ROGUE - Extremely cold and dry conditions continue to plague the Rogue, where very little fishing action has occurred in the past week. The chattering of steelhead teeth, however, is least in the Galice area, where a few hearty souls have caught a few steelhead this past week.
Flows and temperature are the biggest culprit. Flows at Grants Pass were down to 1,424 cubic-feet-per-second of water Wednesday. That's barely enough to get driftboats through. Snow was forecast to drop to 1,000 feet above sea level today and Friday, making everything white and cold.
Forecasts are for warmer and wetter conditions around Christmas. When that happens, go after summer steelhead with small clusters of roe or egg flies, as well as Bagley crayfish plugs. In the middle Rogue, most of the fish are wild, and they are starting to stack up around creek mouths, waiting for a freshet to spawn. These fish are best left alone.
In the upper Rogue, flows are so low and cold that virtually no one is fishing. Late afternoon, anglers might run into a steelhead at the Hatchery Hole or in shallow riffles. Worms or small roe balls are as good a choice as anything.
Through Friday, 5,813 summer steelhead have been counted over Gold Ray Dam, but only eight fish in the past week have made the trek. As soon as it rains, look for a small flurry of steelhead activity, with the far upper Rogue better than down low.
In the lower Rogue, more winter steelhead blazed upstream this week without biting in the low and clear water. Too spooked to eat.
UMPQUA - Winter steelhead fishing was fair in the main-stem river, where flows remain extremely low and cold. Small clusters of bait fished in slower, deeper water are the best bet. Plugging tail-outs also works well under these conditions, provided you work a plug right into a steelhead's nose.
The estuary is starting to kick out a few sturgeon, but fishing remains somewhat slow. The North Umpqua was slow for steelhead, and the South Umpqua was too low for steelhead to enter this week. Rain is needed to get this system charged.
All wild steelhead throughout the system now must be released unharmed.
COQUILLE - The river was low and clear and fishing poorly for early-run winter steelhead. Rains are needed to get things going.
ELK/SIXES - Both systems have dropped, and fishing has slowed dramatically for fall chinook. A few anglers are walking into the Orchard Hole and the Highway 101 hole to fish bobbers, eggs and sandshrimp. Catches, however, are extremely light.
APPLEGATE - The river is open to trout fishing, but flows are extremely low and cold. A few summer steelhead are present in the lower river, but anglers may not target them until January. All wild rainbow trout and all cutthroats must be released unharmed.
CHETCO - The river was flowing at just 644 cfs at the gauge at Ice Box, and the chilly conditions have all but put the freeze on winter steelhead fishing. When the weather warms next week, look for a burst of steelhead catches throughout the system.