Fishin' hole nicknames develop over time

About the story in Friday's Oregon Outdoors section about naming new fishing holes on the Rogue River after the removal of Gold Ray Dam. Who exactly gets to decide what new fishing holes will be named? And as an Oregon native, I'm not so sure I want a Californian naming our fishing holes.

Mary F., Medford

Well, Mary, so some Sacramento fly-fisherman's got your hackles up for naming a new upper Rogue River riffle Lost and Found because he lost a fly rod there one day last week, then found it the next day.

Don't worry. Chances are, it might not stick.

Fishing holes and riffles on popular rivers like the Rogue eventually develop names as a way for anglers, rafters and others to make references to specific features in them.

Names aren't official, but they just become accepted over time as part of the river lexicon.

The Rogue is lined with fishing holes and rapids with commonly referred-to names, and there is no set reason why the name stuck.

Some, like Savage Rapids near the Jackson/Josephine county line was named for the Savage family that homesteaded there. Similarly, the Hatchery Hole is named because it is the fishing hole along the Cole Rivers Hatchery dike.

Others are named for less obvious reasons.

A popular Rogue salmon and steelhead fishing hole in Shady Cove is called Glass House, named for an old shack with huge glass windows that sat on riverside bedrock there. The Glass House washed away during the 1964 flood, but the name remains.

Some are named for features within the rapid or hole themselves. Flood Rock upstream of Shady Cove comes to mind, as does the Rock Garden near Trail, which is named because there are so many rocks in the shallow rapid that it's as if the Rogue grows rocks there.

And the upper Rogue's famous Rattlesnake rapid is known to rear up and figuratively bite a boater in the you-know-what for messing with it.

Others find their names from more grim circumstances.

Dead Man, on the upper Rogue near Trail, found its name because a salmon angler died of a heart attack while fishing in a driftboat there. And the Buzzard Hole near Eagle Point is named for the turkey vultures that roost in trees there.

So, Mary, if you don't like the name "Lost and Found" for one of the holes created by the removal of Gold Ray Dam, we at Since You Ask suggest float down to it, hang out there and wait for something name-worthy to appear.

You could, for instance, sink your boat there, and name it Mary's Boat Hole. Then lobby the rest of Southern Oregon's river-rats to refer to start referring to it that way and you will become part of Rogue history.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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