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Urie honored by Fish and Wildlife Commission

For 28 years, Medford fishing outfitter Irv Urie has supplied state biologists with the catch and water-flow data from steelhead fishing trips he and his assistant guides ran through the Rogue River's Wild and Scenic Section.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission now has given something back to Urie.

The commission recently recognized the 68-year-old Urie for what biologists say is the wealth of information Urie has supplied that helped prove some theories about how the Rogue's fall water flows affected steelhead fishing in the Lower Rogue Canyon.

The commission honored Urie during its March 11 meeting in Coquille.

— He's been very helpful to the department for many years, said commission member Don Denman, a Jacksonville attorney and long-time friend of Urie. He's done it for so long that it seemed like a good time for us to recognize him for it.

Since well before Lost Creek Lake was completed in 1977, Urie's guides have kept copious records about the adult summer steelhead and half-pounders their clients hook and catch during mostly fly-fishing trips through the canyon stretch from Grave Creek to Foster Bar.

The catch records also were matched daily against water flows recorded at Agness near the end of the canyon float.

Tom Satterthwaite, an ODFW researcher in Grants Pass, says that data in the 1980s helped qualify the relationship between river flows and angler success in the canyon.

The data helped legitimize concerns that higher-than-normal summer flows thanks to Lost Creek Lake releases may have helped migrating salmon but could hurt steelhead angling success.

Urie's records showed that steelhead fly-fishing success dropped as water levels rose.

The bottom line was Irv's records were quantitative evidence that supported that contention, Satterthwaite says.

Urie's records also tracked catches of hatchery and wild fish, and the catch records tracked with hatchery-to-wild ratios of half-pounders captured in nets at Huntley Park near Gold Beach, Satterthwaite says. That comparison shows that Urie's data was considered reliable.

Irv's records were so compelling and so complete that quality-control really was much less an issue, compared to receiving catch reports on a sporadic basis, Satterthwaite says.

Urie says he shared his records because of his concern that ODFW biologists have a good understanding how their fish- and water-management decisions affect canyon steelhead angling.

I just want my grandkids to have the same opportunity that I do, Urie says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail