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My wife and I spent some delightful time this past May on the Rogue River in coastal southwest Oregon. Our trip combined wonderful light tackle salmon fishing with casual elegance at an excellent lodge on the river. The Rogue has been known for many years for its salmon and steelhead fishing. The river’s salmon fishing starts in the spring and runs well into the fall. Most of the salmon here are Chinook salmon ranging from 10 to 30 pounds with an occasional fish bumping the 50 pound range. As the Chinook salmon pass through late in the season they are often followed by silver salmon that are typically in the six to 12 pound range.

At one time, the river was famous for its schools of steelhead that would dash up the river and provide wonderful fly fishing, primarily in the summer. They were about 1/2 to two pounds and would attract fly fishermen from many parts of the country. Regrettably, in recent years the summer run has diminished. Local fish and game agencies have tried to supplement the summer run with planted fish, but so far this has been only moderately successful. Thus, the main focus is now the winter steelhead run. The winter runs are still wonderful and provide winter steelhead in the six to 20 pound range.

Using a guide is a must for a newcomer to the river. Salmon here follow very narrow channels in the river that only an experienced Rogue River fisherman or guide can locate. Merely anchoring and attempting to catch salmon is usually unsuccessful. Boat placement is absolutely critical and a few feet off these channels can mean frustration and failure. One of the best guides on the river is Greg Eide (*). I have fished with Eide for several years and consistently see him out fish his competition. When we fished with him he was on the river at 4 a.m., dropped his anchor with a float to save a spot and picked us up at about 6 a.m. for a day of fishing. Four of us caught five respectable Chinook between 12 to 30 pounds in about five hours of fishing.

Interestingly, most guides on the river are only licensed to fish the first 10 miles of the river. Eide has been on the river long enough to receive an exemption from this provision even though he is only a young man in his 30’s. He is licensed to fish the first 30 miles of the river and thus is able to cover far more ground than most of the other guides in the area. However, although Eide gets on the river early to mark a spot, the river is not really crowded. He just likes to pick what he considers to be a premier spot and thus effectively eliminate his competition.

In addition to being an excellent guide, Eide is also a pleasurable person to be with for the day. He has a comfortable river boat that has a cover in the event of rain; he can even provide a space heater in the boat on cool days. He also has a tremendous supply of top grade light tackle that you can use and he specializes in both salmon and steelhead fishing. Eide’s daily rate is $125 per day per angler.

As for lodging, we stayed at Dirk and Laurie Van Zante’s Tu Tu’Tun Lodge (*). It is located on the Rogue River about seven miles upriver from the town of Gold Beach on the north bank. The lodge has about 20 rooms, all facing the river. Most rooms have fireplaces and all are decorated in a river fishing theme. The rooms are immaculate and the staff provides turn down service at night. In addition to being extremely comfortable, the lodge also offers gourmet meals, prepared by well trained chefs and served family style.

The Van Zantes are very hospitable and go out of their way to make sure all guests are comfortable and satisfied with their stay. If you decide to stay at the lodge, Eide can pick you up there with his boat and proceed out for a day of fishing. The Van Zantes will pack a lunch for you at no extra charge. Daily rates at the lodge run from $125 to $275 per room; a three meal package (including the brown bag lunch for angling guests) is $37.50.

A trip to the Rogue River for a couple staying at the Tu Tu’Tun Lodge and fishing with a guide the quality of Eide provides for a wonderful, fun and romantic visit. Just be aware that both the lodge and Eide stay heavily booked; reservations in advance are a must. If you find them booked, a good back up contact is the Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce (*). The folks there will provide you a list of guides and places to stay. David E. Combs.

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