It’s that time of year again when the most prized fish of the Rogue River start their journey upstream. The first Rogue River spring salmon (aka springers) have been caught, and it won’t be long before springer fever starts to infect Rogue Valley Anglers.
With Southern Oregon finally starting to warm up, it will have the springers on the move. Peak migration typically happens when the river temperature reaches 51 degrees, and as of now the Rogue near Agness is inching closer to that mark every day. As of Monday morning it was hovering right around 49.5, and with more warm weather in the forecast, it may not take too long to reach 51 degrees.
Lower Rogue anglers should also be helped this year with increased flows thanks to a very healthy snow pack. Low flows during the drought years made for a tougher than normal bite throughout those seasons, but that shouldn’t be the case this year. Now it will all depend on how many fish return.
After an extremely disappointing 2016 season, anglers are skeptical of how this years return will come in. Last year saw only 2698 springers (2085 adults) make it back to Cole Rivers Hatchery. That barely met the escapement goal for the hatchery to meet their egg take needs, and was well below the 10 year average of 7,186 returning springers.
Luckily 2017’s springer return shouldn’t be as low as 2016’s. A big reason for the lack of hatchery fish was due to an equipment malfunction that killed off a large percentage of the salmon that would have returned last year. Those were 3 year old adults which make up the large majority of returning hatchery fish, and the bulk of the run during May and early June. This year may see fewer large adult hatchery salmon, but a return to normal numbers of average sized fish.
From now until May, anglers will want to focus their efforts on the lower Rogue. The run is just getting underway, and conditions should be great. Once we hit late April / early May then anglers can start searching the Upper Rogue near Shady Cove.
On the lower Rogue either anchoring or plunking from the bank in travel lanes with an anchovy on a Rogue Bait Rig is the go-to method. Target water 5-8ft deep, particularly on the inside turns of gravel bars. Brad’s Super Baits have also become more popular, as well as using a Spin N Glow with an anchovy in slower current areas.
Visit S.O. Chrome Guide Service for full or half day salmon fishing trips on the Upper Rogue.
When the salmon finally arrive to the Upper Rogue, back bouncing eggs or using sardine wrapped plugs are best for drift boat anglers. Adding sand shrimp above your eggs can help improve your odds of getting a bite, and in higher flows plugs can often out fish eggs.