River Outlook: May 27, 2010

ROGUE - Spring chinook salmon fishing is kind of yo-yoing around most of the Rogue as changing water flows and temperatures have had a turned-on, turned-off effect on the spring chinook bite, though fish numbers remain good in the lower, middle and upper sections of the Rogue for this time of year.

That makes the upper Rogue the best bet this week, largely because the water conditions are very good for springer fishing. Flows out of Lost Creek Dam were at 1,905 cubic feet per second and that's likely going to go up later this week as the recent storms have increased flows into the reservoir, which is full. So the Corps will be passing close to the outflow. As of Monday, 7,753 spring chinook have crossed Gold Ray Dam, and that includes 520 on that day alone. That's an excellent early count for the upper Rogue.

These upper Rogue springers are on the move, so fishing migration lanes and resting slots is better than the traditional deep holes, where wild chinook are hanging out. The entire upper Rogue is closed to the killing of wild spring chinook, so avoiding the holes helps avoid the need to release these fish.

Flows at Gold Ray Dam were at 3,500 cfs Wednesday and forecast to climb and peak Friday afternoon. That should bode well for weekend angling upstream of the dam. Driftboaters are doing better on roe than Kwikfish, largely because the amount of organic debris in the water is getting hooked on plugs quickly. Bank anglers are going fairly well at the Hatchery Hole, where fishing has been best very early in the morning with glow-in-the-dark corkies. The Slide Hole has fished fair, as has Casey State Park. The Chief Hole has been a good producer for bank anglers in what has been a good early season there.

The middle Rogue is a three-pronged show. For boaters, it's the area downstream of Gold Ray Dam. It's been fairly crowded, and catches have been a bit slow. About half the fish caught there lately have been hatchery fish, and that's a good ratio. Anglers are now allowed to keep wild spring chinook downstream of Gold Ray Dam as part of their two-chinook daily limit.

Hayes Falls and Rainie Falls have been good areas for bank anglers to target spring chinook with corkies and beads.

In the lower Rogue, catches of springers fell off earlier this week, but the cooler weather and the rain have raised the river and dropped lower-Rogue temperatures into the mid-50s. That's perfect for the springer bite, especially when the water starts to drop Friday. Anchovies or sardines with spinner blades have worked best from boats, while larger, pearl-colored Spin-Glo's have been top choices of bankies plunking at places such as Lobster and Quosatana creeks. There is an anchovy shortage on the coast, so buy some in the valley before heading to the coast.

The best lower Rogue activity has been at Elephant Rock and the old mill site as well as downstream of the mouth of the Illinois, which is flowing a little cooler than the Rogue.

The far upper Rogue upstream of Lost Creek Reservoir was stocked last week with legal-sized rainbow trout for the first time this season. The fish are a bit sluggish, and the water flows need to drop for fishing to improve. The area will be stocked again next week.

APPLEGATE - The river is open to trout fishing. There may be some late-season steelhead there, but steelhead season is closed. Don't pretend to be trout fishing and casting for steelhead. It's a quick ticket.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua is open to trout and smallmouth bass fishing, but high and cool waters have kept the bass bite squelched. The South Umpqua and its tributaries are open from Jackson Creek downstream to the mouth. Artificial flies and lures are required when fishing the tributaries, but bait is allowed in the main-stem.

The North Umpqua's run of spring chinook has created good fishing from Rock Creek on down the main-stem to Scotsburg. Water conditions were in flux again this week. Flows should be dropping steadily by the weekend and that should improve the spring chinook bite.

Shad have started to show up in the Yellow Creek area, and fishing for them is best in lower water. The higher water spreads the shad out more. Also, Sawyer's Rapids is kicking out shad to anglers there as well.

COQUILLE - The river is open, and cutthroat fishing is slow.

CHETCO - Cutthroat trout fishing is good in the upper tidewater areas upstream of the Highway 101 bridge. Bait is legal in tidewater only, with only artificial flies and lures legal upstream of tidewater.

WINCHUCK - Sea-run cutthroat fishing is fair in tidewater. Try free-floating a shrimp or prawn, or small spinners.

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