Rogue Bay Breaks Wide Open- Gold Beach

Rogue River- Lower - Gold Beach, OR

When Greg Chamberlin from Point Arena, California has a hankerin' for large 28-pound Chinook, he knows right where to go like he did last week - trolling the Rogue bay with guide Jack Hanson. Photo by Jack Hanson

by Larry Ellis

Trying to keep a salmon off your hook in the Rogue bay last week was like telling water not to be wet.

While it is true that I’ve seen better fall Chinook seasons in the Rogue bay, remember that it is only mid-July and the season has only just begun – to live; to thrive.  So many lures to choose. The salmon started out walking and learned to run.

And now we’re having fun.

I’ve always maintained that the Rogue bay is an on-again, off-again scenario.  It could be hot one day, and cold the next. That’s why you should always make fishing the Rogue bay a 2-day experience.  You might hit the jackpot twice in a row, and that does occasionally happen. But if you’re playing the odds, figure that you’ll have at least one good day out of a two-day scenario.

“It’s picked back up since Tuesday evening,” said Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach on Thursday.  “There’s a reasonable amount of fish being taken, and there are some reasonable-size fish being taken. Today we had a pretty strong day across the board.”

So as Carey warns, “the horde’s coming”.  The horde is referring to the strengths of boats that will be trolling the bay this weekend.

When the ‘salmon bite’ was very strong, as it was last Saturday, phone calls of anglers were flooding the telephone lines at the Rogue Outdoor Store.  The major consensus of the birds on the wire was that the run has only just begun.

“We’re going to have a lot of company in the bay,” remarks Carey. “I say we’ll have 70 boats this weekend. On Monday, we only had 25 boats in the bay.”

And these fish are huge.  Most of them are 4- and 5-year olds.

“These are really big fish,” said guide Jack Hanson of Jack’s Guide Service.  “They’re averaging anywhere from 17 to 27 pounds, with some fish even larger.”

Limits have been a commonality for many Rogue bay guides like Hanson and John Anderson, who said that they haven’t had a happier group of clients in years.

Then there’s this thing called a dredge.

The Rogue bay has been shallowing up in recent years and this season, the dredge has been running day and night.

Now under normal circumstances, you would think that a dredging operation would cut the fishing off dramatically, throwing all kinds of silt and debris in the water, making it too turbid for fishing.

Think again!

“We have caught more fish while the dredging has been going on than you would believe,” remarks Hanson.  “Even with the noisy dredge, the fish are biting better than usual. And surprisingly, there has been very little silt being dredged up.  It’s all micro-fine rocks. The dredging hasn’t hurt the fishing at all!”

Hanson’s largest Chinook, a 28-pound monster, hit a Rogue bay’s traditional spinnerbait/anchovy combination, and he said that one fish that was too big to imagine, was lost somewhere near the boat.

Remember that 38-pound king that guide Greg Eide put one of his clients on last week? Well, there’s more of them apples ready to be plucked from the Rogue bay.

So far, the dredging operation has significantly widened and deepened the Rogue bay’s entrance.  They are now up to the infamous Cat Houses on the north jetty.

In short order, the dredge should be up to the Coast Guard Station in approximately a week, which should drastically improve the fishing in the lower part of the bay.

Carey says that the majority of the Chinook have been in the 20-pound class.  

“A lot of people have been running straight bait, but those who are running chartreuse/green combos are having the better luck,” tips Carey.  “Green-on-green is still a good producer.”

John Anderson of Memory Makers Rogue River Guide service has also been on a roll all week.

“We had one day where we had six nice Chinook, and we ended up also releasing a wild steelhead,” remarked Anderson.  “So you never know what you’re going to get. The day before that I had a half-day trip and got two fish. And yesterday we were tagged out within an hour. And there were a lot of fish being caught around the dredge.

“The dredge has maybe another week to a week-and-a-half, and then they’re done. And they’ve made the entrance to the bay maybe three or four hundred feet wide, and they’ve made the bay 15 to 22-feet deep on a high tide.  So the dredging has been a really good thing.”

A deeper entrance to the Rogue bay means all that incoming cool ocean water will give the salmon something to duck into when the river water around them is too warm and uncomfortable.  This badly-needed dredging will turn the bay into the estuary it once was in yesteryear.

So, if you think the fishing is good now, look for the Rogue bay to turn on even more so next week.  If you are not hooked up, you surely will be watching somebody who will be battling a thumb-burning Chinook in the surrounding vicinity.  And I’ll take vicarious thrills any day. When you see other anglers’ rods bent double, at least you know there’s a fish in the water with your name on it.

The Rogue Outdoor Store, Lex’s Landing and Jot’s Resort all carry plenty of anchovies, sinkers, sliding spreaders and Rogue Bait Rigs.

Tight lines!

Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the author of two books, "Plug Fishing for Salmon" and "Buoy 10, the World's Largest Salmon Run."  Both books can be bought from Amato Publications (, Amazon and eBay. Ellis particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise.

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