Rogue River fishing report [2 January 2006]
B and I enjoyed our last day of Christmas/New Year vacation fishing for steelhead on the Rogue River (MI). We took our friend D along with us. D's not a serious fisherperson (yet), but for some reason, she's been dying to get out with us to stand in a cold river waving a rod. We helped her choose her wardrobe and equipped her with a nice rod and reel and decided to fish the same favorite stretch of the Rogue we've been fishing this winter. The weather was kind of crappy by normal outdoorsperson's standards, but we hoped the warmish (43 oF), overcast, misty, rainy conditions might align for optimum steelhead possibilities. Then again, we've been interpreting a lot of weather conditions this way lately and we're batting 0.000%. At least we figured we might not have to compete with too many other anglers for river real estate. We did get that part right.
We headed for the river a bit earlier than has been our recent habit - we arrived at the empty parking area at about 9:30 AM and had 3 rods rigged and drifting through a nice dark run by 10:00. The river was significantly higher than last time we visited. We knew right away that our normal crossing routes would not avail themselves to us today, so we'd be limited to just a couple of nice holes fishable from our side of the river. We spent about an hour and a half fishing the first couple of runs and stimulated zero fish action. I felt bad that we couldn't get at least a trout for D, but she seemed to be enjoying herself anyway. 2/3 of our group were feeling a bit cold, so we unanimously decided that a warm up and lunch break back at the car would be a good idea. We spent probably 30 minutes exposing our extremities to the automotive heating system and eating sandwiches and fruit until we were more comfortable. By the time we returned to our nice dark run, it was occupied by 2 anglers. Our options were limited since we couldn't cross the stream, wo we headed downstream to check out a new stretch we'd never explored.
Initially, we were a bit disappointed with the section of river we discovered. We could identify no deep runs or pools. The river was a long shallow riffle that would be great streamer fishing water later this spring or in the fall, but was not attractive in the current, steelhead sense. Before we fought too far through the shrubby underbrush and brambles however, we exited the woods onto a well-manicured, uninhabited golf course, from which we could easily access 1/4 mile of river. Sweet! We found a few nice holes and runs and fished them satisfactorily, drifting yarn eggs and caddis, hex and stonefly nymphs along their bottom, but had no trout or steelhead hookups. We watched one very friendly man arrive at the stream, hike straight down to a nice spot and promptly catch a really nice trout using spawn as bait. We were a little disappointed that we couldn't achieve these results, but we quickly forgot to feel sorry for ourselves as we discovered more and more fishy looking holes and runs. We ultimately hiked and waded almost all the way to the next crossroad before deciding to call it a day a bit early so we could enjoy a relaxing evening at home before heading back to work on Tuesday.
We never hooked a single fish, but had a fun time exposing D to a great new way to enjoy the outdoors in the wintertime. D is officially a steelheader now, having lost flies and snarled a few leaders. She never hooked anyone or hit herself with splitshot recoil, but we'll look forward to those possibilities next time. And next outing, she'll easily graduate to unsnarling her own tangles and tying on her own flies.
Poking around the online fishing reports today and chatting with a few steelheading friends, it's sounding like the steelhead catching is a bit depressed across the whole state. Those that are managing to catch them, even guides, are often using chum methods. That's indicative of slow fishing, I'd say. I don't feel quite so bad about my amateur non-results.
Fleece quotient: 1 mid + 1 heavy + rain gear
Lost flies: TNTC
Wildlife sightings: jillions of boisterous black-capped chickadees and tufted titmice
River flow rate: 440+ ft3/s
Water temperature: 40 oF
Did I get to use a spey rod?: I'm gonna count my 11'3" rod as a spey since that's pretty much exclusively how I cast it now
Enjoyment grade for the day: A
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