My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

A great day fishing

I just got home from an afternoon and evening fishing for trout on the upper Rogue River, and what a great day it has been. It’s hard to believe that it is almost the middle of June and it was my first fly fishing day on the Rogue, most years I start in April, or even March. This has been one cold and wet spring, with the river too high for fly fishing whenever I’ve had time to go. Even today the river was still high and somewhat muddy, but at least it was fishable, and fish I did. Well, sort of, you can call it fishing, as I did catch fish, but it was almost too nice out there today.

To start with, I chose to use my Far and Fine 5 wt. rod rather than the Trout Bum 3 wt. rod I normally would have used. Since I got shut out during my week of vacation in the Pigeon River Country, I wanted to catch fish, and I know the Far and Fine will when other rods fail. Sure enough, about my fourth or fifth cast, I hooked a small brown, about 8 inches. Nothing to brag about, but it was a good start. I’m rather surprised I hooked it, because I really wasn’t paying attention to fishing. On the way from my vehicle to the river I had noticed that there were wildflowers blooming all over. Most of them I can’t identify, but here’s one I can, an iris.

Iris

 From the time I first waded out into the river, the trees along the banks were full of birds doing their thing. Rose breasted grosbeak, cedar waxwings, catbirds, woodpeckers, robins, and a lot more. The real story today is that I caught any fish at all. Most of the time I was looking at wildflowers and watching birds. I don’t think that I have ever had a day when I’ve missed as many hits as I did today, and I didn’t even care. It was such a nice day, and I was too busy with the flowers and birds, I didn’t care if I landed any fish or not. Most of the hits were small fish anyway, I could tell that by the way they hit, and since I don’t keep any fish, they were almost an interruption when they did hit. I did land a few nice ones, not bragging fish, but it was the upper Rogue I was fishing, and bragging fish are few and far between on it. Here’s one of the better ones, it doesn’t look like it in the picture, but it’s about 14 inches.

Rogue River brown trout

Do you know how hard it is to land a fish while fumbling for your camera without dropping it in the river, and take a picture of a fish that you are holding while you snap the picture? And, want to return the fish to the water as soon as possible so it lives to fight another day?

 As I wrote in my post Confessions of a Fly Fishing Snob, I fish for beauty, and there was plenty of that today, what with the lush green of spring, the flowers, the birds, the fish and the river, but one thing that wasn’t beautiful was the flotilla of drunken rowdys that passed me towards the end of the day. The flotilla consisted of a canoe, a couple of kayaks, and many inner tubes and air mattresses. I heard them coming long before I could see them round the bend above me. When they got close, I just reeled in my line, walked to shore, and started photographing the wildflowers on the banks.

Small blue wildflowers

 It took me a while after they passed to get back into the rhythm of fishing again, but I did, and I did manage to land a few more fish before evening set in. I thought as good as the afternoon had been that things would get even better towards sunset, but just the opposite happened, the fishing slowed down to next to nothing. At least I caught fish, some jerk cut in the river just ahead of me while I was fishing, and he never landed a fish, justice prevails! I took great delight in every fish I caught from the water he had already fished through without landing a thing. I know, that’s an evil laugh you’re hearing from me, and two wrongs don’t make a right….LOL. It really wasn’t any big deal, it didn’t even bother me that much when he did cut in front of me, I knew that I was about done for the day anyway.

The other notable thing about today was how much the stretch of river I fished today has changed since last fall. A tangle of tree limbs that used to be at the head of a pool are now at the tail. A submerged sandbar has been washed away completely, leaving a deeper, rocky bottom where the sandbar used to be. A large tree fell over, and was washed around a bend, and stuck on the opposite bank, diverting water to the side of the river it came from, and turning it into water deep enough to hold fish. It is an almost completely different stretch of water than what it has been the last few years. Fish no longer hold where there always used to be fish, and there are now fish where there wasn’t enough water for them before. That’s one reason I love rivers, they’re always changing, there’s always new things to learn, new things to try.

 So overall, it doesn’t get much better than today was. There was the drunken flotilla, but that’s normal, and there was only the one. The other kayakers who passed me were friendly and courteous. Some jerk cut ahead of me, no big deal, I was about fished out anyway, and I caught fish he couldn’t, so it all worked out in the end, the end of a beautiful day of fishing.

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