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River Outlook: Oct. 15, 2009

ROGUE - The lower Rogue bay continues to provide a decent fishery for coho and chinook when the weather cooperates, while the middle Rogue is turning into more of a steelhead fishing show and the upper Rogue has settled into its typical cold-water October season that makes fly-fishing more difficult.

That makes the best bet the middle Rogue, where 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 just starting to key in on spawning chinook there, but they 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 below spawning chinook with single-egg flies should be good.

The lower Rogue bay has been very windy and tough for fishing this week. On calm days, chinook and coho continue to hit the estuary on the incoming tides and anglers have been doing fairly well trolling around the mouth of Indian Creek targeting chinook headed for the Indian Creek Hatchery. Coho are all over the place, but the vast majority are wild fish that must be released unharmed. Schools of chinook and summer steelhead have moved upstream as well, making for some good fishing for summer steelhead downstream from the mouth of the Illinois River. The 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 more misses than hits these days. 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 and improved water conditions. A few decent fall chinook were caught recently upstream of Quosatana by side-drifting roe.

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 upper Rogue, water released from Lost Creek dam is 44 degrees, making for sluggish steelhead. They will bite egg flies, prince nymphs and stonefly imitations, but swinging streamers through traditional steelhead runs is less productive now.

As of Oct. 4, 6,063 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 Oct. 4 was 4,461 at Gold Ray Dam. Fresh fish will continue to trickle over the dam well into December. 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, where catches are heavily on 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 and all fishing is closed.

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

COOS - 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 is fair to good, with a few dozen fish caught daily on the top part of the outgoing tide. A good combination of jack and big salmon, with plenty of 30-plus pounders caught recently.

ELK/SIXES - Both rivers need increased flow from rains to get early jack chinook moving upstream. Those rains could be this week. If so, look for jacks and some adults in the lower ends of both systems.

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 to protect a poor run of fall chinook expected there.