Rogue River Morels and Fly Fishing

The Winter Steelhead Have Arrived

The Winter Steelhead Have Arrived

Hooked into my first one yesterday. Felt a little challenged with my 6 weight switch rod when I pulled him up to the surface and felt his power. I clamped down on my horse and felt the knot give at the bottom fly after some thrashing on the surface. Yes, he hit a mere wisp of an G.R. Hare’s Ear in the murky water of the Rogue. Recent rains had brought the river’s flow up along with turbidity. I think a good number of winter steelhead made a move with the warming change of the month. I got no other hook ups, but I did see two other fish show on the surface during the day.

Had Fun With the Longfellow Pack Rod

Had Fun With the Longfellow Pack Rod

The winter steelhead are yet to show into the upper Rogue River. Now, that doesn’t mean that they are not there. Just few, far and in between. I have heard that near eleven have been counted into the Cole M. Rivers hatchery on the upper Rogue River. Probably the number is higher by now. I got out the other day to see if I could find an early winter.
I carried three rods, the Spey, switch rod and light little pack rod. The Longfellow pack rod breaks down to mere 18 inch sections. Hardly noticeable when stashed in the backpack, and very opportune to have when the midday trout hatches come off.
Initially I fished hard with the stout, longer steelhead rods. Not even a scratch coming from some good locations. I fished Carpetbaggers, G.R. Hare’s Ears, and even an Orange Heron on the Spey rod. With the Rogue River’s flow down to 1450 CFS, some winter steelhead action should have been forthcoming. Even talked to a knowledgeable flyfishing regular who had started early at 6:00 AM. “Nothing to report,” he said, “And nothing much happening at all lately!” I watched for a while a couple other bankers (gear guys) who fared no better. So, there’s not much movement yet. The winter fish are still staged in lower reaches of the river.

Gradually the morning darkened with the hint of rain. I noticed the first few early rises from a sloping, long riffle. Some of them were good. A small, dark mayfly was observed flying in the warming air. I put together the small, trout rod. Soon splashy rise forms were increasing on the riffle.
I don’t like to let these February hatches go by unsampled. There are some good size native trout in the Rogue River. I recall one incident where I was at the right place at the right time. Splashy rises dominated a small, narrow run. I tied a size 12 Grizzly Wulff on to the leader of the 5/6 weight flyrod. The first cutthroat I caught was a good 14 inch fish. The rises continued. I then proceeded to catch and release nine cutthroat up to 16 inch long. The tenth fish was a 24 inch summer steelhead. The next three fish caught were all summer steelhead! Though the steelhead were all spawned out downrunners, the action was fun and rememberable. Yes, these February hatches can provide surprises.
This day no real whoppers came to my dry fly. I couldn’t quite “match the hatch” as my size #12 bluewing olive fly was a couple sizes to large. Many floats through the riffle went untouched. Every now and again I got a good rise, take and hook up. I did notice a few larger, dark, slate wing naturals scattered in the main hatch. Some of the fish were a good 12 to 13 inch long. On the light flyrod they put up a good, strong fight often with many an airborn leap. Couldn’t resist keeping three hatchery marked fish for a fish fry.

Saute of Trout Amandine. Blanched almond slivers bring a crunchy contrast to the soft, mild  trout.

Saute of Trout Amandine. Blanched almond slivers bring a crunchy contrast to the soft, mild trout.

Saute of Trout Amandine

Butterfly and debone trout
Doub the trout fillet in flour
Saute both sides in olive oil & butter
Remove trout, keep warm and scrape pan
Add more butter to pan
Cook the almonds stirring to prevent burning
Add cream sherry and lemon juice to almonds
Spoon almonds and hot pan drippings over trout