Rogue Steelhead Back In The Game

By Steven Theel | 11/10/2014

November 1st is my favorite day of the year in Southern Oregon. It marks the re-opening of the Upper Rogue to the use of bait after being flies only for the last two months. November is also the peak month for summer steelhead and coho salmon returning to the upper river.

This year we are expecting above average returns to the Rogue for both steelhead and silvers, much like the rest of the Northwest has seen. The opener saw catches that definitely suggest this prediction is holding true. My boat had double digit hookups, landing several summer steelhead and even the first coho of the year.

I’m expecting the fishing to stay good through November. We received more rain than average which has helped to draw both steelhead and coho out of the Middle Rogue and into the upper. Luckily no matter how hard it rains, we always have a clear section of river to fish thanks to controlled releases from Lost Creek Dam. Even when the rest of the river looks like chocolate milk, the half mile section of river above the first major tributary stays fishable.

Our average summer steelhead on the Rogue are smaller than most other systems. Thanks to a large half-pounder run, our steelhead average 2 to 4 pounds. We are expecting to see that size continue to be the norm throughout the month, however, there are also plenty of larger fish. On the opener we landed several steelhead that were 4 to 10 pounds.

Most of the action is on the very upper section of the Rogue above the town of Shady Cove. This is the only section currently open to the use of bait, and is where the majority of fish will be caught in November.  It is also the most crowded section due to this. Side drifting eggs is my go-to method as it lets you cover the most water effectively. I will also occasionally run plugs covered in Pautzke Nectar, especially once the coho start to return in good numbers.

For my eggs I prefer to cure them in Natural BorX O Fire, but will also use Red Fire Cured eggs. With both cures I like to add Pautzke’s Fire Power (powdered krill), as all of our salmon and steelhead seem to key in on it. The steelhead tend to prefer the natural cured eggs, while the coho favor the Red Fire Cure. I like to run a different cure on each rod to start the day until a trend emerges one way or the other.

With the summer steelhead run just starting to peak we will continue to see good numbers of fish caught every day through the month. The coho run typically peaks around Thanksgiving and helps provide an extra boost to the daily catches. Both runs last until Mid-December before starting to wind down.

Editor’s Note: Steven Theel operates S.O. Chrome Guide Service in Medford, Oregon. For info on his Upper Rogue steelhead and coho combo trips please visit[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]