Welcome to our fishing report. Since we spend over 200 days on the water each year we have a pretty good handle on what's happening in the fisheries we target. For those of you who will be going out with us this season, you can visit this page to follow how those fisheries are stacking up. And for those who may be considering a trip, you'll be able to follow the action and see what you're missing.
**NEW** 2017 Early Fishing Lines Newsletter - PDF Format
March 19 - March rains have been consistent; coming just about the time the river gets fishable again! This is our friend Matt who was supposed to drift the river but the Chetco was too high so we suggested plunking. He headed to the Rogue and caught his first steelhead ever! The Chetco has had some decent plunking days as well as a few driftable days but they have been sparse. The catch is a mix of fresh and downrunners with some bluebacks showing up. There aren't any big numbers but there aren't many people on the water so it's very peaceful. We are just getting back to good levels this week with another impending storm due to hit us on Wednesday. The last week of the season should show good water conditions so if you're still looking to get a day on the water please let us know. Many rumors of spring salmon on the Rogue but no pictures as yet (that we've seen!) Won't be long and that season will be in full swing too.
March 12 - Sometimes the days just slip away and I realize I've missed a week. Oops! The weather has been weird ... plus we got used to the unseasonably warm, wonderful weather earlier in the winter. Now we're into the home stretch for steelhead and it's raining a lot! More is expected but at least it's warmed up and it's not snowing anymore. Trees are all blooming and we've heard there've been a few springers caught on the Rogue which means it's true - spring is really here. We've been seeing a few fish but just like the rest of the season 2018 it's been on the slower side. There are downrunners throughout the system now. The picture on the far right is a "fresh" downrunner coming to be released. The other fish are from a rainy day on the Elk with Tyson. There is still a bit of the season left since we'll keep rolling through the end of March. The crowds are gone and on the sunny days it's a peaceful float.
February 26 - Update - sorry this didn't load on Monday. Congratulations to Linda Sunberg and Kathy Figas (and their husbands) - they won the 36th Annual Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Derby on Saturday night. Between the 2 of them they caught 6 fish out of the total 34 caught in the 2 day tournament. They were fishing with guide Mick Thomas and single handedly won the derby! Gary's team ended up 3rd place with 4 fish (2nd place also had 4 fish) but it was a tough couple days of fishing. Both rivers measured 17 fish - probably a first in derby history. Since the derby ended on Saturday night the rain arrived and it's been a steady few days with off and on rain plus rising river levels. There are some fresh blue backs showing as well as downrunners on both rivers. It's extremely cold and a few snow flurries around as well. The Rogue (lower) also had a bump in river level that got the steelhead moving with a fresh spurt moving through the lower end. Elk and Sixes are both up a bit and fishable too - looking like it could be a very productive March!
February 19 - Happy Birthday Gary! Usually he's fishing on his birthday, often for a derby, but this year had the day "off"! Some of the off was due to the water conditions - while we did have a bit of rain yesterday it came down in frozen water in the form of hail, snow and freezing rain. Consequently, the river didn't really rise much (about 2") and the gravel bars were frozen. The volumn of water has been lacking for quite a while making side-drifting almost impossible. We've been "pulling plugs" and getting a few of the fish to play but we're seeing fish in a few of the places we've fished and they didn't want to play the game. Once that happens it's time to go to the next spot. There are some fresh fish entering the system but they are either having a hard time with the cold water (after leaving an ocean 10 degrees warmer) or they've been to school about biting! Bad joke ... yes. At any rate, the fishing is slow but the trip is beautiful as you can see from the pictures. We're hoping the rain at the end of the week (during the Rowdy Creek Derby) is enough to bump the river a fair amount. There should still be some tributary spawners ready to head up the river as well as a few bluebacks we usually see in early March. Weather forecasts are for a wet March so that might be the time to wet a line.
February 12 - After the winter of 2017 it's hard to believe we are in 70-75 degree weather. This past week was a bake fest on the river with mid-70's and the water dropping dramatically each day. We are now in the low, clear doldrums with small schools of fish. There is a chance we'll be getting more weather this weekend and we're hopeful there will be a few more fish showing with that event. The broodstock collection is a bit behind compared to previous years but that can also be attributed to the low, clear conditions we are now experiencing. The Rogue has started to pick up a bit but it seems the winter run is also on the low side. We're expecting some reports of spring salmon any day with all the spring trees starting to bloom, turkey vultures showing up and the warm temperatures. As you can see from the pictures, it's very peaceful on the river - and there are a few fish out there willing to play!
