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River Outlook: Sept. 9, 2010

ROGUE - The lower Rogue bay has picked up a bit for fall chinook fishing with the recent coastal rains, while the Agness area continues to produce good catches of both fall chinook and halfpounder steelhead. The middle Rogue was getting good for fall chinook but the return of turbid water and the barometric yoyo-ing of this week have slowed the bite again. The upper Rogue is a flies-only show for summer steelhead with no chinook fishing allowed, and early September presents some of the best fly-fishing for steelhead available.

That makes the upper Rogue the best bet, with fly-fishermen getting their best show so far.

In the upper Rogue, the flies-only season started Sept. 1 and chinook fishing ended — even catch-and-release fishing. Early September brings warm water flows that makes streamer fishing very productive. Standard streamers such as red ants, green-butt skunks and tiger paws all work well when swung through riffles with sink-tip lines. Dusk is best. For spinning-rod anglers, a weighed Ugly Bug and a single salmon fly are good under bobbers, but remember that no added weights or attachments like sinkers or swivels are allowed.

Water flows in the upper Rogue are steady at 2,100 cubic feet per second out of Lost Creek Lake. Beginning Saturday, Sept. 11, flows will be stepped down to 1,000 cfs by Tuesday. Sept. 21. That's the standard ramp-down used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers each fall.

The summer steelhead run so far is a mix of wild and hatchery fish 16 inches to 10 pounds. All wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

Once the upper Rogue shifts to lower, cooler releases later this month, focus on streamer flies swung through steelhead runs at dawn and dusk, while fishing Ugly Bugs and single salmon egg flies during the day.

In the middle Rogue, the Labor Day weekend bite was good for fall chinook, but the fish haven't been where they normally are. Most of the chinook are getting caught in deep riffles and not the deep pools commonly fished. Kwikfish run through steelhead water downstream of Grants Pass has worked well, as has side-drifting eggs. Back-bouncing has been slow. Most of the action has been down to Robertson Bridge.

The turbid waters will be returning today as more in-stream work is done on the Gold Ray Dam demolition. How much extra turbidity will be added is unknown. Bank anglers are catching fish regardless of the turbidity at places like Finley Bend and the mouth of the Applegate River. Fish close to 40 pounds have been common.

The fall chinook salmon bite has improved in the estuary, thanks largely to cooler water, though most guides are focusing on the Agness area below the Rogue's confluence with the Illinois River. A few coho have been caught by bay trollers this week, and that's a hair earlier than normal. All wild coho must be released unharmed. From Huntley Park upstream to Agness, the fall chinook fishing has been good to very good. Back-bouncing roe has out-produced Kwikfish so far, and water conditions were good.

When not fishing chinook, Agness-area anglers are doing well for halfpounders. Small spinners, worms, roe and streamer flies are all getting attention from halfpounders, which are very aggressive when in the river. The limit is five fin-clipped halfpounders a day under 16 inches. Over 16 inches and they are considered adults.

The far upper Rogue upstream of Lost Creek Reservoir is stocked weekly with legal-sized rainbow trout through September.

UMPQUA - The South Umpqua is open to trout and smallmouth bass fishing with artificial flies and lures. An algae advisory remains in place for the South Umpqua near Canyonville, where a dog died of suspected toxic poisoning from blue-green algae last month.

COQUILLE - The lower river turned on this past week for fall chinook, with trollers getting fish around the Rocky Point boat ramp. Cut-plug herring or sardines have worked best.

COOS - Early fall chinook fishing has started to occur in the estuary. Anglers mooching the river mouth have been picking up chinook along the south jetty.