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Ist Lower Rogue River Springer of the year

On Oregon Waters, Larry Ellis, myoutdoorbuddy.com

remember when the Mag Lip 4.5 was originally called the M2-SP FlatFish. The Mag Lip is a popular lure used to catch just about everything that swims in a river.

Anyway back in the M2-SP days, you had to know the difference between an M2 and an M2-SP because they were both two completely different animals. It is easy to see how a person could get the two lures confused.

Anyway the M2-SP worked so effectively and dove deeper than any other FlatFish lure, that it was catching Mackinaw at Odell Lake like crazy, and salmon in every river known to man.

Then Yakima Bait Company, who owns the Flat Fish series of lures decided to rename the M2-SP so that everyone would easily be able to tell the difference, and the Mag Lip 4.5 was born. Renaming that lure was one of the best business moves Yakima Bait Company ever made.

A man named Tom Seward, a well-known lure inventor originally started the ball rolling and invented the M2-SP, aka the Mag Lip 4.5 (4.5 inches long).

Tom introduced a skip-beat action to the lure that teased fish into striking it. The lure would run straight for a spell, and then either dart to the right or to the left before running straight again. A lot of seasoned veteran plug pullers maintain that is the reason why certain plugs tend to work better than others.

When Buzz Ramsey became Yakima Bait's brand manager and lure designer in 2009, he came up with the idea of downsizing the Mag Lip 4.5 to a smaller version, the Mag Lip 3.5. It dove up to 15-feet deep and Ramsey still designed the lure to have that famous skip-beat action.

I predicted that the 3.5 version would catch the first springer of the year.

I was wrong.

It ended up catching numerous first springers of the year, like it did last Wednesday on the lower Rogue. The 18-pound spring Chinook was wild so it had to be released back into the river, since this time of the year only hatchery springers can be kept.

Keeping with the same theme, two years ago, Ramsey designed the Mag Lip 5.0, which dove to almost 20 feet.

So you can imagine the ecstasy that winter steelhead aficionados on the lower Rogue had when Ramsey designed the Mag Lip 3.0 about a year ago. It still maintained the same skip-beat action as its forerunners and it caught steelhead like nobody's business.

One would think that all this downsizing would have stopped with the 3.0.

Think again.

Just last week I received a package from Yakima Bait that had some of the newest Mag Lip innovations, the Mag Lip 2.5. Ramsey actually told me that he was designing a Mag Lip in the 2.5-inch size while we were fishing Buoy 10 on the Columbia River last year, but I was sworn to secrecy as to its unveiling. Not surprisingly, the Mag Lip 2.5 also maintained the same skip-beat action as the other Mag Lip predecessors.

I look at the 2.5 as being a good cast-and-retrieve, as well as an awesome lure for light tackle fishermen who are targeting trout, but I would not be surprised one bit if it caught winter steelhead by fishermen who are anchoring up and setting out plugs on the lower Rogue.

Then there's the wayward springer that everyone always looks forward to catching. Time will tell on that one. Look for the Mag Lip 2.5 to hit the shelves in the not too distant future.

Bob Rodgers and Richard McDowell with steelhead from Chetco River, photo courtesy of Larry Ellis
Bob Rodgers and Richard McDowell, both from Healdsburg, California fished on the Chetco River with guide Todd Puett of Todd Puett Guide Service last week and had a very successful day, going 8 for 9 side-drifting Puff Balls-and-roe setups.

The Chetco River continued to kick out plenty of fresh incoming heavy metalheads as well as a bounty of downback steelhead heading back to sea. The ratio was about 3 downers for every fresh steelhead, and the action is expected to continue throughout the week by boat anglers deploying primarily side-drifting methods and by bank anglers using drift-fishing techniques.

With the ocean as flat as a sheet of liquid mercury, salty dogs outside the Port of Brookings Harbor also saw plenty of lingcod action between Bird Island and House Rock.

"The fishing was so good it was just plain stupid," said Captain Jim Bithell of Charthouse Sportfishing. "We got our lingcod on all of those herring I jigged at Crescent City last week."

Anglers also caught plenty of lingasaurs on twin-tail plastics as well as 5-inch plastic jerkbaits.

Larry Cody from the Rogue Outdoor Store also reported that both plunkers from the bank and boat fishermen were catching plenty of winter steelhead on the lower Rogue River.

"We're getting some pretty good action on the 3.0 Mag Lip," said Cody on Thursday about the boat fishermen. "And the plunkers are doing pretty well on pink Spin-N-Glos. And we're seeing some pretty decent action on surfperch when the ocean's quiet."

Tight lines!
Larry Ellis, author, writer, columnist and photographer has had a 50-year passion for fishing in California and Oregon's saltwater and freshwater venues. He is a well-known writer for Oregon, Washington and California Fishing and Hunting News, Northwest Sportsman, California Sportsman and Pacific Coast Sportfishing. He currently writes monthly for Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine, and is the weekly fishing columnist for "On the Water" for the Curry Coastal Pilot Newspaper. He particularly loves living in his hometown of Brookings, Oregon - The heart of salmon country and gateway to fishing paradise. Posted with permission of the Curry Coastal Pilot of Brookings, Oregon

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