February 5 - This has been a bit of a strange year. The weather is unbelievable and the water conditions this past week were fabulous - the fishing is just a bit hard right now. Actually, the fishing is great, the catching is tough. You can see the beautiful weather with the pictures - one day was 80 degrees on the gravel bar at Social Security. Hard to believe it's winter! The picture on the far right is from our guide friend, Josh Terry. He was fishing on the Umpqua this past week when they hooked a fish and lost it. They made a few more passes in the hole and got another one. When they landed it, the fish had both his leaders in her mouth! That's a real biter. We are supposed to have the same weather for most of this month so we'll probably be out of water at some point. We are already low flow and very clear - there are small schools of fish coming in with the tide each day but we have a few seals and sealions around that are keeping those fish moving. So we'll keep hunting for the fish and hope to land our bites!
January 29 - Sorry there aren't any pictures this week but last week was full of rain, rain and more rain! While the rivers had a couple of marginally fishable days from the boats, the real opportunity was plunking off the bank. The plunkers had some great days including yesterday (Sunday) where some reports were 24 fish at Social Security Bar (there were probably 40 people!). Some of those fish were donated to the broodstock program which is fabulous. We should see improving boat fishing water as this week moves on and weather forecasts are for only good weather for the next couple week - so that means we'll be saying it's low and clear soon. The great news about the banner plunking day is that it means we've had a good push of fish show up - we're hoping a good number of them spread out through the river and will provide great opportunity this week.
January 22 - It's been a plunking show while the river goes up and down this week. There were a couple marginal days for the Chetco but the flow was still pretty big and the plunkers did better than the boats. The Smith had a couple days when the levels were good for boating and there were some fish caught but it wasn't on fire by any means. There is a lot of activity around the Smith right now though as there is a movie (starring Sandra Bullock) being filmed there. We're looking at a big weather week with predictions for big water later this week. We're hoping they are only half right and the river will calm down quickly. In the meantime the Elk fished pretty well today and the traffic was fairly light. It should also fish tomorrow but will probably succumb to the bad weather too! Stay tuned.
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day - This was a very busy weekend on the water of the Chetco. Not only were the conditions perfect (for fishing) but for bank fishing and boat traffic as well. Add to that a law enforcement saturation patrol and there was a lot of activity on the water. As far as fish ... honestly, it should be better than it is. Are we suffering from years of drought? Are they late? Is there too much predation on the out-going smolt? What about the Chetco Bar Fire impact? We don't have the magic ball answer to any of these questions but we are definitely seeing fewer fish this year - it shows in the boats (really good guides and private boats only landing one fish) as well as the broodstock collection effort. Angler donated fish is under 20 right now and this time last year we were half way to the season total (120). The river is beautiful, the fishing is great but the catching is a little tough so maybe we need a different mind set after years of great fishing. We'll keep trying to find more fish but this week might be a little tough with the impending storm. Keep tuned for more fish stories.
January 8 - Happy Birthday to Val's sister, Kari. The only way to describe this past week is weird. We did get some rain - not a lot - and the river went straight mud. Also, the gauging station is not correctly reporting the river height so it's hard to tell what going on without going to the river. According to USGS the gauging station uses a nitrogen bubble system to detect the water level - they think it's either out of nitrogen or the tank has an issue. A fix is scheduled for this week sometime. The mud was probably due to the salvage logging going on from the Chetco Bar Fire as it reminded us of the color from last spring when the roads were getting repairs. Hopefully this will not be a common occurance. There are fish in the system but they aren't in huge numbers and many bank fishermen, as well as boaters, are scratching their heads wondering why the ones that are there (we can see them!) aren't biting. Many theories abound including sea lion harrassment, cold water, sunshine ... you get the the picture ... hopefully they will decide to participate in our winter steelhead fishery. Broodstock collection is also going on right now but the numbers are behind last year so there will be a push for getting some fish in the capture boxes as well as the holding pens. Andrew has been monitoring all areas and the river level in hopes of collecting more fish. Remember, this is just the beginning of a nice, long season so make time to get a day on the water. It's beautiful and as you can see from the pictures, the river corridor is mainly untouched from the Chetco Bar Fire.
Happy New Year 2018 - The years seem to fly by which is something we always heard when we were younger but it's true. Steelhead fishing is in full swing but the action is still a bit on the slow side due to the lack of water. As you can see from the pictures there is plenty of sunshine - only a little rain this past weekend although 2018 will, undoubtedly, get rolling soon with plenty of storm fronts passing through our area. We are off and running with with plenty of fishing dates booked so we're hoping to see the catch rate go up as we move through the season. We hope everyone had a great new year's celebration. If you didn't get a chance to read the newsletter, please click on the link above and check it out.
