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Fly Fishing the Rogue River Valley

Welcome to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River!  Swinging flies for steelhead practically started here on the Rogue with Zane Grey being one of the first to write about this magical place and fishery.  Now the Rogue River Summer Steelhead Run is famous all over the world and for damn good reason!  We catch Steelhead (and Trout) on the fly 365 days of the year here, with fresh fish moving through different parts of the river(s) at different times.  This is our home water, and some of the best steelhead fishing in the World is found right here from July through November.  Winter steelhead season on the Rogue goes from January through April, with March and April being the peak months.

There are many other great fisheries in our region that should be explored at certain times of the year as well.  The North Umpqua River from Roseburg to Soda Springs is the other world famous steelhead river in southwest Oregon, and once you see the scenery and experience the pull from these wild steelhead you will instantly know why!  There are steelhead moving through the N Umpqua all year too, and they are some of the largest anywhere in the world.  The South Umpqua offers great winter steelhead fishing from January through early April as well.  When at all possible we do our winter/spring guiding on the Umpquas, as the winter steelhead run on those rivers is one of the best in the world and 15 pounders aren't uncommon!

The Applegate River is a nearby tributary of the Rogue, and can be an amazing winter steelhead fishery until closing April 1st.  After re-opening in late May it's a beautiful spot to fish for trout, camp, and explore (Applegate Lake as well).  The Illinois River offers incredible fishing and scenery in both the fall and the winter as well!  Many of the famous Rogue "half pounders" spend their fall near the confluence of the Illinois and Rogue, so you can have a blast with a 3 or 4 weight switch down by Agness in October.  In the winter the Illinois gets many of the biggest steelhead that swim through the Rogue River Watershed. 

All the steelhead in our area are very healthy and strong fish, as they have been swimming up Class IV+ rapids and waterfalls for generations.  Once you feel the grab and your reel starts singing your favorite song you will know why so many fly fishers have come here and never left!

Trout fishing in southern Oregon and northern California is also world class! 

The "Holy Water" at the top of the Rogue is a great stretch of trout water, and especially popular during the Salmonfly hatch in late May and early June.  Trout season on the entire Rogue opens on May 22nd, which is generally towards the beginning of the huge salmonfly hatch.  Some of our best days are during this time of year, as we throw big dries all day, get tons of action, and catch plenty of fish!  The Rogue has some big cutties as well as resident trout, smolt, and the occasional early summer steelhead that eats the big dry fly!

Upper Klamath Lake feeds the Klamath River, which has great trout fishing in the Oregon stretch.  And with the announced removal of Iron Gate and other dams we will once again have steelhead swimming in the Oregon stretch of the Klamath River in the near future.  Feeding into Upper Klamath Lake are the Williamson and Wood, with the Sprague River feeding into the Williamson at Chiloquin.  These rivers are home to some of the largest trout on the West Coast, as some of them are descendents of steelhead that were trapped when the dams went in.  The season here runs from the end of May through the end of October, and trout can be caught every way possible.  During the warmer summer months the rainbows leave the shallow lake and reside in the cooler more oxygenated and bug infested waters of the spring fed rivers listed above, so make sure and bring a 6 weight with you and be ready for a 10 pounder on every cast!  The Upper Sac, Pit, McCloud, etc are all great options for trout fishing nearby in Northern California as well. 

(Updated 6/1/17)


The SALMONFLY hatch on the Rogue has officially started!!!   The big bugs started hatching a few weeks ago, but haven't really hatched in huge numbers yet.  The weather has gone from cool and cloudy to hot and sunny and back again.  This weekend we will be back to upper 80's and sunny, which should help the big pteronarcys stoneflies hatch in huge numbers.  Salmonfly floats are a ton of fun as we just throw big dry flies all day and have tons of action!  We always get several steelhead to eat the dries every year, which is always a thrill!  My last two trips we hooked steelhead both days, as well as some nice cutties and resident rainbows (along with lots of small rainbows).  Book your trips now as the salmonfly hatch should last at least another two or three weeks.

The first summer steelhead have made it to the hatchery, but it will be later in June before the first big push will get here.  I always watch the water temperatures at Grants Pass and Agness, as when they really start to warm up is when the steelhead race to the colder waters of the upper Rogue.

Spring chinook are starting to get into the upper Rogue already, and there will be quite a few more getting here in the next few weeks.  With lower water and bigger forecasted return of springers it should be a good year to target them on the fly rods!  I've done best DEEP nymphing for springers, as they don't seem to like to grab the swing as much as fall kings do.  Definitely up your leader strength and fish at least 15 pound test so you can control these early hot fish after you hook them.

The Holy Water is fishing really well at times like always during the salmonfly hatch.  Seems like mornings and evenings are most consistent, but there's always a mid day feeding frenzy as well.  Swinging stonefly nymphs or skaters on the Holy Water can be some of the funnest fishing of the year for steelhead spey junkies like me!  I use the commando head on my five weight and hook quite a few trout swinging rubber leg stoneflies on a sink tip or muddler style salmonfly skaters on the floater.  I've had numerous days up there with double digit fish in an hour or two of swinging.  There are now boxes to report your catch up there, so please do your part it will help the ODFW know how good the fishing is so they know if they need to stock more fish.

Other Local Fisheries: 

The winter steelhead season is over, but summer steelhead will start showing up in the North Umpqua over the next month.  This is one of the prettiest places you will ever fish, and one of the best chances to catch a steelhead skating dry flies.  I always look forward to a few quick camping trips up there every year in June or early July before the big crowds show up.

Trout season is open everywhere again, and most places are fishing pretty well.  The Williamson has been decent, along with the Klamath.  

The lake fishing has also picked up quickly with the warmer weather we are getting.  I've heard good reports from Diamond Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Applegate already.  Lost Creek will fish pretty well along the dam for both bass and trout with the salmonflies flying up there.  Klamath Lake is starting to warm up a bit and the fishing is getting better.  It should keep getting better through June before fish start seeking refuge in the colder waters of the Williamson.
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