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More chinook recycled in Rogue

Upper Rogue River anglers got another 101 spring chinook salmon to target during the tail end of their season thanks to a little experiment meant to get more big chinook in their coolers and fewer in hatchery collecting ponds and wild salmon spawning grounds.

Cole Rivers Hatchery workers recycled 101 springers that already had run the angling gauntlet once and released them July 7 at Dodge Bridge so anglers can get another whack at them.

The fish have two holes punched into their gill plates to denote they are springers released after the normal June 30 deadline for recycling salmon in the upper Rogue, says David Pease, the hatchery's assistant manager.

Hatchery workers will be looking for these double-punched salmon when they clean out the hatchery's collection pond each week, Pease says. Also, spawning-ground survey crews likewise will look for these late-recycled salmon during their counts in late summer and fall.

The spring chinook salmon season for the upper Rogue upstream of Dodge Bridge ends July 31. Until then, anglers upstream of Dodge Bridge cannot keep non-fin-clipped wild chinook, but can keep up to two fin-clipped hatchery chinook per day.

Anglers targeting the waters downstream of Dodge Bridge get to continue fishing for both wild and hatchery chinook through August in a relatively new wild chinook season that begins July 1 below Dodge Bridge where Highway 234 crosses the Rogue.

That section is open for anglers to keep up to two wild chinook a day because the early- and middle-run spring chinook — the ones deemed in need of catch-and-release protection — are already farther upstream. Salmon in that stretch are either late-run chinook or early-run fall chinook, an all-wild run deemed in relatively good health basin-wide.

Even after more than four decades, recreational clammers are still showing up at Clatsop County beaches to dig for razor clams during the traditional mid-summer closure to help conserve the crustaceans.

Since 1967, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed the county's 18 miles of beaches every July 15 to protect young clams that are establishing themselves in these razor-rich sands.

ODFW shellfish biologist Matthew Hunter says the post-closure clamming crowd always shows up, but this year could be worse because the closure starts today amid a series of minus tides during which diggers take advantage of the sagging tides to dig in sands generally not exposed for diggers.

Other beaches in the state remain open for razor clams during the closure, and diggers can go after bay clams, which are plentiful in many of the state's bays and estuaries.

Bay clams available for diggers include butters, littlenecks, cockles, geoducks and gapers. All diggers must have the same Oregon shellfish fishing license that is required for recreational crabbers.

The closure runs through Sept. 30, and ODFW biologists use the time for their annual stock assessment.

Clatsop County beaches represent 90 percent of the overall annual take of razor clams in Oregon.

The Rogue FlyFishers Association will hold its annual Hank Rogers memorial picnic Wednesday at Emigrant Lake County Park.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. and will focus around the Picnic Area A at the county park off Highway 66 along the lake southeast of Ashland.

The cost for the barbecue is $6, and visitors must first pay the $4 parking fee in cash or use their Jackson County Parks Department pass. Oregon State Parks parking passes, which are honored at county boat ramps along the upper Rogue, are not valid for the county park at Emigrant Lake.

Rogers was a former association president and longtime member from Ashland who died in 2009.

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