Applegate Reservoir - Applegate Reservoir offers good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as rainbow trout. Spring chinook salmon are also stocked into the reservoir to supplement the trout fishery and count as part of the trout bag limit.
Applegate Reservoir - Applegate Reservoir offers good fishing for largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as rainbow trout. Spring chinook salmon are also stocked into the reservoir to supplement the trout fishery and count as part of the trout bag limit.
The first release of legal-sized rainbow trout for the year occurs in late April. More rainbows, including some larger fish, will be stocked in late May. These fish, along with some holdovers from last year, should provide good fishing throughout the spring and summer. Bank anglers can do well fishing bait from access points at French Gulch, Squaw Creek Arm, Hart-Tish Park, Copper, Carberry Creek and Seattle Bar. Anglers with boats catch fish trolling lures or attractor/bait combinations, or wind-drifting with flies. Anglers targeting the chinook usually fish deeper than those fishing for rainbows.
The river and tributaries above the reservoir open for fishing on Saturday, April 26.
Bass angling picks up with warmer weather. Look for largemouth bass in the shallow bays and around the willows and other woody structure. The more abundant smallmouth can be found along the rocky shores and points.
The availability of the boat ramps change with reservoir levels and seasons. During spring, the Copper ramp is open daily. The Hart-Tish ramp is expected to open May 2, and should remain open past Labor Day. Information about the Hart-Tish ramp can be obtained by calling 541-899-9220. Daily reservoir levels in feet above sea level can be obtained by calling 1-800-472-2434.
Applegate River - The river is closed to fishing in the spring to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts, but reopens for adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout May 24. Two adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout may be kept per day, 8-inch minimum length. Non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout and all cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. The use of bait is allowed.
The river offers one of the best opportunities in the area to catch winter steelhead on a fly from Jan. 1 to March 31. Swinging traditional steelhead flies and dead-drifting nymph patterns work well. Fly anglers will find the best conditions when flows are below 800 cfs, but the river can be fishable at higher flows, as well. Flow information can be obtained online at the USGS Wilderville Gauge.
Because the Applegate River is smaller than neighboring rivers, it offers good opportunities for wading anglers. Well defined holes and runs and a gravel bottom make it easier to fish.
Drifting bait and casting spoons also are popular winter steelhead techniques.
No fishing is allowed from a floating device, but anglers can use small rafts or pontoon boats to access more water. The Applegate River begins in Northern California and flows generally northwest to join the Rogue River west of Grants Pass. Much of the river is in private ownership, so anglers must use caution and always avoid trespassing. The National Forest lands on the upper river, Cantrall-Buckley Park, Jackson Campground and Fish Hatchery Park are prime fishing sites.
Agate Lake - Agate Lake is a fairly shallow irrigation reservoir located off of Highway 140, a short drive northeast of Medford. Because of its low elevation, fishing picks up early in the season, with good fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. Agate has been stocked with trout for the last several years to provide a winter fishery. Jackson County maintains an improved boat ramp on the lake, plus there is plenty of good access for bank fishing.
Big Butte Creek above Cobleigh Bridge and Little Butte Creek above the forks - Open to trout fishing May 24. Fishing is restricted to flies and lures only in both streams. Anglers may keep two trout per day, 8-inch minimum length in Big Butte Creek, while catch-and-release rules apply to Little Butte Creek. Both streams are closed to fishing for salmon and steelhead. There is no limit on brook trout in the headwaters of both streams.
Big Butte Creek flows past the town of Butte Falls and access is primarily on private timber land, with some National Forest land in the headwaters. Little Butte Creek starts in the Cascade Mountains south of Highway 140 near Fish Lake. The best access is on National Forest land reached by Forest Service Road 37.
Burma and Dutch Herman Ponds - These two old mining ponds on BLM land east of Wolf Creek are stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout in late April. They also provide angling for largemouth bass and bluegill.
Chetco River - The river offers fair fishing for resident cutthroat trout in the early season, and for searuns in the late summer. It hosts strong returns of both hatchery and wild winter steelhead, and is the only stream on the south coast besides the Rogue River with a hatchery program. ODFW has maintained a wild broodstock collection program on the Chetco River for more than 25 years, releasing up to 50,000 steelhead smolts annually. Releases occur at Social Security Bar, about three miles upriver from Highway 101. It is a great fishery but can be crowed at times.
