ROSEBURG – With a current combination of higher water temperatures in the North Umpqua River and low numbers of returning summer steelhead, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife asks anglers to voluntarily limit their fishing to cooler morning hours.
“We’re at our lowest return level in 40 years for summer steelhead,” said Jim Brick, acting Umpqua District Fish Biologist. “Anglers can help out right now by voluntarily stopping fishing during afternoon hours when the river temperature is the warmest. Early morning angling puts less stress on the fish.”
Brick said fish mortality levels increase drastically when water temperatures are over 74 degrees, and angling – even catch-and-release – further stresses the fish. Higher water temperatures also decrease available fish habitat, disease resistance, spawning success and supplies of food and oxygen.
Winchester Dam fish counts for the period May 1 – July 23 show just 2,447 summer steelhead have returned to the North Umpqua, 1,500 of which are wild fish. The ten-year average for the same time period is nearly 5,000 fish with about an even split between hatchery and wild fish.
Although the run continues through October, poor ocean conditions and less hatchery steelhead produced for the North Umpqua are also contributing to lower returns.
The 2007 angling regulations continue to apply. Harvest of wild summer steelhead is prohibited, however anglers may harvest two adipose fin-clipped steelhead per day with two daily limits in possession.
The mission of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitats for use and enjoyment by present and future generations. The agency consists of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, a commission-appointed director and a statewide staff of approximately 950 permanent employees. Headquartered in Salem, ODFW has regional offices in Clackamas, Roseburg, Bend, and La Grande with ten district offices located throughout the state. For additional information, please visit www.dfw.state.or.us.