River Outlook

ROGUE - Spring chinook fishing has been fair so far in the lower Rogue, while winter steelhead fishing has been erratic in the middle Rogue, and enough fish are now in the upper Rogue to where it has become a player for winter steelhead anglers looking to stay closer to home.

The best bet is lower Rogue spring chinook salmon fishing — not because anglers are catching so many, but because an ocean-fresh Rogue springer is the best-eating fish Oregon can muster.

Catches of about a dozen fish a day are being reported in Gold Beach, with boaters getting the lion's share of the catch. Anchovies with green-on-green spinners are the hottest setup. Places like the old mill site, John's Hole and Birthday Hole (just downstream of John's Hole) are spitting out fish with regularity. The majority of the catches are fin-clipped hatchery fish. All wild springers must be released unharmed.

A few plunkers at Dunkelberger Bar and Huntley Park have picked up springers with Spin-Glo's spiked with sandshrimp, but the catch has been light.

In the upper Rogue, 3,152 winter steelhead had been counted over Gold Ray Dam as of Monday, and 235 of those have made it all the way to Cole Rivers Hatchery. Winter steelhead are spread out throughout the upper Rogue, and water flows are forecast to peak today at about 3,700 cubic feet per second at Gold Ray Dam. That should make winter steelhead catches good Friday through the weekend as flows start dropping. Plug with K-11 Kwikfish (they're the best swimmers in higher water) and Bagley crayfish. Side-drifting roe or egg flies is good along inside turns and throughout the deeper runs like Frenchmen's.

The middle Rogue has been somewhat slow for late-run winter steelhead, with a lot of spawned-out kelts in the mix. A few spring chinook reportedly have been rolling in some of the deeper waters, yet no confirmed reports have come in of a springer caught in the Grants Pass area. That could change over this next week as the water starts to drop.

Halfpounder fishing has tapered off in the Agness area.

Anglers are allowed to keep one wild steelhead a day over 24 inches long river-wide. The annual limit on wild steelhead is five per year.

ILLINOIS - The river was up and fishing effort has remained light for winter steelhead. Fishing is allowed only with artificial flies and lures, with most Illinois anglers pitching small spoons. Late-run fish should be materializing around Briggs Creek. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead over 24 inches long a day.

UMPQUA - The North and South Umpquas were in good shape and fishing fairly well for winter steelhead on a mix of roe and plugs. Spring chinook are in the mainstem, but they haven't seemed to make it past Elkton yet. A few bank anglers have picked up springers on big Spin-Glo's. The system is loaded with smolts this week as spring chinook and steelhead smolts were released recently from the Rock Creek Hatchery.

All wild steelhead throughout the system now must be released unharmed.

Sturgeon and striped bass fishing have improved.

COQUILLE - Winter steelhead fishing has tapered off, and most of the winter steelhead there are spawned-out kelts. The system remains open to winter steelhead fishing through April.

State fish biologists are tagging both hatchery and wild steelhead. All radio-tagged steelhead must be released alive.

ELK/SIXES - Both systems were forecast to peak and start dropping later today, making for good late-season winter steelhead. Both rivers close to steelhead fishing Wednesday.

Anglers can telephone the hatchery at 541-332-7025 for daily river heights and water color.

APPLEGATE - Flows are starting to drop and winter steelhead should be moving throughout the system for this last week of winter steelhead fishing for the season. The river closes to all angling Wednesday. Fish a combination of rubber fake eggs and worms with watermelon corkies. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed and there is no fishing from a floating device. Don't trespass.

CHETCO - The river was in decent shape but very little activity has occurred this past week for winter steelhead. Most anglers are looking north for Rogue spring chinook instead. Steelhead season ends Wednesday.

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