SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Extremely low numbers of returning steelhead on tributaries of the Columbia River Basin have forced angling restrictions on rivers in northeast Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildfire says the passage of summer steelhead at Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Columbia River from July 1 to Aug. 26 was at its lowest count since 1938. The preseason estimate was 89,200 — the new in-season prediction is 35,000.
On Friday ODFW announced Oregon rivers connected to the Columbia system will be closed to steelhead retention from Sept. 1, to Dec. 31.
The rules will close steelhead fishing in the lower Umatilla and in additional areas of the Deschutes and John Day rivers. They are in addition to existing steelhead closures in portions of the lower Deschutes and John Day rivers.
“We’re in uncharted territory here” Shaun Clements, ODFW Deputy Administrator for Fish Division, said in a statement. “The combination of a historically low run on top of multiple years of low runs, and the very poor environmental conditions that seem likely to continue based on the most recent drought forecast, mean this is a regional problem.”