Deschutes: Fix One Thing, Bust Another - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 07-25-2010, 10:12 AM
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Deschutes: Fix One Thing, Bust Another


Saw this in _The Oregonian_ the other day.

Seems the lower Deschutes is heating up lethally most likely due to the new facility at Round Butte Damn designed to mix water from various levels and enable salmon and steelhead to get over the dam and utilize spawning waters in the Metolius, Crooked and upper Deschutes rivers, areas they've been blocked from for decades.

Great idea.

Except the temperatures in the Deschutes near the mouth are reaching 70 degrees, effectively blocking summer steelhead from entering the river and making conditions for those already in the system very stressful.

The first wave of summer runs usually enters around the 4th of July and numbers continue to build through early September.

That there should be a thermal barrier now is really ironic because in the past it was the Deschutes' cooler water that drew in not only Deschutes fish, but also those bound for Idaho and other eastern Columbia/Snake tributaries. Some fish would swim up as far as Pelton Dam (90 miles+) spend a few weeks and then head on downstream to continue their journey to the Clearwater.

When land temperatures abate in mid-September, the water temperatures should fall and fish begin entering again from the barge lanes in the Columbia, but that makes for a dreary August for those of us who pursue Deschutes summer runs if the thermal barrier remains in place.


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Old 07-26-2010, 06:01 AM
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Eric -

Thanks for posting this. I don't know if there is any pre-dam historic temperature data to validate the claims of this increase being normal, but in my opinion the only important thing is that we do what's best for the fish themselves. We've screwed them up so badly in the mighty Columbia, once the greatest salmonid river in the entire planet.
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Old 07-26-2010, 10:32 AM
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Amen to that, Juro. Do what's best for the fish, and the rest of it will take care of itself.

Frankly, I was a little surprised to hear that guides were complaining about the conditions, but only because the Steelhead fishing didn't used to get underway until August. Guides were on the upper river in July, fishing for trout.

Some of this changed when the jet sleds were banned from the upper river, forcing the sled-guides to find something to do in the area left open to them (lower 25 milels, Macks Canyon to Heritage Landing).

Over the last 25 years or so, much has been done to alter the ascension of summer Steelhead into the Deschutes. Gill nets placed along the shore lines of the Columbia have selected for fish that stay out in the barge lanes, as one example.

I'm hopeful that the longer nights and fewer sustained-high-temperature days, combined with the cooling effects of that God-awful wind, will lower the water temperatures to the point where the Type-A summer runs (the little guys) will begin to ascend the river in numbers, and anglers will be happy again.


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Old 07-28-2010, 09:46 AM
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Here's the latest on the Deschutes situation. Bottom line is that a cooler mixture is on the way.

The article says that fishing in the lower river is fine, according to DFW biologists on the scene. That's at odds with the hue and cry (to coin a phrase) coming from hordes of anglers and guides.

What with the warm weather in the region, I'm surprised the White River glacier hasn't started pouring out its slurry and putting paid to the fishing, anyway.

Here's the link:


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Old 07-31-2010, 11:25 PM
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I don't know how many evenings I took very high 60's or low 70's at the mouth during the summer evenings. I drove out from PDX only to change to trout due to the temps.
Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men.
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