Tips for catching winter steelhead in the upper Rogue

Where to target: Winter steelhead like deeper and slower water than summer steelhead, so look for slower riffles 4 or more feet deep.

From a driftboat: Side-drifting roe, worms and even plastic rubber worms are stalwarts. Fishing a pink worm off a pink-headed jig beneath a bobber is becoming a go-to method for upper Rogue steelheaders in recent years.

Plugs are fished 40-50 feet off the front of a driftboat, with the oarsman holding the boat steady so the plugs dive down in the current. Good options are Mag Lip 3.0 and 3.5 or Kwikfish sizes K-9 or K-11, with popular colors being silver and chartreuse, black and silver and black and white. Also try Rebel crawdads in more shallow water. Fish the shallow-diving plug on the bank side.

From the bank: Using spinning rods and wearing waders, use the same baits as driftboaters. Quarter your cast upstream and let the bait bounce along the bottom. After a few casts, take a step downstream and repeat.

Walk-in spots: Popular spots include the riffle downstream of the TouVelle State Park boat ramp, the Modoc Unit of the Denman Wildlife Area, the New Bridge Hole off Highway 62 upstream of the bridge at Casey State Park and the Hatchery Hole along the Cole Rivers Hatchery dike.

— Mark Freeman

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