The Rogue starts close to Crater Lake and runs into Lost Creek Lake, through Grants Pass, and on to the ocean at Gold Beach. Much of the Rogue is in the wilderness area west of Grants Pass. The river is beautiful and a great place for recreation. Grants Pass, Applegate, Agness, and Gold Beach are the areas that have homes. Like the Umpqua, the Rogue River has always been a coveted area and homes on the river will not be inexpensive.
The word fishing must have been invented for the Rogue. Half-pounders (small sexually immature steelhead that have entered the river system prematurely), are extremely aggressive and fun for the fly fisherman. The Steelhead runs are a must for fisherman and fisherwomen. Watching all boats in the mouth of the river at Gold Beach, trying for steelhead and salmon is quite a sight.
The lower river near Gold Beach can be reached off Highway 101. The middle of the river can be reached off Interstate 5 near Grants Pass or Gold Hill. The river from its begining near Crater Lake to the Pacific is almost 200 miles long. Highway 26 runs east and is a beautiful drive from Shady Cove as is the trip on 234. Highway 99 runs along the river near Grants Pass. Places to stay are everywhere. At the town of Gold Beach there are lovely motels and Resorts located all the way to Agness. The same can be said for the area around Grants Pass, Gold Hill and surrounds.
Source: Fishing in Oregon by Madelynne Diness Sheehan.
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Rogue River: Bay
A narrow estuary with a difficult bar crossing that serves primarily as a point of access to the lower Rogue River's outstanding chinook and steelhead fisheries. Gold Beach is the major port town. Questionable secondary roads connect I-5 with the lower Rogue valley at Agness. Best direct routes are Hwy. 42 west from Roseburg and Hwy. 199 from Grants Pass. A dramatic but somewhat slower approach can be made by following Hwy. 101 from north or south. From Portland, it's a little more than 300 miles to Gold Beach. Allow at least 6 hours for the trip. See Fishing in Oregon, Tenth Edition for a detailed map of access and fishing sites.
The Rogue River bar is not an easy one to cross and is only occasionally safe for small boats. Check with the local Coast Guard substation (Doyle Pt. In summer, Chetco at Brookings other times of year). When the bar is calm, it provides access to good bottom fishing associated with a small reef just offshore and a larger reef complex northwest of the mouth. Charters are available for salmon fishing.
Spring chinook enter the bay in early March, but the major fishery for them begins up-bay, from Elephant Rock to head of tide at The Clay Banks, where anglers form "hog lines" (anchoring side by side) at the upper end just below the riffle. Peak catches are in late April and May. By July, the springers have moved through the bay and into the river
The Rogue River fall chinook are affected by different currents than those further north. While northern populations are currently experiencing a dramatic upswing, the Rogue River run is improving but still below the ten-year average. Fall chinook first enter the bay in July, and fishing for them usually picks up in August. Above and below the Hwy. 101 bridge, anglers troll a special "Rogue Bait Rig" that features a spinner with a few beads in front, a couple ounces of lead, and either herring or anchovy.
A few fall chinook are caught off the north jetty, and there is a good bank fishery for them on the sand spit near the south jetty. Other popular spots are below Elephant Rock, at Johns Hole in the lower river, and at the Ferry Hole above The Clay Banks. The Claybanks is a popular gravel bar access for fly anglers using sinking lines and bright color shrimpy-looking flies. Salmon to 72 pounds have bern landed on a 10-lb. tippet. Boat anglers work the upper end just below the riffle. The mouth of Indian Creek is productive in October and early November, as fish return to a STEP facility there. A bank fishing opportunity at the mouth of Indian Creek is dependent on angler good behavior. Clean up after yourself (and others) to preserve access.
Summer steelhead hit the bay in good numbers in late July, and winter steelhead in November, but angling for them takes place upriver.
Perch and the occasional lingcod are caught off the north jetty in spring, and crab are available. Best crab catches are downstream from Doyle Point. Avoid setting pots in the channel.
