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Rogue River winter fish report

10305 Views 17 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Fred Evans
Last (actually by video film) count on the upper Rogue is over 8000 winter fish in top 10-15 miles of river. (Big dam at top end so énd is end ...period).

If your looking for some fun and games this may be the place to consider. River is open year round (minor exceptions for salmon runs and trout) and fishing pressure is very light.

From down town Medford to top end of river is about a 35 minute drive. From Medford within an hours drive you have access to about 35 to 40 miles of river. Things could be worse.
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Hi Fred,

I was born in Medford and learned how to fish on the Rogue. Caught my first steelhead out of the Rogue. Good to hear a report from my old waters. I left soon after the dam was built. Sad thing for the Rogue and it's fish.

Do you know Neil Selbecky? Another Rogue River steelheader. Lives in Talent I belive.

Name doesn't ring a bell but odds are we have met. I fish (on average) 4 days per week (2 to 5 hours a trip .... wife permiting) and chat with a lot of my flyfishing 'kin folk.' If you correspond with him he would know me as the (almost only) fellow on the upper river who uses spey rod(s). Actually, think there are only 3 or 4 other folks who actually own/use the long rods above Grants Pass.
That's sad that the Rogue got damned. How has it affected the wild steelhead populations and welfare?

On the sporting side of the discussion, that is a lot of steelhead and were I still on the west coast I would be deeply contemplating a short flight down the coast!

Have you ever stopped at the Zane Grey camp?

Like Juro I wouldn't mind hearing how the dam has affected the fishing. As I said earlier I left the Rogue River Valley shortly after the dam was built and have not been back. I do remember that just above the dam site is where some of our best winter steelheading was. Also do you fish the Tolo/Goldbar area much? That was my favorite stretch of the Rogue.

Sorry for the delay in responding but went 'blank in the head' on how to log in.

A couple of the dams on the upper river are, without doubt, problems and lots and lots and etc., talk about removing one or both. Major issue is with abutting homeowners who bought (in their minds anyway) "lake front property." They don't want to see Savage Rapids, etc., go away because the poor darlings want to be able to water ski. No kidding.

One will eventually come out but the question is when. The main thing the dams do is build a large slow moving lake behind them vs. free flowing water. Water heats up in summer and you can guess the rest.

Major issue this year will be the continuing low water conditions. Understand that (no hydo electric or irrigation issues I can think of anyway) Lost Creek dam will continue to release water at higher rates to assure at least 2300 cfs in mid-Rogue for the spring chnk run. Major issue with fish diseases if water gets up into the 60+ range. In 1992 (?) I guess they lost 60 some odd percent of the run to the high water temps.

Water flow is still at 700cfs from the dam but they're mixing the water outflow (bottom/mid water column) to keep it in the low 40's. As we heat up they will shift to water deeper in the lake to reduce water temps.

It will be interesting to see how they handle the two dam flows down stream as it's the impounding that really causes the higher water temps in my opinion.

Will keep you posted.

PS: Fishing is still good to HOT in the very top end of the river. Hooked/released 8 fish on Sat and Sunday morning. In the 'even a blind pig can find an acorn' dept. actually hooked three fish in my first 5 casts Saturday.
Fred Evans
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Forgot to respond to a couple of the questions. 80% of my fishing is from lower Touville Park area and up. Will go down in the canyons below Galace occationally. Ranie Falls (and its 2 mile hike from the car park) seems to be getting most of the attention at this time from the Grants Pass guys. Salmon are beginning to show in some numbers. Ah well, keeps them out from under foot on the rest of the river.

Understand the 1/2 pounder run in Agness area was the 'year dreams are made of' and still lots of hook ups on light rods and dry flys. Bit of a trip (3 hours plus) from Medford so been too lazy to do the drive.

Interesting part of this whole season has been the very light pressure on the fish. A few days have seen a lot of people on the bank, but the norm has been you've pretty much got the river to your self. Go figure.
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Fred -

How long does the spring season run? Would it be worth a three day sprint before the closer?
Well, the low water conditions (will continue throughout the summer, will slow the run down. Usually lots of fish in mid Rogue by mid-late April with run 'peaking' in May through June. Suspect we can add two to three weeks minimum to that range this year.

On the good note though (!) the winter steelhead are still coming up. YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO. As of 4-24-01 actual count was 8486, which is 400 more than the week before. Weather in the low 80's again today so I think I'll call the wife type and tell her not to hold dinner :>)

Best steelhead fishing is still at the very top end; in Touville area 'they' are taking fish but suspect most are 'downers' not new returns. Up at the hatchery area the two best bets are directly below the deadline (very nice series of runs) and at 'sand bottom' the next hole below. (Comparitively speaking) both are deeper runs with some speed so fish get cover to skulk around in.

