Species
Steelhead, Winter Steelhead
Destination Type
Lodge
Fishing Style
Spey, Wading
Season
February - March
Fishing Days
3
Rate
$$
Why We Go
  • Connect with a large, bright winter steelhead within 30 miles of the Pacific Ocean
  • Swing flies through the multitude of diverse, productive, and unpressured steelhead runs of the lower Rogue
  • Increase your skills as a spey caster and winter steelhead angler
  • Enjoy a rich and authentic Oregon experience at historic Lucas Lodge on the banks of the Rogue River
  • Fish with two of the most talented, genuine, and kind fishing guides we work with, James and Kait Sampsel
Overview

For Spey anglers keen to get off the beaten path in search of hot, bright winter steelhead, consider James and Kait Sampsel's wonderful new program in Agness, Oregon. Agness is not a place that one stumbles upon but rather a tiny old frontier town that must be sought out to experience. Located roughly 50 minutes upstream from where Oregon's Rogue river meets the sea at Gold Beach, Agness was established in 1897 and shortly thereafter, in 1912, Lucas Pioneer Ranch was built. Today the ranch is being run by the seventh generation of the Lucas family and is the headquarters for the Sampsel's remarkably authentic winter steelhead program. Located near where the Rogue's largest tributary, the Illinois, meets the main river, this is a wild and impressive area with a great array of attractive and productive swing fishing water. Guests will float different sections of the river in drift boats getting out to fish prime runs. At days end they will return to a down-home, family-style dinner and simple cabin accommodation on the 150-acre Lucas Ranch. 

Fishing Program

Both Kait and James Sampsel are extremely skilled and personable guides with a great gift for working with anglers of all experience levels. Each morning they will trailer their drift boats to nearby put-ins and spend the day floating between wade fishing spots. All fishing will be traditional down and across swing fishing, typically with spey rods, Skagit heads and sink tips. This is relatively big water but it has lots of structure and character and the surrounding area and accompanying views are rather spectacular. While guests are hoping to connect with adult winter steelhead, one of the things that makes this trip special is that encounters with smaller 'half-pounders' are common and tend to keep the excitement levels high. 

Accommodations

Lucas Lodge is one of the most eclectic and unique operations that we represent. In its first fifty years, the lodge was a popular stopover for miners, loggers, trappers and anglers and today it remains steeped in its own rich history offering guests an unvarnished and utterly authentic Oregon experience. The property has a wide range of simple cabin accommodations that are clean, simple and dated in the most appropriate fashion. The main lodge is the definition of homey and brings together elements of a roadside curio shop and miniature historical society museum. Hearty, delicious meals are served family-style and have a distinct country flair and at the same time, they are able to accommodate a wide range of dietary requests with advance notice. 

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Lower Rogue Pioneer Ranch, get settled in and prepare your gear for the following day's fishing.

Days 2-3: Two days of guided fishing.

Day 4: Depart lodge for home or points beyond. Note that longer stays are welcome. 

Typical Daily Schedule: 7:00 AM-  Breakfast at the lodge and meet guides 7:30 AM-  Head to the river for your day of angling 12:00 PM-  Lunch on the water.  5:30 PM-6:00 PM-  Return to the lodge. 6:15 PM-  Cocktails and appetizers. 7:00 PM-  Dinner

Rates & Details

2023 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

  • 6 night/5 day package: $3,000
  • 5 night/4 day package: $2,500
  • 4 night/3 day package: $2,200

Included: Accommodations and meals at the lodge, guided fishing, riverside lunch, transportation from the lodge to and from put in/takeout, fishing tackle and flies

Not Included: Round trip airfare, transportation to and from the lodge, gratuities, alcohol, waders, wading boots, personal items, fishing license and steelhead tag

Species: Winter steelhead

Season: January-March

Capacity: 4 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? This is a great trip for anglers that have some experience swinging flies with two handed rods, as well as for anglers that want to gain more knowledge in the world of spey casting and steelhead fishing. That being said, both James and Kait are fantastic instructors and they welcome guests of varying levels of experience. In the world of winter steelhead, the most committed anglers are those that are most often rewarded. Come prepared to fish long days. Guests also need to be prepared for cold and wet winter weather conditions. Water conditions during the winter are variable as well, which is an inherent risk on any winter steelhead trip.

Where is the lodge? Lucas Lodge is located on the banks of the Rogue River in the community of Agness, Oregon.

How do I get there? Most guests fly into the Medford, Oregon airport, rent a car and drive 4 hours to Lucas Lodge.

When should I go? January – March.

How will I fish? Your days will be spent floating the lower Rogue in drift boats and getting out to wade down runs. Your guides mostly focus on swinging flies for steelhead with both single hand and two-handed rods. If wading is an issue, fishing from the boat can be accommodated.

Is there wade fishing? Most of what the Sampsel’s offer is wade fishing. The lower Rogue has an abundance of swing water that begs to be stepped down. That being said, your guides can cater your wading experience to your desires and comfort levels. Boat fishing can be arranged if requested.

