Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

Fishing report

for January 20-26

When the going gets tough, the tough get plunking. In between storms, anglers who donned rain gear and braved high water were able to put the pedal to the metalheads last week on the Rogue and Chetco rivers.

Almost all of the steelhead that were caught last week by both bank fishermen and boaters were caught by plunking. Most people think that plunking is just a shore-fisherman's game, but if you're anchored up in a sled and your rod is in a holder with a Spin-N-Glo on the other end, by golly, you're plunking.

While the Chetco was too high for side-drifting on Thursday, guide Andy Martin from Wild Rivers Fishing managed to put two of his clients on some nice steelhead when the river was flowing at 12,000 cfs. Martin was using size 2 Spin-N-Glos with some roe tucked inside the leaders' egg loops.

The Chetco had a slate-gray appearance on Thursday. The way this week is shaping up, the Chetco should be perfect for plunking today and tomorrow as the river drops to 5,000 cfs. That's a little too high for side-drifting, but by Monday the river is expected to be flowing between 3,500 and 4,000 cfs, which is perfect side-drifting water for the Chetco.

From Tuesday through the following week, shore anglers drift-fishing Puff Balls and roe, or yarn balls, should do fairly well fishing the seams and tail-outs in places like the Highway Hole, the north bank pump house, Willow Bar and Loeb State Park.

Don't forget to put a little strand of yarn in your egg loop knots to go with your Corky or Puff Ball. The yarn gets entangled in a steelhead's teeth, making it harder for them to spit out the hook, and buys anglers an extra second or two to set the hook.

The Rogue River also kicked out a fair number of winter steelhead last week, as well. Anglers who were plunking size 2 Spin-N-Glos in the color pearl red had the best luck. Pearl red Yakima Bait's official color for what everyone calls pearl pink.

"They're throughout the river," says Jim Carey from the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach. "I'm of the opinion that we'll see decent numbers coming across the board," Carey predicts of this week.

The number one color Spin-N-Glo has been pearl pink. A flame chartreuse, also known as stop-and-go, and the color fire tiger have also been seeing the inside of a few steelheads' mouths.

Plunkers have been getting most of the fish on the Rogue at Coyote Riffle, Huntley Park, the upper end of Huntley Park known as Ice Box and near the Quosatana Campground.

Boaters may get their first chance at catching a few chromers as well, as the water drops and clears.

"With this color of water, anywhere from 3 to 4 feet should be productive," says John Anderson of Memory Makers Rogue River Guide Service. "Just find an inside corner and they should come right to you."

Every successful steelhead angler will be tying up leaders using an egg loop knot. Tying an egg loop knot is better shown than explained. This week's photo shows how to tie them up in a step-by-step format. Once you have tied a few of these knots, you will be able to tie them in your sleep.

The first four steps of the egg loop knot-tying procedure are illustrated in the top row going left to right. The last four steps start at the bottom left of the diagram.

You'll need an octopus hook anywhere from a size 4 to a size 1. Gamakatsu, Eagle Claw and Owner all make excellent hooks for this type of fishing. Plunkers often use size 2/0 hooks for a size 2 Spin-N-Glo; a 1/0 hook for a size 4 winged bobber and a size 1 for the size 6 spinning floats.

The first step is to cut a piece of leader between 24- and 36-inches long. The first photo shows the end of the leader being inserted through the eye of the hook.

In photo number 2, your thumb and index finger hold down the part of the leader that went through the hook while you begin the winding process. This photo shows how important it is to get that first wrap inside the crook of the eye.

Continue winding your leader down the hook between five and eight wraps, depending on the size egg loop you want to use. After the last wrap has been finished, take your index finger and press firmly against the wraps so they will not come undone while you insert the beginning of the leader back through the hook 2 or 3 inches.

In photo number 4, the leader is placed alongside the shank of the hook and is held to the hook with your index or middle finger, with the thumb resting on the other side of the hook. A big loop has been formed, which you will use to continue winding down the hook another four wraps.

In photo number 5, the thumb and index finger continue to pinch the line against the hook, preventing the wraps from becoming unraveled. As you can see in the photo, the large loop has become twisted, which is normal.

At this point you must wet your line with water to prevent friction before performing the next step, which is pulling the entire leader through all of the wraps on the hook.

Photo 6 shows line being pulled through the wraps while turning the leader clockwise to undo any twists that were made during the winding process. In the small amount of turning and pulling that was done, you can see that the leader only has one twist left in the loop.

Photo 7 shows the completed egg loop knot. After finally pulling the line taut, clip off the tag end of the leader at the back of the hook.

Photo 8 shows the finished product with the egg loop extended, ready to accept a fingernail-size cluster of roe.

I hope this diagram helps you to better visualize how the egg loop knot is tied.

Tight lines!