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Seasons change for fishing, hunting

This weekend marks a sea-change in many fishing and hunting seasons in Southern Oregon.

Hyatt and Howard Prairie lakes closed to fishing Thursday evening, as did Jenny Creek and Emigrant Creek near Ashland.

But Diamond Lake rainbows will continue to see streamer flies and PowerBait as anglers enjoy the back end of their first year-long fishing season there in decades. The lake went to a 12-month season in January.

The general rifle season for black-tailed buck deer ends tonight in the Southern Oregon Cascades and in coastal hunting units such as the Applegate and Chetco units.

The general deer season for bowhunters resumes Nov. 9 and will run to Dec. 1.

Today also marks the end of the flies-only restrictions on the upper Rogue River for steelhead anglers.

Those fishing upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp are free to use bait, flies or lures beginning today. Those fishing from the Shady Cove boat ramp downstream to the Fishers Ferry ramp can break out the artificial flies and lures but can't use bait on that stretch until Jan. 1.

The change means plastic-molded egg flies are now legal. The plastic-molded eggs do not fit the description of a fly under Oregon angling rules.

Waters downstream of Fishers Ferry remain open for bait, flies and lures for steelhead.

Also closing Thursday night was the Pacific halibut season off the Southern Oregon Coast and the chinook salmon season off the Oregon coast north of Cape Blanco near Port Orford.

Cole Rivers Hatchery managers hope rain that is forecast for this weekend will get Rogue River summer steelhead moving enough to restart the recycling of excess fish back into the river for anglers.

Persistent low and cold flows out of Lost Creek Lake coupled with little tributary flow has slowed the migration of hatchery steelhead, hatchery Manager David Pease says.

In the week ending Wednesday, just 12 summer steelhead entered the hatchery collection pond, Pease says. They were all kept for broodstock needs, he says.

That leaves just 154 excess hatchery fish on hand this week, Pease says. Technicians generally don't make a recycle run until at least 200 are on hand "to make it worth our while," Pease says.

Hatchery workers haven't recycled any steelhead since Sept. 19, when 500 got the truck trip to Gold Hill for release into the Rogue in this popular program that gives anglers a second — and sometimes a third and fourth chance — to catch excess steelhead that reach the hatchery.

Hatchery workers have recycled 836 adult steelhead.

Retreads have a paper punch-sized hole punched into a gill plate to denote their status. They can be caught and kept as part of the daily limit of two fin-clipped steelhead a day at least 16 inches long.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.