ROGUE: The lower Rogue bay has been fairly solid for larger fall chinook salmon so far this season. Spring chinook and summer steelhead numbers remain far below average in the upper Rogue, and the middle Rogue has been a veritable dead zone for catching anything but pikeminnow.
That keeps the best bet on the lower Rogue, because the fall chinook are showing up and they are big, bright beasts destined for the barbecue.
Trolling anchovies behind spinners, and occasionally an added flasher, has been good for early chinook in the bay, and that’s a welcome addition to what has been a slow year for salmon and steelhead on the Rogue. A high percentage of fish are in the 30-plus pound range, and that is far better than catching three smaller jack salmon last year. Chartreuse or copper spinners are the current favorites in front of anchovies. Catches should improve as the season continues.
In the upper Rogue, spring chinook and summer steelhead numbers remain low.
Counts Wednesday at Cole Rivers Hatchery show just 43 new chinook this week, bringing the total to 1,593. That’s terrible, far less than one-fourth of the 10-year running average for this time in the run. Downstream of Dodge Bridge, the river is open to keeping hatchery and wild chinook, but most wild spring chinook are already above Shady Cove at this time of the run.
Flows out of Lost Creek Lake were ramped up to 1,800 cfs Friday to make up for the hot air temperatures this weekend in Southern Oregon. Fall chinook are starting to make their way upstream from the bay so they need that higher, cooler water to survive a potential disease outbreak in the Lower Rogue Canyon.
For chinook, focus on migration lanes, with back-bouncing roe and sandshrimp or larger plugs wrapped with sardine fillets or tuna bellies.
Another 39 summer steelhead were captured this week at Cole Rivers Hatchery, inching the running count to 684 steelhead — which is the lowest count at this point of the run in the past decade.
Fish summer steelhead in the upper Rogue with everything from streamer flies and prince nymphs to MagLip 3.0 lures, worms and even pink plastic worms under bobbers. Focus on riffles where water oxygenation is best. Fly-fishers are doing OK on ugly bug droppers with prince nymph point flies or swinging large streamers at evening.
In Agness, bank angling for springers has been slow, but that’s predictable at these river flows.
If you’re not into red meat there also opportunities for some excellent walleye fishing this time of year as well. You may want to consider hiring on of Oregon walleye fishing guides as a viable alternative to salmon.