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The Applegate River

Small Stream Steelhead
  • An Applegate River steelhead
    Winter steelhead The Applegate River, tributary to the Rogue River, is one of our best winter steelhead destinations. The Applegate is a small stream that fishes more like a trout stream.
  • The Applegate River in Oregon
    We fish all techniques We fish both nymph & indicator techniques and swing techniques on the Applegate.
  • Rafting the Applegate River in Oregon
    Private Access We typically use rafts to access the best water on the Applegate. We have several private launches that we use. Fishing from boats is not allowed, so we do all of our fishing while wading.
  • Jon Hazlett with a big Applegate steelie
    Short Season The Applegate starts to fish well in mid-February and the season closes at the end of March.
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A major tributary of the Rogue, the Applegate River offers world-class steelheading in an intimate, exclusive setting. The Applegate as it flows through Applegate Valley is reminiscent of many fine Montana trout streams. It has clear water and a classic riffle-run-pool character. It is also largely private, and regulations bar fishing from watercraft. Via arrangements with local landowners, Confluence Outfitters offers exclusive access to many miles of this fishery by boat and on foot.

Cousins of the Rogue's winter steelhead, Applegate fish are great biters and often take naturals like a trout. A typical steelhead on the Applegate will run from 4-10 pounds. These hearty fish swim up the Rogue and enter the Applegate mid-winter, with the peak of the run being in February and March. The Applegate has great water types for both traditional swing/spey and indicator nymphing techniques.

The Applegate River is located near Grants Pass, Oregon. We fish the Applegate from mid-February through the end of March.

Applegate River Guide Availability
For more Applegate River dates, please visit our Online Booking page!
Gear Recommendations for the Applegate River
Rods, Reels & Lines: We use single-hand rods, switch rods, and spey rods on the Applegate. Single-hand and switch rods should be seven and eight weights. Spey rods from six-weights to eight-weights will work. Bring a floating line with single-hand and switch rods. For spey rods, bring an interchangeable tip Skagit system.
Leaders, Tippet & Indicators: We usually use 0X-2X tippet on the Applegate River. Tapered leaders are not necessary when fishing with sinking tips, but can definitely come in handy when fishing with floating lines.
Waders & Boots: We use chest-high breathable waders on the Applegate. Spiked wading boots are not necessary. Make sure to bring your own wading belt.
Mid-February through the end of March.
• Black Rubberlegs, 6
• Morrish's Dirty Bird, olive, 6-8
• Copper John, all colors, 10
• Superfloss Rubberlegs, all colors, 6
• Morrish's Anato-May, Olive, 8-10
• Pettis's Unreal Egg, Steelhead Orange, 12
• Glo Bugs, all colors, size 8-10
• Thunder Eggs, orange, 6
Traditional Flies for Swinging:
• Silver Hilton, 6
• Carey Special, 6
• Green Butt Skunk, 6
Leeches for Swinging:
• Fox's Sleech, Black & Copper, 2
• Miller's Olive Super Spey Leech, 1
• Egg Sucking String Leech, 2
Sample Itinerary
Meeting Time & Place: We typically meet our clients at their hotel at 7:30am. On some trips we may arrange to meet at the Fred Meyer in Grants Pass.
Vehicle Considerations: Be prepared to follow us in your own vehicle. We may use your vehicle to help run our shuttle.
Wading difficulty: On most trips we float the river using drift boats or rafts. We are not allowed to fish from the boats, so we use them purely for transportation. All fishing is done on foot. The wading on the Applegate is mostly over cobble river bottoms and is not overly challenging.
Multiple Fisheries in one Day: Due to the distance to other fisheries and the logistics of floating the river, we devote all day to fishing the Applegate River.
Length of the Day: Most full days conclude around 5:30pm. Half days end around 1:00pm.
Lodging & Travel Info
Please visit our Grants Pass page for local hotel and restaurant recommendations.
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