ROGUE — Winter steelhead are starting to pop up from Grants Pass downstream to the sea now that post-holiday storms have finally let up. The upper Rogue is pulling into shape, but there is not much around right now to fish for.
The best bet is the lower section of the middle Rogue, such as the areas near Galice and Grave Creek. That's the first place to intercept winter steelhead migrating upstream through the Lower Rogue Canyon. Driftboat fishing is best here, with anglers doing best when side-drifting roe and sandshrimp. Driftboat fishing is also fair to good from Whitehorse Riffle on down, with fresh migrating steelhead getting caught in the inside turns of gravel bars.
Flows at Grants Pass were a manageable 5,700 cubic feet per second of water, and dropping. That should mean good drift fishing through the weekend. Remember, it's still early in the season so action could be hit-and-miss. Bank anglers using side-planers are doing well near the bank at Griffin Creek. Hot Shots and even K-11 Kwikfish are the top choices of side-planers this week.
In the lower Rogue, plunkers using larger Spin-Glo's are jumping fish near the bank and driftboaters are anchoring up and fishing larger plugs. Flows at Agness were at 11,000 cfs and dropping Wednesday. The continued drop in the water will shift success away from the plunkers and toward driftboat and powerboat anglers later this week.
The entire river is open for bait fishing. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.
UMPQUA - The river was dropping and winter steelhead fishing was picking up throughout the system.
Plunkers were doing well in the main-stem close to Roseburg but conditions remained high for good driftboat fishing.
The North Umpqua has remained fair for winter steelhead, with more than 500 fish already past Winchester Dam. That's third-best in the past decade. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed in the main-stem and North Umpqua. The South Umpqua was at 6,700 cubic feet per second Wednesday and dropping. Good driftboat fishing is occurring, with decent catches of fin-clipped hatchery steelhead.
The South Umpqua was high but starting to clear Wednesday. However, more rains in the forecast call for fishing conditions to be poor until Saturday at the earliest. When conditions improve, look for plenty of fresh winter steelhead river-wide.
Sturgeon fishing should be good in tidewater next week.
CHETCO - Winter steelhead fishing has been improving and looking very good through the weekend for driftboaters who will find fresh fish throughout the system. Side-drifting egg patterns or small clusters of roe will be best. The Chetco had dropped to 3,800 cfs as of Wednesday. These steelhead are on the move, so fish migration lanes, heads of pools and tail-outs.
ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were dropping and clearing, making for improved winter steelhead fishing. The Elk has produced the most fish, with plenty of anglers drifting down to Ironhead Launch from the hatchery. For the latest river level, telephone the Elk River Hatchery at 541-332-7025.
COQUILLE - The entire Coquille system gas dropped. Flows at Powers were at 1,300 cfs and down to 3,700 cfs at Myrtle Point. Fish riffles and the inside turns of gravel bars because these fish are on the move. Plugs also will work better as water conditions improve.
APPLEGATE - The river has dropped and the first few winter steelhead are in the lower portion of the river. Fishing is now fair with egg flies but better with small spoons cast upstream and tumbled through the current. Worms and watermelon puff balls often work very well on the Applegate as the river drops and clears after a storm. Some late-run summer steelhead are in the upper river, but they are spawned-out wild kelts and should be left alone. The river is closed to fishing from a floating device, and most of the Applegate is private lands so ask permission before fishing.