Boats can be launched on the south side of the bay at the Port Commission Ramp in Gold Beach below the Hwy. 101 bridge. Boats and equipment are available for rent nearby. About 3-1/2 miles upstream, small boats can be slipped into the river at the Mill gravel bar on the south bank directly across from Ferry Hole. There is a developed ramp on the north bank at the Ferry Hole, but it has limited parking space. Larger boats can be launched at Canfield Riffle, 15 miles further up County Rd. 540. Private ramps with public access are numerous in the Gold Beach area, including Huntley Park about 6 miles upstream on the south bank. The lower river is broad and provides easy boating.
Restaurants, motels, rv parks, and full-service resorts are plentiful in the Gold Beach/Wedderburn area. The nearest public coastal campground is about 20 miles north at Humbug Mt. State Park, but there's a large campground at Huntley Park, and there are Forest Service campgrounds upstream at Lobster Creek and Quosatana (pronounced kwo-sate-na).
Rogue River: Grave Creek to Head of Tide
An extremely productive 60-mile segment of the Rogue, more than half of which is designated Wild and Scenic and accessible only by boat or foot trail. Anglers fish this portion of the Rogue primarily for spring and fall chinook, summer and winter steelhead, half-pounders (immature summer steelhead), and finclipped coho. Challenging terrain helps maintain outstanding angling here year-round. Road access is limited to the stretch from tidewater up to Foster Bar, just above the settlement of Ilahee, about 27 river miles. See Fishing in Oregon, Tenth Edition for a detailed map of access and fishing sites.
Salmon. The Rogue hosts several distinct populations of chinook, including a run bound for the Applegate, one that heads for lower river tributaries, and one that continues into the upper river. Best fishing for chinook is from April through October. Peak catches in this portion of the river are in April and May (with good fishing through June if the water stays cool) and again in August and September. Most anglers plunk bait (anchovies or herring), or fish spinners, Spin-N-Glo's™ or spinner and bait combinations.
Ocean conditions affect the number of returning salmon each year, and fishing regulations vary from year to year to protect stressed populations or take advantage of bounty. In 1999, a series of good ocean years produced returns so large that regulations allowed the harvest of wild chinook below the Illinois confluence for the first time in many years. The current runs show the strain of poorer ocean. Though on the upswing, Rogue River salmon runs are still below the ten-year average. Check the regulations for current harvest opportunities and be aware that fishing opportunities can change mid-season. A call to the district ODFW office in Gold Beach is a good idea before planning a trip.
The Rogue River coho population is stable, though diminished from historical numbers. Coho spend a full year in fresh water before migrating to sea and prefer the same small low gradient streams that are attractive for development. Landowner agreement to protection and restoration has been slow-going. Coho enter the river in August with peak numbers in October. At this time, the river is open to fishing for finclipped coho only.
Steelhead. Rogue River steelhead, which always fared better than north coast runs, are doing extremely well these days. Steelhead of one population or another are in the river throughout the year, but most catches are made from September through February, with greatest numbers hooked in January and February. In past years this section of the Rogue was one of the few flowing waters in Oregon where anglers were allowed to harvest wild winter steelhead. (Summer steelheading is still limited to finclipped harvest only.) Check the regulations for summer and winter steelhead harvest opportunities.
Half-pounders (immature summer and winter steelhead that return to the river after less than a year at sea) are one of the Rogue's unique sportfishing delights. They enter the ocean as smolts in April and return to the river in August by the tens of thousands, plumped up by ocean grazing. Traveling in schools, they move relatively quickly through the river below Agness. The most productive half-pounder water in the river is at the Hotel Riffle in Agness. The majority of half-pounders are caught between Agness and Blossom Bar (upstream at Marial) before they settle into their wintering grounds from the Illinois confluence upstream to Galice (most years) or to the Applegate (some years).
By September and October, half-pounders are behaving more like resident trout, foraging for surface insects, lingering where food is cheap and easy, and making themselves at home. Fish for them using a mix of trout and salmon techniques. In the morning, fly anglers can do well with a floating line and a wooly bugger (in other words, any fly pattern). Half-pounders will even take dry flies when a hatch is on. Fish deeper in afternoons after tour boat have churned up the river a few times.
