Flies-only season starts on sections of the Rogue next week

The Rogue River's two flies-only fishing seasons begin next week amid another strong showing of summer steelhead.

Upper Rogue anglers make their traditional shift Wednesday from fishing for summer steelhead with bait and lures to streamer flies and nymphs upstream of what used to be Gold Ray Dam.

Also, anglers floating the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue River from Whiskey Creek to Foster Bar are restricted to artificial flies and lures when targeting adult summer steelhead, halfpounder steelhead, coho salmon and chinook salmon — all of which are present in the lower Rogue canyon each fall.

The first three weeks of September provide some of the more productive fly fishing for summer steelhead in the upper Rogue, which provides a way for anglers to target steelhead while reducing pressure on spawning chinook.

During this season, fly-fishers typically "swing" streamer flies, such as green-butt skunks and red ants, through riffles for steelhead that now prefer the churning, oxygenated water.

Anglers begin to focus more on nymph-fishing in late September, after cooler-water releases from Lost Creek Lake render steelhead less active than in early September.

In the upper Rogue, the flies-only season runs through Oct. 31. It allows only the use of artificial flies but does not require traditional fly-fishing gear. Anglers can use spinning rods with a bubble or other form of bobber, but no other added weights or attachments such as swivels. Lead-core fly line also is banned.

On Nov. 1, the restriction will be lifted upstream of the Shady Cove boat ramp. It will remain in effect through December from Shady Cove to the old Gold Ray Dam site.

Also beginning Wednesday, chinook will become off-limits to even intentional catch-and-release fishing throughout the upper Rogue, and that rule remains in effect through October.

Through Tuesday, however, anglers are still allowed to catch and keep wild or hatchery chinook from Dodge Bridge downstream to the area of Gold Ray Dam, which was removed earlier this month.

Organizers are now selling slots to chinook anglers looking to take part in the Labor Day weekend salmon-fishing derby based in Brookings and lauded as the largest derby of its kind on the West Coast.

The Slam'n Salmon Ocean Derby will run Sept. 3-5 at the Port of Brookings-Harbor at the mouth of the Chetco River in southwest Oregon.

Participants pay $50 to fish in the ocean for chinook any or all of those three days.

The derby offers $15,000 in prize money, including $5,000 for the biggest fish by weight.

To sign up or learn more, call the port office at 541-469-2218 or visit the derby's website at www.slamnsalmon.com.

Umpqua National Forest officials say they anticipate closing Diamond Lake Campground right after Labor Day so construction crews can install a new gatehouse at the campground entrance.

During the closure, the forest's Broken Arrow and Thielsen View campgrounds will remain open later than usual to provide camping at the lake until Nov. 1, when the lake closes to angling.

Forest Service officials also say they will close Tokatee Campground at Tokatee Reservoir on Sept. 27 to make room for a 5.5-acre, 75,000 board-foot timber sale that is part of a plan to reroute water discharge from a power plant to the reservoir.

That project was part of a settlement for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission operating permits within the North Umpqua River system. The campground likely will remain closed through 2011 but open for the 2012 recreation season.

For more camping information, call the Diamond Lake Ranger Station at 541-498-2531.

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

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