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MailTribune.com
  • On Ice

    Year-round fishing commences at Diamond Lake; first catch is a 12-inch rainbow trout
  • Paul Heberling ventured onto the ice at Diamond Lake Tuesday ready to break in a new era — but he was certainly not willing to die trying.
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    • Ice-fishing workshops
      Two ice-fishing workshops are scheduled on Feb. 9-10 at Diamond Lake Resort.
      Put on by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the workshops will teach ice safety and fish biology as well as...
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      Ice-fishing workshops
      Two ice-fishing workshops are scheduled on Feb. 9-10 at Diamond Lake Resort.

      Put on by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the workshops will teach ice safety and fish biology as well as introduce ice-fishing gear and techniques to participants.

      The workshops are planned from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, with the afternoon period dedicated to ice fishing at the lake.

      The cost is $40 for adults and $10 for youths, with some scholarship money available for hardship cases. Reservations are required.

      Participants must have a valid 2013 Oregon fishing license to participate.

      For information and registration, as well as scholarship applications, call Mark Newell at 503-947-6018 or email him at mark.newell@state.or.us.

      — Mark Freeman
  • Paul Heberling ventured onto the ice at Diamond Lake Tuesday ready to break in a new era — but he was certainly not willing to die trying.
    Before each step, the Roseburg man poked with a 5-foot metal chisel to test the firmness of the unproven and unmeasured ice beneath a mat of snow. When he stepped forward, his large snowshoes helped disperse his weight and ease the surface tension.
    Should that fail, Heberling had a two-pronged back-up plan — the life jacket strapped to his chest would keep him afloat so he could pull himself to safety via a 100-foot-long rope that was tied around his waist at one end and to a metal bench at the lake's north boat ramp.
    "My Minnesota ice-fishing experience told me this was not good ice conditions," says Heberling, 61. "With my Alaskan snowshoes, though, I thought I'd be OK to go out a ways."
    These tricks helped Heberling catch what were probably the first Diamond Lake trout of the 2013 fishing season, ushering in what likely was the lake's last opening day.
    Heberling was one of about two-dozen anglers to dig holes and pull trout through the ice Tuesday at Diamond Lake, which officially became a year-round fishing lake on Jan. 1. The lake has historically closed on Oct. 31 and reopened to fishing on the traditional trout opener in late April. But after a rule change by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2012, it's now likely to become a popular ice-fishing destination.
    "I'm not touting that I got the first one, but that's what it looks like," Heberling says. "I didn't see anybody else fishing out there at that time."
    His first fish was a chunky, 12-inch rainbow, but it wasn't the biggest of the seven trout Heberling caught and kept Tuesday as part of the lake's unmatched eight-fish daily limit.
    Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists supported a year-round fishery at Diamond so anglers would catch and keep more stocked rainbows. Biologists were concerned that the lake might have had too many fish in it, which could threaten its water-quality.
    If the lake has too many rainbows, it could alter zooplankton levels enough to trigger summer algae blooms, similar to what happened when the lake was overrun with illegally introduced tui chub. The lake was drained and poisoned with rotenone in 2006 to get rid of the chub.
    Trout-stocking rates are based on catch rates at Diamond, where anglers consistently release 30 to 40 percent of the rainbows they catch. The expanded bag limit of eight trout per day was meant to increase the catch rates, and the new year-round fishery is aimed at the same goal.
    Ice anglers will be asked to voluntarily fill out creel sheets at Diamond Lake Resort or at the north boat ramp to report how long they fished, how many trout they caught and how many they kept.
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