Typically this time of year winter steelhead are on everyone’s mind on the Upper Rogue. Fish are plentiful, and limits are common if you put in your time. However, 2013’s run has been very lackluster. As of the 23rd only 1,871 winter steelhead have entered the hatchery collection pond…that’s a pretty poor return. The reports I’ve been receiving have been matching with many guides getting lucky to catch a fish or two.
With that in mind we decided to take a scouting trip for springers. We put in at the hatchery with the plan to fish for steelhead in a few spots, and back bounce for springers in the major holes. Getting weights and the snags dialed in now would save time when the springers started to show up. The expectations for hooking any fish were pretty much non-existant.
The day went pretty much as expected. Winter steelhead fishing was slow, and we pretty much gave up on it after the first couple of holes. There also weren’t any sign of springers, but we were getting everything dialed in and feeling very confident for the year. Then as we were pulling into one of the last holes Jeff called it…”If we’re going to hook a springer today it’s going to be in this hole.”… 3 passes later and a fresh glob of Pautzke’s Fire Cured eggs, and his rod goes solid followed by a couple of head shakes after the hookset.
As we got the springer close we saw the extra fin, but it didn’t take any excitement away from the catch. After netting it, we quickly cut the leader (the fish had completely swallowed both hooks), took a couple of quick pictures, released the beautiful specimen, and then relished in the moment.
An April springer definitely wasn’t in the play book for the day.