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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 11/13/18)


The Rogue River summer steelhead season has been going great since getting going in late June, and the fishing is about at its peak.  Our biggest push of summer steelhead have been showing up the last month or so, and there are plenty more still coming into the upper Rogue.   The fish have been slow coming upriver without rain, so they are still spread throughout the middle and upper Rogue.  The Huntley Park seine counts are running well past double of the 10 year average, so it's another great run of summer steelhead here (thanks to all who helped get our dams out!).  There will be a lot of 20 inchers in the river this year, as those were all part of the huge run of half pounders in the lower/middle river last fall.  This is also the time of year the biggest of our steelhead are showing up, so be ready as we've been starting to hook more 30+ inchers the last few weeks. 

Now that the water temperatures are in the 40's I'm swinging more bigger flies and definitely fishing deeper.  Last light when the water is at its warmest I'll still fish some skaters and classic feather/hairwing patterns, but I definitely have more confidence in the skagit head with 10+ feet of T-11 on it when the water cools down.  I'm fishing mostly hoh bo speys, reverse marabou mini intruders, fish tacos and stuff like that with a skinny profile 2 - 2.5 inches long.  I as always fish a lot of black, whether it be black/blue, black/red, black/purple black/chartreuse or whatever, but will also fish some bright stuff to get some of these bigger fish to think back to delicious ocean food or flesh.  Fish whatever you have confidence in just make sure you cover gravel and cover it well.  When guiding the biggest mistakes I see from people are not slowing their fly down and getting their rod tip pointed at it near quick enough, dropping their rod tip too far while the fly is swinging (spey rods are long), and making the same cast over and over (or only moving 18 inches between casts).  They then only cover 4 runs instead of 8 runs throughout the day and catch less fish because of that.  Also showing that fly to the fish too many times before it gets to him/her makes that fish lose interest.  Something about a fish seeing your fly once at 12 feet (doesn't care), once at 8 feet (starting to care but not much), once at 4 feet (starting to get annoyed at the fly), and then once in his face when he eats it.  If you show it to him at 12 feet, then 11, then 10, etc it doesn't seem to work as well.   Same thing if you show it to him 4 times at 3 - 6 feet that fish will lose interest.  Some fish are suicidal and are ready to eat no matter what, but there's plenty of other fish you need to coax into eating your swung fly.  Stop by and chat for more info on this kind of stuff or clarification.

Nymph the usual suspects like Ugly/Otis bugs, copper swans, princess nymphs, steelhead brassies, rubber leg stones etc.  The salmon are pretty much done spawning, but the gear guys throwing eggs above Shady Cove gets the egg bite to turn back on a bit from Shady to Dodge Bridge at least.

The Holy Water has beem fishing ok with some caddis and mayflies still hatching, and will pick up now that the weather is getting cooler and tons of BWO's will start hatching.  Generally nymphing and streamers will be your best bet this time of year if the fish aren't rising, but be ready to throw your favorite baetis/BWO pattern if the hatch gets going.  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 North Umpqua didn't seem to have a great summer season, but hopefully there are still a bunch of fish coming up there.  I could see more of those fish waiting in the ocean for the river to blow out, or at least cool down before heading upriver.  Hopefully that's the case as I didn't talk to anyone who did all that well consistently on the Ump this summer.  Still one of the prettiest rivers and one of the greatest skunkings you'll ever take if that's the way it goes.

Trout season is wrapping up in the Klamath basin, and most other places as well.  Some of the eastern Oregon stuff fishes well in the fall, as do a few of the lakes. 

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