PENDLETON, Ore. - Summer steelhead are once again able to pass Feed Canal Dam on the Umatilla River, according to ODFW District Fish Biologist Bill Duke.
Last fall large numbers of fall chinook and coho were observed below Feed Canal Dam. The river bed at the dam has down cut below the fish ladder and combined with late fall and early winter low water levels, fall chinook and coho were not able to enter the dam’s fish ladder and continue their upstream migration. To ensure summer steelhead could reach the tributaries where they spawn, all the steelhead were trapped at Threemile Dam, transported upstream and released above Feed Canal Dam while the situation was being monitored.
ODFW has tracked radio-tagged steelhead as they moved upstream and found they are passing Feed Canal Dam. “Because of modifications that were made at the dam and increased spring flows, steelhead appear to be successfully passing the dam,” said Duke.
Fisheries co-managers collect summer steelhead broodstock at Threemile Dam. During broodstock collection periods, all fish are trapped, sorted and fish in excess of the numbers taken for broodstock are released back into the river.
To date, 1,816 summer steelhead have returned to the Umatilla River. Of the total return, 1,374 were transported upstream around Feed Canal Dam, according to Duke.
ODFW and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, co-managers of the fishery, will continue to evaluate fish passage at Feed Canal Dam. Current plans are to continue releasing steelhead and spring chinook at Threemile Dam while passage conditions and flows are adequate.
For more information, contact Duke at the ODFW office in Pendleton at (541) 276-2344.