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Roe a go in the upper Rogue

Bait fishing for summer steelhead returns Thursday to part of the upper Rogue River during the seasonal transition out of the fall flies-only season.

Beginning each Nov. 1, anglers can use roe, worms and sandshrimp while fishing for summer steelhead upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp. Downstream of the ramp will open Thursday for artificial flies and lures, but no bait.

The entire upper Rogue returns to bait fishing for steelhead Jan. 1.

The split rules are designed to allow anglers to fish with bait in the stretch of the upper Rogue where hatchery steelhead are more prevalent.

After a strong start, the summer steelhead run into the upper Rogue has been smaller than last year and almost identical to two years ago, based on returns to Cole Rivers Hatchery.

Hatchery returns have been used as an index to the relative strength of returns since the removal of Gold Ray Dam in 2010, which also ended counts at the dam’s fish ladder.

Take a friend hunting

State wildlife managers are making a late-season pitch for their Take a Friend Hunting contest this fall to urge more hunters to bring new faces or reintroduce lapsed hunters to the sport.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s second annual contest uses prizes to entice experienced hunters to encourage friends and family members to go hunting.

While most big-game seasons are over, the contest is open through December, and upland game bird hunting and waterfowl hunting are available, ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says.

Adult hunters who mentor other new or lapsed adult hunters can qualify for a drawing, with prizes that include a statewide deer-hunting tag, trail cameras, gift cards and other donated items.

“There’s a lot of research out there that having someone to go hunting with is a reason to go hunting, and not having someone to go with is a reason not to go hunting,” Dennehy says.

The program opened in Oregon last year, and 773 two-person teams participated, Dennehy says. So far this year, slightly more than 200 hunting teams have signed up, and the lower participation means better odds of winning a prize, Dennehy says.

To qualify, the new hunter must be at least 18 years old and either never purchased an Oregon hunting license or has not bought a license since 2013. The contest is open to residents and nonresidents, and both must have valid hunting licenses to participate.

The mentor and the mentee have to register with ODFW by Dec. 31 and hunt together any time and in any season during the rest of 2018, Dennehy says. They can hunt together prior to registration, because license-buying history is what determines qualification, she says.

All regular weapons, tags and hunting requirements apply.

The prize drawing will be conducted in January, with winners announced by Jan. 31.

The statewide deer tag, which will be valid during the 2019 special statewide season, will be purchased by the Oregon Hunters Association for the winner.

For more information and registration, see www.oregonhunter.info/.

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

Brian Winkler holds a 7-pound steelhead caught by his son Eric Winkler, left. It was the first steelhead Eric has caught, and it came amid the strongest upper Rogue River. Photo by Mark Freeman