ROGUE - Cold water temperatures caused the winter steelhead fishing to crash in the middle Rogue earlier this week, mirroring the poor fishing conditions that have mired the lower Rogue for a few weeks.
Fresh steelhead have slowed their move into the upper Rogue, in part because of the drop in out-flows from Lost Creek Lake and the cold conditions caused by all snowmelt and no fresh rains.
That makes the Galice-Grave Creek area the best bet by default, and fishing could get good there again if the water starts to warm. Flow temperatures had dropped to 42 degrees, causing the steelhead to hunker down and show little aggression.
When the flows warm and rise a bit, use roe and sandshrimp or K-11 Kwikfish for moving steelhead. Bankies using side-planers should work Ennis Riffle or Griffin Park.
In the lower Rogue, bank fishing has remained slow for winter steelhead because of low and cold water conditions. But anglers are saying they are seeing schools of steelhead sprint past them. No confirmed spring chinook salmon have been caught so far, but reports of a few wild springers caught and released have trickled in.
The upper Rogue is just starting to become an option as 678 winter steelhead have crossed Gold Ray Dam through Feb. 20, which remains the last updated fish count provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Look for catches to improve into March, especially when some rain warms the river.
The entire river is open for bait fishing. Anglers may keep one wild winter steelhead over 24 inches a day as part of their two-fish daily limit.
UMPQUA - The South Umpqua was down and winter steelhead fishing has slowed, but look for another flurry when rain increases flows. Flows at Winston on the South Umpqua were way down. Some hatchery fish are already in the South Umpqua. Fishing in the North Umpqua has remained fair, mainly in the Colliding Rivers area. There are lots of wild steelhead in the North Umpqua this year. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed in the North Umpqua and main-stem river.
COQUILLE - The South Fork was low and fishing erratically for late-run winter steelhead. A lot of spawned-out kelts are starting to show up in the catches. They need to be released. Prospect for winter steelhead with roe and puffballs. Fishing plugs has been slow in low and clear water.
CHETCO - Water conditions are a bit low and the winter steelhead catches have tapered off.
ELK/SIXES - Both rivers were low and clear this week, making for poor winter steelhead catches. The Sixes has dropped to levels where driftboating has become troublesome. For the latest river level, telephone the Elk River Hatchery at 541-332-7025.
APPLEGATE - The river is open for steelhead fishing and steelhead already are spread throughout the system. Water levels remain low and clear. Saturday's rain should suck some winter steelhead into the lower river from the Rogue. Catch them on spoons, worms and corkies, or egg flies. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed and no fishing is allowed from a floating device.
PISTOL - Catches of winter steelhead have slowed a bit this week in the lower stretch of this Curry County river. Public access remains limited.