By Steven Theel | 11/21/2013
November usually has people thinking coastal fall Kings here in Southern Oregon. However, where I fish on the Upper Rogue, it’s prime time for our late run summer steelhead. Starting November 1st the upper river opened back up to bait and all artificial lures after being flies only for two months. This time of year sees awesome catches because of that, and also because it’s when the majority of the steelhead reach the Upper Rogue.
Our summer steelhead run isn’t like most of the other rivers in the region. We receive a strong late return, so a lot of the steelhead we’re catching in November haven’t been in the river very long. These fish are bright and strong, and typically provide an excellent fight with multiple aerial displays.
This year has been no exception to the awesome fishing for the first half of the month. In the section open to bait fishing, side drifting small chunks of red or natural BorX O’ Fire cured eggs has been best. My setup consists of an 8-pound leader to a size 2 hook tied on with an egg loop. I then add a mini XFactor Tackle egg cluster for color and flotation and a small piece of yarn tied around the egg loop.
In the section only open to artificial lures we have been catching all of our fish on small plugs such as Mag Lip 3.5’s or Brad’s Wigglers that we cover with red Pautzke Nectar. Occasionally we will side drift yarn balls soaked in Nectar, but they aren’t quite as effective as plugs.
As of late, the fishing has slowed down a little because we haven’t received any significant rain since early October. It has left the river extremely cold and clear and the steelhead aren’t wanting to move upriver. We’re still finding multiple fish every day, but it hasn’t been as consistent as the first week and a half after it opened. Luckily as I write this we’re receiving the first good rain of the month and the river is on the rise. Fishing should be excellent for the remainder of the season.
The Rogue receives a good return of hatchery steelhead, which are still in excellent shape, so there’s always a good chance to take home some nice fillets. We have also started to see the front end of Coho salmon run show up. That run typically peaks around Thanksgiving, which makes for excellent combo trips the second half of November. We catch them on the exact same setups as the steelhead, so you never know what’s on the end of your line until you catch the first glimpse. Both runs start to wind down by mid-December.