About 24,000 legal- and trophy-sized rainbow trout are headed to Diamond Lake, which has seen slumping fishing success of late.

About 24,000 legal- and trophy-sized rainbow trout are headed to Diamond Lake, which has seen slumping fishing success of late.

Eight-inch legals and trophy trout running 12 to 16 inches — culled from a half-dozen state-operated hatcheries — are expected to improve catch rates that have dropped to about 1.5 fish per day per angler at this popular eastern Douglas County lake. In past years, catch rates have been more than double this year's take.

The first dose of fresh fish came Wednesday when Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife crews stocked about 6,200 rainbows up to 12 inches long, followed by 3,000 of the Crane Prairie strain of "Cranebows," which hit the water Thursday.

Another 13,500 legal-sized fish and 1,000 "pounders" from the Willamette Hatchery are due for stocking next week, says Megan Dugan, ODFW's spokeswoman in Roseburg.

"We knew fishing at the lake was slow, so we were able to get trout from other hatcheries to get fishing going for the rest of the summer," Dugan says.

These surplus trout represent less than 1 percent of the total statewide production of legal and trophy trout, Dugan says. Hatchery managers typically carry a few extra fish through the summer to ensure late summer and fall release schedules are met, she says.

The fish were largely split between the Diamond Lake Camground's C Loop ramp and the Thielsen View Campground ramps, Dugan says. These Forest Service ramps are deeper, so releasing them there will allow the trout to get to deeper environs quickly and easily, she says.

The final batch of trout were stocked in Short Creek, a tributary whose water was a trout-friendly 38 degrees, Dugan says.

ODFW relies on spring fingerling stocking at Diamond Lake, where a rich insect community helps the trout grow beyond the 8-inch minimum by year's end.

Fingerling stocking levels have fluctuated over the years, but ODFW has decided to stabilize fingerling releases at 275,000 annually.

The Bureau of Land Management's Medford District and the Seven Basins Watershed Council will team with the Seven Basins Youth Council on Saturday to host the first of two Family Nature Days planned for the Elderberry Flat Day Use Area in the Evans Creek drainage outside of Wimer.

The free activities include nature art and guided nature walks. Sessions also include learning about macro-invertebrates.

The activities will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A similar event is set for Aug. 16.

The Elderberry Flat Day Use Area is adjacent to the Elderberry Flat Campground along West Fork Evans Creek Road about 27 miles from Rogue River. Detailed directions can be found at www.blm.gov/or/districts/medford/recreation/index.php.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.