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Rainie Falls' fishing trip a lesson for recruit and poachers

GALICE — Game enforcement officer Brad Bennett of the Oregon State Police was showing a recruit around the area on Sunday, when he drove up the hill from Grave Creek on Mount Reuben Road.

They got out at the overlook to take a look at the Rogue River and Rainie Falls, far below.

Two men were fishing at the base of the falls, and before long, one of them landed a steelhead.

Unfortunately for them, you cannot fish within 400 feet of Rainie Falls, or any other obstruction to fish passage, natural or artificial, that causes fish to gather in large numbers.

So Bennett and the recruit drove back over Grave Creek bridge and walked the two miles to the falls, to issue citations to the men.

Bennett said he's seen that rule broken only a couple of times at Rainie in his two decades enforcing fishing regulations. Signs clearly mark the no-fishing zone.

He's seen plenty of other problems below Rainie, however — usually snagging salmon, or tagging violations — because anglers don't expect to see a game enforcement officer off the beaten path.

Morgan A. Crum, 43, and Christopher Taylor, 38, both of Medford, were handed citations that will likely cost them $435.

"They said they didn't see the sign. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't," Bennett said. "I told them, 'If you go fish an area, you should look in the regulation book. It's right there in the synopsis, plain as day.' "

Crum caught the fish, but Taylor was cited because he helped.

Crum's citation was specifically for taking the fish in a prohibited area, and he was also warned for fishing there, possession of mutilated fish and failure to validate his tag.

The mutilation warning was because he'd already fileted the fish, making it impossible to tell the length. That's important because wild steelhead must be 24 inches or longer to keep on the Rogue.

The two men didn't have their gear confiscated. But they didn't get to keep the fish, either.

Other locations closed to fishing include just below Applegate Dam; between Illinois River Falls and Fall Creek; and below Power House rapids at Gold Hill, Bennett said. Anglers should look at the synopsis and look for the signs.

The regulations also existed at Savage Rapids and Gold Ray dams when they were still standing.

Reach reporter Jeff Duewel at 541-474-3720 or jduewel@thedailycourier.com