The majority of the returning hatchery steelhead stay within the lower eight miles of the river, providing a very good fishery from early December to March. The heaviest concentrations are around the mouth of the North Fork Chetco River up to Loeb State Park.
The Chetco River also has a tremendous wild steelhead population. Both runs return at the same time, and most fish are spawned out by mid-March.
The Chetco is slow to muddy and clears quickly after a rain event.
The fall chinook salmon fishery starts in mid October in the estuary, peaks in mid November and ends by early December. Anglers can fish from one of the many public gravel bars, launch a drift boat or launch at an improved boat ramp at the Port of Brookings to fish the estuary. Each year, ODFW puts out a forecast for the run and may make some regulation changes based on this forecast.
Coos Bay and Coquille estuaries - Crabbing and clamming are popular here, and good areas for crabbing are available from docks at the Bandon and Charleston marinas. For those with a boat, the inside of Coos Bay's North Spit, between Charleston and the BLM boat ramp, produces a lot of Dungeness and red rock crabs. Crabbing can be excellent in the fall, winter and early spring, but typically slows down in the estuaries during late spring and summer.
Numerous clam species such as gapers, cockles and butter clams are available on sand and mud flats of Coos Bay nearly year-round. Marine perch and rockfish species are caught in the bays around concentrations of pilings and rock formations, particularly in spring and early summer.
Fall chinook angling is the premier fishery in the estuaries. The salmon return to the lower estuaries in mid-August through late October, extending into November if fall rains come late. The fishery typically starts from the jetties at Charleston up to the city of Coos Bay in August and early September. As fall weather occurs, the fish move up the estuary to the head of tidewater, with bright fish continuing to come in through October. When heavy fall rains occur, the chinook will leave tidewater for the spawning grounds.
Wild coho fisheries have occurred in the Coos and Coquillle estuaries since 2009. Open fisheries are still subject to annual approval, based on run forecasts and the ability to meet spawning objectives. Although some anglers target coho salmon, many are caught incidentally to the fall chinook fishery. Coho are usually in these estuaries in mid-September through mid-November, and also leave the open fishery areas when heavy rain occurs. Trolling plug-cut herring or a pink spinner will entice a coho to bite, and anglers also cast spinners/spoons.
Coos, Coquille and Tenmile basins - Coos County streams open May 24 for trout fishing. The late stream opener is designed to protect out-migrating salmon and steelhead smolts. Trout regulations for open streams allow harvest of two fish per day, with an 8-inch minimum size. Some streams remain closed to all fishing. In streams above tidewater, fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures only from May 24 to Aug. 31. Native trout in area streams are primarily coastal cutthroat, although resident rainbow reside in some streams above South Fork Coquille Falls. Check regulations for stream closures, gear restrictions, catch-and-release areas and season dates, and contact the Charleston Field Office at 541-888-5515 if you have questions about regulations.
With a little exploration and hiking, streams on the Elliott State Forest provide excellent cutthroat trout fishing away from the crowds. The bag limit is only two fish per day on these native fish that are not stocked.
Striped bass, shad and sturgeon are available in the spring. Green sturgeon are listed under the Endangered Species Act and must be released. This year's fishery for white sturgeon is catch-and-release only. Popular sturgeon fishing areas for the Coos estuary are near McCullough Bridge (where Highway 101 crosses Coos Bay), Haynes Inlet (the northernmost arm of Coos Bay), and upriver near the confluence of the South Coos and Millicoma rivers (five miles east of the city of Coos Bay). A popular sturgeon fishing area on the Coquille River is near the Rocky Point boat ramp.
Shad will appear with warm, sunny weather in late May and into June. In general, shad are available in the Coquille river tidewater from Mother's Day to Father's Day. Popular shad fishing areas are near Sturdivant Park and near Johnson Mill Pond on the Coquille. Shad returns to the Coos and Coquille rivers have been low for the last four or five years.
