They are back in the upper Rogue River! The early hatchery summer steelhead are back for a second run through the fly water of the upper Rogue. As is customary each year the fish hatchery on the far upper Rogue recycles early returning summer steelhead back down river to swim free again.
Like an old pair of truck tires given a second life, these “retread” steelhead give fishermen a second chance to catch them. This year because of the demise of Gold Ray Dam and it’s fish counting station, the 2010 Rogue retread steelhead are being trucked even further downstream all the way to the Gold Hill boat launch. That will give bait and plug fishermen who ply the waters below the former Gold Ray Dam site an opportunity at them too.
Above Gold Ray, in the fly water, retread steelhead act just the same as their wild brethren…that is they take flies well. Sometimes as well or better. I wonder if they get hungry from all that time spent in the hatchery? This Rogue retread hit a Beadhead G.R. Hare’ Ear Nymph. Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymphs, egg patterns, and swinging wet flies all attract the ready retread. Some people will argue that the retread will not fight as well as the Rogue River wild native fish, and that they are not a desired catch. I’ve seen them go both ways, sometimes as lame as a duck, and on occasion as hot as a fresh run native. They are after all from Rogue River brood stock, and they are after all steelhead who have spent time in the wild Pacific Ocean. These guys just got to enjoy a short little pit stop in the Cole M. Rivers Hatchery on the Rogue.