Fly fishing the Rogue River vintage style

B
Billamicasr
For those who’ve spent time in Southern Oregon, specifically Grants Pass you may have come across the old family homestead. In my youth we lived on Sleepy Hollow Road (what a great name) off of Jerome Prairie Road. As you drive up the long straight away you would have seen a huge barn with three foot tall lettering that says “Sleepy Hollow Worm Farm”. My folks raised Hybrid red wigglers, by the millions, to sell and ship to greenhouses all across America; that was in the 50’s. We also grew county fair blue ribbon winning strawberries and apples and raised rabbits and chickens.

But that’s not what I write about. My father taught me how to fly fish when I was about 8 years old that would be around 1957. The attached photo is of a couple of flies he tied that I came across this past week end while organizing and culling my tackle collection. Note how the leader is a permanent part of the fly and instead of tied to an eye of the hook is actually tied into the body of the fly.

Down river from Merlin and Just before you come to the bridge over Hell Gate Canyon on the Rogue River, if you turn off to the right you’ll find a unimproved camping site about ½ mile from the highway on the river side where we camped; it was a great spot with a clear running spring with ice cold water.

Our RV was an old 2-ton stake-bed (flatbed) farm truck. We never slept on the ground because there was always marauders be it raccoons or bears which would make a loud showing nearly every night.

Raccoons have a peculiar habit of washing their food before they eat it and my dad would occasionally provide sugar cubes for the coons as a joke. You can imagine their surprise as they washed their sugar cubes in the creek and watch them dissolve; amazingly, they aren’t as bright as one may think as they do it over and over again. Yeah I know it was cruel… funny too.

We’d start the day early to catch a few trout for the family breakfast and my Mom and my sisters would fry them until the tail became crisp and eat them with home grown eggs and fried potatoes. When that was done dad and I were off with the gold pans to see if we could supplement the days catch with some butter yellow metal; way back then gold was $32.00 an ounce and we’d collect our share to be sold as money for future camping trips. Later in the day would be another trip to the river to catch dinner; there was always an overabundance of fish.
 
  • Flys800x.jpg
jamisonace
jamisonace
Nice story. I've been enjoying the rogue around that area lately. Soft hackles have been producing nicely. I'm looking forward to exploring more as I travel that way for work.
 
M
montym
Awesome!
 
S
Stonefish
Great story. That must have been great to grow up in that area.
 
M
MBevans
Nice memories indeed, you were a lucky guy!!

I became addicted to the Rogue after a trip to Ashland, too many plays and cutie stuff, so let the wife do that and I booked a guide (Mike St.John) and did a drift of the upper. Well that was 14 years ago, since then been back 15 times, even bought a Fish-Rite guide model 16' drift boat.
I'll always enjoy that area, almost magical. From above and below Shady Cove, down to some of the lower "pull-outs" Whether I catch/caught or not the drift over there is well worth it...
 
B
Billamicasr
Welcome MBevans always nice to see more folks enjoying the Forum; I'm sorta new here too.

I'm with you, I always go back, but I'm partial to the river below Grants Pass near the Hell Gate Canyon; I suppose because that's what I'm used to. Seriously, I don't see that much has changed down there in the past almost 60 years. When you hit the canyon to all they way over the on the road to Agness, it is the same buildings and same scenery; very familiar to me. Hard to say that about most places.

No matter where I happened to be living I return for more. Years ago when I car camped in my old Dodge van I parked at the old family unimproved site I mentioned in the story, or the gravel bar at Innis Riffle, Later when I tent camped, or RV camped with kids I always stayed at Indian Mary CG. Indian Mary was a treat; the bakery from Merlin would bring in their famous paper plate size cinnamon rolls around 9AM on the weekends. They were fresh and warm. About a pound of frosting on each one to give the kids a jump start on the day; yeah that was fun.
 
M
MBevans
Thank you Sir.
I appreciate your reply. I joined this forum to introduce myself to Oregon fishing fanatics. As I'm moving to the Clackamas area quite soon. Dragging my drift boat and toys to enjoy Oregon on a full time basis for a couple of years. As most I find solace on the rivers and streams.
Tight lines!

Billamicasr said:
Welcome MBevans always nice to see more folks enjoying the Forum; I'm sorta new here too.

I'm with you, I always go back, but I'm partial to the river below Grants Pass near the Hell Gate Canyon; I suppose because that's what I'm used to. Seriously, I don't see that much has changed down there in the past almost 60 years. When you hit the canyon to all they way over the on the road to Agness, it is the same buildings and same scenery; very familiar to me. Hard to say that about most places.

No matter where I happened to be living I return for more. Years ago when I car camped in my old Dodge van I parked at the old family unimproved site I mentioned in the story, or the gravel bar at Innis Riffle, Later when I tent camped, or RV camped with kids I always stayed at Indian Mary CG. Indian Mary was a treat; the bakery from Merlin would bring in their famous paper plate size cinnamon rolls around 9AM on the weekends. They were fresh and warm. About a pound of frosting on each one to give the kids a jump start on the day; yeah that was fun.
 
DOKF
DOKF
Billamicasr said:
For those who’ve spent time in Southern Oregon, specifically Grants Pass you may have come across the old family homestead. In my youth we lived on Sleepy Hollow Road (what a great name) off of Jerome Prairie Road. As you drive up the long straight away you would have seen a huge barn with three foot tall lettering that says “Sleepy Hollow Worm Farm”. My folks raised Hybrid red wigglers, by the millions, to sell and ship to greenhouses all across America; that was in the 50’s. We also grew county fair blue ribbon winning strawberries and apples and raised rabbits and chickens.

But that’s not what I write about. My father taught me how to fly fish when I was about 8 years old that would be around 1957. The attached photo is of a couple of flies he tied that I came across this past week end while organizing and culling my tackle collection. Note how the leader is a permanent part of the fly and instead of tied to an eye of the hook is actually tied into the body of the fly.

Down river from Merlin and Just before you come to the bridge over Hell Gate Canyon on the Rogue River, if you turn off to the right you’ll find a unimproved camping site about ½ mile from the highway on the river side where we camped; it was a great spot with a clear running spring with ice cold water.

Our RV was an old 2-ton stake-bed (flatbed) farm truck. We never slept on the ground because there was always marauders be it raccoons or bears which would make a loud showing nearly every night.

Raccoons have a peculiar habit of washing their food before they eat it and my dad would occasionally provide sugar cubes for the coons as a joke. You can imagine their surprise as they washed their sugar cubes in the creek and watch them dissolve; amazingly, they aren’t as bright as one may think as they do it over and over again. Yeah I know it was cruel… funny too.

We’d start the day early to catch a few trout for the family breakfast and my Mom and my sisters would fry them until the tail became crisp and eat them with home grown eggs and fried potatoes. When that was done dad and I were off with the gold pans to see if we could supplement the days catch with some butter yellow metal; way back then gold was $32.00 an ounce and we’d collect our share to be sold as money for future camping trips. Later in the day would be another trip to the river to catch dinner; there was always an overabundance of fish.
Great story. I've never been to the Rogue, but have heard many stories from a friend who grew up fly fishing it. On my bucket list.

The flies intrigue me, especially for small flies #18, #20. How did your dad lay down the tippet? At the whip finish, or sooner? How did he keep it out of the way while building up the fly?

Thanks again!
 

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