Trout and steelhead season close Thursday, March 31

Applegate River - Applegate, OR

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

Trout and steelhead season close Thursday, March 31. Only hatchery trout and hatchery steelhead are allowed for retention. Between April 1 and May 21, the river is closed to fishing to protect mainstem spawning steelhead and outmigrating smolts.   

Best bets for a winter fish would be fishing below Murphy, targeting spots like Fish Hatchery County Park, the 199 bridge, or near the mouth. Fish Hatchery County Park has lots of bank access and anglers can hike at least a half mile downstream. Anglers have also been picking up winter Steelhead from Cantral Buckley to Murphy. Above Cantral, the river is pretty boney with only 126 cfs coming out of Applegate Dam. 

Spoons or bobber doggin’ soft beads are good tactics out here, but the full gamut will work.  Jigs under floats, soft beads under floats, roe side drifted or under a bobber, and even plugs fished with a side drift have picked up fish. Dark flies (black and purple) with specs of pink or orange, or glowbugs are good bets for the fly-angler.

Anglers are reminded that there is no fishing from a floating device. However, many anglers will use a small raft or pontoon to navigate between public launch sites. 

There is limited public access on the Applegate, and often anglers will float in small rafts or pontoons. However, anglers are reminded that there is no fishing from a floating device allowed, but bait can be used. There are public lands available for access such as Jackson Campground, Jin Lin Trail area, McKee Bridge and small BLM parcels in the vicinity on East Side road, Cantrall Buckley, an ODOT gravel pullout upstream of Murphy, Fish Hatchery County Park, and the Hwy 199 bridge.

The Applegate River has never been adjudicated for navigability, so keep that in mind when pulling over to fish pools and riffles. It’s best to stay below ordinary highwater, to avoid confrontations with any landowners, and have a GPS to locate landlocked public parcels to fish from, unless you have permission from landowners.

As of Wednesday morning, the Wilderville stream gauge was reading 217 cfs/2.22 ft., steady, and 53 degrees. Temperature is 46.1 F and 126 cfs coming out of the dam. You can check the USGS stream gauge flows on the Applegate when planning a trip.

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