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More steelhead on the way and how to cook them


Lemon pepper rockfish uses a readily available mix and egg to bring out the flavors of the rockfish, and makes for a great dinner for two. The Pilot/Larry Ellis

Fishing report for 

February 10-16

If forecasts from the National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service come to fruition, Chetco steelheaders can look forward to a little better action later this week. A weak cold front is anticipated to produce enough rain to raise the river to almost 2,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday.

The silver missiles might be a little hesitant crossing the bar this weekend due to 16-foot swells slated to wreak havoc between the Port of Brookings Harbor’s north and south jetties, but the seas are expected to feather down to 9 feet by Washington’s birthday.


 It never hurts to check out the bar every morning. If the bar is semi-flat and doesn’t contain much sediment, you can expect fresh runs of steelhead to make their way into the river.

My personal prediction is that the Chetco will fish best from Tuesday through Thursday, as the bar begins to become smoother and the river lowers from 1,800 cfs to 1,300 cfs. The river should still remain fishable even as the water drops and clears to 1,200 cfs on Friday, but anglers are going to have to play the stealth game, just as they did during last week’s low flows.

“Even though the water has been low and clear, the guys who have been using light gear have still been catching fish if they snuck up on the holes,” said Scott Stewart from the Chetco Outdoor Store, who described last week’s action.

There is no better time than the present to double your chances at catching a steelhead, because you will have fresh fish heading upriver while spawned-out down-backs will be making their way back to the ocean.


According to Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach, steelhead fishing on the Rogue River started tapering down last week from Quosatana Creek down to the mouth, while the majority of the action took place further upriver.

“Agness is where I’m hearing of the majority of fish reports,” said Carey on Thursday. “The clarity of the water has opened up that fishery more so than normal for fly-fishermen using Purple Perils, Green Butt Skunks and Egg-Sucking Leaches.”

This is also the time of year when guides will begin looking for that first Rogue River spring Chinook.

“I have guides already putting out one Hot Shot and one anchovy,” adds Carey. “Out of all the fish they catch, the first springer always gets the best publicity and the best bragging rights for our area.”

Carey also mentioned that redtail surfperch are beginning to go on-the-bite for fishermen using pieces of raw shrimp or 2-inch camo-colored Berkley Gulp! Sandworms.


This week’s fishing photo features three of my favorite recipes for steelhead, rockfish and lingcod. If you’re like me, you want to get your fish cooked in the quickest, easiest manner as possible.  These dishes can be prepared by anyone and, best of all, most of the ingredients can be found in any kitchen.

Stuffed steelhead fillets

This is one of my favorite ways of fixing steelhead. You will need one steelhead fillet, one package of Stove Top Stuffing mix, a 2.25-ounce package of walnut pieces, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of water, some Johnny’s Alaskan Salmon Seasoning and some heavy-duty aluminum foil.

There is nothing more pleasurable than eating a steelhead fillet that doesn’t contain any bones in it whatsoever. To do this you will have to remove the pin bones.

The pin bones, also known as intramuscular bones, are found in a straight line running down the length of the fillet, angled toward the fish’s head. Stroking this line toward the back of the fish easily reveals all the bones. Removing them only takes about 10 minutes. To do this you will need a pair of clean needle nose pliers or some pin bone tweezers.

If you pull the pin bones straight up, they will either break off and/or tear the flesh. Simply pull each bone in the direction it is pointing naturally – toward the head! Make sure that the fillet never warms up to room temperature or it will spoil. You can put the fillet in the freezer for about 10 minutes to keep it chilled.

Spread some butter or olive oil on a sheet of aluminum foil and place the fillet on the foil. Sprinkle the seasoning over the fillet.

In a separate bowl, mix the walnuts and the stuffing mix together. Gradually stir in 3 tablespoons of butter, and then 1 cup of boiling water.

Spoon the stuffing mixture on top of the fillet and then pull the foil so the sides of the fillet come toward each other. Seal the meal by folding the ends of the foil several times. For insurance, use at least three pieces of foil and then lay the product on a cookie sheet in case the liquid boils over.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the cookie sheet in the oven. The heat of the oven will steam the fillet, providing natural moisture for the stuffing.

After 50 minutes, the fish and stuffing will be perfectly cooked. Insert a meat thermometer into the stuffing to make sure that it has reached 180 degrees.

Lemon pepper rockfish

This is a simply delicious recipe. My favorite coating mix is made by Bruce Foods and is called Cajun Injector Lemon Pepper Seasoning Mix. If you can’t find this product in Brookings, you can order it online for a few dollars by going to brucefoods.com.

Simply beat an egg, dip individual chunks of fillet in the seasoning mix and pan fry them using canola oil. How easy is that? You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the flavor.

Oven crisp lingcod

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and is borrowed from Peggy Cobb’s book, “Cooking Sturgeon,” available through cobbreelfish.com.

You will need one lingcod fillet, one-quarter cup of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 cups of crushed corn flakes.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine the olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place the fillets in a shallow dish. Pour the olive oil mixture over the top of the fillet and then turn the fillet over to coat the other side. Marinate it for 30 minutes.

Remove the fillet from the marinate, sprinkle it lightly with Parmesan cheese and then dip the fillet in the crushed corn flakes.

Place the fillet in a greased baking pan and bake between 15 and 20 minutes or until it is cooked thoroughly.

Bon appétit and tight lines!



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