Summer Steelhead Abound

The high flying, acrobatic, chrome rockets better known as summer steelhead are here on the Rogue, and they’ve shown up in force early. We’re having an outstanding early run, and the fish are spread through out the upper river. The hatchery has also started to recycle fish, which provides even more opportunity to catch them.

Yesterday my buddy Phil Tripp and I did our part to take out those extra retreads. We hit the river early, on what was mainly to be a prospecting run. Phil had just returned from fighting wildfires in Utah, and our expectations weren’t too high as we put in for our first summer steelhead float of the season. Those expectations were quickly blown out of the water, as we sat in a seam just off the boat ramp.

After a few trout hits, my plug rod finally buried. As I start the fight, I turn around to see Phil grabbing his rod out of the holder, but it’s also now buried. The double wasn’t meant to be though, as the second fish quickly snapped the 8lb leader in all the commotion.

Rogue River summer steelhead #1
We were only able to land 1 from the double.

Then things became even more ridiculous. While still sitting in the very same seam we were able to get 3 more takedowns and land two of them. We were about ready to call and cancel our shuttle until the last fish pulled us out of the hole and downstream. In under two hours we were able to tag 3 hatchery fish, and should have finished the boat limit if it weren’t for the 8lb leader failing us twice.

Rogue River summer steelhead on a Lindy River Rocker
#2 crushed a Lindy River Rocker
Recycled Rogue River Summer steelhead
The hole punch in the gill of #3 clearly marks it as a recycled fish.

All three of our summer steelhead had their gill plate hole punched, which marks them as a recycled fish. Since we hooked all of the fish in the same hole, I would also venture a guess that the two we lost were also retreads. The rest of the float was rather uneventful, with only a couple of slamming takedowns that didn’t stick.

Want to catch one yourself?

Summer steelhead are typically very aggressive, and thus will hit any number of presentations. You don’t have to be an early bird to catch them either, as evenings can often times be better than mornings. Spoons and spinners are my favorites from the bank, but plugs, roe, shrimp, and flies are also extremely effective from both the bank and boat. Target water 4-8ft deep with current that’s about walking speed, and fishing the edges of currents seams is the best. The area around Tou Velle State Park, and up near the hatchery are producing the best right now. The run is also just beginning, and won’t peak until September and October, so you’ve got plenty of time to get out there catch one.

Tight Lines….

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3 thoughts on “Summer Steelhead Abound

  1. Great Article here thank You!! Wondered if anyone out there would be willing to share further details to a newbie? Not looking for your honey holes at all …..just looking to be able to fish a couple times a year with my family and catch some fish. Have an old Drift boat and am interested in the Shady cove to Dodge Bridge stretch mainly. Any info for first time drifting would be appreciated. Or even a recommendation to certain resources would be great. Sure Do thank You and God Bless!!, Chris.

    1. We use 8lb to give the small plugs a little better action. It was just a streak of bad luck as we’ve landed plenty of salmon on it before.

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