Rogue River Outfitters guided Katherine Paiva and her husband down the Rogue River this fall. It was a teriffic trip through the canyon… Katherine wrote about her trip on gowestusa.com below is a copy of what she wrote.
REELING IN STEELHEADS ON THE ROGUE
Fighting it out with a stubborn, 7 pound female.
BY KATHERINE PAIVA
A trip down the thirty-five miles of designated wilderness area on the Rogue River is a once in a lifetime experience. No one cued the bear, but there was always the threat of an appearance.
The weather was cool, some rain/chance of showers — and we caught more fish that I could have ever imagined before an audience of osprey, bald eagles, sun-preening turtles, deer, wild turkey, and otters.
The scenery was rugged, rocky, and dotted with small broccoli-head like trees. The water was Saran-wrap smooth: placid and serene one minute, turbulent and roaring rapids the next. Every once in a while, as we approached a set of rapids, our guide would say in a low calm voice “Put on your life jackets now, hold on tight, and stay very, very still.”
Neither my husband nor the Rogue River Outfitters guide told me about Coffee Pot pass on the third day. The river winnows to a space barely boat-length wide. There is unruly washing machine turbulence, and stories-high rock on all sides. We made it through by the sheer will, strength, experience and tenacity of Craig Hughson, our ‘been-down-the-river-a-1,000-times’ guide. Eyes open, teeth clenched, holding on for dear life, swaddled in my giant marshmallow life jacket … I thought “what could be better than this?” Crowds on the rocks above cheered.
Float fishing the Rogue was even better than I’d been led to believe. Although I didn’t catch the biggest fish on our trip, the one I landed was a very strong headed female steelhead. She came in at 7 lbs, and pulled the three of us around like a toy on a string.
I was holding my pole high and reeling in, letting out and freaking a bit. When the fish shot downriver we yelled “Crikey! We’re going down the rapids!!!!” (or something to that effect), all at the same time. We were a noisy, bobbing, praying wooden boat missile.
The boys were very supportive; Craig, our guide, was rowing like mad… stabilizing our shoot down the rapids (and hoping I wouldn’t fall out or lose the fish). My husband was relaying supportive thoughts like “Reel!!! Let it out!!! Reel! Don’t lose it, damn it”, etc.
One of the biggest “duh” moments when float fishing is that you can’t stop the boat when you catch a fish (funny, it seems that way on TV) — hence, my catch-and-actually-get-the-fish-to-the-boat skills were a little lacking. My heart was pounding and I was close to tears when we finally made it to a quiet spot, got her to the boat for a quick snap (for the unbelieving at home), and then let her go.
I can only hope my Dad was watching. His biggest wish was to catch a steelhead every winter. He seldom succeeded. What powerful, strong willed, beautiful, and big hearted creatures.
Katherine thanks so much for the story. It is always fun and interesting to hear just how the Rogue River affects our clients.