This Rogue River hatchery fish sure surprized me. Not only did he play a little game of chess, he fought as well as a wild native fish would.
Today I found this hatchery buck steelhead who was ready to play. I was fly fishing on the Rogue River around 10:00 AM as the fog was slowly lifting. Casting one of my favorite holes I snagged what I thought was the bottom. A lift of the Spey rod and a fish came alive. He ran down stream and I couldn’t turn or stop him. Before he reached the tail of the hole the hook came out. After resting the hole for a while I went back to casting my Spey rod. It took four different flies to finally get a solid hookup. First fly was a Caleb’s Screamer. I started at the top of the hole and worked my way down swinging the long hackled fly. Finally near the tailout I felt a solid pluck to the fly. He had sucked in the long flowing hackles but missed the hook. Sensing he still wasn’t disturbed I changed the bright fly for a Silver Hilton. Once again I worked down through the hole. Near the bottom I again got a bump, but no hook up. The third fly I tried was a Steelhead Muddler. Not even a swirl to that fly, so I knotted on a Midnight Fire Carpetbagger with a small nymph trailer fly. Again I fished through the hole and this time near the bottom he aggressively grabbed the Carpetbagger and I had a solid hook up. For a hatchery fish this fellow fought well. In fact I thought he was a wild, native Rogue River steelhead until I ultimately landed him. Sometimes you just get lucky and find yourself in a situation where you get to play a little game with the quarry. Ultimately I found the right fly to “match the hatch” with this willing steelhead.
Few steelhead can resist the Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymph.