The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) asks anglers to voluntarily stop fishing when in-stream temperatures reach a critical limit. Working in a coordinated effort with fish conservation groups Oregon Trout, Native Fish Society, and Trout Unlimited, ODFW suggests this measure for the protection of trout populations and future fishing opportunities.
Those who choose to angle can opt to fish in the morning, when water temperatures are cooler, or fish at a different location if water conditions are unfavorable at their usual site. Because mortality levels increase drastically when water temperatures are over 74 degrees, anglers should voluntarily limit fishing to protect native trout. Anglers also can help by using barbless hooks, keeping fish in the water as much as possible and limiting the amount of handling time. Anglers are advised to wet their hands before removing hooks, and to avoid touching the fish's gills.
Reduced summer stream flow and increased water temperatures this year have decreased available fish habitat, disease resistance, spawning success and available food and oxygen, according to biologists from ODFW. Increased competition and predation also result.
In this stressed environment, fish gather in groups where water conditions are most favorable, making them more vulnerable to anglers and predators. These threats can adversely affect adult trout numbers in future years by reducing numbers of spawning adults.
"This is the second year of low stream flows in many areas of the state," said Rhine Messmer, ODFW fish biologist in Portland. "Under more normal water years, these affected trout populations will quickly rebound and again provide for some quality angling experiences. Until then, we really appreciate the efforts of anglers to aid fish populations and help them survive."
Messmer encourages anglers to try some of the areas where water temperatures are cooler such as the High Cascade mountain lakes and mountain streams. ODFW's High Lake stocking program provides for some excellent trout angling in the summer and fall. These lakes are generally stocked every other year with fingerling fish that grow to catchable size. Many mountain steams have abundant brook trout populations, which provide good opportunities for young anglers.
The low water conditions have led to some temporary angling regulation changes. Anglers should call their local ODFW office or check the ODFW website (www.dfw.state.or.us) for the most current information.