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Steelheaders to launch derby in March

GRANTS PASS — The Middle Rogue Steelheaders are going back to their roots for a new fundraiser aimed at helping their namesake fish by targeting them with as light a hand as possible.

After 25 ironic years of relying on a fall chinook salmon derby as its main annual fundraiser, the nonprofit Steelheaders will hold a one-day winter steelhead derby March 12 on the Rogue River.

Participants will pay $100 apiece to fish anywhere on the Rogue that day, ranging from the bank to private boats to guides they hire on their own.

Anglers will be given special measuring boards so they can measure and photograph the fish they catch.

The entrant who catches the largest photographed fish by length and checked in at the Josephine County Fairgrounds in Grants Pass will win $1,000. Second place will receive $600 and third place will net $400.

“We’re promoting catch and release,” derby Chair Carl Cole says. “Just by taking a picture and releasing your fish, that makes it promoting catch-and-release.”

All participants must have a valid Oregon angling license and follow all state angling rules.

Club members have made special pine measuring boards with yardsticks in them for official measuring, Cole says. They can be picked up the afternoon before the derby at Bradbury’s Gun and Tackle store in Grants Pass.

The event will include an online auction to help fund conservation and restoration projects in the Rogue Valley, as well as angling assistance and education events for which club members volunteer, Cole says.

For more information on the derby and auction, visit rogue-steelheaders.org.

The Steelheaders are one of the work-horse groups among volunteer fish conservationists in the Rogue Valley. Members logged more than 6,000 hours of volunteer work in 2019 on efforts ranging from riparian tree plantings to off-side steelhead smolt monitoring and angling programs aimed at veterans and youth.

Dog mushers back at Diamond Lake

Sled-dog and skijor racing will return to the groomed snow trails of Diamond lake Feb. 26-27 after a one-year COVID hiatus.

The Pacific Sled Dog and Skijor Association and the Cascade Sled Dog Club will be hooking up dogs and sliding quietly through the snow-laden Douglas fir stands beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

During a Sunday awards ceremony, a new Red Hat Sportsmanship Award will be given in remembrance of local musher Kristi Riverman, who died last year.

The races will start near the entrance to the Diamond Lake Lodge. The races are free, and spectators are welcomed but they are encouraged to leave their pets at home or in their vehicles.

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