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Pied Pipers for trout bums

There's nothing like the BEEP BEEP BEEP sound of a stocking truck backing down a boat ramp to signal that your day of trout fishing at your favorite lake or bank spot on the far upper Rogue River near Union Creek is about to improve greatly.

Oregon's so-called "put-and-take" trout fisheries — the trucks put them in, you take them out — remains one of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's most popular programs.

And that makes the drivers of these trucks that haul fish from places like Cole Rivers Hatchery to the Union Creek area very popular.

Lesa McLain is one of those drivers, a Pied Piper of Union Creek trout bums.

On Thursdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, she's scheduled to drive the Cole Rivers Hatchery liberation truck on weekly "scatter plants" along the far-upper Rogue, dispersing the truck's cache of legal-sized rainbow trout at 17 stops in campgrounds and off bridges between Hammaker Campground and Prospect.

"It's one of my favorite routes," says McLain, a 27-year Cole Rivers veteran. "You really get to interact with the people. It's almost like driving the ice-cream truck for a bunch of kids and adults."

Following is a breakdown of ODFW's planned stocking schedule for Jackson and Josephine counties. The list notes the water body, the number of fish to be stocked and the week those fish are scheduled for release.

The schedule lists weeks because the various lakes don't have exact dates, but Cole Rivers Manager David Pease says he generally shoots to have all a given week's stocking done by the end of Thursday.

"That way, if something does go awry, we have Friday to fall back on," Pease says.

In stocking lingo, "legals" are rainbows 8 to 10 inches long and, therefore, legal to keep. Pounders are about 14 inches and trophies are 16 inches or longer.

April 25-29

Emigrant Lake: 1,000 legals

Expo Pond: 1,500 legals

Reinhart Pond 300 legals, 100 pounders

May 2-6:

Willow Lake: 3,000 legals

Howard Prairie: 5,725 legals, 400 trophies

Hyatt: 6,000 legals, 400 trophies

May 9-13

Fish Lake: 3,725 legals, 425 pounders

Lake Selmac: 3,000 legals

Medco Pond: 2,000 legals

May 16-20

Lost Creek: 25,000 legals, 1,075 pounders

May 23-27

Applegate: 8,000 legals

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Willow Lake: 3,225 legals, 425 pounders

May 30-June 3

Expo Pond: 1,000 legals

Fish Lake: 3,500 legals

Howard Prairie: 5,000 legals

Hyatt: 5,000 legals

Lake Selmac: 1,000 legals

Medco Pond: 1,600 legals

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

June 6-10

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

June 13-17

Fish Lake: 3,000 legals

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Lost Creek: 10,000 legals, 1,075 pounders

June 20-24

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

June 27-July 1

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

July 4-8

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

July 11-15

Fish Lake: 3,000 legals

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

July 18-23

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

July 25-29

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Aug. 1-5

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Aug. 8-12

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Aug. 15-19

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Aug. 22-26

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Aug. 29-Sep 2

Rogue River above Lost Creek: 2,375 legals

Sept. 19-23

Fish Lake: 900 trophies

Oct. 3-7

Lost Creek: 5,000 legals, 900 trophies

Oct. 10-14

Lake Selmac: 200 pounders

Expo Pond: 500 legals,100 pounders

Reinhart Pond: 250 legals, 100 pounders

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

Cole Rivers Hatchery technician Bryan DeBerry stocks rainbow trout last June at one of the 17 stops in the Union Creek area. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch