The South Umpqua River apparently is saving its best for last.

The South Umpqua River apparently is saving its best for last.

LaPine resident Evan Smith caught a 26-pound wild winter steelhead Monday while side-drifting pink yarn from the driftboat of guide Casey Malepsy, a Shady Cove native.

"It was a really nice one," says Malepsy, 34, who now lives in Roseburg.

"Twenty-six pounds is my boat record. It was pretty amazing."

The state record steelhead — 35.5 pounds — was caught in the Columbia River in 1970.

Malepsy declined to reveal where on the South Umpqua the fish was caught.

All wild steelhead caught on the South Umpqua, including this big one, must be released unharmed. The steelhead season on the South Umpqua closes Saturday night.

Although the Rogue River hosts steelhead angling year-round, Saturday night marks an end to the killing of wild steelhead riverwide.

The Rogue's so-called 1-and-5 rule — which allows anglers to kill one wild steelhead a day and five a year, as long as the fish are at least 24 inches long — expires for the season Saturday night. Catch-and-release fishing for wild steelhead is allowed.

The rule change helps protect wild summer steelhead, while allowing anglers to keep some wild winter steelhead, which are considered a healthy population in the basin.

The Big R store in White City will hold a shooting event Saturday, allowing Rogue Valley residents to shoot weapons from the store's 2011 stock.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jackson County Sports Park Shooting Complex in White City.

There is a $5 parking fee and participants are required to buy ammunition from Big R at the range.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email