The Rogue has been long considered one of Oregon’s true salmon and steelhead fishing hot spots with people coming from around the world to get a shot and these big beautiful fish. The Rogue is renowned for larger than life runs of Chinook and steelhead. These prime fish, run the river from spring into winter and are among some of the largest of the species to be caught in the state.
Spring Chinook Salmon
The Rogue hosts a major run of spring Chinook salmon. These are among the best eating of the species and are referred to as “Springer’s” Generally these fish spend three years in the ocean, then begin their journey up the river between March and June. Runs vary from 10,000 and 80,000 fish per season with the typically Chinook weighing between 12 lbs. to 18 lbs.
Fall Chinook Salmon
The fall Chinook season is primarily all wild fish. These tend to be larger than the spring run with fish that can get anywhere from 40 lbs. to 60 lbs. The fall Chinook enter the Rogue river in July and by August can be caught as far up as the Grant pass. There are two primary fall Chinook runs on the Rogue river, the first enter the river in August and July, the later run journeys through the Rogue to the Illinois river to begin spawning in October.
Coho salmon start heading up the Rogue in September and October and provide good fishing through November. Although Coho are one of the smaller of the salmon species that run the Rogue, they are among the best eating. During late fall Coho are about 50/50 wild versus hatchery. Be aware only hatchery Coho can be retained on the Rogue.
The summer steelhead that run on the Rogue full of vigor. These lively hard fighting bright fish run from 18 in. to 22 in. long and average about three pounds. The summer run steelhead are smaller due the short time spent in the ocean feeding before returning to the rogue to spawn. About half of these steelhead are wild, and the other half are hatchery fish. The Summer steelhead run enters the river in May and by July are spread throughout almost the entire river system. The fishing is hot up above Gold Ray Dam in September and October.
During the month of November the winter steelhead action begins to take place. These are the larger of the Rogue steelhead runs due to the longer time they spend at seas feeding before entering the river. The Rogue river winter steelhead run hard from December through March, and they spread through the river with plenty of bright a fish to be found all the way into April.
The majority of these fish are wild fish with about 20% being hatchery fish. These fish begin to spawn as early as December and as late as June, with the heaviest spawning taking place in March and April.