ROGUE - With river flows expected to rise again over the weekend, steelhead fishing could be hit and miss river-wide as anglers head into the last week of the 2007 fishing season.
The best bet will be tough to call. As of press time, it appears as though the middle Rogue could have some of the better early-season winter steelhead catches in a while. A mix of boat and bank fishing is expected. Bank anglers using Spin-Glo's should do well around Galice, especially those targeting the heads of pools as steelhead are on the move. Boat anglers will be prospecting for steelhead, mainly using roe or worms and corkies.
The upper Rogue's water will also rise and dirty over the weekend, and a mix of late summer steelhead and a few spawned-out summer steelhead will be around. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
When bait fishing resumes New Year's Day, look for some not-so-wild revelers to hit the stretch downstream from Shady Cove with roe targeting late-run summer steelhead that should be on the move. Most of these fish are dark and not so edible, so most of these fish will be released.
The upper Rogue has seen 7,451 summer steelhead over Gold Ray Dam as of Dec. 15. Also, 8,607 coho have been counted over the dam, but they are notoriously poor biters in fresh water. A few will bite bright red flies or lures in the sand hole or the hatchery hole, but that's about it.
Flows out of Lost Creek Lake remained at 1,360 cubic feet per second and expect them to hold pretty steady despite upcoming rains.
Flows at Agness were expected to rise again this weekend, and that bodes well for plunkers who are hitting fish at places like Huntley Park, Lobster Riffle and Dunkelberger Bar. Fish close to the bank and get even closer as the water level rises. The no. 2-size pearl-pink Spin-Glo is the best bet.
All wild steelhead must be released unharmed river-wide.
UMPQUA - The river was high and muddy and more rain is forecast in the next few days. When conditions improve, look for fresh steelhead peppered throughout the South Umpqua. Bank anglers will do well first, then driftboaters. As the fish move into South Umpqua, bankies should fare best at places like Templeton Beach, near the Myrtle Creek bridge, Stanton Park and behind Seven Feathers Casino.
A new rule goes into effect Tuesday that requires all wild steelhead on the North Umpqua to be released.
COQUILLE - Water levels were inching back up and the forecast was for high flows that could hamper winter steelhead fishing. Bank-fishing will be all right farther up the South Fork, and look for excellent winter steelhead catches on roe and plugs when the water again starts to drop. A few sturgeon have been caught this week around the city of Coquille as the fish are drawn by dirty water. The sturgeon will drop down toward Prosper as water conditions clear.
CHETCO - Winter steelhead fishing has been good so far this season, and look for another fresh wave of steelhead if the rains forecast for this weekend happen. Eggs are out-fishing plugs, but don't skip plugs in migration lanes when the water is a bit colored. Steelhead in the 20-plus pound range have been caught somewhat regularly this season.
ELK/SIXES - Good fishing conditions are expected by Friday on both streams. Fall Chinook fishing is winding down, but some fresh late-run chinook are expected with this latest storm. More steelhead catches are occurring now than salmon. Driftboat anglers are doing best side-drifting roe. The Elk fishes best at the 5-foot gauge height and dropping. For the latest river level, telephone the Elk River Hatchery at 541-332-7025.
APPLEGATE - The river opens for steelhead fishing Tuesday. If conditions leave the river fishable, there should be a decent number of wild summer steelhead staging off lower Applegate spawning tributaries. They can be caught and released using yarn flies, small spoons or worms and corkies. The river is closed to fishing from a floating device, and most of the Applegate borders private land, so ask permission before fishing.