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River Outlook: Oct. 8, 2009

ROGUE - The lower Rogue bay continues to provide a good show for trollers hitting a mix of mostly wild coho and late-run chinook, while the middle Rogue is still a solid mix of fall chinook and summer steelhead. The upper Rogue is very low and a bit tough on driftboat bottoms, but catches of adult steelhead remain fair to good on flies.

That makes the best bet the lower Rogue bay, provided the winds cooperate. On calm days, chinook and coho continue to hit the estuary on the incoming tides, and anglers have been hammering the fish through the top half of the out-going tide.Trolling anchovies with green or gold blades has been best. Coho are all over the place, but the vast majority are wild fish that must be released. Chinook are holding under the bridge and off the mouth of Indian Creek. Schools of chinook and summer steelhead have moved upstream, as well, making for some good fishing downstream from the mouth of the Illinois River. The steelhead will hold there until cooler temperatures entice them upstream.

Chinook fishing is hit or miss in the Agness area, with more misses than hits lately. Most of the chinook and summer steelhead remain downstream of the mouth of the Illinois, but look for them to start heading upstream with the cooler weather.

Halfpounder fishing remains good, and fly-fishing for them around Agness is very good thanks to low water.

The lower Rogue Canyon remains 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 are closed now for chinook fishing. Downstream of Hog Creek remains open, and most mid-week anglers continue to target fall chinook over summer steelhead. Steelhead are biting anything from plugs and spinners to worms, roe or streamer flies.

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. 28, 5,676 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. 28 was 4,416 at Gold Ray Dam. Fresh fish will continue to trickle over the dam well into December.

These early summer steelhead are getting less aggressive now that water released from Lost Creek dam is down beneath 48 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 streamers fished near the surface and focus on streamers down deeper in the water column or go to egg patterns. 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.

UMPQUA - Fishing for coho remains very good and active on the mainstem Umpqua, where catches are heavily on wild fish that must be released. 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 striped bass fishing.

CHETCO - Fishing is closed upstream of the Highway 101 bridge. Fishing for chinook in the bay has improved, with a few dozen fish caught daily on the top part of the out-going tide.

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.

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.

WINCHUCK - The river is closed to all angling, including in the estuary, through the remainder of the year.