Striped bass congregate to spawn in upper tidewater of the Coquille River in the late spring. The population of striped bass in the Coos Basin has been nearly nonexistent in recent years. The striper bite is usually best at night. The bite typically slows down during the spawning period in late May and early June, but picks up again post-spawning. Surfperch anglers occasionally catch striped bass in the surf in early spring. The minimum length for harvesting striped bass is 24 inches.
The winter steelhead season in the Coos and Coquille basins typically begins around Thanksgiving with peak harvest from late December to late February. In some years, steelhead can be available into April.
Curry County Streams - Most Curry County streams open May 24 for trout fishing. Exceptions are Hunter, Brush, Hubbard, Mussell/Myrtle, Myers and Thomas creeks, which remain closed to trout fishing. Where open for trout, the daily bag limit is two trout at least 8-inches long.
Denman Wildlife Area Ponds - The Kenneth Denman Wildlife Management Area in White City offers very good fishing for a variety of warmwater species in ponds found throughout the property. Whetstone Pond, adjacent to the Rogue Watershed District office, is the largest. Anglers at Whetstone target largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead. Carp are also present, and green sunfish are found in some of the ponds. Good bank fishing is available, and boats with electric motors are permitted.
A variety of fishing techniques can be effective. A simple technique is to fish a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Largemouth bass will strike surface or shallow running lures fished around cover as the water warms in the spring. Information and a map of all the ponds on the Wildlife Management Area are available at the Rogue Watershed District office of ODFW at 541-826-8774.
A parking permit is required on the Deman. Go to the ODFW website for more information.
Diamond Lake - The lake will start the fishing season this spring with an increased number of trout. Most of these will be 10 to 12 inches long, and many will be more than 16 inches. There may be a few sublegal fish from the 20,000 that were placed in the lake last November. The bag limit is eight trout per day, and only one trout longer than 20 inches can be harvested per day. Last year, angling success dropped to 1.1 fish per angler when people were fishing on the 166,000 fingerlings that were stocked in 2012. ODFW stocked additional legal-sized trout in August and sublegal trout late in November to improve angling success for 2014. ODFW will also increase its stocking from fewer than 200,000 fingerlings to 275,000. These fish will be stocked about six weeks after ice-off, and many of them will be legal-sized by late August.
Bank anglers at Diamond Lake are successful with PowerBait, worms and a variety of lures. Boat anglers tend to troll Ford Fenders, spinners or anchor and plunk. Fly fishing is also popular. Many of the fly-fishing anglers are using small, inflatable pontoon boats to access the water.
A Free Fishing Weekend event will be held on Diamond Lake from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 7. Call Greg Huchko at 541-440-3353 for more information. Later that month, the annual Blackbird fishing derby will be held.
Elk River - The Elk has excellent wild winter steelhead and fall chinook runs that are best fished from a boat. The river does not have a steelhead hatchery program, but anglers can expect to catch some stray adipose fin-clipped steelhead. ODFW does maintain a fall chinook program, with an annual release of 325,000 smolts. Chinook start entering the river in early November and peak mid-December. The Elk fishes best at 5 feet and dropping. Call 541-332-0405 for daily gauge heights and water clarity. Limited bank fishing is available because the majority of land along the river is private property. Most drift boaters put in at Elk River Hatchery and float approximately nine miles to Ironhead boat ramp; both are ODFW properties. Boat anglers side drift eggs, fly fish or run plugs.
Emigrant Reservoir - The lake has already been stocked this spring with good numbers of legal-sized rainbow trout. Fishing for trout should be good. Bank anglers normally do well still-fishing with bait, while boat anglers normally troll lures or attractor/lure combinations. Trout stocking will continue through May.
Fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill, black crappie and brown bullheads will improve with warmer weather. Anglers should target these fish around the flooded willows, along the face of the dam and dike structures, and along the rocky points and ledges. For panfish, use a size 10, 12 or 14 hook baited with worms below a bobber. Casting small lures and jigs is also effective. Bass will strike a variety of lures and soft plastic baits fished around the cover.
Expo Pond and Reinhart Park Pond - Both ponds are stocked with rainbow trout throughout the spring, and provide fishing for bass and panfish in the spring, summer and fall. Expo Pond is located immediately adjacent to the access road at Gate 5 at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. Reinhart Park Pond is located at Reinhart Park in Grants Pass. Fishing bait, either from a bobber or on the bottom with weight, can be effective.
