Cold Water for Columbia Steelhead?

Deschutes River Plume

Yesterday ODFW held an online public meeting to discuss potential plans for creating cold water refugia for steelhead in the Columbia River.  From my perspective, this is a simple decision.  With a heating planet and plunging steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin, of course there should be cold water areas set aside where fishing is restricted.  If anything, it seems we should err on the side of making the refugia areas larger and closures longer.  This is not a universally held opinion, however.Read More »

Oregon River Levels

February was one of the driest months on record for Oregon and the effects can really be seen in our rivers. Here is a graph from the USGS site showing current levels. I have regularly looked at this site for many years and never seen so much red. Even the Deschutes is below the 10th percentile of normal flows! Our local snowpack is now 82% of normal and Central Oregon is currently classified as being in a moderate drought. None of this is good news for fish.

Zapata Cuba

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Today I returned from a fishing trip to Cuba put together by Flywater Travel.  This trip did not live up to my hopes but the Zapata peninsula certainly has the potential to be a premier fly fishing destination.  It is a huge area of flats, channels, mangrove forests, and small islands.  There are abundant bonefish, baby tarpon, some permit, and many other species including barracuda, jacks, snapper, snook, etc.  In the right conditions, at the right time of year, I am certain the fishing could be excellent.  The accommodations, food, and staff were pleasant and professional.
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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 »

$42M to Pipe 7.9 Miles of Canal!

Central Oregon Irrigation District is asking for another round of taxpayer funding to pipe a small section of their 400+ miles of canals.  This time the request is for $42M to pipe 7.9 miles of canal.  Yesterday Central Oregon Land Watch posted their analysis of this proposal.  Per COLW, $42M equates to “$568,000 per irrigator”.  I wish I got this sort of taxpayer subsidy.  The Basin Study Work Group clearly showed ways to save the same amount of water for 25% of the cost of main canal piping.  WaterWatch has pointed out that there are no guarantees in this latest piping proposal that any conserved water be permanently returned to the upper Deschutes.  And, as always, there is no mention of increasing flows in the middle Deschutes during irrigation season.  The song remains the same…

Middle Deschutes Flows

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Today I saw that one of the COID main canals near my house was full of water so I checked the graph.  As you can see below, there have been some pretty dramatic fluctuations in the Deschutes below Bend over the past week.  There was an abrupt diversion into the canals on February 10 and it looks like another is starting today.  (Note that it can take a few days for the water to make it down the canals.)  As I have written before, these sudden fluctuations wreak havoc on the aquatic environment and cause increased sedimentation which fills spawning beds.Read More »

ODFW Strategic Plan & Funding

I am a member of the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Restoration & Enhancement Board.  A small portion of every commercial and recreational fishing license is set aside to spend on projects approved by the R&E board.  This volunteer position has been a wonderful experience and a great way to help direct projects in ways I believe will benefit anglers all over the state.  Our meeting last week was in Salem where we had the opportunity to speak with top leadership and get an overview of ODFW’s strategic plan.  I know that ODFW has a mixed reputation but I believe they are doing a good job given available resources, their broad mandate, and mixed constituencies.  I was also encouraged by the vision they laid out for the future.Read More »