This year, I had the great pleasure of joining Helfrich River Outfitters for a trip down the Rogue River! My experience was truly special; a trip of firsts, and a perfect way to relax after a crazy summer. It had been a busy season at HRO. I learned so much, including that things never stop around here. From the McKenzie, to the Middle Fork, Main Salmon, and on to the Rogue season, we were as busy as ever! Come October we were all ready for some R&R, Rogue River style!
An Idaho native, I’ve known mostly the solitude and pristine waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. My fly casting has been really coming around thanks to Kelsey and the other HRO guides who have given me a little help here and there. Departing Idaho, I was really excited to see a new place, fall in love with a new river and catch a steelhead! I’d heard of the Rogue and it’s great fishing; fierce-fighting juvy steelhead sounded like a blast to catch on a fly rod. When we arrived at Morrison’s Lodge, the fire was roaring and cocktail hour was in full swing. Dinner smelled delicious and I had the pleasure of meeting a special group of folks, The Rancheros. After some great conversations and a final cheers to tomorrow’s adventure, we turned in with great expectations.

The next day, guides meticulously checked their boats and gear, cracking quiet jokes as they readied themselves for another great trip through the canyon. I will never forget the blissful silence as we rounded the bend, drifting away from the boat ramp and into the serenity of the Wild and Scenic canyon. The views of the river canyon with its splashes of vibrant fall foliage was breathtaking. Before long, lines were in the water, adding a gentle swishing to the sounds of the river. We were ready to catch some fish and enjoy a few days of relaxation! Watching the salmon jump Rainie Falls was an early highlight, as we relaxed and watched the crew carefully lining their boats down the fish ladder. Each day on the river offered an amazing and thrilling experience unique to the Rogue River Canyon. Expert guides helped us catch some fish, cooked tasty lunches and made navigating the river look easy. Nice days on the water were made more leisurely by the comfort of the lodges each night. Each offered something fun and unique and we were all grateful for some of the creature comforts of home.
As we made our way down the canyon, we saw an abundance of wildlife including deer, eagles, herons, turtles and mink. We had an especially memorable lunch one day across the river from a momma black bear with two cubs. All this was sweetened when I caught my first steelhead! And I was especially proud when my fish came off the grill at lunch that day.
The weather turned sunny and warm and I enjoyed riding along in the drift boat soaking up the sun. Kelsey and Sherill made for excellent company; we caught fish, and had some great laughs. We even had an otter pop up to say hello to us in the midst of Coffeepot rapid; a sign of good luck. It certainly had been an amazing trip. Satisfied and feeling a little lighter after having our fun, I turned my thoughts to the last couple of days. The incredible changing river, geology and wildlife make the Rogue unlike any other. This trip also highlighted something that I had only seen in my periphery until then; the Helfrich crew is a special kind of family. It was really wonderful to be part of that. Great people and great places tend to get into your heart and stay there. They leave a mark. They remind us to appreciate the great bounty of life, surround yourself with those who lift you up and to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. I am grateful for a successful season on the river, laughing alongside good company and learning to fly fish. I have learned a lot, and I am excited to put it to great use connecting others to these types of bucket list experiences!

-Ashley Lohmeyer

HRO Office Manager

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