There are so many choices for great Fall Fishing in Oregon it’s hard to pick a favorite. At the top of my list every year is the Rogue Wild and Scenic. It’s a great combination of remote wilderness, 35 miles of challenging white water, feisty half-pounder steelhead, and unique campsites.
I just returned from a trip down there and the aggressive half pounders are most definitely “IN”. With a slow rotation of the Mega Prince, Possie Bugger, and Golden Stone Nymphs – if one wasn’t working, the other was and the famous Rogue Red Ants never even made it out of the fly box.
A bigger challenge on this trip than catching fish was running the river. It’s usually around 2,000 cfs this time of year but right now it’s about half that – 1,100 cfs which is very low. The boney water brought A LOT of rocks into play that are normally harmless and as a result, our boats took a beating!
The class II’s became III’s, the III’s became IV’s, and the IV’s … well, they became nightmares that tested the nerves and challenged the resolve. One rapid in particular worried me A LOT – Slim Pickens. At such a low river level, the only safe passage for a drift boat is a very narrow chute that’s just a little wider than a boat on the right side of a river running hard to the left. It requires technique and timing to fight the river and line your boat up so the current pushes you through the eye of this rocky needle. It’s so narrow, you have to tuck in the oars or you won’t fit through the opening… which means if you aren’t lined up right, you are helpless to prevent scraping and crashing off the walls – or worse, a breach, which completely destroys the boat.
Slim Pickens sequence:
Check out the full photo set of Hatten threading the needle at Wooden Boat People.
The last time I did this chute was at 1,900 cfs, and my left knuckle scraped the length of the wall – which is just one reason I was nervous about Slim Pickens at this water level. If the fishing wasn’t so great, I’m not sure the stress would be worth it… but that’s part of the attraction of the Rogue. Slim Pickens went great – so did Tyee, and Wildcat, the Coffee Pot (after a couple of spins around the dance floor), and of course Blossom Bar.
We ate fish every night, caught many more than we ate, released every native (ratio was about half and half) and had a fantastic trip down a classic river. If you haven’t had the pleasure – I highly recommend
-GH; Photos by Scott Vollstedt