ROGUE - With river flows expected to rise again over the weekend, steelhead fishing should remain a hit-or-miss proposition through the first weekend of 2008, but it should be good early next week as water levels drop.
The best bet for the weekend will be the upper Rogue, which will likely be the only fishable waters on the river after a storm forecast to move into the area today starts raising river levels. The flows at Grants Pass, which were down to 3,442 cubic feet per second Wednesday, are forecast to climb to 27,000 cfs Saturday. When it drops, look for fresh winter steelhead from Grave Creek up to Savage Rapids Dam, with side-planers and plunkers doing well with Hot Shots and Spin-Glo's.
In the lower Rogue, plunkers have done very well over the holidays for winter steelhead downstream of Agness. The best action for plunkers has been on gravel bars downstream of Lobster Creek. No. 4 pearl-pink Spin Glo's have been best. Boat anglers anchoring in migration lanes upstream of Lobster Creek and at Kimball Creek have done well for winter steelhead.
Bait-fishing is back throughout the upper Rogue, and that alone has enticed anglers to start floating downstream of Shady Cove. Water conditions were good Wednesday, but a series of rainy days should make conditions poor.
UMPQUA - The river was high and muddy and more rain is forecast in the next few days. Winter steelhead have been reported in the North and South Umpquas, but muddy water has curbed effort. Wild steelhead can no longer be kept as part of the daily limit on the North Umpqua, and all wild steelhead must be released on the South Umpqua. A few sturgeon have been caught in the lower river, but effort has been light.
COQUILLE - The South Fork has fished very well for winter steelhead this past week, but new rains should push the river out of shape for the weekend. The farther up the system you go, the better the conditions. Forecasts call for nearly bank-full flows this weekend at Coquille and Myrtle Point.
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 very good this past week, but rains heading inland today through the weekend make steelhead fishing a likely bust. Forecasts call for flows rising 11 feet through Saturday. When water conditions drop rapidly next week, look for excellent winter steelhead fishing from the forks down to tidewater. Plunkers and driftboaters will both do well in migration lanes.
ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were fishing fair for winter steelhead, but both rivers should be blown out by Friday during the incoming rain storms. The Elk fishes best at the 5-foot gauge height and dropping, and that might happen as early as Monday. For the latest river level, telephone the Elk River Hatchery at 541-332-7025.
APPLEGATE - The river is open for steelhead fishing, but conditions are low and no fresh winter steelhead have been reported. When the winter steelhead start showing up later this month, the Applegate provides the best local opportunity to catch winter steelhead on flies. Streamer flies swung on sink-tip lines work well in dropping water conditions, but egg flies and stonefly nymphs generally work best. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed. A few spawned-out summer steelhead are in the lower section of the river, and anglers would do best not to target them. The river is closed to fishing from a floating device, and most of the Applegate is on private lands, so ask permission before fishing.
PISTOL - Fresh winter steelhead have been caught in the past week, especially in the lower stretches. Look for fishing conditions to deteriorate for the weekend, but expect a few fresh steelhead early next week. Access is limited.