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Flies-only seasons begin Saturday on Rogue River

The Rogue River's two separate flies-only fishing seasons begin Saturday amid a strong showing of summer steelhead.

Upper Rogue anglers make their traditional shift after tonight from fishing for summer steelhead with bait and lures to streamer flies and nymphs upstream of what used to be Gold Ray Dam.

Also, anglers floating the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue from Whisky Creek to Foster Bar are restricted to artificial flies and lures when targeting adult summer steelhead, halfpounder steelhead, coho salmon and chinook salmon — all of which are present in the lower Rogue canyon each fall.

The first three weeks of September provide some of the more productive fly fishing for summer steelhead in the upper Rogue, which provides a way for anglers to target steelhead while reducing pressure on spawning chinook.

During this season, fly-fishers typically "swing" streamer flies, such as green-butt skunks and red ants, through riffles for steelhead, which now prefer the churning, oxygenated water.

Anglers begin to focus more on nymph-fishing in late September, after cooler-water releases from Lost Creek Lake render steelhead less active than in early September.

In the upper Rogue, the flies-only season runs through Oct. 31. It allows only the use of artificial flies but does not require traditional fly-fishing gear. Anglers can use spinning rods with a bubble or other form of bobber, but no other added weights or attachments such as swivels are allowed. Lead-core fly line also is banned.

On Nov. 1, the restriction will be lifted upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp. It will remain in effect through December from Shady Cove downstream to the old Gold Ray Dam site.

After this evening, chinook will become off-limits to even intentional catch-and-release fishing throughout the upper Rogue, and that rule remains in effect through October.

The Denman Wildlife Area will host a two-day pheasant-hunting workshop Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 8-9, for adults looking to try hunting this upland game bird.

Up to 20 people in the workshop will begin with a classroom session on pheasant hunting and a safety orientation before heading to the range to work on shotgun shooting skills.

Participants will then be divided into groups and assigned to a volunteer guide and work the fields for pheasants. The workshop will wind up Sept. 9 with another day afield.

This beginners' workshop costs $50, and registration is online at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's website, www.dfw.state.or.us. Pre-registration is required.

Lunch will be provided Saturday, along with all the equipment, including dogs, guns and ammunition. Participants will need to show up with an Oregon hunting license and upland game-bird validation with the free HIP Validation for Upland Game Birds.

Licenses and validations will not be sold at the workshop and must be purchased in advance.

Lunch is not included on Sunday.

For more information, call 503-947-6101.

The West Coast's largest salmon-fishing derby kicks off today at the Port of Brookings-Harbor with expectations of a banner year thanks to record numbers of salmon finning just offshore.

The eighth annual Slam'n Salmon Ocean Derby runs through Sunday, with registered anglers vying for $16,000 in cash prizes.

The derby is limited to 200 anglers, and registration is available at the port office or online at www.slamnsalmon.com.

Participants pay $50 to fish competitively for the three days. The largest fish by weight nets a $5,000 prize. Last year's winning fish weighed slightly more than 27 pounds.

Brookings has been the top chinook salmon-producing port on the Oregon Coast this year, with almost 60 percent of all the chinook caught by ocean anglers landed out of Brookings.

High chinook numbers plus favorable ocean currents have put large schools of chinook right off the Southern Oregon Coast most of the summer.

Along with the derby, vendors will be on hand each day and a salmon barbecue is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday. The cost is $10.

For more information, call 541-661-1899.