Rogue River chinook showing up, available for fly casters soon

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 chinook

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.


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7 Responses to Rogue River chinook showing up, available for fly casters soon

  1. Rob R says:

    Should prospective newbies bring protective gear and a thick skin, or will the Gold Beach locals welcome them with open arms?

  2. jay nicholas says:

    Q: Is 200 boats fishing between the ocean and the 101 Bridge enough?

    A: Nah, there’s room for another 200.

    Q: So Sea-Lions eat salmon in the Rogue Estuary?

    A: Nah, they to to McDonalds for the Fishwich.

    Q: Do anchovy trollers in the upper Bay (above 101) mind when fly-guys hog-line their Prams in the channel.

    A: Nah, these are sharing, open-armed fellas, happy to aim for the 12′ space between Prams.

    Q: is it worth going down there to give it a whirl?

    A: You betcha! Fun is fun and there are some serious fly fishing comrades who will welcome you just as much as the Anchovy trollers.

    Q: Is Sawyers Rapids worth trying on the Umpqua, after the water cools a little?

    A: Nope. Chinook NEVER pause below Sawyers Rapids, making them more likely to grab a fly. NO ONE has ever caught salmon or sea-runs in this vicinity. This is a HORRIBLE suggestion.



  3. nimrod243 says:

    ┬┐Quien quiere tacos de pescado?

  4. Terrence says:

    What’s a good fly to use on these salmon should they decide to bight, (Agness area)?

  5. jay nicholas says:

    What fly to use. Humm. Here’s the challenge we face in the Agness area. These salmon are destined for a hundred-plus mile migration, and they want to get the heck out of the warm water in the Lower River — so they boogie. the trick to hooking Kings in the Agness area, if there is any, is to find a pod of fish moving and swing darn near any fly in front of its face. These big fish have taken everything from a single-egg bug, a Red-Ant size 6 – 8, a Comet (orange, red, chartreuse), a Green-butt Skunk sizes 4-10, a Juicy Bug size 6 – 8, and the standard Egg-sucking leeches and Intruders.

    These fish will migrate upriver in 3=4 feet of water so fish the edges of the riffles like you are searching for Half-pounders, because they will travel in the same water. Mornings and evenings, also, just like steelhead, if it is hot. Now the pools during the day. Humm. That’s a boat-show worth exploring. Please, don’t be holding your breath. This is a low percentage game, but one of these Kings to the fly is a lifetime prize.


  6. Bob says:

    Just my two cents worth, I have fished the Rogue estuary during the fall run for more than 12 years and never seen the hog line of prams you reference. Is this a new thing?

    I have to admit the last 2 years I stay away from the combat boat fishing zoo during Aug and most of Sept. because of all the idiots around there. But, I would tell anyone who asks that unless you want to get harassed by guides and other all around jerks that fish down there, don’t anchor in the channel unless you like to fight while you fish.

  7. I have fished the crowded Rogue many years and find people to be very curtious and easy to fish with. Most people fish going with the crowd, same speed with enough room to stop if someone gets a fish on. I try to fit in to everyones speed and never have problems. I find I really have to pay attention to where I,m going, who’s in front side. and in back and what they are doing. It makes it worth it to catch these beautiful fattys

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