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Angling rules will ease along the upper Rogue

Upper Rogue anglers can restock their tackle boxes with more than just artificial flies beginning next Friday when the flies-only rules relax for summer steelhead fishing upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp.

Bait fishing for steelhead resumes Nov. 1 in the stretch, while lures such as plugs and spoons will be legal again in the waters downstream of Shady Cove.

Bait returns to the portion between Shady Cove and Fishers Ferry on Jan. 1.

Scents, including natural roe juice, are deemed "attractants" and not bait, so their use is legal downstream of the Shady Cove ramp.

Both bait and lures have been banned on the upper Rogue since Sept. 1, when the annual flies-only season began. The rules, which date back decades, are designed to allow anglers to catch summer steelhead while keeping them away from spawning chinook salmon. Both mill about together in the mainstem Rogue during the salmon's fall spawning periods.

The ban is lifted every Nov. 1, and anglers typically flock to the upper Rogue when it ends, because it's considered one of the best times for bait-fishing from Cole Rivers Hatchery to Shady Cove.

The Rogue has seen a decent but not spectacular season of summer steelhead fishing so far this year, with a fairly healthy run of fish and a mixed bag of water conditions.

With no Gold Ray Dam counting station to gauge the early part of the summer steelhead run, all eyes have been on returns to Cole Rivers, where this year's counts are the lowest to date since 2010, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife records.

With 1,380 summer steelhead captured at the hatchery near Trail, the run to date into the upper Rogue is a tad higher than the 1,296-fish average over the past decade, according to ODFW, but is far below last year's return by this time of 2,990 steelhead, which was the highest by that date since 2004.

The early run fish have been present in the upper Rogue since May.

Anglers are reminded that all wild steelhead must be released unharmed.

After drops in participation last decade, more women are now hitting the woods and waters of the United States, with the greatest gains in freshwater fishing, according to a new survey.

Southwick Associates, a Florida-based firm specializing in fish and wildlife economics and statistics, revealed the latest data about participation rates of men and women in the outdoors.

The survey finds that 26.8 percent of Americans who fished in 2011 were women, up from 25.3 percent in 2006. Also, 10.9 percent of American hunters in 2001 were women, up from 9.6 percent five years earlier.

Overall, 9.3 million women identified themselves as hunters or anglers in 2011, with 7.8 million saying they were just anglers and 400,000 just hunters, according to the survey. About 1 million did both, according to Southwick.

Among women freshwater anglers, 23 percent were fly-fishers. That's a greater percentage than men, with just 20 percent of male freshwater anglers nationwide considering themselves fly-fishers.

Also, 84 percent of women said spending time with friends and family was their greatest reason for fishing, while 71 percent of men agreed.

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