SALEM — Summer conditions have come early to Oregon, and in many places fish like trout, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon are struggling with low water levels and high water temperatures.
“Normally we see these kinds of conditions later in the summer, not in late June and early July,” said Rick Hargrave, ODFW Information and Education Division Administrator. In response, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anglers to take precautions when fishing during these drought conditions.
“When streams get too warm, fish are stressed and as a result the fishing goes downhill fast,” said Rick Hargrave, ODFW Information and Education Division Administrator. “Fish stop biting or retreat to deeper, cooler water where they are harder to catch.”
On days when temperatures soar, anglers can do their part to reduce the stress fish are under. Hargrave recommends the following when fishing in waters that include native fish you intend to release:
— Fish early in day when water temperatures are cooler.
— Use a thermometer to check water temperatures frequently. Stop fishing when temperatures exceed 70 degrees.
— Look for trout in deep, high elevation lakes or shaded streams near headwaters. These places are often cooler.
— Use barbless hooks so you can release fish easily.
— Use the appropriate gear and land fish quickly. The longer the fight, the less likely the fish will survive.
— Keep the fish in the water when you unhook it and cradle the fish upright until it revives enough to swim away.
— Use your judgment. If conditions where you want to fish seems especially severe (low, hot water), consider fishing somewhere else where water conditions are better.
— Check the regulation update pages on the ODFW website before you head out to make sure temporary emergency regulations have not been put in place for the waters you want to fish.
“If drought conditions continue, it’s possible we may have to close or restrict some fisheries in order to protect fish,” Hargrave said. “Anglers will need to be alert to these changes.”
Anglers after hatchery trout will continue to find some good fishing in places where ODFW continues stocking trout.
“We’re adjusting some stocking schedules to put fish in those places with the best water conditions,” Hargrave said. He recommends anglers check the weekly Recreation Report on the ODFW website for updates on stocking, water conditions and boating access.