Half-pounders range in size from 7 to 16 inches. For regulatory purposes, they're considered to be trout, and no steelhead tag is required to fish for them. Only finclipped "trout" may be kept. Wild half-pounders must be released unharmed, but 50 to 60 per cent of the run is usually finclipped and available for harvest. Half-pounders are known for their aggressive spirit and are caught using many techniques. Check regulations for hook and bait restrictions. Though not required at this time, single-point barbless hooks make release of these large wild fish less stressful for both the catcher and the caught.
Northern Pike Minnows. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of northern pike minnows (squawfish) throughout the river. Northern pike minnows are not native to the Rogue and compete for limited forage and habitat with juvenile steelhead and salmon. Though there is no cash redemption program for them here, as there is in the Columbia River, anglers are urged to catch and destroy as many as possible.
Access. From Grave Creek down to Foster Bar, the Rogue is bounded on all sides by the Wild Rogue Wilderness. This section contains a string of superior riffles and bars, most of which are popularly named. A riffle on the Rogue is a place where the river drops, usually in the presence of big boulders. The result is water that is both fast and white. Below a riffle, the tail-out offers good holding water for salmon and steelhead as they pause before the upstream challenge. Above the riffle is the head and pool, where salmon and steelhead linger for a little R&R before their next effort. Some anglers use an anchor on a quick-release pulley to stop mid-stream in order to fish the waters at the head of a riffle. Experienced rowers can hold a driftboat in the water at the head of a riffle while passengers fish the head and pool. Side-drifting is popular here as on the Chetco. Anglers "drift" eggs and a Corky™off the side of the boat as the oarsman guides the boat through a likely stretch.
Some anglers reach this stretch of the Rogue by jet boat from the lower river, but jet sleds are only allowed as far as Blossom Bar, about 15 miles above Foster Bar. This provides jet-access to a handful of back-country lodges, including those at Marial, Paradise Bar, Half Moon Bar, and Clay Hill. A five-day drift from Grave Creek to Foster Bar often includes a stop at Black Bar Lodge, about half-way between Grave Creek and Marial. These lodges primarily support guided steelhead trips from August through October. Summer steelhead are the most popular fishery in this stretch.
A hiking trail on the north bank from Grave Creek downstream to Illahe offers many angling opportunities, climbing high above the river in the canyons, but dropping down to riverside at the bars. The section most popular with anglers is the 2-mile trek from Grave Creek to Rainie Falls, where salmon and steelhead hold for long periods. Many anglers also hike the additional mile to Whiskey Creek. There is an unmaintained trail on the south bank from Grave Creek to Rainie. At Rainie Falls, anglers can find spring chinook, steelhead, fall chinook and shad. Rainie is the end of the line for shad, which reach the falls about July 4.
To reach Grave Creek from I-5 north of Grants Pass, take the Merlin Exit to the Merlin-Galice Rd. Grave Creek is about 7 miles north of Galice.
Access to the other end of the wilderness trail and to the lower Rogue begins at Gold Beach on the coast. Follow County Rd. 595 from the south end of the Hwy. 101 bridge across the estuary. This road becomes Forest Rd. 33. It parallels the river's south bank closely for about 17 miles, then pulls back from the river through a deep canyon stretch known as Copper Canyon, crossing the mainstem Rogue about 3 miles above the confluence of the Illinois River. This bridge is known locally as Coon Rock Bridge. The trailhead at Illahe is about 7 miles further upstream at Illahe Campground. The little community of Agness is on the north bank, back downstream at the Illinois confluence.
Between tidewater and the bridge, the south bank road offers a number of access points. Indian Creek Park a mile upstream from Hwy. 101, has a campground and access to a popular STEP program fall chinook fishery at the mouth of Indian Creek. The very popular Ferry Hole is about 3 miles upstream. You can fish from the gravel bar at Ferry Hole, or launch a boat at the developed ramp there. You can also launch a boat off the Old Mill gravel bar across from the Ferry Hole, or at Huntley Park, about 2 miles above tidewater. From these points, anglers drift down to fish Coyote Riffle or the Ferry Hole. Huntley also provides a half-mile gravel bar from which bank casters plunk for chinook and steelhead.
