If you’re looking for fun things to do in Southern Oregon, one idea is to enjoy a true Southern Oregonian day on the Rogue River. With over 215 miles of fishable water, the beautiful Rogue River provides ample opportunity for catching multiple species of fish all year round.
Some Rogue River fishers credit the multiple years of effort to remove dams, and others credit the consistent supply of cold water from the southern Cascade Mountains headwaters — but whatever the cause may be, it’s certain that the Rogue River has some of the West Coast’s best fishing spots. Below, we’ll explore the most popular types of fish caught in the Rogue River, as well as where, when, and how to catch them.
Types of Fish to Catch in the Rogue River
When you spend a day on the Rogue River, you’re in for incredible views and abundant wildlife. While the Rogue River is home to many species of fish, it’s renowned for being one of the best spots to catch salmon and steelhead. There’s a large number of trout there as well.
The popular types of salmon found in the Rogue River include spring Chinook (“springers”), fall Chinook (“kings”), and coho. For steelhead, you’ll likely find spring steelhead, winter steelhead, and half pounders. And for trout, rainbow trout and cutthroat trout are the usuals.
While there’s definitely a chance you run into multiple of these species on just one outing, each of them are more likely to be found at different times of the year and at different holes along the river. Below, we’ll walk through the best fishing spots and gear for each type of fish.
Where, When, and How to Catch Salmon in the Rogue River
Chinook salmon season typically begins in March and can run into early November. However, the season is split between two types of salmon: spring and fall Chinook.
Spring Chinook, also known as “springers”, enter the Rogue River in March, but the catches are best from April all the way into June. You can find the most springers in the upper river, from Shady Cove to Lost Creek Dam. Some of the best spring Chinook fishing spots include:
- McGregor Park
- Casey State Recreation Site
- Cole M. Rivers Hatchery
Usually, drift fishing is a great way to catch spring Chinook. Equipment-wise, it’s best to use a 34-36 inch leader with an octopus hook. Bait-wise, it’s best to use salmon eggs, nightcrawler worms, or a scented, pink yarn ball.
Fall Chinook, also known as “kings”, are best caught in August and September, but can also be found in October. Usually, the mid-to-lower sections of the river produce the most fall Chinook, so it’s best to stick around the Grants Pass area. Some common fall Chinook fishing spots include:
- Matson Park-Findley Bend area
- Valley of the Rogue State Park to Coyote Evans Wayside
- Griffin Park to Robertson Bridge
Fall Chinook are caught by drift fishing, or by traditional bait and lure fishing.
Coho Chinook show up in October and can be caught until November. They’re more difficult to catch and aren’t a main attraction to the Rogue River, but some anglers do catch them while they’re on the hunt for steelhead. Usually, they’re found in the lower river and bay area.
Where, When, and How to Catch Steelhead in the Rogue River
Similar to salmon, the adult steelhead return to the Rogue River in two major runs during the summer and winter.
In the summer, adult steelhead are consistently caught in the upper river from late spring to early fall. They like free-flowing water, so you’ll have more luck going down the river than sitting in the bay. Some good spots to find them include:
- Casey State Recreation Site
- Access points along Modoc and Agate roads in Eagle Point
- Rogue Elk Park
Winter adult steelhead enter the Rogue River in late December, but usually January and February result in the best catches. They also like the free-flowing river environments, but they’re usually found in the lower river, at spots like:
- Lobster Creek Boat Ramp
- Huntley Bar and Park
Adult steelhead are usually caught with fly fishing and traditional bait and lure techniques. Equipment-wise, it’s best to use salmon eggs, a jig, or a pink worm for bait.
Despite their name, half pounders actually weigh about two pounds. They’re unique to the Rogue River because they only spend a few months out in the ocean’s saltwater before returning to the river. Their run usually begins in September and can last throughout the winter months, sometimes into February.
Half pounders are usually caught in the lower river. They travel in schools, so when you catch one, you’re likely to catch more.
Where, When, and How to Catch Trout in the Rogue River
The two most common types of trout on the Rogue River include rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Known for their beautiful silver, pink, and red coloring, rainbow trout can be caught all summer, from May to September. They’re usually found in the upper sections of the river, so good fishing spots include:
- Mill Creek
- Union Creek
- Natural Bridge
- Woodruff Bridge
- Minnehaha Creek
Rainbow trout can be caught using a number of techniques like fly fishing, spey fishing, nymphing, and traditional bait and lure.
Cutthroat trout have red-orange markings under their jaws, which makes them look like they have a cut throat. Similar to rainbow trout, they’re often caught in the upper sections of the river, at the same popular fishing spots.
However, cutthroat trout are found in a different season, usually appearing in December through April. And while you can use almost any method to catch cutthroat trout, many anglers prefer fly fishing.
Take Advantage of Free Fishing Weekends In Oregon
Each year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife usually offers three Free Fishing Weekends. On these weekends, fishers aren’t required to have a fishing license or tag in order to catch fish, clams, or crabs. It’s a great opportunity to go out and try your hand at something new before you pay to participate! The last Free Fishing Weekend of 2021 is November 26-27.
Ready to live just steps away from all the things to do around the Rogue River? Stage Pass is just a short commute to the best outdoor activities in our region. To schedule your tour of our beautiful Rogue Valley home sites, give our team a call or contact us online.