ROGUE - Winter steelhead fishing should get the pick-me-up everyone has been looking for with the storm front that has moved in. The river will rise, but not too high, bringing in fresh fish and stirring up those winter steelhead now stuck in holes with lockjaw.
The best bet will remain the Galice area, where anglers will be hitting moving fish now. Flows through Grants Pass will be up to 2,900 cubic feet per second Friday. That's not real high, but better than the 1,600 cfs present there Wednesday morning. Plugs will work well, but so will small clusters of eggs and yarn. Egg flies are good, too.
Fishing downstream from the mouth of the Applegate should be better this weekend on roe, yarn flies and worms with watermelon corkies. That's a mid-rain favorite for the middle Rogue and Applegate.
In the lower Rogue, winter steelhead fishing has been very slow. Flows at Agness were down to 2,800 cfs Wednesday, and they were forecast to peak at 4,300 cfs Friday. As the river drops, look for plunkers to hit steelhead on gravel bars from Agness to Huntley Park. The first spring chinook salmon of the year also could get caught next week.
Halfpounder fishing remains very good to excellent in the Agness area, thanks to low water flows. Twitching streamer flies has been excellent in the riffles. Small spinners also work well. These fish are around 15 inches long and quite tasty. Only fin-clipped hatchery fish can be kept.
The upper Rogue remains slow for winter steelhead, with very low and cold water conditions putting the hurt on steelhead migration. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were a paltry 880 cfs Wednesday as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers holds back as much water as possible to keep from lagging in the filling schedule for the lake.
About three out of four steelhead now are wild fish, and only one a day over 24 inches can be kept by anglers fishing from Cole Rivers Hatchery downstream to the ocean.
ILLINOIS - Winter steelhead fishing has been slow. But the flows at Kerby will be yo-yoing over the weekend, and that should get some fish moving and biting. A few fish have been caught near Briggs Creek and at Eight Dollar Bridge on spoons. No bait is allowed.
UMPQUA - Winter steelhead fishing has been fair to good in the lower sections of both the North and South Umpquas, with primarily wild fish caught in both systems. Flows on the South were set to double at Tiller by Friday, but the flow rates remain light for winter. Fishing likely will be best with small bait clusters or yarn balls.
In the mainstem Umpqua, plunking around Elkton should be fair this weekend with Spin-Glo's and sandshrimp, if you can find live ones. Because of smolt loss in the 2007 releases, this year's returns of hatchery winter steelhead will be light basin-wide. All wild steelhead throughout the system must be released unharmed.
The estuary has remained slow for sturgeon.
COQUILLE - Winter steelhead fishing slowed way down as the water has dropped and cleared dramatically. Steelhead are holding in deeper holes, where they are wary of even the lightest of gear.
State fish biologists will be tagging both hatchery and wild steelhead for the next four months. All radio-tagged steelhead must be released alive.
ELK/SIXES - Both systems were extremely low and clear and not fishing well for winter steelhead. Fish are scattered and skittish. New rains are needed to jump-start the fishery.
Anglers can telephone the hatchery at 541-332-7025 for daily river heights and water color.
APPLEGATE - The river is open to steelhead fishing, and flows have remained low and clear. No winter steelhead have reached the trap near the dam, and the little angling activity that's occuring is along the lower section downstream of Fish Hatchery Park. This week's rains mean a return to night crawlers and watermelon corkies. That's a good bait for the Applegate during rain events.
CHETCO - The river was up and the color was improving Wednesday as a heavy rain pounded the coast. Wind has remained a problem, as well. The Chetco was forecast to peak Saturday. Winter steelhead rarely bite on this river as the water rises, but look for good catches of winter steelhead riverwide as early as Sunday. Yarn and eggs will be best.
HUNTER CREEK - The flows are extremely low but a few winter steelhead were caught there earlier this week on small egg clusters.