For Oregon anglers, spring snowmelt is spelled c-h-i-n-o-o-k. Returning from the ocean to head upriver, these salmon are usually about 4 years old and can be as big as 40 pounds. Chinook are prized for their great taste, high oil content and their big fight. The Rogue and Umpqua rivers, coastal watersheds that reach up into the Cascade Mountains, are prime spots for spring chinook. In 2013, the Rogue River saw 110,000 chinook — the biggest return of any coastal watershed from Astoria to Brookings. The Umpqua River is also known for its robust spring chinook fishery.

Rogue River
Find good floats between Cole M. Rivers Hatchery and Fishers Ferry Boat Ramp and downstream from the Gold Hill boat ramp. Public access can be found at McGregor Park, Casey State Park or Rogue Elk County Park in Trail; TouVelle State Recreation Site in Central Point; Valley of the Rogue State Park in Gold Hill; and Baker Park, Chinook Park, Matson Park, Pierce Riffle Park and Schroeder Park in Grants Pass.

Mainstem Umpqua River
From Elkton downstream to Scottsburg is good for boat fishing. Cast from the bank at the Elkton Boat Ramp.

North Umpqua River
Good bank angling can be found in the Swiftwater area near Idleyld. There’s good boat fishing near the junction of the mainstem and North Umpqua rivers.

Riverside Retreats
Spend the night at the celebrated Steamboat Inn in Idleyld Park, once managed by North Umpqua’s most beloved fisherman, Frank Moore, and his wife Jeanne. Perched on a bluff about the North Umpqua River, the lodge and cabins create a beautiful, tranquil retreat. In Grants Pass, check into the historic Weasku Inn. Constructed in 1924, the beautiful old fishing lodge is set on 10 verdant acres along the banks of the Rogue River.

Harvest limits vary depending on location and on whether the fish are wild or hatchery fish. Check with Oregon Department of and Wildlife for specific rules and regulations. Check our guides page to find a fishing guide.

About the Author: Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin is the editor of Travel Oregon’s Seasonal Features, enewsletters and annual visitor guide. When she’s not cooking up trip ideas, Oregon Dreamer profiles and outdoor adventures to write about, she’s out exploring Oregon.

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