Last night, I was under strict instructions, "Gunner (our hyper lab) needs to get out." These orders are easy to follow as one of his favorite places is the Rogue River and there is a short float close to the house. So after picking up a good friend of mine TJ Orton we were on the river within minutes. The game plan was to push our way trough to the rock piles and spend the night swinging there. We came around the first turn and realized that "pushing was out of the question and dodging was more on tap," as there were quite a few people who had the same idea we had. The first boat I saw was a familiar red and green Hyde, Steve Eadie. Showing some river courtesy I try to pull behind them, but there was no room and I beat my boat against the rocks which brought a quick ,"Shush, were fishing here," from the veteran guide. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to get behind him so I made the decision to float over his water. Steve let me off the hook and told me ,"You don't have any other choice, but to go over our water." Everything seemed to mellow down, I was out of the rocks, and Steve gave me permission to go over his water, but there was one factor I didn't equate--and I should have know as I have been bit by the Gunner factor before. Gunner had been sitting behind me watching TJ's bobber-um I mean Indicator-as if it had wings and I had just shot it. his whimpering was of the same tune he has at the beginning of every duck season. I not only missed that tale tail sign, but I, like a idiot, inadvertently let one of his trigger words slip in a conversation with Steve as we passed. Gunner is like any other lab, except God added additional helping of hyper--making a what was a normal trigger in most dogs a hair trigger in Gunner. Ok never got to the K part when Gunner thought he was released. When the large yellow lab was in the air, I realized the error in my ways. Gunner landed smack dab in the middle of Steve's Clients water, then proceeded to thrash through what was left of Steve's untouched water. I felt like such a putts, but Steve seemed just laugh it off. Sorry Steve, sometimes that dog has a mind of his own! Anyhow, I gathered Gunner, and embarrassly(is that a word) tried to get down the river as fast as I could. Around the next bend was John and his clients. This time I let past experience guide me and I pushed through as fast as I could, before Gunner could ruin all of his water also.
We finally made it to the destination. TJ is new to the swing game and was along to try to pick up tips...me, after a long week of teaching and watching other people fish, I was selfish and decided to Fish. I told TJ to go below me and I would watch his technique as we worked the run. TJ had it down...mostly... but like a ton of people I take down the river he settled with just the classic down and across. This technique works fine in shallower runs, but when your fishing the deeper buckets of the Rogue there are some other mends and tensions used to present your fly well. Knowing TJ's intentions of wanting to learn I decided to wade down and show him a few different techniques to get his fly down. On about the second cast with his rod, I got smacked so hard that I about lost his rod. The fish was heavy, real heavy. On his first run there was nothing I could do but hang on. The battle ensued for three more runs, one of which was Gunner induced as he investigated the large flopping thing in the water. A few minutes later we had the brown King in hand. He was dark, but had a ton of fight left in him as we snapped a couple of photos and let him go to create more of his kind.
We have been hitting more and more of these guys while swinging for steel. there are more wild salmon in the Rogue now than I have ever seen. taking the dams out have helped provide a bunch of spawning ground for the return of the King. We weren't fishing over reds at all, heck we had a October Caddis Emerger on, but yet the run is so healthy this year we have had salmon hitting us in the normal steelhead lies. I for one am glad to see the large returns of these wild kings. It makes me feel like we are turning the tide and starting to realize that we can use the resources wiser. Thanks your Highness for a great reminder of this...even if it was on accident, and Thanks Steve, and John my dog can be a knuckle head at times.
|Max Digging the Fight|
|Gunner saying hi|
|Chinooks October Caddis...Who Knew?!|
|Max Isn't impressed|
|Seeing more and more of these guys smacking swinging steelhead flies|