River Outlook

ROGUE - Fluctuating water levels should mean a few good days and a few bad days for winter steelhead fishing in the middle and upper Rogue, while the lower Rogue remains light for spring chinook fishing — but at least fish are showing up.

That leaves the middle Rogue as the best bet for the weekend, with Sunday's water forecast looking better than Saturday's.

Driftboat fishermen are doing best with yarn clusters and corkies side-drifted from boats, with worms and watermelon corkies also good. Straight roe is OK, but it's best to add some sort of color to your offering. Anything downstream of the mouth of the Applegate is good, but a school of fish were reported in downtown Grants Pass on Wednesday. As water levels rise today and drop Friday, look for fresh fish to pop up along the inside turns of gravel bars and move through fast water. More fish will be holding Thursday and Saturday as river flows are expected to double.

A K-11 Kwikfish should be the ticket for plug fishermen, with chartreuse and silver patterns best. Don't forget to bring some worms and watermelon corkies. They can be very effective during runoff events for winter steelhead.

In the lower Rogue, a couple spring chinook are getting caught daily amid relatively high and somewhat murky water. Guides are favoring anchovies with a green-and-yellow spinner blade in front. Elephant Rock is a favorite. Bounce your baits in 4-6 feet of water along inside turns of gravel bars. All wild springers must be released unharmed, and wild springers are so far dominating the catch.

The upper Rogue is just starting to get some interest with 3,185 winter steelhead over Gold Ray Dam through March 15, which remains the last updated fish count provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. About half of those came over the dam between March 8 and March 15. Last weekend was a dud throughout much of the upper Rogue, as the steelhead have primarily kept to waters downstream of Dodge Bridge. A few steelhead are getting caught daily at the Hatchery Hole, but effort has been light. Catch them on roe, sandshrimp and plugs.

The entire river is open for bait fishing. Anglers may keep one wild winter steelhead over 24 inches a day as part of their two-fish daily limit.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua was up but fishing well throughout the week as more hatchery steelhead have moved in from the main-stem Umpqua. The newest storm fronts were expected to bring colder water conditions, and that should slow the bite.

The North Umpqua will rise but it should remain fishable for winter steelhead amid clear but cool water conditions. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

A few spring chinook are in the mix with winter steelhead on the main-stem river, but water conditions should make for difficult fishing this weekend. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed on the main-stem Umpqua. Sturgeon fishing is fair.

COQUILLE - The South Fork was forecast to be high but likely fishable this weekend, with a few fresh steelhead around. Most of the catches are spawned-out kelts. Roe or yarn balls are out-producing plugs. Steelhead fishing closes Monday night.

CHETCO - Water conditions were high and forecast to increase this weekend. A few fresh winter steelhead are around, but the vast majority of recent catches have been spawned-out adults. Steelhead fishing closes Monday night.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were sporting excellent winter steelheading this past week, and both rivers likely will continue to fish well right up to Monday night's season closure. Roe and puffballs are best. Roe and roe-and-sandshrimp combinations are out-fishing plugs. For the latest river level, telephone the Elk River Hatchery at 541-332-7025.

APPLEGATE - Winter steelhead remain kegged up in the lower part of the system due to low-water conditions. But look for storm fronts and increased water flows to get these steelhead on the move this weekend — just in time for Monday night's season closure. Spoons, roe, worms with watermelon corkies and yarn flies are all good bets. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed and no fishing is allowed from a floating device.

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