Cooler, cleaner water?

W 8.11.18 27in

I got back from my latest fishing excursion (that’s a measured 27” wild, native rainbow trout) and saw The Bulletin published an editorial last Friday about the Deschutes River Alliance’s lawsuit being dismissed.  What bothered me in their editorial was the use of the DRA’s tagline of cooler, cleaner water for the Deschutes.  The facts on this topic are well established.  The quantity of water in Lake Billy Chinook is not sufficient to keep the lower Deschutes “cooler” for the entire summer and “cleaner” is largely a function of agricultural and urban water runoff.  Read More »

DRA Lawsuit Dismissed

The Deschutes River Alliance has argued for years that PGE/CTWS’s attempt to reintroduce anadromous fish into the upper Deschutes Basin has harmed the Deschutes River below the Pelton Round Butte complex of dams.  As part of their advocacy the DRA brought a lawsuit against PGE/CTWS claiming that the project violated the Clean Water Act.  On Monday the suit was dismissed for lacking “material fact”.  Read More »

SWW juvenile outmigration

Most anadromous smolts outmigrate in the spring.  While a few stragglers may still move through the system over the remainder of the year, at this point we have a pretty complete count of this year’s totals for fish moving from the Crooked, Metolius, and upper Deschutes rivers to the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook where they are captured and then released into the lower Deschutes.

 

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

CHS

21,261

19,071

15,418

16,997

29,785

19,965

STS

2,733

2,127

3,702

4,024

10,708

8,881

SOC

25,265

155,031

38,702

49,497

439,458

47,392

CHS are chinook, STS are steelhead, and SOC are sockeye.  There’s some good news and some bad news in these figures.Read More »

Deschutes River Alliance water quality study

The Deschutes River Alliance recently released their 2017 lower Deschutes water quality study.  I admire their continued efforts to be stewards of the lower Deschutes.  I also remain critical of their work and have a simple question: if the water quality of the lower Deschutes is so bad then why are the fish so healthy and abundant?  As an angler, that’s what I really care about.  Perhaps the DRA should spend more time studying the fish and less time speculating about what may or may not happen to them based on their views of water quality.Read More »

Bull trout redd survey

I had a request to post the bull trout redd survey data.  As you can see, there has not been a significant drop recently.  There is also hydroacoustic data that shows a continued steady population of bull trout in Lake Billy Chinook.  The big drop in 2006 is correlated with a drop in the kokanee population, the bull’s primary food source, after the bulls became too numerous to be supported by the ecosystem.  Note that the redd count has stayed fairly constant since then and at a level above pre-SWW levels.

Lower Deschutes fish populations & health

At last week’s fisheries workshop, ODFW gave their annual report of fisheries  population and health for the lower Deschutes.  Since the 1970s they have been electrofishing the same stretches from Warm Springs to Jones Creek.  As reported in past years, trout continue to be in excellent health.  Condition factors were good before operation of the SWW and they are at least as good now.  If anything, the fish appear to be growing faster and are larger.Read More »

Climate changes in Montana (and locally)

I was recently sent a link to an interesting article about climate change’s impact on fly fishing in Montana and the continued denial of the science by so many, even the local Trout Unlimited chapter.  The article is part of a series by Inside Climate News.  It was worthwhile reading and also reminded me of anglers venting about PGE causing changes on the lower Deschutes and not considering the undeniable changes we have seen in our local climate over the past few years.  Clearly, the SWW has made an impact on the river, but so has a series of droughts, low water years, and year after year of record hot summers.  Next week is the annual 2-day Deschutes fisheries workshop and I look forward to hearing the latest science on the lower D. Read More »