Earlier this week I received a text from guide Jeff Wilkerson that said “Can you fish Thursday?” I had planned on going into work early that day, but couldn’t pass up a float down the river with the owner of Triple X Guide Service. Fishing hasn’t been hot lately on the Rogue, but there’s enough steelhead around to have some productive days.
|Spawned out Rogue salmon|
Thursday morning finally arrived, and boy was it chilly. When we met Jeff at the Valley of the Rogue boat ramp it was a cool 34 degrees. That’s cold, but not enough to cause ice problems with your line and poles. However, by the time we reached Gold Hill to put in, it had dropped down to a very nippy 29 degrees.
Despite the ice forming in the eyes of our rods, and the braided line trying to freeze up, we maintained high hopes for the day. There were plenty of signs of salmon spawning, including both carcasses and fish on redds. We knew the steelhead would be sitting below them picking off the stray eggs.
We spent the better part of the morning tossing flies under a float and pulling plugs, but even the trout weren’t cooperating in the freezing temperatures. It wasn’t until the sun finally hit the water that we started to warm up, and the fish did too.
My fishing partner Jeff, not our guide Jeff, was the first to have his rod folded over. We were pulling plugs through a great slot, when his rod started doing the fish dance. After a rather lack luster fight we had the first steelhead to the boat.
|Jeff & Jeff with the first steelhead of the day.|
It ended up being a beautiful 3lb native summer run, that was carefully released after a quick picture. Our celebration didn’t last too long though, as we got right back to pounding the water.
Next up, it was my turn. We were side drifting flies under a float, along a very long ledge, when I had a solid bobber down. I set the hook, and saw the flashes of chrome under the water. This fish was much hotter, and was stripping off line before we knew what was happening. Thoughts of an early silver salmon entered our minds, but after catching up to the fish we saw the slender profile of a steelhead. This one was slightly larger than the first at about 6lbs, and was also a native.
|Second fish of the day took a mini XFactor Egg cluster under a float|
The rest of the float didn’t produce any steelhead, but we kept active with a few nice trout, and one big old king. Overall, it was a great day on the water, and despite being freezing in the morning, it turned into a wonderful fall day. It was definitely better than the alternative of working.
Our guide Jeff Wilkerson definitely knew what he was doing. I talked to a few people that also fished on Thursday, but they had been skunked. It was nice to know that your guide will get you into fish, even when others aren’t. I definitely recommend Jeff to any of you looking to book a fishing trip down here in Southern Oregon. Jeff is now booking trips for fall salmon on the Chetco River, and spring salmon on the Rogue. Give him a call at (541)226-8915 or email him at email@example.com if you’re interested.