There's an improved ramp at Lobster Creek, about 3 miles farther upstream off the south bank road, which also offers excellent bank access to good water.
Quosatana Campground (pronounced Kwo-sate-na) offers good bank fishing and has a paved ramp popular as a jet boat access to the Copper Canyon fisheries half-way to Agness. It's also a take-out for fall chinook day trips from Agness (about 8 miles). Steep, rough tracks lead down to the water both upstream and down from Quosatana. Look for pull-outs (little more than wide spots in the road). Cole Riffle, about 3 miles above Quosatana, has excellent fly fishing water. A trail leads down to the Cole Riffle at mile post 17. About seven miles above Quosatana the road is carved out of the canyon wall, and there is no further bank access until the Illinois crossing.
About Ľ mile below the Illinois confluence, the Hotel Riffle offers good bank fishing and especially good fly water. Above, you can launch a boat from the camp at Hog Eddy, with permission from Cougar Lane Store. Both the Hotel Riffle and Hog Eddy are especially good steelhead spots. About two miles above the Illinois, Shasta Costa Riffles offer a challenge. Shasta Costa (upper and lower) is just above Cougar Lane Lodge. There is a pull-off and a short (steep) trail down to the riffles. Upper Shasta Costa is considerably more challenging than Lower.
About ˝ mile above Coon Rock Bridge, Walker Riffle generally holds steelhead during the prime season (August, September, and October). Walker is ribboned with bedrock and offers treacherous wading. Use a cut pole or wading staff to avoid slipping into the river.
Foster Bar is about three miles above Walker. It has an improved boat ramp and access to very good steelhead water. Boats with small motors drift down to the next riffle, then fish their way back up to Foster several times in a day. Foster Bar to Agness is a popular long-day drift for winter steelhead when the Agness gage reads below 3500 cfs. At low water, be advised that Two-mile Riffle (about 2.5 miles below Foster Bar) is Class 4 whitewater, for experienced boaters only.
Below Agness, access to the north bank of the Rogue (except by boat) is pretty much restricted to the lower 10 miles. County Rd. 540 heads up the north bank from the north end of the Hwy. 101 bridge at Wedderburn. Pull-outs along the road generally indicate popular fishing spots. The north bank accesses some good water, including the Ferry Hole, Kimball Riffle, and Coyote. You can launch a boat from the old concrete ferry ramp (at high water only) or off the gravel bar at Coyote.
A bridge across the river at Lobster Creek (about 10 miles upstream) connects north and south bank roads. The north bank road continues across Lobster Creek, though it has been known to wash out after a hard winter. Dunkelburger Bar Access is off the north bank road about 3 miles upstream from Lobster Creek. There is good bank access at Dunkelburger for spring chinook and steelhead.
About 7 miles beyond Dunkelburger, the north bank road ends near Trailhead 1168 which leads to Agness, a 10-mile hike upstream. Unlike the upriver trail from Graves Creek to Illahe, this trail is suited more to scenic enjoyment than to angling. Though well maintained, it remains high above the river and is cursed with rampant poison oak off-trail.
Below Agness, the Rogue is suitable for novice river boaters. Above, even experienced boaters would benefit from following a lead boat familiar with the river's hazards and temperament.
Most drift trips from Grave Creek are 3 to 4 days. Anglers wishing to book guides and rooms at the back-country lodges would be well advised to make reservations early in the year. Fishing guides can be located through local fly and tackle shops and lodges. TuTuTun Lodge and several private rv parks provide the only overnight facilities on the North Bank Rogue River Rd. Camping is available on the south bank road at Huntley Park, Lobster Creek, and Quosatana below Foster Bar, and at Brushy Bar within the Wild Rogue Wilderness. Unimproved sites are plentiful all along the trail to Grave Creek, which passes through a forested terrain of mixed Douglas fir, madrone, and maple.
