Here is a fly I can hardly wait to get back on Oregon’s Rogue River and cast for Fall steelhead. A steelhead fly version of the old Brown Forked Tail pattern almost always called the Prince Nymph. Of course there has to be the peacock herl body of the Brown Forked Tail. I hear of a fly fisherman from Grants Pass who almost all the time cast little more than a small fly consisting of a beadhead, peacock herl body, biot tail and with good success. Additionally for this “Prince” I choose light brown goose biot for the tail, quality silver for the rib and beadhead, a badger feather for the hackle and two white biots for the high sitting sissor wings. I can see this fly moving reluctant steelhead to bite from those small, shaded, bankside slots of the upper Rogue River.
This Rogue River steelhead pattern is a good choice for October on the river. Based on the original Carpetbagger (AKA Selbicky’s Magic Fly) the Brownbagger comes into play when the Chinook salmon begin spawning in the upper Rogue River in Oregon. I like to think of it as the “one-two punch” in a single fly. Not only does it offer a stonefly nymph to the fish, there is also that attracting round orb shape of an single salmon egg.
Unlucky for me I’ve been off the water for a week or so as I recuperate from a pain in the leg. I get around ok, but rather than risk making a painful experience even more so I’ve taken a good rest. A good time to catch up with the flytying both personal and for clients.
It is hard to stay at home, alas, when the fishing was so good just a week or so ago. During the between time the water flow on the upper Rogue has been reduced by nearly half in volume to just over 1000 CFS. The Rogue Valley weather has returned to warm, back up to summer-like temperatures in the 80°Fs. Conditions like that can make for some good flyfishing on the Rogue for Summer/Fall steelhead.
The upper Rogue River steelhead count is a mystery now that Gold Ray Dam has been removed. No longer will we be able to view the daily, weekly, and monthly fish counts for anadromous fish into the upper Rogue. Never the less, we know they are there, and one has just to get out to find them. And soon I will, and also with the over and under to bag a pheasant or two.
Teri and I got an oh-dark-oh-thirty start to our Sunday morning float on the Rogue River. That means going to Saturday evening Mass, and then getting up Sunday morning without a thing to do but fish.
The dark early morning was cold and we were bundled up accordingly. There is a good early bite in spite of the chill. I guess that’s because these wild critters of the river are used to the cold water. They are also less afraid on account of the long dark shadows of the dawn. Always a good time to fish.
The Rogue River’s flow is still good and high, but they have begun dropping the water release from the Army Corp Dam at Lost Creek. We fished Carpetbagger Nymphs in tandem with Beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear Nymphs. Teri also like to fish a Steelhead Caddis as a dropper off the Carpetbagger. I’ll hand it to her, that fly does get a lot of attention from the smaller trout as well as a occassional steelhead. Later in the day as the Sun heats the Rogue River and valley I believe the Steelhead Caddis comes into its own. Teri claims that is because of all those grasshoppers she sees along the riverbank. I agree. Sometimes when the sun is bright a light fly works. I’ve also found that a good dark fly like a Silver Hilton can be outstanding on a bright day. (So what should be the rule?)
We finished the fishing day about noon. Just the right time to get off the river. The sun was bright and high overhead. It felt warm. Wasn’t bad, only about 85°F. When you think back to the 100°F days of earlier summer, you wonder how you got through them. I am so glad that fall is here. Looks like it is going to be a good one!
The weather in the Rogue Valley? Great! Clouds and rain, perfect steelhead weather. The river is up high, but fishing is good. The catching and landing them is even better! The Gold Ray Dam site looks a mess. Hopefully things there will get straightened out a bit more when all is finally said and done.
First time out and first two shots! I got out a little late this morning as it was unseasonably cold in the valley. Arriving I noted no birds flying other than scrub jays, acorn woodpeckers, and blackbirds. I worked the ridge top through the buckbrush and eventually flushed a couple dove. I passed up on these shots. I wanted my first shot with the new over and under to be a good one. A bit more climbing the ridge and a dove flushed over the brush top to my left. I mounted, swung and pulled the trigger and the shotgun sounded. The dove set it’s wings and disappeared. I knew I had that first bird with the first shot of the spanking brand new over and under.
The weather stayed cool as the noon hour approached. I walked a few other good locations and only spooked up a couple doves. Shots I didn’t want to take. Finally arriving back at the first location a dove flushed going away from me. I pulled one trigger and pocketed my second and final dove of the day. Two shots and two doves on a cold slow day. That’s good enough for me. I walked back to the car with a soft pitter patter of rain falling on my cap.