Teri Selbicky hooks up the first winter steelhead of 2018. I helped her finally land it. For the first of February the weather is extremely nice. Air temperatures today got up to around the mid 60°F’s. The river CFS (cubic feet per second) is about 1560 and the afternoon river temperature is around 46°F. The bite came in the early afternoon to a small nymph swung with a Carpetbagger Nymph from the front of the drift boat. The water type was a sunlit, and gentle riffle at the top of a run, just like where you would fish during the early summer.
I’m on a roll this past week and a half. Each of my last three fish has been a progressively larger than the prior. Todays steelhead went an estimated 30 inch’s long. I’d thought I would capture part of the battle on video. However the fish suddenly “came alive”, and was off on a determined run that eventually traveled 100 yards downriver. At the very onset of that run I knew I’d never land the fish near the camera, so as quick as possible I turned it off. The two capture photos were taken as fast with my phone camera before the grand native steelhead was quickly released back into the Rogue River of Oregon. The fly was my Brownbagger Carpetbagger Nymph with the orange bead head.
Sometimes you just can not let go. I had to catch that third summer steelhead. This day on the Rogue River of Oregon I wished I had called it quits early. Ignoring the brooding, building clouds, I got to experience first hand one intense and scary thunder with lightening storm.
The Red Ant is very similar to the Rogue Ant. Indeed John Shewey mentions in his book Steelhead Flies that the Rogue Ant is also referred to as the Rogue Red Ant. I believe the Red Ant is the older pattern, and the Rogue Red Ant was an adaptation created for the lower Rogue River in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Instead of a single, down-eyed hook the Rogue Red Ant was usually tied on Mustad double point hooks. It also featured a fine, oval gold rib through the body. If jungle cock feather eyes were available, two were mounted on the outside of the bucktail wing. One on each side, much like the old Rogue River Special. Old double point hook flies were fished off the front of the boat to swing and flutter in the current 30 to 40 feet below the driftboat. No casting of the flies. The movement of the boat did the work. The half-pounders and adult steelhead found this tactic irresistible.
There are a couple of ways of catching steelhead and salmon this month on the stretch of the Rogue River that I fish a lot. Fly fishing remains a good option, and the fun thing is that you can go full purist with fly, switch or Spey rod, or you can fish a spinning rod with weighted fly and float bobber. With the fluctuating water levels of this month the latter method is a good option.
Plugs and spinners are also allowed now after the close of the flies only September through October period. The Coho salmon, currently present in the river and legal to fish for, will occasionally take a fly. However a plug, spoon or spinner is often the best presentation for the salmon. In the second half of this video I hook a nice Coho buck with a Rebel Crawdad plug. Very interesting in that I cast the lure out mid-river; had a spool over run with the fresh Maxima line; quickly fixed the tangle while the floating plug drifted downriver and immediately hooked the Coho upon beginning the retrieve. I have to wonder did the fish track and follow the lure while it was free floating downstream, or did it just drift down into his holding position and he immediately attack the lure upon the first wiggle of the retrieve?