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Sterling Cook poses with a pair of steelhead he caught on the South Coos River. Steelhead season is in full swing in area rivers. Contributed photo


Dodging winter rains, South Coast anglers spend time nabbing winter steelhead from local rivers.

They put up a fight, but that's the fun part.

"It's a lot more challenging than people think," said Tony Roszkowski, who operates Port O' Call in Bandon. "There's a real subtlety."

The sea-run rainbow trout is a feisty fish after spending many years in the ocean.

"Steelhead, pound for pound, pack a good punch," Roszkowski said. "It's a good fighting fish."

Trenton Hunter at The Bite's On Bait and Tackle shop in Coos Bay said steelheading is a different breed of angling.

"It's a pretty different kind of fishing than lake fishing or trolling salmon," he said. "It actually takes some kind of skill."

Roszkowski said the knowledge and skill needed makes it fun.

"When you go enough and know the difference between the subtle bite and a bump on the bottom," he said.

And right now, winter steelhead is the name of the game in local rivers.

"The numbers have been real good this year," said Josh Hart from The Bite's On. "The numbers have been better than last year.

"Everything's been good numbers all the way around."

Hunter said the West Fork and East Fork of the Millicoma River were great recently for steelhead angling, and the South Fork turned up pretty good, too.

"Seems like the South Fork was kicking on a little later," he said.

Roszkowski said he heard great reports out of the Millicoma over the holiday.

"Over the weekend, fishing was excellent," he said.

He added that fishing along the South Fork Coquille River at LaVerne Park produced similar success as the Millicoma.

Of course with all the recent rain, many of the rivers were running quite high this week.

"Right now the rivers are blown out," Roszkowski said Wednesday.

Both Roszkowski and Hunter suggested fishing Tenmile Creek when rain is heavy.

"Tenmile Creek, which is usually slower, is doing pretty good," Hunter said.

The creek is fed through Tenmile Lakes, making it more steady than other rivers.

"The big rains don't really affect it," Roszkowski said.

Roszkowski said some fishermen were catching nice steelhead on the Elk River, which was running a bit high this week but slowly dropping back into shape. He added that both the Rogue and Chetco rivers have produced nice steelhead as well.

"On the Rogue they've been doing a lot of plunking," he said.

The Chetco River mouth was closed earlier this week due to high water, according to The Associated Press. The Coast Guard has since reopened it.

But the rains won't keep away excited anglers.

"I caught two yesterday," Hunter said Wednesday. "There will be people out all day, every day."

Roszkowski said once river flows drop down a bit, steelheading could improve dramatically.

"I've got a funny feeling it's going to get good," he said.