Fly fishing was de rigueur for my Dad. In Oregon, he would fish from after breakfast until shortly before dinner. After dinner, he would usually put on his heavy waders, and come trudging back as darkness fell. He would do this virtually every day of our one month summer vacation from the end of July until right after Labor Day.
His preparations, though, would begin toward the beginning of July. Then, he would take out his fly tying equipment and begin making flies for the trip. I remember seeing flies shining in his den with many different colors. He was quite an expert at creating flies, and usually had an abundance of them ready to be dropped into the water for trout, and, most importantly, summer steelhead, which he loved to barbecue or put into the freezer for future eating.
Dad learned about the art of fly fishing from the chauffeur at Rogue’s Roost, Joseph Chevigny, and river guides Glenn Wooldridge and Bob Pritchett. The latter initiated him into the art of boating, and locating steelhead holes on the Rogue River. From an early age, Dad could find steelhead water and navigate a navy surplus raft.
Dad always enjoyed fishing the Upper Rogue. He tried to teach me how to fish, but trout was all I could manage, and, besides, I didn’t want to pull fish hooks out of my ear, which happened almost every summer with Dad! But I did learn to appreciate and love the river and all its natural habitat as well as do some inner tubing and rafting. Swimming across the river was never one of my talents!
In the early years, the Rogue River was a pristine mountain river, its color a pristine blue, and so clear that you could see trout swimming or salmon spawning. All that changed when the Lost Creek Dam was built in the late 1070s. Because it was an earthenware dam, it increased the amount of silt that floated downstream, and the river’s clear beauty disappeared with it. In the years that followed, more and more people used the river, though without the respect early residents had shown. At one point, the river was declared unfit for swimming and a major effort was made to bring it back to its natural state.
I’m grateful that I saw the Rogue River in all its splendor. The short videos that follow show my Dad fly fishing on a truly magnificent river. I hope you enjoy them!