Where will I fish? Your guides fish the lower 35 miles of the Rogue River before it drains into the Pacific Ocean in Gold Beach, Oregon.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? It can be as close as a 5 minute walk or as far as a 30 minute drive. There are a handful of productive runs directly in front of the lodge where you will sometimes start your day. On some occasions, you will launch the boat directly from the lodge. Other put-ins are within 30 minutes of the property.

What type(s) of fish will I catch?

How many fish will I catch? Having an encounter with a fish a day is a reasonable expectation, but with a mix of adult steelhead and “half pounder,” juvenile steelhead on the Rogue, days can offer more opportunities. With any steelhead fly angling, a fish a day is considered successful fishing.

Will I see other anglers? Yes. The lower Rogue does see other anglers. Although, there is very little fly fishing traffic. Mostly you will see conventional anglers posted up in fishing holes or sometimes along the bank in public access areas. There isn’t much competition for fly water on this waterway and it is a very large river with plenty of space for all.

What are the guides like? James and Kait Sampsel are your guides. They are patient, passionate and skilled anglers. They offer phenomenal one-on-one instruction that will help you begin your steelhead journey or help even the most seasoned angler fine-tune their skills. They are extremely personable and enjoy getting to know their guests. Most clients they fish with tend to become friends and that is exactly how James and Kait would want it to be!

What are the physical demands? While not strenuous, guests need to be able to wade all day and climb safely in and out of drift boats or rafts.

Are there any special skills required? The ability to cast a spey rod with sink-tips is helpful. As in all steelhead fishing, guests are served well by a willingness to fish confidently for long periods in between fish. The Sampsel’s welcome anglers of all skill levels, so long as they come with a good attitude and are ready to learn!

Does the lodge provide equipment? All of the fishing gear and tackle you will need is provided aside from waders, wading boots and rain gear. Your guides have a quiver of Robert Meiser and Orvis Fly Rods with reels, lines and tips to match. Guests are encouraged to fish their own gear if desired. Your guides will provide you with flies. Guests are always encouraged to bring flies as well.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? Your guides most often fish with 9-11 ft. 7wt and 8wt single hand rods and 13-14 ft. 7wt and 8wt two handed rods.

What are the top flies? Hoh Bo Spey, Fish Taco, Burnt Chicken, General Practitioner, Signature Intruder, Popsicle, Bunny Leach, marabou tube flies.

What are the options if water conditions become challenging?

What is a typical day like? A day at Lower Rogue Pioneer Ranch begins with breakfast at the Lodge around 6:00 AM. After that, you will depart for your day of fishing, either launching at the lodge or taking a short drive to the put-in for the day. Expect drive times of up to 30 minutes, depending on which section of the river you are fishing. You will typically begin fishing between 7:00-7:30 AM and fish until about 5:00 PM, stopping at mid-day for lunch and a short break to recharge and refuel. Guests are usually back at the lodge by 5:30- 6:00 PM with dinner around 7:00 PM.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere and style of the lodge? Lucas Lodge is one of the most eclectic and unique operations that we represent. In its first fifty years, the lodge was a popular stopover for miners, loggers, trappers and anglers and today it remains steeped in its own rich history offering guests an unvarnished and utterly authentic Oregon experience. The main lodge is the definition of homey and brings together elements of a roadside curio shop and miniature historical society museum. It has a casual, comfortable and inviting vibe.

Is there an on-site owner, manager or other point-person at the lodge? Jennifer Northup is the 7th generation of the Lucas family. She is the on-site manager and daughter to the owners of Lucas Lodge. Your guides, James and Kait, will also be on-site at all times to assist with anything that comes up.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals are served family-style in the lodge’s dining room. They are hearty, delicious and have a distinct country flair. The lodge is able to accommodate a wide range of dietary requests with advance notice.

What is the alcohol policy?

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? Guests at the Lower Rogue Pioneer Ranch stay at historic Lucas Lodge. The main lodge has a spacious living room area with plenty of seating and a large wood fireplace. Meals are taken in the dining area which is also in the main lodge. Guest rooms and cabins are spread around the lodge’s 150 acre property. They are clean, simple and dated in the most appropriate fashion. Accommodations are double occupancy and there is plenty of room to store your gear. Each room is equipped with a private bathroom, shower, and heater.

Is there internet and/or cell service? There is no internet at the lodge and very limited cell service. There is a landline that is available to guests. If you have T-Mobile or AT&T you will get service.

Are there other activities? There are not many activities outside of fishing while at the lodge. The nearby Oregon coast offers great beach combing and nature hiking, but winter conditions can make these activities a bit more extreme than in summer.

Are there any other expenses? On top of paying for the package price, guests will need to arrange travel to the lodge which in most cases will require a flight and rental car unless you are from the local area. Fishing licenses and steelhead tags need to be purchased prior to you trip, and all trips at Lower Rogue Pioneer Ranch are BYOB. Feel free to bring any alcohol or beer you would like. Guide gratuities should also be an expense that is factored in.

Do I need a visa? No.

Are there any health concerns, dangers or annoyances? Rafting and wading all come with some risk but they are negligible. Your outfitters are skilled on the oars and will be there to assist with any wades where you would like some additional stability. We recommend that guests always consult with the U.S. Department of State and the Center For Disease Control websites for general travel information and guidelines.

Tell us about yourself and we'll reach out to plan the details of your trip