Just below this is the main runs in Henry Park. Have beat the living heck out of this water without result on several of the past trips to the area. Exception to this is what's called the 'bridge hole.' This is at the bottom of the park NOT the water just above the main (hwy 62) bridge. The (old-only the abutments remain) road bridge is about a 1/4 mile upstream from the (new) highway bridge.
Use a two/three fly terminal and wted!! If you're not right on the bottom just forget it; you will do zip. On the bottom (heavy flys or beadheads with the airflow extra fast sinking leader material) is the road to smiles.
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You're killing me Fred. I am familiar with that whole area. It has been over 25 years since I last fished the Rogue. I sure wish I could get there now. Again I ask how is the Tolo/Gold Ray area? I loved to fish below the Gold Ray dam. Used to be some very productive water down there. We would do pretty good above the dam fishing out of canoes for rainbows also.

Sorry forgeting to repond properyly to the tolo-goldray question. The "tolo" through me period; reference made zip impression in my mind.

Goldray (below the dam) is 99.9% a boat show; very, very tought to fish from the beach. But !! if you drop down a mile or two even a 'blind pig (like me) can find an (occational) acorn." Some water is worth pounding with a fly rod (above Gold Hill) there are a couple of BLM parks off the road and some other easy 'walk in' water that's fly water.

Best to wait a week and fish at/below Touville Park (here and up) you've got tons of fly water that's worth every bit of effort.

For more particulars shoot me an e mail at [email protected] or 'mono-a-mono' call me at the office (Hay, some one's got to pay for my fly fishing charge accounts) at 541 734 2714.
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Forgot to add the obvious: fly choice (as in whom you ask) ranges from (all deep sunk and on the bottom or FORGET IT) ranges from egg patterns (my preference) to black body/charturece hackle. The latter is a real go-getter on the Southern Oregon coastal streams.

Lead chuckers almost always are using heavy weights/red corkies (or eggs where permited) on 6 foot leaders. As they do well one has to assume luck is not part of the equation.
Corp of Engnr's has officially now started to increase stream flow in Rogue and Applegate River systems to cool water and pull up the Spring Chnk.

Gather they've increased the water flow from 700 to 1000 something cfs in Roge. Don't know the number for the Applegate River but (visually yesterday) there was three times as much as there was the privious days.
This (as Martha would say) is a "good thing."
Here's a nice map from

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Kerry, a quick update on your question of removing/breaching dams in the Rogue Basin.
Big blurb in yesterdays paper that funds have been requested to 'breach' the Elk Creek dam. Elk Creek flows into the Rogue at about mile post 20'ish on hwy 62 up from Medford to K Falls. As Elk Creek is a MAJOR spawing trib. this can't do anything but help.

You say that below Gold Ray is a boat show. It has been a few years since I have fished the Rogue (about 30). I don't remember below the Gold Ray dam seeing any boats at all. I remember lots of rapids/pocket style water A few miles below (my distances are probably off) the dam I remember some big water that would be diffucult to put a boat through unless we are talking a raft. Anyway thanks very much for taking me down memory lane with your reports on the Rogue.

Hi Kerry! Sorry for the delay responding. Been up on the Sandy River (east of Portland) for the "1st Annual Spey Clave." Wonderful time; at 100 spey casters on Saturday and 50 plus for sure on Sunday.

Anyway, your memory of the river is still dead on (you sound like you've been able to avoid "Sr. Moments"). Launching a drift boat right below Gold Ray, anchor out and do a (as I understand it) a fairly long dicey run down to the next takeout. There is a rough takeout towards the end of the run on the South side so guys probably launch here and motor up.

You can bank fish this area, the very top end below the dam deadline seems to get the most play (always drift rigs). Fly fishing is tough except in low water because it's pretty "heart-in-mouth" wading even with a staff.

Below this you have several easier fly access waters, etc. The Rogue River fishing map (costs about $6 bucks if memory serves) is a wonderful guide and the milage figures are dead on accurate. If you (others) want to hit the Rogue this is a must buy map. Will save you a lot of fiddling around on the who, what and where.
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Kerry, forgot to add:

The Corp of Eng. has increased the Lost Creek Lake/Dam flow from 700 cfs to 2704 cfs over the past several days. This should bring the little buggers up in a hurry.

Actual fish count past Gold Ray as of 5-4-2001 is 8930 winter steelhead (most will be downers by now) and 1065 Spring Chnk. All reports say that the Springers are charging over Ranie Falls area (30 miles below Grants Pass) in very large numbers. Think this must be true as the salmon count jumped almost 900 fish (over Gold Ray) in less than 5 days.

Think I know where I'll be come Saturday morning at sun up! Lower Touville here I come!! Weather here is running in mid to high 80's so fish early, sleep later.
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