“The back of my rig is sagging pretty bad,” cackled Buzz Ramsey Thursday evening as he crossed the Hood River bridge.
The sag was from the nice-sized chrome-bright hatchery spring Chinook he was toting home in his cooler after an extended fishing trip this week in Southern Oregon.
“These Rogue salmon, they’re beauties,” he said.
That I could tell from all the photos he’d been texting me, pic after pic after pic after pic of absolutely flawless, meaty, broad-tailed, purple-backed kings.
The images kept coming even after I threatened to block him.
“Their belly walls were an inch thick, just fatties,” Ramsey added.
It was an extra dash of salt with a drizzle of lemon in my wounds and sores as May issue deadline pressure spiked and kept me moored to a desk editing a massive, solid and late-arriving go-and-do story, rewriting my Editor’s Note for a $%@$ third time, festering about why in the hell it is so !$#%@ @$%T@#$%@% difficult for certain agencies and organizations to respond to press inquiries on such a seemingly simple information request that can only help bring attention to their suddenly-real-and-right-now-out-of-control problem and deciding to go to press on it anyway, and of course the news yesterday about the anti-hatchery cabal suing WDFW yet again.
(My wife yesterday: “Why are you swearing so much, Andy?” Me: *gestures broadly at every-@$%@$%-thing*)
“It’s been a pretty good early season, best a lot of people can remember,” Ramsey reported.
He said he and the crew he fished with had six fish and four keepers on Tuesday, three keepers Wednesday and five fish and four keepers on Thursday.
Even if the Willamette and today’s bite is a whole lot closer, it all made me want to get away to the Rogue asap. Leave the words behind, blaze down I-5 and 101, set up my sand spike, plunk and shut out the world.
Deep breaths, Andy.
Now that my deadline is behind me and moving off to the east like some expended thunderhead, I have a little more time to talk actionable angling opportunity.
Per Ramsey, the Rogue’s spring Chinook fishery is not unlike Lower Columbia summer kings in that angling is done on anchor in hopes of intercepting salmon charging straight out of the ocean.
“They’re in a hurry to get to the upper river before water temperatures warm,” he said.
Hosted by Pat Hollinger, owner and guide of Eagle Bay Lodging and Fishing, Ramsey et al ran upstream from Gold Beach a few miles and anchored in 5 feet of water.
“They run the edges,” said Ramsey of the springers.
The setup of choice was a Rogue Bait Rig with a whole anchovy, three to five chartreuse beads and a spinner blade, he said. While a size 6 Indiana was employed, Ramsey said he left a gold blade with a blue-green tip with the crew after he headed home yesterday and heard that it accounted for most of the Thursday fish.
“I’ll bring two next year,” he laughed.
As for the rest of the anchor-fishing rigging, Ramsey was very specific: “Four-foot leader, 17-inch dropper …”
“Seventeen inches exactly, Buzz?” I asked. “Not 18?”
“I had my tape measure and measured it,” he replied.
He suggested bank plunkers use Spin-N-Glos.
High tides will push springers into the bay and that’s where they put on their running shoes.
Looking ahead, Ramsey said it could be a “fantastic year” for fall Chinook on the Rogue.
Along with the closure of the scheduled March 15-May 15 commercial troll fishery off the Oregon Coast south of Cape Falcon, these waters as well as all of California will also be shut down to both commercial and recreational Chinook fishing through August 31. The moves are meant to protect feeding Sacramento and Klamath fish, but Rogue fall fish also primarily forage here and should be in good supply.
But now also seems like a good time to head down 101.