Fish Lake - Located near the summit of Highway 140 between Medford and Klamath Falls, Fish Lake has an improved boat ramp, two Forest Service campgrounds, and a resort with cabins, boat rentals and a restaurant. The Forest Service campground should be open by mid-May. Once the water warms a little more, trout fishing should be good for both bank and boat anglers using bait, lures or flies. Fish Lake is heavily stocked each year with legal-sized rainbow trout. Brook trout are also available.
Chinook salmon have been released annually since 2009 and are now contributing to the trout fishery.
Tiger trout, a hybrid between a brook and a brown trout, were released into the lake the last two years.
Bait fishing with worms and floating bait is effective at Fish Lake, and is probably the best bet during the summer. The bank between the two campgrounds is a good place for youngsters to fish. Trollers can do well at Fish Lake in the spring, fishing flies, lures and small spoons or spinners.
The Fish Lake Resort can be reached at 541-949-8500.
The U.S. Forest Service will host a Free Fishing Weekend event on Saturday, June 7 at the CCC shelter in the day-use area. Contact the USFS High Cascades Ranger District, 541-560-3400, for more information.
Galesville Reservoir - The 600-acre reservoir is stocked annually with 8,000 legal-sized trout. It also has warmwater fishing for bass, crappie and bluegill. Bass between 12 and 15 inches must be released, and only one bass longer than 15 inches can be kept. The reservoir is also periodically stocked with coho smolts. The coho have typically grown to 11 to 14 inches and tend to bite even in warm weather. The reservoir now has a campground below the boat ramp which is operated by Douglas County.
Howard Prairie Reservoir - Howard Prairie opens for fishing on Saturday, April 26. It provides good fishing for stocked rainbow trout and bass. Brown bullheads and pumpkinseed sunfish are also available.
ODFW stocked good numbers of trout in Howard Prairie last fall. Fishing is expected to be good in the spring and early summer despite low water levels.
Both boat and bank anglers do well at Howard Prairie. Floating baits are popular, while boat anglers trolling flasher and worm, or lure combinations usually do well for trout. Fly anglers can do well at the shallow upper end of the lake, especially early in the year.
Fishing for bass has become very popular in recent years. Largemouth bass occupy the shallow coves with woody structure. Smallmouth bass are abundant along the rocky shores. All the standard bass techniques catch fish.
Fishing is expected to be good in the spring and early summer despite low water levels. All campgrounds will be open, but the boat ramps at Willow Point and Grizzly will not be available this year. A universal access fishing platform is located on a jetty near the resort. Contact Jackson County Parks at 541-774-8183 for campground information.
Hyatt Lake - Hyatt opens for fishing on Saturday, April 26. Largemouth bass are available at Hyatt, and the lake remains overpopulated with a large number of small bass. These fish are easy to catch in the warm summer months and present a nice family fishing opportunity. Most techniques will catch these fish, from fishing night crawlers below a bobber to casting bass lures, and even trolling flies and lures.
Rainbow trout are stocked annually at Hyatt Lake, and can grow to a good size. The overpopulation of bass has harmed the trout fishery in recent years but trout fishing is improving as the bass population is being thinned by transfers to other lakes, and the trout are being stocked at larger sizes. Trout caught by anglers in 2012 were in very good condition throughout the fishing season, so expectations are good for large trout this year. Still-fishing with bait is the most popular technique, but trollers do well also.
The Hyatt Lake Resort has closed and its boat ramp is no longer available. Two Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, each with boat ramps, are located on the lake. Fishing is expected to be good in the spring and early summer despite low water levels. When the reservoir drops this summer, inflatable boats can be launched or the lake can be fished from shore.
A Free Fishing Weekend event will be held at the BLM campground on Hyatt on Saturday, June 7. Call 541-618-2200 for times and more information.
