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Happy holidays means more rainbow trout at Expo

Christmas will come a little early and likely stick around late for holiday trout anglers at Expo Pond, which is set today to get an infusion of catchable rainbow trout.

The pond at the Jackson County RV Park off Penninger Road is scheduled to receive 1,000 legal-sized and 150 large rainbow trout from Cole Rivers Hatchery to coincide with the holiday week.

"We wanted to do something for the holidays," hatchery Manager Dave Pease says.

Another 345 legals and 100 larger trout also will go today to Reinhart Pond in Grants Pass.

Hatchery workers also plan to recycle excess Rogue River hatchery summer steelhead today from the hatchery down to the Modoc Unit of the Denman Wildlife Area, Pease says.

The pre-Christmas recycling historically is the last release of these "retread" steelhead because summer steelhead are nearing their spawning time, and biologists don't want hatchery steelhead to stray onto wild steelhead spawning grounds.

The excess rainbow trout originally were at the state's Willamette Hatchery for future release within the Willamette River Basin, Pease says. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put the ODFW's long-time trout-stocking contract up for bid and rewarded it to Desert Springs, a private hatchery in Central Oregon.

Local ODFW biologists put in a request for the fish and received these extra presents for anglers at the Expo, which is the only trout-angling opportunity on the Rogue Valley floor in Jackson County.

The pond is located off Gate 5. It carries a $4 day-use parking fee as required by Jackson County.

Whale watching week on tap

The greatest show on surf returns to the Oregon Coast next week during the annual winter migration of gray whales off the state's shores, and an army of volunteers will be available all week to help you spot them.

The first of thousands of gray whales already have been spotted on their way south from the Arctic en route to their warm-water calving grounds off Mexico.

While the spring migration is often a better time to spot the whale spouts because of calmer seas and migration lanes usually being closer to shore, calm winter days can provide good views.

The trained visitors will man 24 viewpoints coastwide from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27, and running through Dec. 31.

Those viewpoints include Harris Beach State Park near Brookings and Battle Rock Wayside south of Port Orford.

Visitors should bring binoculars and rain gear.

More than 20,000 gray whales cruise past Oregon each winter as part of their 12,000-mile migration from Alaska to Baja, Mexico.

Mixed among the pods are about 1,000 humpback whales that join the migration. The humpbacks stand out because their dorsal fins are visible when they dive.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay is the central location for viewing and is staffed daily throughout the summer.

For a list of the staffed sites, see www.whalespoken.wordpress.com.