September 2004 – Great Grab

Rogue River king salmon are amazing creatures.  Relatively tolerant of warm water when they enter the river in late summer.  Genetically programmed to store extra fat, the energy source for upriver migrations of a hundred-plus  miles to reach spawning areas near Grants Pass and the Applegate.

These fish, unlike most Oregon fall chinook, enter the Rogue in an early stage of sexual maturity.  The female’s egg mass is small, not much different from you would see on a spring chinook in June or July.

These are hot fish.  Their runs in open water often exceed a hundred yards and I have had Rogue kings take me well over two hundred yards into the backing, leaving a hole pursued by seals.

This magnificent fish took a little size 6 Scud tied by Bob Borden.  Inhaled it.  The only indication of the grab was my fly line slacking in the current, a slight sag in tension.  I set up and off we went.

There were a ton of kings returning to the Rogue the year I caught this fish.  So many that even I, a novice salmon fly fisher, could catch them.  Runs to the Rogue in recent years have not been nearly as good.  My veteran Rogue fishing buddies have put in 20 or 30 days a season to catch a handful of kings, and some have come up blank.

I look to the future and hope for big healthy runs in my lifetime; but …….

JN

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