Reduced releases should give fly-anglers a break

When are we fly-fishermen going to catch a break on the Upper Rogue River? Flows are running higher than normal and that makes fly-fishing tougher, at least for us waders. What's happening up here?

— Matt M., Medford

Sure, Matt, it's been kind of tough for waders fishing the upper Rogue, but things are about to change — finally.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week will start to ramp down its releases from Lost Creek Lake into the Rogue River after spending much of the summer releasing higher-than-normal flows because of a heavy snowpack.

The releases from the basin's largest reservoir represent the vast majority of summer flows in the Upper Rogue, which also is fed by several tributaries such as Bear Creek.

Flows into the reservoir Tuesday were just 1,128 cubic feet per second and flows out of the reservoir at just a hair above 2,700 cfs. That amount would be huge in a low-water year but remain about the lowest of the summer so far, according to the Corps.

The Corps' plan beginning Thursday is to drop releases from Lost Creek Lake by 100 cubic feet per second per day until the flows hit a more common late-September level of 1,000 cfs — which should equal the flows coming into the lake.

That comes, coincidentally, with the start of the flies-only fishing season on the Upper Rogue designed so anglers like you, Matt, still can target summer steelhead present in the Upper Rogue while avoiding disturbing spawning chinook now in the main stem.

Compounding all this is the Corps' need to draw the reservoir down about 7 feet lower than normal to reduce pressure on radial gates used for winter flood control.

The gates have been used only once — during the 1997 New Year's Day flood — and they operated flawlessly. But inspections show they could fail to operate properly should water rise into the top 12 feet of the lake and place pressure on the gates.

The gates are in line for repairs, but they're behind other Corps projects in the Northwest involving similar designs. Until fixed, Corps officials plan to lower the reservoir more than normal each fall.

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 We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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