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  • Hooked on fishing

    Tips for catching fish in Southern Oregon this summer
  • Others will bypass the park altogether and park on the river's north bank, then climb down and wade across a short side-channel before heading upstream to fish the riffle from the north bank.
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  • Others will bypass the park altogether and park on the river's north bank, then climb down and wade across a short side-channel before heading upstream to fish the riffle from the north bank.
    Swinging streamers is best here, such as red ants or large articulated leeches (black and purple have been upper Rogue favorites for decades).
    Six- or 7-weight rods with sink-tip lines work best for swinging streamers, with summer's "Witching Hour" starting at 8 p.m.
    Floating lines, big strike indicators and heavy No. 2 Ugly Bugs or other nymphs are summer favorite attack modes, as well.
    From Medford, take Table Rock Road north and turn right into the park just before the bridge.
    Bait and lures for summer steelhead
    McGregor Park along the far upper Rogue River is one of the easiest access points for bank fishing for summer steelhead.
    Along Takelma Drive off Highway 62 near Trail, this U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park is so under the radar that even vandals haven't discovered it.
    This stretch has a series of places to cast for steelhead, and its proximity to Cole Rivers Hatchery improves the odds of the steelhead you catch sporting a clipped adipose fin, which allows you to keep it guilt-free.
    Anglers can side-drift roe or worms with small corkies. Spinning-rod casters can use small Panther Martin lures (everything works, as long as it's black with yellow dots) or mid-sized Vibrax or other silver- or brass-bladed spinners.
    The best spot in this stretch is just upstream of the Highway 62 bridge, especially in the morning and on the rare summer day when the sun is blocked either from clouds or when smoke blows in from wildfires.
    You'll have to contend with the occasional passing driftboat or the orange armada of rafters during hot summer days, but it produces enough fish for bank-casters that it's worth a few hours' try.
    To get there, take Highway 62 north past Shady Cove. Turn left onto Takelma Drive across from Casey State Park. Takelma Drive follows the river and crosses the Rogue at Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery.
    Fly-fishing for trout
    When it comes to fly-fishing, the Rogue Valley is very steelhead-centric. Most fly-casters who head this way want to use big streamers or juicy nymphs and wouldn't know a black midge from bellybutton lint.
    But for those who enjoy casting little mayflies or even larger stoneflies in June or small leeches all summer, the so-called "Holy Water" impoundment upstream of McGregor Park is the closest pure trout-fishing opportunity for visiting waders.
    When you take Takelma Drive over the Rogue, look upstream. From there to the base of Lost Creek dam there is eight-tenths of a mile of tail-water, and it's a trout-only fishery. And the regulations tell you the story: Traditional fly-fishing only with fly rod and reel, and catch-and-release fishing.
    Five-weight rods with sinking lines, 7-foot leaders and size No. 10 black, red or brown leeches stripped slowly in the current work year-round. Fish the smallest midge you want, or can see.
    If none of that makes sense, stick to steelhead in the Rogue.
    Directions are the same as for McGregor Park, just head upstream past the hatchery. One main parking area even has heated bathrooms cleaner than most three-star hotels.
    Bait-fishing for trout
    Union Creek along the far upper Rogue well upstream of Lost Creek Lake is a so-called "put and take" fishery to the nth degree — the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife puts fresh rainbow trout in it each week for weekend anglers to catch and take home.
    The stretch is open year-round, but the stocking occurs Memorial Day to Labor Day.
    Much of the fishing is Huck Finn style — short casts of a worm with a small lead weight 18 inches up from the hook. Focus on choppy water, along woody debris and under the campground bridge because it's a stocking spot.
    The stream is small and primarily shallow and easily wadable in tennis shoes. But watch out because the creek is always cold. Expect a steady diet of 8- to 9-inch rainbows that are as scared of their shadows as yours.
    Fish your way down the creek from the highway, and even cast into the deep, slow Rogue waters near its mouth.
    When the fishing slows, the pies at Beckie's Cafe are elastic-waistband worthy.
    To get there, take Highway 62 north to the Union Creek Campground parking area near milepost 57.
    Fishing trout with kids
    The one thing that screams a need for a vacation is to take a couple kids fishing on your vacation.
    But the Rogue Valley experience can't be all wine, rafting and the Bard.
    Expo Pond off Peninger Road near The Expo in Central Point is as good a choice as you'll get for the under-10 crowd for three reasons: It's close, it's easy and it has rocks to throw when the fishing's slow.
    The pond is stocked primarily in spring, so it's not a good call for late-summer visitors.
    The pond isn't big, but it has nice schools of rainbows, bass and bluegills, as well as the occasional piranha tossed from a home aquarium that was no longer interesting.
    It's kid fishing at its most basic. Cast worms under bobbers or PowerBait off the bottom and let the bonding begin.
    And this is a must — it's the pond on the right that gets all the trout.
    Before you go, stock up on snacks, especially those that keep your dentist in a Mercedes.
    Lollipops, Skittles, M&Ms. They're the candy du jour for little fishers who can't eat that much sugar on normal days. They might want to fish with you again on your next trip to the Rogue Valley for no other reason than the trip to the candy aisle.
    Kids under 14 can fish for trout and warmwater fish like bass without a license. Adult tot-herders taking part in the experience need at least a one-day's license.
    Take Interstate 5 to Exit 33, then go east. Go left on Peninger Road. The pond is just past the last Expo parking lot.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
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