Autumn, And The Steelhead Are Jumping: The Messenger’s Starting Guide and Fishing Report
Salmon fishing ended more than a month ago, and there are conservation reasons to let the spawning fish be. But there is also the practical reason not to fish salmon right now; that is, salmon who are spawning simply do not eat. Oh sure, points out “Pritch,” who identified himself only as a “fly fishing bum who hangs out at the shop (Fishin’ Hole Fly Shop in Shady Cove)”: “One may take because you’re irritating them, but they’re not eating.”
Right now, though, is high season for steelhead. While earlier in the summer, trout are often at the surface, grabbing at and gobbling up floating bugs—making floating mayfly replicas the choice—by late summer and through autumn, trout are swimming deeper in the rivers. “Pritch” recommends “ugly bugs,” “conehead flashback stone,” and the “trout retriever.” These are torpedo-looking flies, weighted to sink. And, most important, says Pritch, adding a nymph or an egg pattern behind the tie is the “traditional offering.” Talking about the steelhead, he says that “they key in on the eggs that get loose.” Setting up a fly that will sink and mimic a loose egg is the perfect trap.
October and November are the peak months for steelhead (meaning, perhaps a new Thanksgiving dish?), with fish ranging as big as 30 inches and, at several pounds, they can put up heck-no-I-won’t-go fights.
The Fishin’ Hole Fly Shop is located in Shady Cove on a beautiful, cold water stretch of the Upper Rogue River. The shop is a sprawling building, and includes a library of fishing flies, a traditional deli and also serves as headquarters for a rafting company.
Although fishing is currently limited to fishing with flies, Pritch does point out that does not mean only fly fishing; spinning rods are allowed, if using flies.
Those looking to dip their toe into the sport also can check out Ashland Fishing Shop, a tidy store adjacent to downtown Ashland, with creaking floorboards that feels out of an Andy Griffin sound stage. An extensive collection of caddis flies—the familiar and standard bristly broom head—they have specific “fall caddies,”
In addition, every third Sunday of the month, they offer an informal (and free!) casting lesson. They provide demo rods. Meet on the park-side of Tou Velle State Park, Central Point; 10 am – 1 pm.