|The South Fork Yamhill River, pictured here from the Hwy. 18 Bridge, will open to retention of trout on May 23. The pilot project of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife makes the South Fork Yamhill one of only a handful of streams where stocking of hatchery trout is allowed.
- Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife -
CLACKAMAS, Ore. – A pilot project initiated this year by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will open a section of the South Fork of the Yamhill River to retention of hatchery trout for the first time in more than a decade.
A five mile stretch of the river just upstream of Willamina will be stocked with approximately 2,000 rainbow trout prior to the May 23 opening day of trout season, and again two weeks later. The upper limits of this section are the Gold Creek Road Bridge where it crosses the Yamhill River, about two miles downstream of Fort Hill. The fish were reared over the past winter at ODFW’s Roaring River Hatchery near Scio and range from 8 to 12 inches long.
The South Fork Yamhill trout fishing season is new and required special consideration and approval by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Trout stocking in Oregon’s rivers was common 20 years ago. However, the practice has nearly ceased out of concern over possible impacts to threatened salmon and steelhead populations. Since the late 1990s, trout stocking has taken place almost exclusively in lakes and ponds, where trout do not compete with salmon and steelhead for food and cover.
Tom Murtagh, district fish biologist for ODFW’s North Willamette Watershed, grew up fishing for trout in Oregon’s streams and wanted to give youngsters the same opportunity.
“I just remember how much river fishing meant to me when I was a kid,” said Murtagh. “The whole purpose of this program is to re-connect people from local communities to the river that flows right through their back yard and the wonderful opportunities they can find there.”
By carefully planning the timing of releases so as not to overlap with the outmigration of steelhead smolts and by using triploid trout, which are biologically unable to reproduce, Murtagh was able to garner the support of NOAA Fisheries and key stakeholder groups. Managers carefully planned the releases to occur after most winter steelhead smolts have departed to the sea. Support for the new trout season was possible because Yamhill winter steelhead are not critical to the overall recovery of upper Willamette River winter steelhead.
The South Fork Yamhill trout fishery will be open May 23 through Oct. 31 from its confluence with the North Yamhill near McMinnville, upstream about 20 miles to Rock Creek near Grand Ronde. Only five adipose fin-clipped trout may be retained per day. All of the hatchery fish that may be kept have had their adipose fins removed so they can be easily identified. All wild fish with intact adipose fins must be released unharmed. There is no size limit on marked hatchery fish. In addition, fishing will be limited to artificial flies and lures to protect any native fish that may be present and would be prone to injury if they were allowed to swallow baited hooks.
Murtagh said the trout will be released in multiple locations between Gold Creek Road Bridge and Willamina because that is the stretch of the South Fork Yamhill that has the most public access. Yamhill River Road runs parallel to much of this section and provides adequate turnouts and parking at several locations near the river. The remaining 15 miles of river open to trout fishing has some public access but also meanders across private lands. ODFW reminds anglers to be aware of and respectful toward private property rights along the river.