ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing should get a boost from this week's freshets. The river should peak tonight then drop and clear over the weekend, making for decent steelheading prospects in the middle and even the upper Rogue.

ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing should get a boost from this week's freshets. The river should peak tonight then drop and clear over the weekend, making for decent steelheading prospects in the middle and even the upper Rogue.

The best bet will remain the middle Rogue, but effort should shift from the Galice area to waters between the mouth of the Applegate River and Robertson Bridge. That will give anglers the best opportunity to target hatchery steelhead heading to the upper Rogue as well as the Applegate.

Flows at Grants Pass were 2,146 cubic feet per second Wednesday and were forecast to peak tonight. That could make Friday good for side-drifting roe, worms and corkies or yarn flies. Plunking with Spin-Glo's also should be good once flows start to drop.

In the upper Rogue, flows out of Lost Creek Lake remain light at 848 cfs. But flows downstream of Big Butte Creek should peak tonight, making for decent winter steelhead fishing for the first time this season. The only catch will be how turbid the flows are. Assuming decent-colored water, use roe and yarn flies and try plugs along the inside turns on gravel bars. Look for migrating fish. As of Feb. 19, just 966 winter steelhead had been counted over Gold Ray Dam. Look for that to spike this week.

The lower Rogue remains a bust for winter steelhead because of the high and dark water. The turbidity likely will be poor until at least Sunday. Plunkers can look for good action on late-run winter steelhead around Quosatana Creek, Dunkelberger Bar and Lobster Bar. One plunker likely will catch the first spring chinook of the season next week in the lower Rogue.

In the lower Rogue, the high flows likely will start moving halfpounders downstream toward the ocean. When flows subside, target these fish with small streamer flies and plugs. Halfpounders are now around 15 inches long. Only fin-clipped hatchery halfpounders may be kept.

Anglers are allowed to keep one wild steelhead a day over 24 inches long river-wide, and five per year.

ILLINOIS - The river should crest tonight, bringing fresh winter steelhead into the system. Look for decent winter steelhead catches on spoons or corkies in the Briggs Creek area. No bait is allowed. Anglers may keep one wild steelhead over 24 inches long a day.

UMPQUA - The North and South Umpquas were forecast to be up and out of shape for winter steelhead fishing today, but flows are likely to drop enough by the weekend to provide good fishing in both systems.

In the mainstem Umpqua, plunking around Elkton should be fair early next week with Spin-Glo's and sandshrimp, if you can find live ones. Because of smolt loss in the 2007 releases, this year's returns of hatchery winter steelhead will be light basin-wide. All wild steelhead throughout the system must be released unharmed. The estuary remains slow for sturgeon.

COQUILLE - The river was forecast to be out of shape today, but a quick drop in water flows should see good steelhead fishing as early as Saturday in the South Fork. Side-drifting roe and corkies should be good, with some plug fishing from driftboats along the inside turns of gravel bars.

State fish biologists will be tagging both hatchery and wild steelhead for the next four months. All radio-tagged steelhead must be released alive.

ELK/SIXES - Both systems were way up and tough for winter steelhead fishing Wednesday, when the water was just on the green side of murky at the Elk River Hatchery. Look for the Elk to drop and clear enough to sport decent winter steelhead fishing as early as Friday afternoon. Don't bother fishing until the water starts to drop. Plugs or roe and sandshrimp should work well.

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

APPLEGATE - The river should get its first good shot of winter steelhead this weekend as water levels rise. When it begins to drop, worms and watermelon corkies are a great bait-fishing option. Thread the worm on the hook below the corkie and drift-fish is just like normal.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed and there is no fishing from a floating device. Don't trespass.

CHETCO - The river was high and murky, but look for a quick drop in the river to create decent fishing conditions as late as Saturday afternoon. Plunking and side-drifting from driftboats should be good river-wide, but better on the upper reaches where flows will be lighter and clearer.