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Virus even has trout stocking up in the air

With all these public closures over the coronavirus and the governor still encouraging safe outdoor activities, what about fish stocking? Is Cole Rivers Hatchery stocking area lakes with rainbow trout like they normally do each spring?

— Eric, Medford

Well, Eric, like everything going on with COVID-19, whatever you read can change within the hour, and Cole Rivers Hatchery stocking plans are right in that wheelhouse.

“That’s the $64,000 question right now,” hatchery Manager Dave Pease says.

As of late Monday, the plan was to move forward with stocking area lakes with rainbow trout as long as access is available, but boat launches could be closed to reduce potential exposures to the virus, Pease says.

“And that could change as soon as I hang up this phone,” Pease said at 3:34 p.m. Monday. “It may turn into delay stocking. It may turn into ‘get them all out right now.’ I just don’t know.”

Regardless of what happens short-term with rainbow trout stocking, all the salmon and steelhead smolt releases into the Rogue and Applegate rivers from Cole Rivers were set to move forward as scheduled, Pease says.

The hatchery continues to be closed to the public, but parking access is available to fish at the Rogue’s popular Hatchery Hole along the hatchery’s dike, Pease says. However, that means park and schlep your gear to the river and don’t hang out, gawk at the fish or interact with hatchery workers trying to minimize their potential exposure to the virus, Pease says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.