GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Anglers and residents who live near the Applegate River in southwestern Oregon are upset that jet boats are speeding down the river, disturbing the quiet and possibly stirring up silt that could hurt juvenile salmon and steelhead.
There are no bans on powerboats on the Applegate River, which has about one-quarter the amount of water flow of the Rogue River, the Daily Courier reported. The Applegate River empties into the much larger Rogue River about 7 miles downstream of Grants Pass.
Fishing guides and residents say the Applegate is too narrow and winding for power boats that navigate more easily on the Rogue River. Some of the jet boats go as fast as 55 mph (88 kmh) in the narrow river channel, the newspaper reported.
“They were out last weekend and my phone was ringing Monday,” Pete Samarin, biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the newspaper. “It’s picked up the last two years below Murphy Dam.”
Samarin said ODFW has no jurisdiction over powerboat use. That’s the Oregon State Marine Board’s domain.
A number of the state’s rivers, including the Applegate-sized Pistol, Elk and Sixes on the Oregon coast, have bans or partial bans on use of powerboats. Marine Board spokesperson Ashley Massey said potential rules are considered on a case-by-case basis and anyone who wants such a prohibition to be considered must launch a petition.
“These guys are insane, they’re doing 55 mph,” said Mark Gattey, who fishes in the Applegate next to his house. “I’ll be out there wading with my kids fishing, and you don’t even hear those guys coming. It’s pretty crazy.”
Gattey said that, years ago, jet boats were a once-a-year thing during high water but now the power boats show up almost every weekend.
“It’s definitely something new as of last year,” he said. “When they go by I have silt floating down the river for two hours. That’s not good for the fish.”
Josh White, fishing guide who fishes the Applegate regularly through the end of March, said he never really saw jet boats until last year.
“I understand guys playing on the river when it’s at flood stage. They’re not really affecting anybody,” said White, the owner of Rogue Fly Shop. “But it’s too skinny when the water is low to have someone running upriver at 40 mph.”
“It just gets so narrow in a couple of spots, and a couple of blind corners, you’re going to have an accident,” White said.
White suggests some kind of restriction when the Applegate gets below a certain flow.