Illinois River - The Illinois opens below Pomeroy Dam to steelhead and adipose fin-clipped trout on May 24. Fishing is restricted to artificial flies and lures, and no bait is allowed. The fishery at this time of year is primarily catch and release. Adipose fin-clipped steelhead and rainbow trout, which are actually half-pounder steelhead, can at times be caught in the lower Illinois during the summer and fall.
The Illinois River provides excellent fishing for wild winter steelhead from December through March, with the fishery peaking in January and February.
The Illinois River flows out of California into the Illinois Valley, before entering a long canyon leading to the Rogue River at Agness. In the Illinois Valley, private land limits access to the river. In the canyon, most of the land is publicly owned. Except for the lower three miles, between Oak Flat and the mouth, a lack of developed access points and whitewater limit fishing opportunities from a boat. In addition, topography in the canyon makes access to the river difficult in most places, but this also keeps the fishing pressure down.
Anglers willing to make the effort can usually have a beautiful section of river to themselves. The river is full of boulders and ledges that make drift fishing difficult in many places, so casting flies and lures are popular fishing methods. Due to the local geology, the flow in the Illinois can increase rapidly during a storm; however, the river drops and clears quickly afterward.
Fishing in the Illinois River is restricted to artificial flies and lures. Above Klondike Creek, anglers may harvest wild steelhead at least 24 inches in length, one per day and five per year, as part of the steelhead/salmon catch limit. Below Klondike Creek anglers may keep only adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) steelhead, which occasionally stray into the Illinois River from the Rogue. The river above Pomeroy Dam (near Cave Junction) and all tributaries are closed to fishing.
Lake Selmac - The largest standing water body in Josephine County, Lake Selmac is heavily stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout from February through June. The lake is also a renowned producer of largemouth bass, and is managed for trophy bass through a one bass per day limit. Bluegill, black crappie and brown bullhead are also available. Fish for trout near the dam as the water warms.
Bank access, boat ramps and camping facilities are available through Josephine County Parks at 541-474-5285. Beginning around mid-April each year, boat rentals are available at the Lake Selmac Resort at 541-597-2277.
There will be a Free Fishing Weekend event at Lake Selmac June 7-8. Check with the Middle Rogue Steelheaders for times and more information at www.rogue-steelheaders.org.
Lemolo Reservoir - Lemolo has a naturally reproducing brown trout population that offers excellent brown trout fishing in the spring and fall. Ten-pound brown trout have been caught at Lemolo. The lake will also be stocked with 5,000 trout this spring and is scheduled to receive additional trout this fall.
Lemolo opens April 1 for catch-and-release for brown trout, with a 5 per day harvest for other trout species. From April 27 through Oct. 31, the limit is 5 per day for all trout species. Lemolo goes back to catch-and-release for brown trout Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, with 5 per day harvest for other trout.
Lemolo has several Forest Service campgrounds plus Lemolo Lake Resort, which offers lodging, camping and food. For information about roads and campgrounds, call the Forest Service at 541-498-2531. Call Lemolo Lake Resort at 541-957-8354 for information on conditions, fishing and their facilities.
Lost Creek Reservoir - Lost Creek Reservoir on the Rogue River above Shady Cove is heavily stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout, while smallmouth and largemouth bass provide an important fishery at the reservoir. Casting jigs along the northern shoreline can be very effective for good-sized smallmouth.
Stocking began in March, and releases continue through early June. Trout anglers fishing from the bank primarily use floating bait or worms. Boat anglers use a wide variety of techniques. Trollers often fish wedding ring and night crawler combinations behind a weight, while fly anglers can have success both trolling and casting. Juvenile spring chinook are also stocked at Lost Creek.
Fishing for bass and panfish will improve with warmer weather. Largemouth bass are contributing more to the fishery at Lost Creek due to ongoing transfers from other lakes. With the help of volunteers from local bass clubs, ODFW has released close to 10,000 largemouth bass into Lost Creek over the past several years.
A Free Fishing Weekend event will be held at Lost Creek on Saturday, June 7. Contact Stewart State Park at 541-560-3334 for more information.
Medco Pond - An old log pond situated along the Butte Falls-Prospect Highway, Medco is stocked with rainbow trout in April and May. The pond has good bank access, and small watercraft can launched from the shore. Still-fishing with bait is the most popular technique here, but anglers can cast and troll lures as well.
