Mark Freeman"> Opening-day lakes not the only option - Lifestyle* - - Medford, OR
  • Opening-day lakes not the only option

  • While Howard Prairie and Hyatt lakes get the lion's share of Jackson County's attention for the opening day of trout season, they're not the only spots luring anglers on the fourth Saturday in April.
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  • While Howard Prairie and Hyatt lakes get the lion's share of Jackson County's attention for the opening day of trout season, they're not the only spots luring anglers on the fourth Saturday in April.
    The Jenny Creek system east of Ashland, along with the Ashland Creek forks upstream of the city's Reeder Dam, also open to trout angling that weekend.
    The Rogue and its tributaries upstream of Lost Creek Lake, however, don't open for fishing until the week of Memorial Day.
    Jenny Creek and its myriad tributaries is home to an isolated population of redband trout that a small but loyal band of anglers stalk annually with flies and small lures. Bait is banned there.
    The Emigrant Creek arms have become a backyard playground for people interested in some catch-and-release fishing for rainbow trout. The Emigrant Creek arms are open to bait fishing.
    While most angling activity on opening weekend focuses on freshly opened waterways, most of Jackson County's main lakes and reservoirs are open year-round. Also, the Rogue River draws anglers now fishing for winter steelhead during the tail end of that run or for early-run spring chinook salmon now entering the lower Rogue.
    One of the great ironies of opening day of trout fishing in Jackson County is that the Rogue Valley's signature waterway actually is closed to trout fishing.
    The Rogue closes to trout fishing every March 31 and does not open again until May 28, when most other coastal streams open to trout fishing.
    The closure is because the vast majority of fish that pass for trout in the Rogue this time of year are actually salmon and steelhead smolts making their mad dash to the sea. Keeping anglers from targeting smolts in a trout-fishing scenario helps reduce hooking mortality and gives more salmon and steelhead the chance to return as mature adults.
    The exception to the trout rule occurs in the .8-mile stretch of tailwater between Cole Rivers Hatchery and Lost Creek Dam. This impoundment, referred to as the Holy Water by its disciples, is open year-round for catch-and-release fly-fishing only.
    Cole Rivers Hatchery technicians collected another 522 Applegate River winter steelhead from the trap at the base of Applegate Dam Tuesday after replacing a motor whose failure was blamed for an April 10 fish-kill at the trap.
    Last week, 294 adult steelhead died among the 590 fish in the trap when the elevator system used to transfer the fish — called a brail — froze while transferring the steelhead to a tanker, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
    Fish typically are crowded from the trap into the brail, which elevates the fish to a pipe that funnels them down and into a waiting tanker truck. The breakdown left the fish suspended in the air beneath the level needed to reach the funnel.
    The new brail ran perfectly during Tuesday's collection, says David Pease, the hatchery's interim manager.
    Counting Tuesday's haul, hatchery technicians have collected 2,440 winter steelhead from the Applegate Dam trap, Pease says. That's the highest collection to date since 2003 and well above the 10-year average of 1,732 fish to date, Pease says.
    The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a basic boating-safety class Saturday in Grants Pass to help motorboat drivers get their required Oregon Boater Education Card.
    The course, which costs $35, will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rogue Community College campus in Grants Pass.
    The boater-education cards are required for anyone who operates a boat using a motor of 10 horsepower or greater. Violations can lead to fines of $142.
    To register, call RCC at 541-956-7303. Seats are limited.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or
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