Every once in awhile you have one of those days were things just don’t quite go your way. This past Wednesday was that trip. We timed the trip almost perfectly, and were part of one of the best bites all year on the Lower Rogue for springers. Hooking fish wasn’t the problem, but putting a keeper in the boat was.
When talking with our guide Bruce Craviotto, aka the Salmon Specialist, he mentioned that it had been an afternoon bite all week long. So instead of waking up at o’dark 30 we got to sleep in, and met him at the dock at 10. After a quick safety talk we were jetting up the lower Rogue bay to the spot Bruce knew should be producing that day.
We anchored up in the hog line, deployed our rods with the typical Rogue Bait Rig with an anchovy, and then it was just a waiting game. It wasn’t very long before my rod was dancing, and line was stripping out. The ocean fresh, wild springer put up a great fight in the relatively shallow lower Rogue, and after a few powerful runs we had it up next to the boat. This time of year all wild salmon must be released, and Bruce takes great care to not harm them. You won’t find him netting or even lifting the fish out of the water. If the hook can’t be pulled quickly, he cuts the line to give them the highest chance of survival.
|My first Lower Rogue springer ready for release.|
The 20lb springer was the high point of the day. From there on out our landing percentage took a huge dive…
My dad was up next, and this fish was hot. Just after dropping out of the hog line, the springer does a 180 turn and makes a 200ft run upstream. Even at full throttle on the kicker we couldn’t keep up with the fish. Just as we were starting to get worried though, my dad finally gets it turned around and back near the boat. Just as we see it’s a keeper hatchery fish, it gives one good head shake and the hooks come flying back.
|The instant before depression hits us.|
We didn’t have time to sulk afterwords though. The bite was on, and we needed to get back up to our spot.
The next two fish gave us just enough action to know they were there. One hit, started stripping line, jumped out of the water, and was gone all in an instant. The next was gone even faster as my dad didn’t even have a chance to get the rod out of the holder.
At this point we knew it just wasn’t our day. Bruce was doing his job perfectly, and giving us plenty of opportunities, but we just couldn’t seal the deal. Then our 5th fish of the day hit…
Just like the first two, this one made some very impressive runs. The hook was sticking this time, and after a few long minutes, my dad had the hatchery fish close to the boat. The current was exceptionally strong in the area the fish took us to, and my dad was having a tough time getting the fish to cooperate for a net shot. Finally the fish kept its head high as my dad brought it close, and I took the chance and reached for it. Bad mistake on my part…
|So close to bringing home dinner|
The current and long reached combined to catch the front hook in the net just as the fish was going in. I wasn’t able to get its tail in the hoop, and the fish flopped around. At that point I knew it was over, but tried a couple quick maneuvers. They also failed. One head shake was all it took, and the fish was free.
My first botched net job, and it couldn’t have happened at a worse time. To make matters worse, the bite turned off and that was our last opportunity. I had no one to blame but myself, and looking back on it now there’s a few things I should have done that would have made it a success.
Oh well. Live and learn I guess.
I know it’s all part of fishing, but I couldn’t help but feel angry at myself for losing my dad’s fish. I’ll just have to get redemption for him once they get upriver to us.
If you’re looking for a lower Rogue guide I highly recommend Bruce. He wasn’t ready to give up when we had to call it quits, and really wanted to put a fish in the box for us. The drive he has to make sure his clients leave happy, as well as his care for the resource with how he handles wild fish really impressed me. He also BBQ’s up a mean lunch while on the water to keep you fueled up and comfortable. Whether you’re wanting to go now for springers, or later in the year for fall salmon in the bay Bruce is the man to go with. You can find him on the web at: www.salmonspecialist.com or give him a call at (541) 913-3759. You won’t be disappointed.
Look for the video to be posted tomorrow. You won’t want to miss the epic fail on the net job.