Photos: Women on the Rogue

Written by: Heidi Adcock, Store Manager of Orvis Portland

Ladies on the Rogue

What could be better than a three-day float down one of the Northwest’s most beautiful rivers?

photo courtesy Heidi Adcock

My first glance at the river compelled me to immediately grab my camera in an attempt to capture a group of large risers in front of Morrison’s, the river lodge I was staying at. I was thinking out loud to myself, “Oh, now this is going to be good!”

Six ladies and I were about to embark on a three-day fishing adventure on the Rogue River in beautiful southern Oregon with Tight Lines, an Orvis endorsed outfitter run by Jeff Helfrich and his crew. The Rogue River became protected under the “Wild and Scenic Rivers Act “of 1968 to preserve the outstanding scenic, recreational, geologic, historic, and cultural values the river possesses, not to mention its abundance of fish and wildlife. Once we reached our launch site at Grave Creek, I began to realize what a truly magical place this was and finally saw what all the hype was about. While this pristine river is touted as one of the finest whitewater runs in the country, it is also an angler’s paradise. Talk about the best of both worlds: Fishing and world class whitewater…are you kidding?

Ladies on the Rogue

The ladies and their intrepid guides from Tight Lines before the launch on the first day.

photo courtesy Heidi Adcock

Day one was all about getting accustomed to the scenery. I kept hearing myself say, “Wow, isn’t this amazing?”, “Look at that!”, “Did you see that?” and “How awesome is this?” It was also about getting acquainted with the “half-pounders” the Rogue is famous for.

Shortly after we launched, we came upon the un-navigable Rainie Falls, where we were deposited on the shore to hike around the falls. With my mouth agape, I watched as salmon threw themselves into the raging water, making their way upstream. With equaled amazement, I watched Jeff and his guides wrangle their boats down a slot on the other side of the river and then come pick us up safely downriver.

Ladies on the Rogue

The Rogue’s half-pounders might not look like trophies, but they punch above their weight class.

photo courtesy Heidi Adcock

We fished our way down the river, alternating between exhilarating whitewater and serene stretches of even flowing blue-green water. We stopped riverside and had a fabulous lunch prepared for us while we all sat back and took in more of the incredible scenery. With full bellies, we returned to the river, and I finally got to experience what a half-pounder feels like on the end of my line. They hit hard and put up one heck of a fight. For those of you who don’t know, a half pounder is a juvenile steelhead—unique to the Rogue, Klamath, and Eel rivers—that has returned from the ocean after only one year. (Steelhead usually stay out for two to three years, maturing to full size.) A typical half-pounder is 12 to 16 inches long and usually weighs in at MORE than a half pound. They hit and fight like mad and feel like a much larger fish. They are a blast to catch.

Ladies on the Rogue

Even on a group trip, it’s nice to find a bit of solitude on the river.

photo courtesy Heidi Adcock

We ended the first day at Black Bar Lodge, a unique set of rustic but comfortable and cozy cabins. While the ladies and I shared laughs and swapped stories about the day, Jeff and company began preparing the biggest pork chops I have ever seen, the best biscuits I have ever had, and copious amounts of delicious side dishes. After a huge helping of strawberry shortcake, I went to bed bushed, stuffed, and satisfied.

Mornings began with full country breakfasts, and the days were filled with fishing, whitewater, and wildlife viewing. Turtles, families of river otters, bald eagles, herons, osprey, water ouzels, the occasional sturgeon, redheaded eagles (a. k. a. vultures) bears, various ducks, and lots of deer all made an appearance at one point or another. Our days ended at Marial and then Illahe lodges. Hot showers, good food, and great company; I was getting quite used to this.

All good things come to an end, and this trip was over much too soon. How could 3 days have gone by so fast? As I made the drive home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fun times and laughs I had, the food I ate, the fish I caught, and the new friends I had made.

Heidi Adcock is the manager of Orvis Portland (OR).

Ladies on the Rogue

Even when the fish aren’t biting, the Rogue is a feast for the eyes.

photo courtesy Heidi Adcock

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