All tributaries of the Rogue are closed to fishing in this stretch, except for the Illinois River.
River Levels. The Rogue fishes well, using one technique or another, within a wide range of flows (from 800 to 15,000 cfs). At flows over 10,000, fishing is usually limited to anchor fishing and plunking only. Drift boat fishing for winter steelhead is best when the gage reading is below 3500 cfs. In general, the river is fishable for salmon and steelhead within 36 hours after it begins to drop. Good fishing usually resumes within two to three days. Check the USGS website for a current river gage reading.
Rogue River: Grants Pass to Grave Creek
From Grave Creek downstream for about 35 miles there is no road access to the Rogue. At Grave Creek, anglers can launch a boat or pick up the Rogue River Trail on the north bank. A south bank trail at Grave Creek goes as far as Rainie Falls. From Grave Creek upstream, however, the river is very accessible. Roads follow and cross it all the way to Lost Creek Reservoir and beyond. This portion of the river offers many good angling opportunities. See Fishing in Oregon, Tenth Edition for a detailed map of access and fishing sites.
The summer run steelhead fishery gathers steam here in September, with peak catches in October. The winter run overtakes the summer run in January, peaking in February, with good catches into March. The current run of summer steelhead is 50/50 wild to hatchery. Only finclipped hatchery steelhead may be kept. About 20 percent of the winter run is finclipped. The steelhead population as a whole has been so healthy that the steelhead fishery has been open year-round. Half-pounders are in this section of the river from late fall through January and may be fished as trout.
Fall chinook provide good fishing in late August and September. Check the regulations for dates, deadlines, and gear restrictions.
One of the most popular boat fisheries in this section is at Galice, where there's an improved boat ramp and a store with fishing supplies. Steelhead anglers drift to Rand or Almeda, a day's trip. Rocky Riffle immediately below Galice, and Galice Riffle immediately above, are very popular steelhead and half-pounder fisheries. This is usually the upper limit for half-pounders, though in some years they're caught up to the Applegate. The river from Almeda to Grave Creek is lightly fished for summer and winter steelhead. To reach Galice from I-5 north of Grants Pass, take the Merlin Exit and follow the Merlin-Galice Rd. west. At Merlin, a county road heads southwest to Robertson Bridge.
Robertson Bridge to Galice is a long day's drift (about 11 river miles), accessing some good gravel bars and steelhead drift-fishing water. The trip includes a float through Hellgate Canyon. Some anglers do shorter trips from the bridge, mounting small kicker motors on their drift boats to enable them to motor up to a favorite water and drift down again. This is a practical technique in the slower, quieter stretches of the river above and below the bridge (between Ferry Park on the east bank and Griffin Park on the west). From Grants Pass, the Lower River Rd. offers a pretty drive to Robertson Bridge.
Whitehorse Riffle, below the mouth of the Applegate, is a good steelhead producer with bedrock shelves and channels that hold fish. There's a concrete boat ramp at Whitehorse Park on the north bank. Whitehorse to Ferry Park is a short but productive drift.
Anglers fish off the mouth of the Applegate for steelhead and for fall chinook
returning to the Applegate to spawn in late August and early September. These salmon are not in prime condition, but are still palatable. The Applegate marks the end of heavy recreational activity on the Rogue west of Grants Pass.
There's a lot of good bank access between Grave Creek and the Applegate. Anglers park and fish along the Merlin-Galice Rd. between Galice and Grave Creek. Argo Riffle is a popular bank fishery about 2 miles above Grave Creek. A mile above Argo Riffle, Almeda Park offers a half mile of good beach fishing with plentiful parking. Anglers also fish at Rand, and at the Chair Riffle just above. Rock Riffle above Galice is accessible to bank anglers, but there is little access at Galice itself. Ennis Riffle, about 2 miles above Galice, includes two gravel bars. Indian Mary Park, just above Taylor Creek Gorge, offers quiet water for trout fishing. Bank anglers fish above and below Hellgate Bridge for steelhead, and there is bank access at Ferry and Griffin parks.
