Summer Steelhead Fly Fishing near Agness Oregon


A Beautiful 'Half-Pounder' on the Rogue River. Fall 2011.

Summer Steelhead fishing with fly rods from a boat on the Rogue River is extremely productive and takes minimal gear.  The fish are strong and acrobatic ranging from 10 inch 'half-pounders' to large 28 - 30 inch adult Summer Steelhead.  You never know if the next hook-up will be with an adult!  Make sure to check the regulations as to which fish you must tag on your Salmon/Steelhead tag.


Coon Rock Bridge near Agness Oregon.  Fall 2011.

Where to fish can sometimes be the most difficult choice.  The Summer Steelhead fishing on the Rogue River is very reliable.  From the end of August to the middle of October, the fish are in, or moving through, the stretch near Agness, Oregon.  The fish will be spread out from Foster Bar to Gold Beach.  With limited Boat Launches, make sure to verify how far you plan to drift from put-in to take-out.  Below The Mix, the next take-out is Quosatana Creek, approximately 15 miles of river with no road access.

Focus your efforts in the morning around shallow edges, reef ledges, and shallow tail-outs.  As the day brightens switch to deeper sections of the tail-outs and swift water with broken surfaces.  Fish behind boulders and white-water curls.  Side shoots of the river behind  reefs can have lots of fish stacked up in them.  Don't hesitate to try a drift through any water that looks 'fishy.'  The main flow of the river is strong and sometimes deep.  Fly fishing is difficult in these locations and we tend not to fish them with flies.


A Nice Half-Pounder With A Healed Scar From a Seal or Sea-Lion Bite.  Evidence of Sea-Run Migrations or Seals and Sea-Lions Swimming Up the River.  Fall 2011.

When fishing low water (2000 cfs or 2.7 ft. gauge height and below on the river gauge at Agness, Oregon) a 6 weight rod is plenty and some even prefer a 5 weight for additional action on the smaller fish.  However, when an adult hooks up the 6 weight will allow you to handle the fish in the higher flows of the Rogue.  If the water is high (above 2500 cfs or 3.2 ft. gauge height on the river gauge at Agness, Oregon), then using a 7 weight with a large sink tip can be the ticket to finding fish.  The 7 weight will handle the strain of the line in the water and allow you to tame big fish in the high flows.  Check out the river gauge reading before you head out on your next trip.


The majority of the time the water on the Rogue is low and mostly clear.  Using a floating line with a heavy, sinking fly will help keep the fly off the bottom and allow you to swing the fly across reefs and into hard to reach pockets.  Sinking lines will drag across the structure and take the fly to the bottom and cause the fly to snag-up.  However, when traffic on the river is heavy or if the sun is very bright and warm, then fishing a small sink tip allows you to get to the deep water where the fish are hiding out.  If the water is high and the flow is strong than a larger sink tip can be used.  We have used upwards of 20 feet of sink tip (6 weight line) below Agness where the Illinois and the Rogue Rivers meet.  Again, usually when the rivers are up from rains or water releases from the dams upriver.

Check out the Bead-Headed 'Buggy' Fly.  Fall 2011.


Any bead-head sinking fly will attract these Summer Steelhead.  They are a very aggressive fish and like 'buggy' looking objects.  The pretty flies such as; royal coachman, prince nymph, golden demon, etc will definitely catch fish.  However, the bead-headed 'buggy' flies will catch more fish.  Pay close attention in the pictures and videos to see one of our favorite flies.

Line Set-up

Usually 10-pound test line is used for a tippet.  This is a low-tech fishery and a tapered leader is not needing for back-trolling and sweeping flies.  If the water is very low and clear then try switching to an 8-pound leader.  We set-up in the following fashion; to the reel's arbor 3 feet of 40-pound mono is attached, then 20-pound braided dacron fly-line backing, then the fly-line, then a 2 foot section of 20-pound mono, followed by a 4 to 6 foot section of 8 to 10-pound mono.


Back-troll the flies in a sweeping side-to-side fashion while  slowly letting the boat downriver.  This will cause the flies to sink and then accelerate during different parts of the boat's swing.  Also, 'twitch' the rod up and down, or in a small flicking action, to mend the line and keep the fly up off the bottom.  This also provides more erratic action on the fly.  With the 'twitch' and the sweep of the boat, the fly will jump

and pop around triggering an aggressive strike reaction.

When the strike happens, gently lift the rod tip up and start reeling until the fish starts taking line.  Setting the hook will more than likely rip the small fly hook out of the fish's mouth.  If it is an adult, hold on, the fly reel will peel out line and the handles will spin backwards.  Many experienced fishermen forget this and bloody knuckles are all the reminder needed to move your hand when a big fish runs!

A Hatchery 'Half-Pounder' in the net for Shore Lunch at the Mouth of Shasta Costa Creek.  Fall 2011.

Shore Lunch

The Mouth of Shasta Costa Creek.  An Excellent Shore Lunch and Reststop Location.  Fall 2011.

A lot of the 'half-pounders' on the Rogue River are hatchery fish and may be taken as part of your daily trout limit.  Keeping a hatchery fish or two for shore lunch can be a delicious way to spend the heat of the day while waiting for the evening bite.  Find any suitable gravel bar and make a small fire.  Clean, de-head, and de-tail the fish.  Then double or even triple wrap the fish in foil with lemon, butter, garlic, dill, or your favorite seasoning.  Place this in the fire and cook until flaky.  This is a quick an easy way to cook fish on the bank of the river.  If you are fishing near the Agness area check out the mouth of Shasta Costa Creek for an excellent shore lunch location.

Remember, the Rogue River has high fishing pressure for Summer Steelhead and taking large amounts of fish from the river can negatively affect the next day's catch rate.  All wild fish must be released unharmed during the Summer and Fall Summer Steelhead season.


Get Your Hands Wet Prior to Handling Fish you Plan on Releasing.  This Will Prevent the Fish's Slime, Scales, and Protective Covering From Rubbing Off.  Fall 2011.

Make sure to check out the ODFW website, but listed below are the Trout, Salmon, and Steelhead regulations for the lower Rogue River.  These regulations change all the time so check online to stay up-to-date.

Trout Regulations:

  • Open for trout Jan. 1-March 31 and May 28-Dec. 31.
  • 5 adipose fin-clipped rainbow trout per day, 8-inch minimum length.
  • Nonadipose fin-clipped rainbow and cutthroat trout must be released unharmed.

Salmon Regulations:

  • Open for Chinook salmon: Jan. 1-May 31 per Zone Regulations except closed to harvest of non adipose fin-clipped Chinook salmon.
  • June 1-Dec. 31 as per Zone Regulations.
  • Open for adipose fin-clipped coho salmon as per Zone Regulations.

Steelhead Regulations:

  • Open for adipose fin-clipped steelhead entire year.
  • Jan. 1-April 30 nonadipose fin-clipped steelhead at least 24 inches in length may be kept; 1 per day, 5 per year, as part of daily or annual salmon/steelhead catch limit.

Special Gear Restrictions and Closures:

  • Use of bait allowed in mainstem Rogue River except from Foster Creek upstream to Whiskey Creek, where all angling is restricted to artificial flies and lures Sept. 1 to Oct. 31.
  • In addition to the hook and weight regulations on page 10, any attached weight may be no more than six feet above the lowermost hook.
  • Closed to all angling from Rainie Falls downstream 400 feet (Rivermile 66).

River Level

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