2019 – 2020 Steelhead Counts: Getting Worse

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The 2019-2020 Deschutes summer steelhead season is not over, but we are close enough to draw conclusions.  They continue to be dismal.  Steelhead start entering the Deschutes River on their one-way journey to spawn in late spring and early summer.  These “summer” steelhead may make it to their spawning grounds in a tributary far upriver as early as September or as late as April.  They have an amazing life story. Read More »

Opal Springs Update

Thus far, 19 steelhead have swam from Lake Billy Chinook up the Opal Springs fish ladder into Lake Billy Chinook.  Historically, the greatest number of steelhead arrive at the Pelton Fish trap in January and February, so I certainly hope the numbers get even better.  Along with the steelhead, 90 rainbow, 53 whitefish, 10 brown trout, and one bull trout have been detected in the ladder, mostly moving upstream.  Connecting the Crooked River to the Deschutes and Metolius rivers is excellent news for these fish species as well.  So far, so good!

CTWS Comments on the HCP and EIS

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I have read many of the substantial comments on the Draft Deschutes Basin Habitat Conservation Plan and associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  The comments from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs illustrate just how tangled an issue this is.  Like many others, the Tribes are extremely critical of the draft HCP and EIS, but in a unique way.  While most critical comments ask for more water more quickly in the upper Deschutes in the winter, the Tribes want LESS water than proposed.  Keep reading to understand why.Read More »

Opal Springs Passage is Working!

The new Opal Springs fish ladder became operational on Nov. 15 and an automated fish detection system was installed 4 days later.  In the first 13 days (11/19 to 12/1) 23 trout, 28 whitefish, and 3 steelhead have been counted.  That’s an excellent start.

Opal Springs Fish Ladder Operational!

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The fish ladder is under the walkway, the spillway for downstream migration is to the right.

For over 20 years a wide range of companies, organizations, agencies, and individuals have been working on the reintroduction of steelhead and salmon into the upper Deschutes Basin above Lake Billy Chinook.  This includes the middle Deschutes, the Crooked River, the Metolius Rivers, and their tributaries.

To the surprise of fish biologists who had anticipated that Whychus Creek and the Metolius Rivers would be the primary destinations, the great majority of the returning steelhead and Chinook salmon have attempted to head up the Crooked River to spawn.  The overwhelming preference for the Crooked has been the case every year there have been anadromous fish returns.  Unfortunately, until last week a dam at the bottom of the Crooked River had largely blocked upstream passage for these returning anadromous fish. Read More »