There’s a pot of gold in Empire Lakes

ROSEBURG, Ore – The pot of gold isn’t at the end of the rainbow; it’s swimming in Empire Lakes. A $50 VISA gift card goes home with anglers who catch a specially tagged rainbow trout here.

Anglers who harvest trout with a specially marked four-digit tag number will receive a $50 VISA gift card when the tag is brought to the Charleston ODFW Field Office. All other tags can be reported by calling the field office or using this online form.

Empire Lakes is a popular coastal rainbow trout fishery, and ODFW biologists need anglers to help them keep it that way by reporting tagged fish they catch.

ODFW is tagging 500 legal-plus (12 to 13 inches) hatchery rainbow trout through June. Fisheries biologist Gary Vonderohe asks anglers to report tags on fish they catch even if they don’t harvest them.

“We stock a lot of trout here, and we want to make sure we’re giving anglers a quality fishery to enjoy. Tag reporting helps us know how many fish are being caught and what size of fish provides the best fishery for the anglers,” Vonderohe said.

The Empire Lakes tag reward project costs about half of a traditional angler creel survey, saving ODFW $5,000 in this case. Vonderohe said he will get generally the same information with the exception of angler effort.

ODFW stocks 40,000 rainbow trout each year in Empire Lakes. This year, 500 legal-plus trout are being tagged, with about 46 of those specially marked for gift cards.

Anglers who harvest a trout with a specially marked tag can visit the Charleston Field Office at 63538 Boat Basin Drive daily between 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. to collect their gift card. All other tags can be reported to ODFW at 541-888-5515.