River Outlook: Dec. 10, 2010

ROGUE - The upper Rogue has slowed for late-run summer steelhead thanks largely to rising flows, while steelhead and coho fishing have stalled in the middle Rogue thanks to turbid water caused in part by high flows through the former Gold Ray Reservoir site. The lower Rogue has seen a good early splash of winter steelhead for plunkers, including some early hatchery fish that make the winter run already appear promising.

That puts the best bet near the coast, where plunkers using Spin-Glo's have hooked multiple winter steelhead at places such as Huntley Park, the gravel bar at Lobster Creek and Dunkelberger Bar. Fresh fish have moved in with the recent freshets.

The water, however, is getting a bit problematic. The flows at Agness on Thursday were up to 7,000 cubic feet per second and rising. Forecasts are for it to rise into Sunday thanks to a new storm front.

The upper Rogue is getting a nice little shot of rain that is drawing wild summer steelhead into spawning tributaries. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were about 2,300 cfs Thursday, with flows at Dodge Bridge up to about 3,200 cfs and rising. That will get hatchery fish moving into the hatchery and pulling wild steelhead out of the fishery. Anglers looking to intercept these fish might find good luck in the far upper Rogue, with less luck elsewhere.

For those fishing from the Hatchery Hole to the Shady Cove boat ramp, anglers are fishing with worm or roe side-drifted from boats. Egg flies work great as well, and don't forget to bring a bag of pink rubber worms to fish in faster water. Plugs have worked very well, too. The chinook all are spawned and dead, so the steelhead are not focusing so intently upon just eggs now.

From the Shady Cove ramp downstream to the former Gold Ray Dam site, anglers are relegated to artificial flies and lures but no bait. So most either are fly-fishing or side-drifting single salmon egg patterns in riffles immediately downstream of spawning chinook.

The Grants Pass area had been giving up some sturdy catches of coho salmon on red and gold plugs fished in deep, slower holes, but the turbid water has pushed the majority of anglers off the river. A few of the retread steelhead recycled to Gold Hill last week were caught in the Gold Hill area as well as waters around the mouth of Bear Creek, but look for them to zoom to Cole Rivers Hatchery with the swelled river conditions.

Flows at Gold Ray Dam were not available Thursday afternoon thanks to an apparent malfunction of the gauge, which read at more than 12,000 cfs — clearly wrong.

UMPQUA - The upper main-stem Umpqua brought rough fishing this week, and what coho remain are dark. The lower Umpqua remains slow for sturgeon. The South Umpqua has risen and could be well out of shape for winter steelhead fishing this weekend. The North Umpqua flows have risen and largely have chased steelhead fishers off the water.

COQUILLE - The wild coho salmon season in the river is over. The river was up and dirty this week from rains. Winter steelhead were caught in the South Fork this past week before flows increased.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were up and high, but fishing for chinook salmon and a few early winter steelhead has been good, especially higher up in both systems. Plugs have out-worked bait.

CHETCO - The river was high and seemingly forecast to fall out of fishing shape for the weekend if storms and runoff materialize as forecast. Plenty of coho have been caught in the Nook and Redwoods areas on plugs, with even a few stray hatchery coho there. A few immense fall chinook were caught this week, including the catch-and-release of a fish weighing more than 60 pounds. The new hogs, however, are somewhat dark. Plugs are working best.

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