By: Steven Theel
This hasn’t been a normal year for springer fishing in Southern Oregon. Historically, our springer run peaks in late May when hatchery fish return to the Upper Rogue River. Meanwhile, extremely high and cold water has delayed migration upstream. Our run is late and more fish are coming. It should last through July.
In a normal year we should have a few thousand salmon back to the hatchery by now. However, this season only 434 have returned so far. By those numbers, and the fishing we had during May, the run looked like it would be a complete bust. Thankfully, flows have finally dropped this past week. As a result fishing has taken off. One day this week we landed five springers, three of which were hatchery fish, and we missed several takedowns. We’ve also seen about a 40% hatchery to wild ratio in the lower river the past week, which means there’s still plenty of fish coming.
Right now we are targeting the springers above Shady Cove. Meanwhile, beginning July 1st we are allowed to keep wild salmon below Dodge Bridge, so we split our time in the two runs depending on what clients prefer. Below Dodge Bridge we have a better chance of catching something to keep, while above Shady Cove typically provides better fishing, but is mostly catch and release of the wild springers. This year that could change though if the hatchery fish really are showing up late, which still remains to be seen.
Eggs, as normal, have been my go-to bait. Back bouncing Fire Cure roe is our main technique, and has by far been producing the most fish. I’ve written several blogs in the past on how to cure eggs for the Rogue River. The last blog can be found here: https://www.pautzke.com/the-perfect-back-bouncing-cure-for-salmon. On the other hand, I usually like to add sand shrimp to the Fire Cure eggs (look for a how-to blog on that this week). For those that struggle with back bouncing, using divers with eggs or wrapped plugs have also been working.
With flows finally starting to drop and the weather stabilizing I expect our springer season to last until at least the end of July and possibly early August. We will have plenty of cool water all summer, which helps keep the salmon coming upstream. They also won’t be stacking in the bay as much, so we should transition straight from springers into fall salmon. We’ve also had a good start to our summer steelhead season, which peeks in late July and August.
Regulations: Until July 1st the limit is two hatchery salmon per day. After July 1st the limit remains the same above Dodge Bridge. However, below the bridge the limit is two salmon, which can be either hatchery or wild.
Editor’s Note: Steven Theel operates SO Chrome Guide Service. For more information on his Upper Rogue springer and summer steelhead trips please visit http://so-chrome.com or https://www.facebook.com/SOChromeGuideService. Team Pautzke filmed Pautzke Outdoors with Theel on the Upper Rogue. The episode can be found here: https://youtu.be/L7cqOytH3w0.