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King of the Rogue smoked out

Even the King has to bow to wildfires sometimes.

The sixth annual King of the Rogue whitewater racing event set for Saturday at the Rogue River’s Ti’lomikh Falls has been canceled due to heavy smoke from area wildfires.

“Our raft teams are bailing out, so we’re canceling,” race organizer Steve Kiesling said. “And nobody wants to sit in the smoke.”

Plans are to have the race July 13 next year, and it will be held in conjunction with the National Whitewater Rafting Championships at Ti’lomikh Falls, Kiesling said.

Events this year were planned for inflatable rafts, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards all negotiating a whitewater course built in and around Ti’lomikh Falls, a Class IV whitewater challenge. This year’s race also was set to have more categories for a wider range of expertise among participants.

All of the racing and viewing also was set to take place along Upper River Road, and bleachers as well as various food carts were to be stationed on the bluff overlooking the falls, Kiesling says.

Steelheaders prep for derby

The Grants Pass-based Middle Rogue Steelheaders will hold its annual salmon- and steelhead-fishing derby Saturday, Aug. 25, along the Rogue River.

The derby will be preceded by a fundraising banquet Aug. 23 at the Josephine County Fairgrounds pavilion, during which a Willie Boats driftboat will be auctioned off.

The banquet and derby are the organization’s largest fundraisers of the year for future work on conservation and restoration efforts within the Rogue River Basin. Seats in the fishing derby and admission to the banquet cost $300 per person.

The fishing derby will target both chinook salmon and summer steelhead. Cash awards and plaques will be given out based on the largest chinook by weight as well as largest pikeminnow and smallest chinook.

As a side-bet, anglers can participate in a largest steelhead derby, with half the money going to the winner. The side-pot costs $50 per boat.

For more information and tickets, see the organization’s website at www.rogue-steelheaders.org or call Eve Phelan at 541-226-7204.

Thief Valley Reservoir trout limits raised

You can fish like a thief again at Thief Valley Reservoir, where drought conditions in the Powder River Basin have water levels plunging to a point where fish biologists have upped the trout limit.

Anglers can keep up to 15 trout with no size restrictions through Sept. 30. The regular trout limit is five per day, with only one allowed over 20 inches.

The liberalized limit is to put more trout in anglers’ coolers before low and hot water conditions likely will laker kill off most or all of the trout in the lake by fall, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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

Rafters brace themselves as they negotiate a waterfall on the Grandma's Run through Ti'lomikh Falls during the King of the Rogue Race in 2015. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch