Anglers will have to work to find some steelhead

The Associated Press /

Already known as a patient bunch by nature, Rogue River anglers have had that mindset tested the past few weeks as they await the rains that will bring the fish.

The winter steelhead bite has slowed as the Rogue is clear, low and not pushing through with enough force. As of Friday, the river was 44 degrees with a flow of 2,500 cubic feet per second.

There are steelhead in the area, but anglers must work to find them.

Fishing guide Troy Whitaker said everyone is “hoping for a little more rain to bring the water level up a little bit.”

If the water level rises, steelhead will have an easier time climbing over the various falls. Whitaker said there’s a “whole bunch in the canyon” and in the Tyee rapid waiting to find their way up river.

As it stands, there are opportunities. Anglers simply need to find the hot spots.

“You’ve got to cover a lot of water and pound the heck out of it,” said Whitaker, of U-Save Gas and Tackle. “If you find a nice deep hole and know fish are in there, sooner or later, they’re going to bite.”

He suggested using smaller-sized yarn balls and roe. For instance, use dime sizes instead of quarter sizes because with low turbidity, the fish can scare easily.

“If they see a big chunk of bait, they’re probably not going to want to eat it,” Whitaker said. “If it’s smaller, they won’t get spooked. When the water is clear, they get a little spooky.”

He pointed to the area between the Valley of the Rogue State Park and the city of Rogue River as a good plug run. Plug fisherman should use metallic colors because of the sun hitting the water.

Whitaker also said there should be good holes between Schroeder and Griffin parks, Griffin to Hog Creek and in the Galice-Almeda area.

“We’re just dealing with late fish,” he said. “With more rain, they would’ve been here already.”

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reminds anglers that adipose fin-clipped fish may be harvested.