Camping facilities are available at Alameda Park, Indian Mary Park, Griffin Park, and Schroeder Park. Primitive gravel bar camping is possible at Ennis Riffle (pack out your trash). There are additional rv parks as well as motels and supplies in Grants Pass. All tributaries of the Rogue in this stretch are closed to fishing, except the Applegate River.
Rogue River: Lost Creek Dam to Grants Pass
This stretch of the Rogue has long been characterized by private property, irrigation impoundments, and limited public access. Even so handicapped, it offered excellent fishingâ€”testament to the incredible vitality of this river and its fish. In 2009, two dams were beached in this section, returning the Rogue to its natural flow where Gold Hill Diversion Dam and Savage Rapids Dam once challenged fish passage. Gold Ray Dam will soon follow, a triumph of good sense and good stewardship of our precious fishery resources.
East of Grants Pass, above the former Savage Rapids Dam site, the Rogue flows through a broad valley, its banks lined with cottonwoods and willows. East of the town of Gold Hill, Gold Ray Dam currently backs up the river, forming a small reservoir (Gold Ray Pool). Above Shady Cove, the valley narrows and confines the river for 10 to 12 miles up to Lost Creek Dam, the end of the mainstem Rogue.
There are major fisheries for spring and fall chinook in this reach, a good size run of finclipped hatchery coho, summer and winter steelhead, and an exciting fly-only tailrace fishery for large resident rainbows. See Fishing in Oregon, Tenth Edition for a detailed map of access and fishing sites.
Most spring chinook in this stretch are caught above Gold Ray Dam from May through July, but there are some opportunities to catch them closer to Grants Pass. The first fishery for springers east of the city is at Pierce Riffle, about 3/4 mile below the former Savage Rapids Dam site. Boats launch at Pierce Riffle County Park off Foothill Blvd. on the north bank. There is no good holding water immediately below Savage Rapids now that the dam is gone, but riffles exposed in the former impoundment area should attract steelhead.
Fall chinook are also a popular fishery, particularly in the Grants Pass area in August and September. Finclipped coho heading for Cole Rivers Hatchery reach this section in late October and November.
Summer steelhead are plentiful in September and October between Gold Ray Dam and Cole Rivers Hatchery. To protect spawning salmon and provide a rare fly-only opportunity, the fishery is restricted to the use of artificial flies. Anglers use both standard fly fishing gear, and spinning rods and reels rigged with bubble floats. Currently, only finclipped steelhead may be kept during this time period. Winter steelhead are in this stretch of the river from January through April. Peak catches are in late January through March.This stretch of the river is currently open to harvest of both finclipped and wild winter steelhead from February 1 to April 30. Check current regulations.
There is a lot of private riverfront property in this stretch, but there are bank fishing opportunities at several parks, boat ramps, and easements adjacent to Hwy. 62. A boat ramp at Valley of the Rogue State Park, about 11 miles east of Grants Pass, is the put-in for an easy 2.5 mile drift through good steelhead water to Coyote Evans County Wayside. There's also bank fishing at Valley of the Rogue for steelhead and resident trout.
About 4 miles upstream, there's bank angling at Rock Point Bridge on Hwy. 99 and at Sardine Creek near the junction of Gold Hill and Sardine Creek roads. At Gold Hill on Hwy. 234, there's an improved boat ramp at Gold Hill City Park downstream of BLM's Gold Nugget Park. There is no boat ramp at Gold Nugget, but there is bank access for salmon and steelhead. Above Gold Nugget at Doughton Falls, ODFW has an unimproved site with bank access to a productive gravel bar.
Gold Ray Dam is a popular spot for spring chinook and summer steelhead, and the dam site will likely remain productive even after the dam is removed thanks to a good bedrock hole immediately below the dam. Dam removal is tentatively scheduled for summer, 2010. Boaters launch sleds and drift boats with motors at a concrete boat ramp off a dirt road between the dam and Gold Hill on the south bank, then motor up to the hole This road offers about 1-1/2 miles of bank access.
