First Steelhead of the New Year

Riding a welcome change of cold weather, less rain and lower water flow, a January 1st outing to the upper Rogue River brought the first steelhead catch of the year. And what a nice fish it was! The hatchery male came in at 28″-29″ long with amazing girth. The late afternoon catch came near the end of my fishing endurance, and at the last good-looking spot of river to probe with Spey Rod and fly.

Rogue River Steelhead

A welcomed New Year Day catch. A beefy Rogue River steelhead on a Carpetbagger Fly.

The promising looking water was fed by a far, fast, deep current and a near, baseball size-rock, shallow riffle. In the cold of the afternoon the last of the late, full sunlight was on the water. My first cast was to the shallow, rocky riffle water. As the fly swept down into the deep water, a passing couple of mallard ducks arrested my attention. Quickly my attention was jolted back to flyfishing as a sudden weight was felt at the end of my leader. Tightening firmly with a small lift of the Spey rod, I was hooked up with and then excitedly watching a couple of going away leaps of the fish. A good fish I could see immediately, but I didn’t yet know what it was. Thwarting the strong first runs of the fish with a strong drag setting, I soon had him in close enough to see the red gill plates of a fine steelhead and not a coho salmon.

Brownbagger Nymph.

The Carpetbagger Stonefly Nymph with an orange bead-head that I call the “Brownbagger”.

Landing the male steelhead in some shallow water I could see the orange bead of the Brown/Gold Carpetbagger Nymph peaking-out between the fish jaws. I had had my concerns about not tieing on a new fly as the gap of the hook had been unintentionally widen after numerous contacts with the large, boulders of the water downstream. But being a long way from shore in difficult to wade water, and the cold of the air, I had decided just to just “sort-of-bend” it back into shape a little and continue fishing. I am fast gaining confidence in this hook. It is a Dai-Riki #285 listed as 3XLong. Here’s the good part. It is also advertised as “heavy wire” and that part I really like about it. The steelhead had not widened the gap of the hook any beyond what the rooks had already done under heavy pulling. This is a hook I can trust to catch big fish with, and have little worry about the hook bending or breaking. My only regret is that I can not yet find it in a size larger than #6. Still the size of the fly did not seem to make a difference this day!

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