December 25 - Merry Christmas everyone. We did warn you we were taking a few days to go enjoy Morgan's graduation from George Fox University and we did! The bottom right picture shows the family (including Val's dad) after the ceremonies. Morgan will be doing some work for a local non-profit (ORREC), working on rehab projects for the Chetco Bar Fire, this winter. She also had a chance to go fishing with Gary this week and landed a nice, hatchery steelhead. Fishing is a bit spotty with a few fish coming into the Chetco on the last rise but the rains haven't materialized as forecasted so the river is low and clear at this time. There are a few fish sneaking up the river but action is very slow. Perhaps with the little warming trend we'll see those fish start to stream in the Chetco and Smith Rivers. Action on the Rogue has also been slow with a couple days that were the exception - plunking along the edges with plugs has been the ticket on those days. As we welcome in the new year we'll see those fish show up whether we have water or not - we'll also do our best to get after them and hope to have consistent pictures throughout the season. If you haven't put a date on the calendar let us know and we'll get something worked out. In the meantime, check out the newsletter for 2017 - the link is above the fishing report. Have a safe and happy ringing in for 2018 and thanks to everyone who've fished with us this past year. We are looking forward to year #40 guiding in Oregon this year (yep, that right - both of us will be in year 40 guiding in Oregon)
December 11 - No report last week as there really wasn't anything to report. The fishing is slow right now - the last rain was on December 2-3 and the river has been steadily dropping since that time. That rise in the water encouraged many of the salmon on the Chetco and Smith to hit the tributaries and spawn. The first picture is of a couple of spawned out fish on Jack Creek. There were quite a few counted by the ODFW carcass survey on the creek - the majority were spawned out or actively spawning. Watching the fish spawn in the clear water of Jack Creek is incredibe! The drying trend is supposed to continue through this week with a small chance of showers toward the weekend. We'd like to send those showers to southern California where the Santa Ana Winds are raging - something we certainly understand here. We did take a couple trips but have switched over to side drifting - sometimes we get a salmon but we're targeting those early steelhead. Chris is showing off a small steelie in the middle picture. The final picture is of Morgan (our daughter) because we'll be taking time off this week to attend her graduation from George Fox University. Morgan graduated a half year early - not surprising if you know Morgan. We are incredibly proud and look forward to spending a bit of time with her. If some of our friends find some fish this week then we'll give a report next Monday. Otherwise, we'll get something out soon after. We hope everyone enjoys this blessed holiday season. We are grateful for many gifts in our lives.
November 27 - We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It was a rough week for getting on any of the rivers locally as the rains came in harder than predicted. Monday produced 4.5" and again later in the week another 4.75" - almost 10" of rain made for ugly water. The other product of the yoyo river effect is that many of the salmon (on the Chetco and Smith) start hitting the tributaries. We're seeing fair numbers in Jack Creek as well as Emily on the Chetco. A lot of the salmon have also been running through the canyon on the Smith; hitting the north fork confluence. While this isn't unusual for the past few years it is contradictory to the traditional run-timing where Thanksgiving week was a hot time. The northern, smaller rivers had more fishable time this week but the action seemed a bit spotty. On the positive side, a few of the plunkers on the Chetco have bagged some early steelhead - many of them hatchery fish. So it may be time to put the salmon rods back on the rack and focus on side-drifting where there is a bit more activity and the chances of catching either a salmon or steelhead seem about equal. Plus there's nothing like fighting a big salmon on steelhead gear. Looks like December will be a good weather month which should lure the steelies to continue coming into the river. Make a plan to close our 2017 with a bit of fishing time.
November 20 - We're on the roller coaster ride of river levels again although this past week wasn't quite as high; nor as low as we've experienced in the past. The northern rivers came in sooner, of course, but the Smith and Chetco also came in by the weekend and provided some opportunity to spread things out a bit. The Chetco seems to be following the predictions from ODFW of a smaller than usual run (numbers) and we're seeing fish in the tributaries already. These fish (pictured) were caught over the weekend and were the brightest of the fish landed by Steve and Willie. Steve was up to pack up TOSHI as the property has been sold. Some great times and wonderful friendships have been forged around the campfire at TOSHI as well as some fundraising to help the fisheries on the Chetco. We'll be re-inventing something but it won't quite be the same - at the same time, Steve won't have to worry about flooding from the adjacent creek into the shop! When the rivers receded from the 5" of rain today (Monday) we'll start side-drifting to provide more opportunity for steelhead and also the tail end of the salmon run. There were a couple steelies caught by plunkers at Social Security this past week so we should start seeing a few more numbers as we move into December.