The water above Gold Ray Pool is especially productive for spring chinook (though the popular Salmon Rock Hole disappeared in the flood of '96). Boaters launch jet sleds at Tou Velle State Park. The park is on the south bank, but the boat ramp is on the north bank across the bridge. Anglers also bank fish for trout at Tou Velle. High Banks, just below Tou Velle, is a popular fly fishing spot for summer steelhead (boat access only).
Dodge Bridge Park, near the Hwy. 234 crossing of the Rogue, offers a nice long day's drift to Tou Velle, about 8 miles. There's good still-water fishing for spring chinook and summer steelhead in this stretch, but there are rapids that should be scouted and attempted only by experienced boaters. An occasional chinook and steelhead are hooked from the bank at Dodge Bridge, where there is also a wheelchair accessible fishing ramp that actually accesses good salmon and steelhead water.
Above Dodge Bridge on the west bank road to Shady Cove, Takelma Park offers a boat ramp and good bank access for spring chinook, steelhead, and trout. There's also a boat ramp at Shady Cove County Park, but bank access is limited to the area above Shady Cove Bridge (where there happens to be a good salmon hole). A dock at the boat ramp is available for handicapped anglers. From Shady Cove to Lost Creek Dam, Hwy. 62 runs close to the river with good access for bank anglers.
The mouth of Trail Creek is a popular bank access area. Anglers pull off and fish near the junction of highways 62 and 227. Rogue Elk County Park on Hwy. 62 is popular with boaters in pursuit of spring chinook and early summer steelhead. There's also a bank fishery for trout. Casey State Park, just west of the dam, has a boat ramp and excellent bank access for spring chinook, summer steelhead, and trout. Between Casey State Park and Lost Creek Dam, the river runs through public land where bank access is plentiful.
The deadline below the Cole River's Hatchery barrier is open to allow fishing up to the hatchery fish ladder. A deep hole below the fish ladder is a good place to hook a spring chinook. As you might imagine, it can get a little crowded here, with anglers shoulder to shoulder, and tempers have been known to flare. Check the regulations for special closures related to fishing this hole (currently 7 p.m.).
Immediately below Lost Creek Dam is "The Holy Water," a three-quarter mile tailrace fishery where hatchery rainbow trout thrive on the cool, rich releases of water from Lost Creek Reservoir. The average catch is 16 inches, and encounters with trout 20 inches and larger are commonplace. Fishing in the Holy Water is strictly catch-and-release year-roundâ€”whether wild or finclipped. Elsewhere from Lost Creek Dam to Grants Pass, finclipped trout may be harvested during trout open season.
To reach the Holy Water from Hwy. 62, follow signs to Cole River Hatchery. To fish the west bank, bear left at the weir and park along the road. To fish the east bank, turn right at the weir and park at Rivers Edge Park. The salmonfly hatch from late May through June draws crowds of anglers, but there's good fishing here year-round.
Campgrounds in this stretch of the Rogue are limited to Valley of the Rogue State Park on Hwy. 99, Rogue Elk County Park on Hwy. 62 east of the dam, and the vast Stewart State Park on the reservoir's south bank off Hwy. 62.
Most Rogue River tributaries (other than the Illinois and Applegate rivers) are closed to angling. Check the regulations for the few notable exceptions.
There are river gage readings available at several points along this stretch of the Rogue. In general, however, water clarity is more important than stream flow. Water releases from Lost Creek Dam can raise the river level without increasing turbidity. Rogue River turbidity is included in the fish report in local newspapers. When the river is turbid, the half-mile flow between the Big Butte Creek confluence and Cole Rivers Hatchery is almost always clear enough for good fishing. River temperature and the fish count at Lost Creek Dam are available by calling the Army Corp of Engineers.
Maddy Sheehan is the author and publisher of "Fishing in Oregon (Tenth Edition)," the state's best-known guidebook. She adapted this overview article especially for BestFishingInOregon.com.
There is a Rogue River from the Grand Ronde River in Polk Co. This river is not the Rogue River documented here.