River Outlook: March 25, 2010

ROGUE - Spring chinook are biting consistently in the lower Rogue while steelhead are streaming over Gold Ray Dam and into the upper Rogue. In between, the middle Rogue has been a frustrating combination of relatively slow winter steelhead fishing and very little action on early spring chinook.

That makes the best bet either extreme, depending upon your gas budget and palate.

The lower Rogue's early run of spring chinook has been consistently bending rods and pleasing anglers despite low flows. Fishing the inside turns and in migration lanes is paying off for anchored boaters using straight anchovies or anchovies with a spinning blade in front. Most of the success has been from Lobster Creek on down, while bankies using large Spin-Glo's have hit a few fish at Lobster, Huntley Park and elsewhere. Bank action has been light due largely to water conditions. Look for flows to creep up over the weekend.

Springers are coming in with the incoming tides daily. Though early, the March showing of springers is promising. A few winter steelhead are still getting caught in the Agness area, and halfpounders are heading downstream for the ocean now.

In the upper Rogue, steelhead fishing has been a mixed bag for bait, plug and fly fishers, with all doing fair to good at times. Driftboat traffic has been busiest from Shady Cove to Dodge Bridge, with few venturing downstream of Dodge Bridge because of low water at Rattlesnake Rapid. It is runnable, however, despite flows of only 1,100 cubic feet per second at Dodge Bridge.

Side-drifting small yarn balls scented with anise or roe juice has been popular. Bagley crayfish and K-11 Kwikfish (gold and the silver with a splash of pink) have worked decently well, primarily on overcast mornings. It's a mix of hatchery and wild steelhead, with most in the 7- to 9-pound range.

Steelhead are chugging over Gold Ray Dam in good numbers. The count through March 18 was 6,750 winter steelhead, with a good showing in the previous week. When water flows jump up, these steelhead have been on the move.

In the middle Rogue, winter steelhead fishing has been sporadic, with a few plug fishermen jumping schools of fresh fish around Robertson Bridge. Some of the males are getting dark. No spring chinook have been confirmed caught in the Grants Pass area this week, but look for a few fish to start coming out of Rainie Falls this weekend.

All wild springers must be released unharmed river-wide now, while anglers can keep one wild winter steelhead at least 24 inches long a day.

APPLEGATE - Fly-fishermen floating the middle section of the river have done very well for winter steelhead this past week. Steelhead are hanging at tailouts beneath gravel bars where they will be spawning or are now spawning. Single egg flies and jigs are working best. Flows out of Applegate Lake were down to 140 cfs Wednesday. Good spoon casters are getting fish at Fish Hatchery Park and near Murphy Dam.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. The river closes to all angling Wednesday evening.

No fishing is allowed from floating devices, and access is hampered by private land.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua and North Umpqua were both in good shape and continue to fish fairly well for a mix of fairly bright late-run winter steelhead and spawned-out kelts. The mainstem Umpqua continues to produce well for winter steelhead hear Elkton, and a few spring chinook have been caught this past week from Winchester Dam down to Scottsburg. Most of the steelhead have been caught closer to the forks by side-drifting roe or yarn flies. Plug fishing has slowed. All wild steelhead in the mainstem must be released unharmed year-round.

CHETCO - The river was running around 1,300 cfs Wednesday and fishing was fairly slow for late-run winter steelhead. Very little effort has been put on the Chetco lately amid a relatively poor winter steelhead run this year.

ELK - Water conditions were low and clear Wednesday, and winter steelhead fishing was slowing down on both the Elk and Sixes. The rivers should be slow until another rain triggers that last shot of fresh steelhead to move in.

COQUILLE - Side-drifting roe or fishing plugs from driftboats remains fair on the South and North forks for winter steelhead despite fairly low water. More dark fish are starting to show up in the catches. The run is starting to taper off significantly.

ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing is slow with spoons or corkies. No bait is allowed.

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