GOLD BEACH, Ore. — Rogue River salmon anglers are keeping a close eye on river levels this week, in anticipation of seeing decent numbers of springers as flows recede from recent storms that brought levels to the brink of flood stage.
The Rogue crested at 13.99 feet on Friday, just under the 14-foot flood advisory level. Flood stage is 17 feet. Flows at the Agness gauge peaked at 39,000 cfs on Friday, but had dropped nearly five feet to 20,800 cfs on Sunday morning. Heavy runoff from the Illinois River, Lobster Creek and other lower river tributaries have kept flows well above fishable levels.
"Everyone is waiting for the Agness gauge to drop down to 8,000 or 7,000 cfs," said guide Andy Martin of Wild Rivers Fishing. "That still looks to be at least a week out, since there is more rain expected Wednesday. But we could get down to 10,000 cfs in Agness before that rain hits."
While early March is early for springer catches, a few spring kings were caught the first half of the month, along with catchable numbers of hatchery steelhead. The first springer of the year was landed Feb. 20. Last year, fishing was fair in late March, and steadily picked up in April, with good fishing throughout the month.
"April and May are both good months, but last year we saw a lot more hatchery fish in April," Martin said.
Plunkers will target springers from gravel bars such as Lobster Creek and Huntley Park using large Spin-N-Glos. The Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach has all of this year's hottest colors.
Jet boaters, meanwhile, anchor in the travel lanes, using the current to spin anchovies or spinners close to the bottom in 4 to 6 feet of water. "With the water being darker in color, the blade of choice in front of anchovies has been copper with some yellow chartreuse paint on the outside of the spinner blade," suggested guide and WON Field Reporter Curtis Palmer of River Secrets Guide Service.
"We've got a good set of tides starting around April 6, and if flows are below 7,000 cfs we should see some pretty good fishing," Martin said.
THE ROGUE RIVER is kicking out early king salmon known as "springers," and Raze Reezer caught this big one on a spinnerless anchovy bait with guide Shaun Carpenter and brothers Larry and Dennis at John's Hole last year.