 inches. Not the big chinook or first summer steelhead of the year, but I’ll take it. Summer steelhead…they are up there. The hatchery has already counted 20 or so of the returning steelhead. The count of steelhead into the upper river is still under 150 fish, but they are such aggressive biters that you never know. Keep the faith, just keep casting.

The spring chinook are finicky biters. Again you never know, but you are going to have to cast many times before hooking up with one. Especially with flies. I fished the Carpetbagger as a first fly with the new rod. Later I added droppers like a Muddy Buddy and then a Spring Trailer. I hooked more trout with the small Spring Trailer. The Muddy Buddy brought a good “pull”, but I don’t know what it was.

Excitment came at one point when a 15 – 20 point chinook jumped just down stream near the end of my drift. No hookup…no weight. Watched several chinook salmon get caught. The gear guys lining the bank at the “combat zone” have many and sometimes “certain techniques”. The fish I saw bankside gleamed with freshness. Nothing better than a spring chinook barbecue and I can hardly wait.

June water on the upper Rogue River

A natural crossing for spring chinook on the upper Rogue River near Medford.

The mild temperatures, clouds and light rains continue to dominate the Rogue Valley weather as we enter early June. The river is flowing at a fair clip about 2100 CFS at the above pictured area. The final fish count for the winter steelhead run is 14,255 fish. There are already 103 summer steelhead counted into the upper river above Gold Ray Dam. The spring chinook numbers are rising daily the count now being 8,662 salmon. A good spot to intercept a “springer” with a fly is a natural crossing over a gravel bar. Early in the morning or late in the day is often a best time for such a feat. I like it when the fish can be seen moving through such water all day long. Then you know that you are right on a peak of the run! Good fly patterns are the Carpetbagger series, Muddy Buddies and generally long dark leech patterns.