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MailTribune.com
  • Urban Trout

    State program gives anglers more fishing opportunities in fall, winter offseason
  • Ken Klein wandered from his Central Point home to little Expo Pond with spinning rod in hand, hoping to fritter away a fall Tuesday by catching a few bass and bluegill.
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    • Where to hook 'em
      Below are the lakes recently stocked with trout raised at a private hatchery near Summer Lake. "Large" rainbows run 12 to 14 inches while "trophy" rainbow average 16 inches.
      HYATT LAKE: 1,000 l...
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      Where to hook 'em
      Below are the lakes recently stocked with trout raised at a private hatchery near Summer Lake. "Large" rainbows run 12 to 14 inches while "trophy" rainbow average 16 inches.

      HYATT LAKE: 1,000 large, 50 trophy.

      LAKE SELMAC: 1,000 large, 150 trophy.

      EXPO POND: 250 large, 100 trophy.

      REINHART PARK POND: 100 large, 50 trophy.

      APPLEGATE RESERVOIR: 1,000 large, 200 trophy.

      AGATE LAKE: 500 large, 150 trophy.
  • Ken Klein wandered from his Central Point home to little Expo Pond with spinning rod in hand, hoping to fritter away a fall Tuesday by catching a few bass and bluegill.
    The idling flatbed semi-truck he spied next to the pond with a tube running from a steel tank to the water gave him pause.
    The words "Desert Springs Trout Farm" on the cab's door gave him promise.
    "Welllll," Klein says. "This looks like it's going to be my lucky day."
    Klein happened upon the beginning of what could turn into a popular fall trout-stocking program aimed at giving urban anglers such as Klein rainbow of varying sizes to catch during what historically is a trout anglers' offseason.
    Expo Pond at the Jackson County Expo Park is one of six Rogue Valley ponds, lakes and reservoirs that received an array of keeper-sized and trophy-sized rainbows last week from a private hatchery as part of a new plan to boost fall and winter fishing opportunities.
    Oregon's newly adopted 25-Year Angling Plan calls for giving the state's roughly 440,000 trout bums what they've asked for — more urban fishing opportunities to target a variety of different-sized trout and in more seasons than just spring and summer.
    To get there, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is using $400,000 of its license fees earmarked by the Oregon Legislature to buy trout from private hatcheries like Desert Springs near Summer Lake and release them statewide over the next two years.
    The fish are in two groups — so-called "large" trout 12 to 14 inches long and "trophy" trout averaging 16 inches. They cost the ODFW $3.90 per pound.
    They are much larger than the fingerling and 8-inch "legal-sized" trout typically stocked from state hatcheries, where the overall trout program generates a pound of trout for about $3.
    Finding bigger rainbows in the mix has piqued anglers' interest.
    "That certainly adds to the excitement of a fishing trip — pulling in a 16-, 18- or 20-inch trout with all the other fish you catch," says Dan VanDyke, the ODFW's Rogue District fish biologist.
    These new trout are getting stocked in places like Expo Pond, Agate Lake near White City and Reinhart Pond in Grants Pass. These water bodies typically are too warm for cold-water rainbows in the summer, but they are suitable for trout during fall, winter and spring.
    They also are close enough to towns for people like Klein to enjoy for an hour or so when free time presents itself.
    "It's a great time of year, and it's something different for families to do outdoors," VanDyke says. "We think we can provide some good fall fishing opportunities for everyone."
    Increasing opportunity, particularly for kids, is at the heart of the 25-year plan. And so is the so-called "put-and-take" fisheries for hatchery trout.
    A 2006 survey shows that 70 percent of Oregon's 630,000 license anglers fish for trout.
    "Clearly, it's one of our major fisheries," says Rhine Messmer, the ODFW's recreational fisheries program manager.
    Most local trout stocking, however, occurs in the spring and early summer before warm water temperatures make rainbow life difficult.
    To create some earlier fall fishing buzz, the ODFW has been stocking some waters including Lost Creek Reservoir, Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake with larger trout that have brought good early reviews from anglers, VanDyke says.
    Then came Expo.
    The small pond off Peninger Road is known for its bass, crappie and bluegill. It gets trout in the spring for youth-only events, and adults play with the leftovers until they fall prey to warm water or the pond's bigger bass.
    Typically, Expo gets on an anglers' radar screen much the way it did for Derrick Rokes.
    "Bored. Day off," says Rokes, who lives in a nearby subdivision. "Thought we'd walk over and do a little fishing."
    Rokes and Klein arrived just as the pond was about to receive the most unusual fish-release there since the last time someone illegally dumped their aquarium here.
    Brothers Eric and Nathan Negus, who work at Desert Springs, laid out a long plastic tube from one tank compartment into the water. With a flip of a valve, the rainbows ride the tube like a slip-and-slide into the pond and quickly disperse beneath the watchful eye of the three-story plywood cutout of a logger next door at the Expo's Isola Memorial Arena.
    Expo rainbows love to eat PowerBait in the spring, says Klein, an out-of-work diesel mechanic. He and Rokes came with small Panther Martin lures to fish for bass without knowing this trout party would break out.
    Not two minutes after Ethan Negus closed the water valve, Klein hooked the first of many rainbows the pair caught in the ensuing hour.
    "We caught a bunch that we threw back," Klein says. "We caught four of the bigger ones. We ate them. They were good. Really good, actually.
    "I think what they did was a good idea," Klein says.
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