Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fishing the Rogue River

If I Had My Druthers 
Otis D. Swisher 
Pea soup green, please, and not too thick. About a foot of visibility will do very nicely, thank you. 
And so, the 10th of February, 2014 drift from Takelma Park to Dodge Bridge began. After weeks of early morning fog and cold, the sun came out, the temperature rose to the high 50's, and there was a short winter break for Paul Rickerson, the oarsman, and me. 
Now, I've fished dry flies successfully in yellow-muddy water conditions when the mid-day hatch was going on; but, this color was different. I'd say unusual. 

While Paul prepared the boat for launching, I saw rising fish off the boat ramp. A good sign for the day, came on a far out cast when an 11-inch rainbow smacked my dry. A wild fish. Nice activity for my 3-wgt rod. 
We usually are prepared to fish indicators for steelhead, but carry along the lighter tackle, already set up in case we come across rising fish. So, the first mile of river we tried the bottom dredging with the heavy nymph and small trailer. 
Water looked good. Flow was up slightly, and the 2-day rain seemed to have "freshened" the water. But, none of the old standby places produced for us. 
Then, at "Vince's Hole", named for my long-time fisher friend, rising fish began to show themselves. Let me digress to explain why it's called Vince's Hole. Years ago, I fished river Left from the boat after putting Vince out to wade river Right. There we were, he wading with a dense background of rank riparian behind him which limited his casts to 35-40 feet. But, what success he had in those 40 feet...4 steelhead. 
And, there I was in the boat opposite him, fishing the Left half of the river. And, for every steelhead he caught, I matched his output. Now, isn't that a good enough reason to call this "Vince's Spot?" 
Today, years later, I went to my #14 O's blue dun and my first Cutthroat of 13-inches was on and another five fish followed suit. 
There is a second spot less than 100-yards downstream where Cutthroat hang in the slower water just a few feet out from the bank. The Cutts were active again today, one with six porpoise-like jumps; 3 to 4 feet, side-to-side jumps, and a foot or so out of the water. 
Another half-mile below this spot you can see the Bald Eagle nest, river Right. The river has changed in the last few years. A huge cottonwood is the point of attack for the river flow. In the slower water a fish rose. Way out. So, strip, strip, strip, strip, strip, to get out 45 feet of line, and on the second drift down the "feeding lane" the #14 blue dun became the object of a huge head and six-inches of fish body behind it. Turned out to be 16-inches of the most beautiful trout of the Rogue System, a Cutthroat. 
It didn't end there. Catfish is a well-known spot to fish and we like it near a rock complex. I'd tell you where this complex is but it is one of three so I'll let you find it for yourself. While I was catching wild fish of 11-inches and greater on my blue dun, Paul took his first steelhead of 2014. A bright fish, with a big gut, it was obviously a winter fish of 28-inches; beautiful to look at though not as strong nor as active as winter fish are supposed to be. 

Nevertheless, this was a great day in February to be on the river. And, I can close my eyes and can see the color of the water. If I have my druthers, I'll take split-pea soup green, thank you. 

Blogger's note:  You can almost see the size 14 hook under the fly dressing.  You just start the thread on the hook and tie in some silver polypropylene.  Then tie in dyed elk hair facing forward and whip finish the head.  There you have the Otis Blue Dun.  This pattern also makes an effective March Brown by just changing the color.   I have used this fly and it works.

                 


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