Upper Rogue River Steel and Teal

Rain and snow were the conditions called for today. As you can see from the sunny sky in the first photo the weather was anything but what the weatherman had predicted. My first effort was to catch the steelhead. I cast a duo fly setup. The dropper fly was a small, nondescript, bead head nymph. The top fly was a Midnight Rainbow Carpetbagger Nymph. As I searched the water for steelhead, I could observe numbers of green-winged teal dropping and gliding down to the slough upstream. I was tempted to leave the Rogue River steelhead run and head over to the slough. Eventually I was rewarded with a strike and hookup from the sunlit run. A nice hatchery Rogue River steelhead had bit on the Carpetbagger Nymph. Another buck steelhead. Why does it seem that the male fish always arrive a little later behind the hen steelhead run? Just seems that way to me.

Gathered up all the gear and walked over to the slow and muddy slough. I skirting it wide so as to not spook the ducks. A white egret took off. A white egret or heron will always see you. I always try to spook them away early so as to get it over and done with. Walking slowly up to the slough I could see four teal on the water. Green-wing teal. I moved forward slowly and they took off. I missed, but another bunch erupted from the water to my right. I picked out a drake, swung the CZ Mallard and this time I didn’t miss. Great thing about an over and under is that you get that second shot.

I next set out a couple mallard decoys and sat to enjoy lunch and the rest of the afternoon. I really enjoy watching the pond with its shorebirds, pipers, snipes and every other critter that walks or flies on the wetland. I thought about the decoy I found the other day. It is a pintail drake decoy. Slight crack on the back, but I can fix that with a bead of Lexel® sealer. Little bit of an antique as the company no longer exist. Trademark on the bottom reads Victor D-10 Majestic Decoys. Made in the USA by the Animal Trap Company of America. It is plastic so it is not really worth much. As far as I can tell it dates back to 1960’s. I’ll give it a new lease on life.

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Upper Rogue River December Steelhead

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The Midnight Rainbow Carpetbagger came through the other day attracting and hooking this nice Rogue River hatchery steelhead. Late Sunday afternoon Teri and I drove over to the Rogue River for a little steelhead and waterfowl searching. With just a little time for both activities, I hurriedly hiked a distance to fly fish a favorite run. The cold of the day kept Teri in the car with her knitting kit. Arriving at the river I began casting a two fly rig. The top fly was a Midnight Rainbow Carpetbagger, while the bottom fly was a small bead head caddis nymph. After just a few cast, I hung the small fly on a rock. I walked upstream, pulled straight and the 10# PLine Floroclear line broke off at the hook eye. Not bothering to tie on another fly, I continued casting the Carpetbagger with a trailing length of Floroclear line. Two or three cast and I felt weight again, but this time it was a broad-tailed steelhead. Showing spawning red color, the buck steelhead fought well and I was happy with the catch.

I hurried back to the car to switch to duck hunting gear. With little time left before the end of shooting hours, I walked the high bank to a spot where I’d seen numerous ducks land a week ago. Due to a very dry first half of December there was just a little pooled water. Due to the cold of the day all the water was frozen. Patiently I waited. No doubt the ducks would still come in late. Looking closely at the pond I noted a duck sitting amongst the ice and weeds. A decoy duck! I waded out, breaking ice all the way, and gather up a slightly damaged pintail drake decoy. He’s got a crack across the back, but I think I can fix it with a little Lexel®. Won’t even need to touch up the paint. Oh, the real ducks did eventually show, but they remained high and out of effective range of the CZ Mallard and the Kent Fasteel.

Freezing Fog (Waterfowling Weather)

The promise of freezing fog had me thinking waterfowl this morning. It is generally agreed that the best duck hunting occurs during the worst weather conditions. So I woke up well before dawn, managed to make coffee, fixed a high carb breakfast, loaded up all the gear, and got myself to a popular spot well before first light.

Signing in at the check station, I smiled with some smugness as a couple of headlights started down the access road only to stop and turn around when they noted my parked rig. No ice on the pond or edges, so setting out a small decoy spread was no effort. Finding and accessing last year’s stand on the berm proved more difficult. The thistle and reeds have overgrown the levy. That question was easily solved when I noticed someone new arrive and check in at the wood kiosk. Best to just place my stool along the flat shoreline and bunch grass where I can be seen by the other hunter. Any arriving ducks in the thick fog are going to be committed and in range before they see me.

There were not a lot of ducks flying. Mr. Hunter went off in the other direction to access a couple distant ponds. Presently I heard a couple of shots. Must be jump shooting. Then I had a good-sized duck suddenly appear overhead and I dropped it with one shot. I didn’t like the direction it fell, beyond the bern and into some thick, swampy stuff, but I was satisfied with the shot. I’m trying out the Kent Fasteel this year, and the few shots I’ve taken so far have me happy with the load. A few more shotgun reports echoed in the distance. I waited and before long a lone small duck suddenly arrived. Teal are fast, but I shot, he veered, and I finished him with the second shot.

And that was it for the morning. No further action, except a pair of small ducks that came high and fast and I never had a shot. I will say the available water is low, and we can use a little rain to fill the ponds. The cold, foggy weather is perfect, however, and the December chance for good waterfowl hunting remains.