April Can Be Very Good Steelhead Fishing

Rogue River - Middle - Prospect, OR (Jackson County)

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

Trout fishing is open on the Rogue for one more week, through March 31. After April 1, most rivers in the area are closed to steelhead and trout fishing. Now through April 30, the entire Rogue from the mouth to Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery is open to steelhead fishing with a limited harvest opportunity of 1 wild steelhead per day and 3 per year SW zonewide. In the Rogue, wild steelhead must be at least 24-inches long in order to be retained. Consult the 2019 sport fishing regulations for further information and clarification. After April 30, hatchery steelhead may still be retained.

April can be very good steelhead fishing on the Rogue, so don’t put your gear away just yet! 

Both bank anglers fishing plugs and side-planners, and boat anglers are catching fish. Recent reports indicated plugs, eggs and yarn balls all producing winter fish from boats. We are nearing peak run timing for winter steelhead in this area so expect fishing to continue to get better.

Anglers continue to encounter the occasional spawned-out summer fish. These “downrunners” or kelts are very colored up, and exhibiting a “sunken” or sucked in belly.  Anglers are encouraged to use catch-and-release best practices by limiting their handling of these fish, not remove them from the water if possible, and release them as soon as possible. 

Popular methods for winter steelhead fishing include running plugs from a drift boat, drifting night crawlers, roe, or yarn balls. Bank anglers typically use a side-planning setup with plugs. A variety of bait including different colored roe will always help your chances when steelhead fishing. Higher water can often be a good thing for bank and plug anglers as the river will actually “get smaller.” Meaning that fish will be navigating closer to shore and in a narrower migration path.

Fly anglers that nymph will want to use prince nymphs or copperswans, steelhead brassies, stone flies, ugly bugs, or will want to fish large dark flies if swinging. Don’t be afraid of color such as black and chartreuse, black and blue, black and purple, black and pink, or black and red. If tying your own flies, don’t be afraid to add a little bit of flash dubbing or tinsel in the body of your fly. Also, covering lots of water when working through a run is a good technique when swinging flies. Trying moving 4-5 feet downstream every cast or two.

Popular floats include: Gold Hill to Rogue River, Baker to Lathrop or Ferry Hole, or Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge.

Boaters floating from Hog Creek to Graves Creek should be familiar with the rapids in this section of river, and know their takeouts. Experienced oarsmen/woman are recommended here. There are many BLM public access points to bank fish from Hog Creek to Graves Creek. This is often referred to the “Galice area”. Boats should not attempt to float through Hellgate Canyon during high water. Also, just downstream of the Alameda boat ramp is Argo Rapid.  Inexperienced boaters should not float this section. If you find yourself here, stay far right. 

Further upstream, Griffin Park and Robertson Bridge are good places to use a side-planer setup with plugs or plunking Spin-N-Glos for bank anglers. In the Galice area, Rand, Rainbow, Chair and Ennis are good bank access locations.

As of Wednesday morning, the flow in Grants Pass was approximately 2,970 cfs, 2.54 feet and expected to rise slightly into the weekend. River clarity is currently 4 NTUs. Anglers have reported success running plugs, bait fishing and fly angling. For those interested in checking conditions before getting on the river, the City of Grants Pass Water Division’s website offers information on river conditions at Grants Pass as well as a link to a river camera.

More Reports

OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

John Day River: Steelhead Are Now Present
Wilson River: Some Fish Being Caught
Lake Billy Chinook: Anglers Reporting Good Success
Clackamas River: Positive Fishing on The Clackamas
Foster Reservoir: Foster Reservoir Late March Report
Green Peter Reservoir: Trout and Bass Are Good Options For Anglers
Santiam River North Fork-2: Santiam River North Fork Late March Report
Santiam River (South Fork): Currently Flows Are Still Fairly Slow
Willamette River: Late March Fishing Report
Lost Creek Reservoir: 87 Percent Full
Deschutes River: Spring is Finally Here
Chetco River: Late March Fishing Report
Klamath River - Upper - CA: Fishing is Very Slow
Klamath River - Middle: Fishing is Fair
Klamath River - Lower: Flows Are Highly Variable

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