Thursday, September 19, 2013

Concerned about Columbia River Steelhead

If you fish the Columbia you are well aware of the record Fall Chinook run happening, right now. Currently there are over 700,000 Chinook that have passed Bonneville Dam and the run is expected to hit 800,000.  Steelhead on the other hand is below the 10 year goal with only a total 200,000 across Bonneville Dam with about 100,000 across The Dalles. 

Why aren't there more steelhead crossing the Dalles Dam, could it be the warmer temperatures in the Columbia averaging 72 degrees, if so one would expect steelhead to seek refuge in the cooler tributaries such as The Wind, Klickitat and Deschutes but reports of very slow fishing have anglers wondering.

On one hand this is a success story for the Fall Chinook, granted the low number over the last 10 years but at what expense.  The Deschutes River is known for its superior steelhead summer steelhead run. In September it is common to hook five or more steelhead in a day. In the last few weeks talk of slow fishing, is painfully being heard   I even heard one guide say he was going to go look for the steelhead and went to a river on the Washington side and had no success.

Where are the 100,000 steelhead that have not crossed the Dalles dam?

 “With the development of hydroelectric projects, habitat degradation, interaction with hatchery fish and fisheries, these changes have caused declines in the wild portion of many salmonid populations (including steelhead) within the basin (national research council). The decline in steelhead populations has led the National Marine Fisheries to list several steelhead on the Columbia and Snake as threatened or endangered according to the article “the migratory timing of Adult Summer-Run steelhead in the Columbia River over six Decades of Environmental Change.  

What they fail to mention is the impact of gillnetting that is voluntarily regulated in Region 6, above Bonneville Dam.

Are we losing our steelhead at the expense of the Fall Chinook run? Why isn’t the gillnetting in Region 6 monitored?

A report today from an angler on Facebook said there are thousands of nets, more then he has ever seen above Bonneville Dam, it’s depressing.   Something needs to be done. 

Send letters to ODFW and NOAA Fisheries telling them that Region 6 needs to be monitored for incidental take of wild steelhead.