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River Outlook: Oct. 1, 2009

ROGUE - The lower Rogue bay continues to be good for a mix of coho and chinook salmon despite the lack of anglers there, while the middle Rogue is transitioning today away from chinook and back to summer steelhead. The upper Rogue is low and starting to cool off as water-release patterns change, and that is changing how best to catch summer steelhead there.

That makes the best bet the lower Rogue bay, provided the winds are not bad. On calm days, chinook and coho continue to hit the estuary on the in-coming tides, and anglers have been hammering the fish. Trolling anchovies with green or gold blades has been best. Catches have been good from low tide through high tide. A good mix of fish are being caught daily, though the numbers of anglers have tapered off heavily. Schools of chinook and summer steelhead have moved upstream, making for some good fishing for summer steelhead downstream from the mouth of the Illinois River. Steelhead will focus on that water until cooler river temperatures entice them to move upstream. Chinook fishing is hit-or-miss in the Agness area, with catches better downstream of the mouth of the Illinois.

Halfpounder fishing remains good, though it tapered off as the water levels dropped. The fish are starting to stabilize and the lower flows should make them easier to catch.

The lower Rogue Canyon remains very good for adult steelhead and halfpounders, with angling restricted to artificial flies and lures. Twitching streamers under sink-tip lines has been very good in riffles for adult steelhead, and good numbers of hatchery fish remain in the mix. Chinook fishing is fair with Kwikfish, which cannot be wrapped with sardine filets now because of the bait restriction.

In the middle Rogue, waters from Gold Ray Dam down to the Hog Creek Boat Ramp closed Wednesday night for chinook fishing. Downstream of Hog Creek remains open, but most anglers likely will transition back to summer steelhead. With flows around 1,200 cubic feet per second in the Grants Pass area, fly-fishing for summer steelhead should be good. It's likely going to be best below spawning chinook with single-egg flies.

As of Sept. 21, 5,011 fall chinook had been counted at Gold Ray Dam. There remains no legal chinook fishing upstream of the dam; catch-and-release fishing that targets chinook also is illegal.

The summer steelhead count as of Sept. 21 was 4,312 at Gold Ray Dam.

These early summer steelhead are starting to get less aggressive now that water released from Lost Creek dam is down beneath 50 degrees. The releases are to control the hatching times of spring chinook eggs now in the gravel, but it means fly-fishers need to start steering away from streamer flies fished near the surface and instead focus on streamers down deeper in the water column or go to egg patterns.

The upper Rogue is awash with spring chinook smolts released recently from Cole Rivers. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed riverwide.

ILLINOIS - Summer steelhead and some halfpounders have moved into the lower reaches to take advantage of cooler water conditions.

UMPQUA - Fishing for coho salmon remains very good on the mainstem Umpqua, though most are wild fish that must be released unharmed. Coho are starting to move above Elkton. The mainstem is slow for sturgeon and striped bass. Summer steelhead fishing is good in the North Umpqua in both the bait water around Rock Creek and the flies-only water. Catches remain best at dusk for fly-fishers using streamers. Chinook fishing is closed in the Rock Creek area. Flows in the South Umpqua remain extremely low.

COQUILLE - Fall chinook fishing is fair to good for those trolling spinners in tidewater, especially around Prosper and Rocky Point. Striped bass fishing is slow.

COOS - Fall chinook fishing has tailed off in tidewater. The South Fork of Coos River has good chinook fishing now. Sturgeon fishing is slow in the estuary, as is fishing for striped bass.

CHETCO - Fishing is closed upstream of the Highway 101 bridge. Fishing for chinook in the bay has improved, but is still not very good.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers are fishing fair to good for sea-run cutthroat trout with spinners and flies. Trollers working the estuary have not fared well for fall chinook, with only one adult and a few jacks caught last weekend.

APPLEGATE - The river is open to angling, and a few fly-fishers are catching and releasing rainbow trout in the McKee and Applegate areas. The river is closed to steelhead fishing.