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River Outlook: Nov. 26, 2009

ROGUE - The upper Rogue remains fair for summer steelhead now that the chinook spawn is over and the steelhead are less apt to be so myopically interested in single salmon eggs. The middle Rogue continues to be a good place primarily for catch-and-release fishing for wild summer steelhead, and the lower Rogue bay remains slow for a mix of a few late coho and chinook.

That means the middle Rogue now is the best bet for a mix of summer steelhead and coho salmon. The steelhead are starting to stage off the mouths of creeks waiting for the next freshet to run up and spawn. Catch them on small clusters of roe side-drifted from boats, worms and watermelon corkies, small spinners and streamer flies.

The waters around Valley of the Rogue State Park remain good for catch-and-release fishing for wild summer steelhead with single salmon egg flies or worms and corkies.

Coho salmon are moving through the middle Rogue as well, and a few of them are biting purple, chartreuse or pink Flatfish plugs or spinners. Focus on deep, slow water where a few coho are rolling. All wild coho must be released unharmed.

In the upper Rogue upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp, anglers are side-drifting small pieces of roe or egg flies and doing fairly well for summer steelhead in tail-outs and around boulders. Fly-fishing in the upper Rogue has been best lately with prince nymphs and Ugly Bugs as the fish start to vary their diet.

Downstream of the Shady Cove ramp, anglers are relegated to artificial flies, lures and plastic baits but no regular baits like roe or worms. Single-egg patterns side-drifted from boats remain very effective all day along this stretch.

As of Nov. 14, 5,777 summer steelhead and 1,779 coho salmon had been counted at Gold Ray Dam. Flows out of Lost Creek Lake have held steady at 1,090 cubic feet per second all week. The reach remains low, largely because of low tributary flows.

Halfpounder fishing remains fair to good and fly-fishing for them around Agness is best when the water levels drop below 2,000 cfs. Flows were listed Wednesday at 2,667 cfs and dropping, though flows are forecast to rise again Saturday.

The far upper end of the lower Rogue Canyon remains decent for a mix of adult steelhead and halfpounders, with angling no longer restricted to artificial flies and lures. Worms or roe side-drifted from boats or crayfish plugs work very well, while flows remain low enough for good catching on streamer flies.

All wild steelhead must be released unharmed river-wide.

The far upper Rogue and its tributaries upstream of Lost Creek Lake are closed.

UMPQUA - Chinook and coho should be moving again in the far upper end of the mainstem Umpqua thanks to recent warm rains. The North Fork is closed to chinook angling and the South Fork is closed to all angling. Steelhead fishing is fair in the North Umpqua.

CHETCO - Fishing has been very good at times since the river opened to angling last Thursday. A strong plug bite occurred during the higher water, but fishing out of driftboats with roe and divers has been very good during mid-week days. Flows were down to 1,900 cfs Wednesday and forecast to dip until a good spike Saturday. Fishing Sunday should be excellent as the river drops and the chinook get on the move. Waters from Ice Box downstream are open to chinook fishing. The limit remains two chinook a day, but only one wild fish per day and two wild fish per season.

ELK - Chinook have distributed throughout the river, and fishing was very good much of the week. Chinook are holding just upstream and downstream of the hatchery, and fresh fish have come into the estuary with recent good tides. Bait is out-fishing Kwikfish, but that could change once the water starts to drop again. The run is dominated by 15-pound hatchery fish so far.

The bag limit is two chinook a day, but only one can be wild. The wild limit is five per year in the zone.

SIXES - Fishing for chinook has been good this week river-wide, but look for catches to slow down this weekend and then perk up again next week. Fishing in the holes below Highway 101 is best. Kwikfish will out-produce roe until flows stabilize. Fly-fishing will be slow until water levels drop. The limit is one wild chinook a day.