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Fire restrictions return to Wild Rogue River

Increasingly dry and hot weather has prompted the Forest Service and federal Bureau of Land Management to increase campfire restrictions within the Wild Section of the Rogue River.

Those who float or hike the Lower Rogue Canyon can build and maintain fires only within a raised fire pan in areas free of vegetation and below the high-water mark. All ashes must be carried out and each group of rafters must carry a shovel and bucket.

The restrictions run from Grave Creek near Galice to the mouth of Watson Creek upstream of Foster Bar near Agness.

Smoking is allowed only while on a watercraft that is on the river, or on vegetation-free sand and gravel bars.

The Wild Rogue section is co-managed by the Forest Service and the BLM.

The stretch from Grave Creek to Marial is under BLM jurisdiction and, therefore, the Oregon Department of Forestry governs wildfire protection and fighting. The remaining downriver stretch is managed by the Forest Service.

Those camping in improved campgrounds on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest also have new fire restrictions.

Campfires are limited in Forest Service-constructed concrete or metal fire rings or pits at designated recreation sites. However, the use of propane or liquid-fueled commercial cooking stoves remain legal for use.

Halibut season extended

Enough poundage left in the halibut quota so far this season off the Central Oregon coast means the spring season will re-open today and Saturday for all-depth angling.

Deep-water halibut fishing re-opens thanks to nearly 20 percent of the spring quota remaining, and more all-depth fishing could be allowed later this month if the quota isn’t met this weekend, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Oregon fish managers will decide by July 13 whether enough quota remains for more spring all-depth fishing, and the next back-up dates are July 19, 20 and/or 21, according to the ODFW.

The summer all-depth season is scheduled to open Aug. 3-4.

The all-depth seasons are prized by halibut anglers because they open access to waters deeper than 40 fathoms, where more halibut are present. During last week’s all-depth fishing, for instance, 60 percent of the anglers out of Winchester Bay and Newport Saturday landed a halibut and the coastwide average was 27 pounds per fish.

During the all-depth open dates, near-shore anglers have to abide by all-depth rules that include no keeping of most groundfish species that are now off-limits in deep water.

Southern Oregon’s halibut season continues seven days a week with plenty of quota left for those fishing near-shore waters from Humbug Mountain south to the California border.

As of this week, halibut landings have totaled just 1,121 pounds, or less than 13 percent of this year’s quota of 8,982 pounds, according to the ODFW.

South Coast bottomfishers have not caught many halibut, but those who have fared well. The average size of fish landed so far this year is 36 pounds.

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

Floaters of the Wild Rogue River must use fire plans on beaches and gravel bars because of wildfire threats. Photo:Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.