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River Outlook

ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing has slowed down river-wide as low and clear conditions have slowed migration and made holding fish skittish. But a weekend storm front could be just the ticket to jump-start steelhead movement again and get more fish caught.

Until then, the best bet seems to be the Galice area of the middle Rogue, where fishing has been spotty on holding fish. Guides are clearly out-producing private driftboaters. The winter steelhead seem to be kegged in a few areas, with lots of dead water between them. Small roe clusters and K-11 Kwikfish have worked equally well in the Ennis Riffle area. Eight-pound leader or even 6-pound would work now. What fish are getting caught have been big, with plenty over 10 pounds (that's good for the Rogue, where it's numbers of fish that rule, not necessarily size).

About three out of four of the steelhead now are wild fish, and only one a day over 24 inches can be kept by anglers fishing downstream of the Hog Creek boat ramp. Everywhere else, keeping wild steelhead is banned until Feb. 1.

Bank anglers are not faring very well now, with the lower and clearer water making plunking and side-planing less effective until flows rise and the water colors. Places like Griffin Park remain slow.

The lower Rogue winter steelhead success has slowed to a crawl. Flows are very low and clear. If rains reach the region as forecast, plunking could be good again early next week.

In the upper Rogue, early winter steelhead fishing remains slow. Through Jan. 12, 380 winter steelhead have been counted over Gold Ray Dam, but chances are many of those are spawning-ready summer steelhead. Roe and plugs are the mainstays for the upper Rogue winter steelhead run, with fish concentrated in slower water, tailouts and near the mouths of creeks.

UMPQUA - Winter steelhead fishing has been slow for bank anglers plunking with Spin-Glos in the mainstem. Because of smolt loss in the 2007 releases, this year's returns of hatchery winter steelhead will be light basin-wide.

The North Umpqua has been slow for winter steelhead fishing. The lower end of the South Umpqua is slow again as the flows have dropped to 3,000 cubic feet per second at Winston. That's on the low end for fishing success there.

The estuary has been pretty slow for sturgeon.

All wild steelhead throughout the system must be released unharmed.

COQUILLE - Winter steelhead fishing was slowed way down as the water has dropped and cleared. Steelhead are holding in deeper holes, where they are getting pounded by anglers with roe or jigs under bobbers.

State fish biologists have begun a steelhead radio-telemetry project and will be tagging both hatchery and wild steelhead for the next four months. All radio-tagged steelhead must be released alive. Eleven steelhead were tagged as of Tuesday.

ELK/SIXES - Both systems were low and fishing poorly for winter steelhead. New rains are needed to jump-start the fishery.

The water at the Elk River Hatchery was a nice shade of green and at water level 3.7 feet and dropping slowly. That's not good. Anglers can telephone the hatchery at 541-332-7025 for daily river heights and water color. Side-drifting roe and sandshrimp will be effective on the Elk for a mix of wild and hatchery steelhead.

APPLEGATE - The river is open to steelhead fishing, and flows have risen enough that some steelhead are present. However, very few winter steelhead have reached the lower Applegate so far, with mostly wild summer steelhead present in spawning mode. These fish ought not be targeted during early January, though it is not illegal to target them.

CHETCO - The river was down to 1,000 cubic feet per second of water Wednesday, and that has slowed all boat and bank angling. Water levels are forecast to rise Sunday, but likely not enough to really turn the fishing success on.

HUNTER CREEK - The flows are extremely low, and winter steelhead fishing is slow.