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Hoot owl restrictions lifted on Deschutes River; expanded in Willamette Zone

UPDATE AUGUST 13, 2021: ODFW appreciates anglers’ concern about the lifting of hoot owl restrictions on the Deschutes River. Below is more information on why the restrictions were lifted.

August 11, 2021

SALEM, Ore.—Hoot owl restrictions that closed salmon, trout and steelhead fishing at 2 p.m. are now lifted on the Deschutes River from Moody Rapids (river mile 0.5) upstream to Sherars Falls. Permanent rules are in effect from Moody Island upstream to Pelton Dam.

Cooler nights and other factors (seasonal changes to angle of sun on the water) are contributing to cooler water temperatures that are suitable for steelhead angling in the lower 50 miles of the Deschutes River.

Also effective today, these hoot owl restrictions are being expanded in the Willamette Zone to include all tributaries of the Clackamas, Molalla, Sandy rivers and Scappoose Creek. Salmon, trout and steelhead fishing are now closed in these waterbodies from 2 p.m. to one hour before sunrise.

Willamette Zone changes are needed because continued low flows, abnormally high water temperatures, and drought are causing difficult conditions for fish. Water temperatures are warmest in the afternoon, so closing fishing at that time reduces stress on fish when they are most vulnerable and susceptible to post-release mortality.

For the latest on fishing regulations in your angling zone visit https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/

MORE ON DESCHUTES RIVER DECISION:

Prior to lifting the Hoot Owl restrictions on the Deschutes River last Tuesday, ODFW staff evaluated several factors over the preceding days. Primary among them:

  • River temps had decreased to normal for this time of year and were below levels where we have concerns for fish health.
  • PGE was planning to spill from the bottom of reservoir (cold water) beginning Aug. 11 further cooling the river.
  • The days were getting shorter meaning there would be less solar heating of the river

At the time the restriction was lifted, forecast data indicated the heat wave was intensifying beyond original predictions. ODFW staff continued monitoring the situation and weighed several factors, including the short duration of the heat event, the timeliness of the rule process, the expected relief from change in spill, low angler effort during the hottest part of the day, and that a large portion of the river above Moody rapids remained suitable (The steelhead and trout fisheries occur upstream of this location and water temperatures continue to get cooler as fish progress upstream.). Based on these factors staff determined that a change back to the hoot owl was not warranted.

  • Data from today indicates that we are seeing benefits from the change in spill pattern and the heat event is forecast to be over by Sunday with a switch to cooler than normal air temps for the following 10 days.

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Contact:

Jason Seals (Deschutes River), 541-967-6793, Jason.T.Seals@odfw.oregon.gov
Ben Walczak (Willamette Zone), (971) 673-6013, Ben.Walczak@odfw.oregon.gov
Michelle Dennehy, (503) 931-2748, Michelle.N.Dennehy@odfw.oregon.gov

 
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