Jay Nicholas has been getting reports of several strong pushes of Chinook on the Rogue in July….hopefully this a good sign for next month and early September.
Rogue and Umpqua fall Chinook are very special fish in Oregon. They are tolerant, relatively speaking, of very warm water, though it probably puts them on the edge of survival at times. These fish come in early and FAT! Both characteristics are in tune with their life history which requires them to make 100+ mile migrations to reach spawning areas much farther upstream than is the case with most coastal fall Chinook (Elk and Sixes fish may only migrate 15-20 miles to reach spawning gravel.
Also, these Rogue and Umpqua Kings come in with very immature gonads., again much unlike the majority of coastal Kings. Thus, these two rivers receive salmon with high fat content to fuel their migration and gonad development during the 3-4 months they will be in the river before spawning. The high fat content and immature gonad development make these fish, I think, the tastiest and hardest fighting of any of the “typical” fall Chinook. Nehalem Summer Chinook could be the same deal.
Here’s a suggestion regarding catch and release. If the water temperature is in the 60s it’s probably OK to release these fish, should you wish to. Above 70, though, it is probably best to kill the beast for the dinner table. High water temperatures do not make for healthy released salmon, even these temperature hardy Kings. The Rogue at Agness has ben running from a blistering 71 in the morning to 75 in the afternoon. Geesh! Chinook may just stay in the Bay under these upriver conditions to take advantage of cooler ocean water provided by the incoming tides. Or maybe not.
Finally, we tend to somewhat arbitrarily refer to Chinook as Springers of Fall Chinook. Nehalem Kings have earned a reputation as Summer fish. These early-run Rogue and Umpqua Kings should probably be referred to as Summers also. Fact is, I think, that a few Kings are entering these coastal rivers during many, if not all, months of the year.
Call ‘em what you want, these are prize sport fish on a fly. Just gotta find a place to fish them and find them in a grabby mood. Nuthin to it.