Larry Ellis, fishing columnist

This is the time of year when lower Rogue fishermen start hoping to catch the first springer of the year.

As of Thursday it hadn't happened, but rains from a late storm has raised the river and added more color to the Rogue. The rise in the river has also given local area residents hope that they'll be the first ones to earn bragging rights to be on the first-springer tote.

"I'm of the opinion that there are springers in the river right now and my prediction is that the first one will be caught tomorrow (Friday)," said Jim Carey, owner of the Rogue Outdoor Store in Gold Beach on Thursday.

So start tying up your spinnerbait hooks and polish your spinner blades. And make sure that you have plenty of fresh anchovies on hand because they're the bait of choice in this river when it comes to springers.


The Chetco also rose to 4,530 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Thursday, which means that steelhead fishing could be good this weekend and into the week as the river starts dropping.

The flow should be hovering around 3,000 cfs this weekend and approach 2,500 cfs on Monday, which is plenty enough water to side-drift from your drift boat or drift-fish from the bank.

With these great water conditions, there should be several steelhead caught this weekend.


Rockfish and lingcod hunters should also get a few opportunities to slay the fatted bottom-grabber as NOAA is predicting swells to abate to a west swell of 5 feet today with wind waves around 1 foot.

On Sunday the forecast calls for the swell to pick up to between 7 and 8 feet. But on Monday, variable winds of 5 knots and a west northwest swell of 6 feet with wind waves of 1 foot or less may beckon anglers to head out of the Port of Brookings Harbor once again.

So keep your eyes on the National Weather Service website this week.

Those herring that are being jigged in Crescent City should come in mighty handy for some of these big lingcod.

"Lingcod are coming in for the mating season, so we should start seeing some of the bigger ones in close to shore," notes Carey.

If you are heading out to sea out of the Port of Brookings Harbor, you might want to think of going uphill toward Twin or House Rock, where the freshwater influence is the least.

The leadfish is hands down my favorite all-time lure, but twin-tail rubbers run a close second.

If you're fishing these rubber jigs, white, purple sparkle, blue sparkle, glow-in-the-dark and root beer are colors every fisherman should carry in their tackle boxes. You'll also want to carry an assortment of jig weights ranging from 1.5 to 6 ounces.


Redtail surfperch, also known as redfin or pinkfin are still showing up in the Gold Beach area in fair numbers. While I was at the Brookings crab dock on Monday, Badger Finch of Brookings had just landed a nice redtail surfperch and had three others in his gunnysack.

This is one of the first years I've seen redtails caught from the Brookings south jetty, so there seems to be an abundance of the pinkfin on the southern Oregon coast. When the season really gets hot in May, I predict that there could be a banner season for this particular species.

"We still have people catching redfin perch inside the Gold Beach jetty mouth and at the Nesika Beach rest stop, and a lot of guys will fish protected spots like at Lone Ranch," said Carey. "There are guys out there fishing every day and they're getting them when there is flat surf."

The two primary baits being used are small pieces of raw shrimp and the Gulp! 2-inch Camo-colored Sand Worms.

Tight lines!