The pond also contains good populations of largemouth bass and bluegill.
Rogue River - The river offers fishing opportunities nearly every month of the year.
Winter steelhead migrate up the Rogue from December through May, followed by summer steelhead from June through November. A strong run of wild winter steelhead is supplemented by releases of hatchery fish in the Rogue and Applegate rivers. Winter steelhead provide a popular fishery on the Rogue River, but do not draw the huge crowds like spring chinook. Given the diversity of the rivers within the Rogue Basin, anglers can find water suitable for whatever fishing technique they enjoy.
Returns of winter steelhead to the Rogue and its tributaries are expected to be near average this year. Hatchery returns were up through early April at Cole Rivers Hatchery, adding to the fishery opportunity.
Several dams have been removed within the Rogue Basin over the last several years, which has greatly improved conditions for all of the Rogue's native species. For anglers, this means more fishable water. In the areas once impounded by the dams, there are now new riffles and runs.
Even when winter freshets create high flows and turbid water, anglers can typically find fishable water on the Rogue between Cole Rivers Hatchery and Big Butte Creek, where the clear outflow from Lost Creek Reservoir makes up most of the river's flow.
In the lower river, anglers are focused primarily on spring chinook in April, May and June from the mouth upstream to Foster Bar, approximately 40 miles. Anglers fishing either off the bank or from a boat can do equally as well, depending on the flow. Bank anglers will do the best when flows are around 10,000 cubic feet per second and dropping, while boat anglers do best when flows get down around 7,000 to 8,000 cfs and dropping at Agness.
An early run of summer steelhead usually enters the river the latter part of May and early June.
Winter steelhead fishing kicks off around Thanksgiving, but really picks up in mid-December. The steelhead run will usually peak sometime in late January, but steelhead will enter thru March or early April. Regulations for the lower Rogue River change on Jan. 1 each year and anglers should review the regulations before heading out.
Plunking a Spin-N-Glo is the technique of choice for bank anglers. Steelhead in the lower river all migrate on the inside bends of the river in about two to four feet of water. The tough part for boat anglers new to the fishery is appreciating how close to the bank steelhead migrate. Usually, you want to anchor the boat about one or two boat widths from the shore, unless the water is really clear.
Public access is very good from the top of tide all the way to Quosatana Campground, approximately 15 miles.
Running plugs is the number one technique among boat anglers. Boat anglers can launch at any of the gravel bars in the lower river, or boat ramps at the Port of Gold Beach, Lobster Creek Campground or Quosatana Campground.
The Rogue is closed to trout fishing in the spring to protect smolts migrating to the ocean. Trout fishing reopens May 24, when anglers may keep five adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout per day, 8-inch minimum length. All non-adipose fin-clipped rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released unharmed. Cutthroat trout fishing has been very good in the upper river the last few years.
Spring chinook salmon fishing peaks in the lower river in April and May, while anglers in the upper river above Gold Hill enjoy peak fishing between late May and early July. The spring chinook run this year is expected to be similar in size to the good returns experienced over the last few years. For much of the run, wild spring chinook must be released unharmed, while hatchery spring chinook may be harvested.
The first summer steelhead begin to arrive in the middle and upper river around May, but fishing usually remains slow until the numbers begin to build in July. The best summer steelhead fishing in the upper river occurs in September and October.
Winter steelhead normally start to arrive in the area around Grants Pass in late December, with peak fishing in February and March. There is plenty of good bank access along the middle Rogue. Between the city, county and state parks and the federal recreational areas, there are over 20 developed access sites. In addition, much of the land along the river below Hellgate Canyon is owned by the Bureau of Land Management. Some of the most productive sites include Valley of the Rogue State Park, Matson Park, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge. Bank anglers can enjoy success by drifting bait, casting lures, plunking and fly fishing.
This section of the river also offers good opportunities for fishing from drift and motorized boats. With boats ramps distributed every three to five miles along the river, there are a lot of options. Techniques favored by boat anglers include drifting bait, casting lures and flies, back bouncing bait and lures, and back-trolling plugs. Side-drifting bait is becoming increasingly popular in the long, slow runs below Grants Pass.
