Nearly a month has gone by since a Shady Cove man caught the first Rogue River spring chinook salmon of the year, within 100 yards of the Cole Rivers Hatchery collection pond, and still none have entered the hatchery.
"It doesn't surprise me that we don't have one," hatchery Manager David Pease says.
It turns out that it's quite common for anglers to catch spring chinook at the Hatchery Hole right off the dike separating hatchery ponds from the Rogue before technicians capture their first.
"We'll see salmon walk out of here a good two to three weeks before we get one in the trap," Pease says.
Springers that dutifully make the 157-mile trek from the Pacific to the Hatchery Hole often will hit the upstream barrier and not discover the hole through the wall leading to the hatchery pond — even as winter steelhead fin their way into the trap, Pease says.
"There'll be fish in the approach channel for weeks, then they'll all of a sudden start moving," he says. "There's no rhyme nor reason."
The spring chinook run is the most anticipated run on the upper Rogue, where anglers target these large, hard-fighting and tasty fish from April through July.
The season kicked off this year on March 7 when Shady Cove angler Mark Randolph caught a 14-pound hatchery fish while casting a Panther Martin spinner in hope of catching the year's first springer.
Over the past decade, the earliest spring chinook to show up in the hatchery's trap arrived on March 30 in 2010, Pease says. The latest was June 3 in 2008.
Last year's first spring chinook in the trap was found May 9, and it was April 19 in 2011, Pease says.
Learn what members of the Crater Lake National Park Ski Patrol do, on Saturday, April 13, during a special outreach day at the park.
The ski patrol collaborates with park staff to provide information to visitors, maintain winter trails and help rangers with emergency and search-and-rescue cases.
Park Chief Ranger Curt Dimmick will be at the Rim Cafe and Gift Shop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to chat with visitors. Stations on avalanche awareness, preventive search-and-rescue tips and ski-patrol skills and equipment will be open from noon to 3 p.m. At 3 p.m., ski-patrol members will lead ski and snowshoeing treks.
All events are weather-permitting.