Opal Springs Fish Ladder Update

The fish ladder at Opal Springs has proven remarkably successful.  Since it became operational late November through the end of April, thousands of fish from a variety of species have been filmed and identified as moving through it.  Suckers and whitefish have moved up from Lake Billy Chinook for spawning.  Rainbow, brown, and bull trout have traveled upriver most likely foraging for food.  While the primary motivation for installing the fish ladder was to facilitate the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead, the ladder has also provided much needed connectivity between the Crooked, Metolius, and Middle Deschutes rivers.  An improved ecosystem will be the result.  Below is the breakdown by species.

  • Bridge Lip Sucker: 3 up.
  • Brown Trout: 19 total, 14 up, 5 down.
  • Bull Trout: 64 total, 48 up, 16 down.
  • Chisel Mouth: 19 total, 18 up, 1 down.
  • Large Scale Sucker: 6,946 total, 5,109 up, 1,837 down.
  • Northern Pike Minnow: 843 total, 715 up, 128 down.
  • Rainbow: 377 total, 288 up, 89 down.
  • Salmon smolts: 23 total, 11 up, 22 down.  It’s important to note that the vast majority of smolts travel downriver through the hydro plant turbine, not via the fish ladder.  This particular turbine has a very high survival rate for downstream migrants.
  • Steelhead: 30 total, 27 up, 3 down.
  • Steelhead smolt: 20 total, 13 up, 7 down.   Again, most out-migrating smolts travel through the turbine, not the ladder.
  • Trout: 16 total, 15 up, 1 down.  These are fish that could not be positively identified as brown, rainbow, or perhaps steelhead.
  • Whitefish: 62 total, 55 up, 7 down.