Winter steelhead are normally caught in the upper river above the former Gold Ray Dam (near Gold Hill) from February through mid-May, with peak fishing in March and early April. Because hatchery steelhead returning to Cole River Hatchery supplement a healthy population of wild steelhead, there are a lot of winter steelhead in this section of the river.
Access for bank fishing is plentiful in this stretch. Bank anglers can enjoy good success between the hatchery and the Highway 62 Bridge, and at public access points such as Casey State Park, Rogue Elk Park, Takelma Park, Denman Wildlife Management Area and TouVelle State Park.
Numerous boat ramps allow boat anglers to choose from a variety of popular drifts. The river gets smaller in this upper section, with more defined holes. The area from Cole Rivers Hatchery downstream to Big Butte Creek usually remains fishable when the rest of the river is out of shape due to storm events.
Drifting bait, casting lures, and back-trolling plugs are all popular techniques. Later in the season, fly fishing can be very productive. Fly anglers can find good water for swinging flies with two-handed rods, as well as places to dead-drift nymph patterns.
Anglers may keep wild steelhead at least 24 inches in length, one per day and five per year, from Feb. 1 to April 30. Adipose fin-clipped (hatchery) steelhead may be kept the entire year.
Good boat ramps are well distributed along the Rogue River from the upper boundary of the Wild Section at Grave Creek clear up to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery, just below Lost Creek Reservoir. A map of boat ramps can be found at the Visit Grants Pass website at www.visitgrantspass.org/Index.aspx?page=12.
Rogue River above Lost Creek Reservoir - This is the premier summer trout fishery in the Rogue watershed. Most campgrounds and public access sites on the Rogue River above Lost Creek Reservoir are stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout on nearly a weekly basis between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Brook trout are also available in the headwater streams. Contact the Rogue Watershed District ODFW office at 541-826-8774 for a map of stocking sites.
Siskiyou Mountain Lakes - Several of the small, high-elevation lakes in the Siskiyou Mountains are stocked with rainbow or brook trout. Bolan, Tannen and East Tannen Lakes are located off of the Takelma-Happy Camp Road south of Cave Junction. Bolan is accessible by a Forest Service road, while Tannen and East Tannen lakes are within the Red Buttes Wilderness and require a short hike. Miller Lake is located in the upper Applegate drainage west of Applegate Reservoir. It can be reached by either the Carberry Creek Road or Thompson Creek Road; however, anglers must now hike the last two miles to the lake due to a closed bridge. Most of these lakes become accessible by mid-May, and usually remain so until early November. Information and maps for the Siskiyou National Forest and Red Buttes Wilderness Area can be obtained from the Grants Pass Interagency Office on Biddle Road (541-471-6500).
Sixes River - The Sixes muddies quickly, clears slowly and boasts excellent winter steelhead and fall chinook runs. Bank fishing and boat access are at Cape Blanco State Park, Highway 101 bridge and at ODFW and BLM properties. Boat anglers can find easy floats that range from two to 12 miles. Most anglers fish roe, spinners, run plugs or fly fish.
Cutthroat trout fishing can be excellent in the lower river and estuary from mid to late summer. This area can be very windy, and anglers will want to look at the weather before heading out.
Sky Lakes Wilderness Area - Many of the lakes and streams within this wilderness area, which straddles the crest of the Cascades between Crater Lake National Park and Highway 140, offer good trout fishing. Most of the larger lakes are stocked with brook trout, which can grow up to 20 inches long. The streams and a few lakes have naturally reproducing populations of rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout. The higher-elevation lakes are typically blocked by snow or ice until late June, but then usually remain accessible through October. Some of the lakes are relatively close to trailheads and can be reached by an easy hike. Others require more effort to access.
Winchuck River - The Winchuck has an excellent run of winter steelhead and a small run of fall chinook. It's slow to muddy and clears quickly after rains. The upper river flows primarily through Forest Service land with good access for bank anglers. Anglers can float the river, but only experienced oarsman should attempt it. Fishing from a boat is prohibited. Anglers will want to check for any temporary regulation changes that may be in effect for the river prior to heading out.
Cutthroat fishing can be good in mid to late summer in the estuary and lower river.