The Rogue River System-Mother Nature is in Control

With the upper Rogue River beginning flow at over 2000 CFS out of the William Jess Dam that means big numbers for the entire river system. The main stream river grows with added flow from the tributaries. By the time it reachs Grants Pass it all adds up to over 16,000 CFS. Late season weather fronts with warm rains have all added to the “big muddy” event.

Grant Pass River Cam

Earlier in the week I was lucky to have accessed the Rogue River’s best flyfishing tributary. “The River X” was flowing at a friendly 126 CFS at the time. I generally do not like to fish it that low. I like more flow to find and play the steelhead in. Today I’m glad I took the drive and waded the low water to find and play a few fish. Over the last few days the flow chart on the “River X” looks like a staircase.

Applegate river flow increased by Army Corps and wet weather.

Apparently a good start on the “River X” was to good to be true. A stream to sneak off to when the Corps were releasing a bit much William Jess Dam water. Somehow it was thought this would last to the end of the month. Not so as mother nature has other plans for spilling her wealth.

As the last legal winter steelhead day on the “River X” passes by it is well to remember Zane Grey’s words regarding steelhead fishing along the Rogue River.

The happiest lot of any angler would be to live, somewhere along the banks of the Rogue River, most beautiful stream of Oregon. Then, if he kept close watch on conditions, he could be ready on the spot when the run of steelhead began. (1)

The substance and meaning of the quote can be applied to all Rogue River fishing. We should keep that in mind when thoughts of sea lice unseen linger on the mind.

Dark sea lice still cling to the anal fin of this March winter steelhead.

(1)Tales of Fresh-Water Fishing © 1928, by Zane Grey, Grosset & Dunlap Publishers NY, page 108 Where Rolls The Rogue

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Rogue River Tributary X

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The River X (River A) still continues to flow at low levels. There most have been a lot of fishing taking place over the weekend. The river sure had the feel of that. This colorful winter steelhead was still willing to play. Beadhead nymphs will find fish in this water. The Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymph and Beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear are my favorites for this stream.

Steelhead flyfishing on the Rogue River’s tributary X

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When the Rogue River is flowing high and wide good flyfishing for Rogue River winter steelhead can sometimes be found in one of the legal tributaries. I call this stream “The River X” a description taken from Dr. James W. Hall’s book, Doc Hall’s Journal. Look it up sometime. The chapter is Small Stream-Big Fish.

Beadhead nymphs are the patterns for this fishery. As it flyfishes best in late March, some like to use small egg pattern flies. I like the Carpetbagger Nymphs in all colors, accompanied with a small beadhead G.R. Hare’s Ear nymph.

Trout fishing techniques work on these steelhead. The water flow is often very low, actually lower than I really like to fish. Studded wading boots are a most. A lot of hunt, search and wading is required. Because of the length of the stream’s season, these large fish run the gamut from picture perfect to sometimes dark. In late March it is often the case the “picture perfect” steelhead you manage to land will still have sea lice clinging to the rear fins.

With the Rogue River running over 3,000 CFS in even the far upper reaches, being able to wade across a piece of River “X” water is a real treat. Flowing from 126 CFS to 300 CFS stretches of the River X can be a little boney and thin. Yet big steelhead still hide in the green hidden runs where the stream gathers and comes together.

Looking for the next flash of steel on the upper Rogue River

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Over the weekend floating and wading on the Rogue River brought a good outing on Saturday, but not much catching. The river is still flowing cold with a silty, glacial color. Could manage only a few trout on flies as the steelhead still seem to be missing in action. Teri did some distance camera work with the new Canon SD4000 from the driftboat. The camera shoots pretty good from long distance with the 15x setting. This week’s forecast rain and storms will slow the fishing for a while, with good fishing expected after the weather events subside.

A Flash of Steel

February’s chill and cold has turned a corner as March arrives on the upper Rogue River. The first sunny day of the month shines on a river that is yet cloudy with cold and silt. A steelhead can still be pulled from the murky depths if you know the right spot and fish the right fly. A Carpetbagger Nymph fished with the spin rod and floating bubble is just the right tool to strike that flash of steel under the current conditions. The weekend weather calls for more sun and calm, The fishing conditions can only get better as the Rogue River clears and drops into better shape.

Bit of chrome comes up from the depths