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Oregon To Close Some Steelhead Fisheries Amid Record-low Returns

A steelhead is pictured in this March 24, 2015, file photo.
Jennifer Strickland
A steelhead is pictured in this March 24, 2015, file photo.

Closures of recreational steelhead fisheries on the Deschutes, Umatilla, John Day and Walla Walla rivers are intended to limit damage to historically small runs.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday announced emergency closures to recreational steelhead fisheries on several Columbia River tributaries.

Starting Sept. 1, steelhead fisheries on large stretches of the Deschutes, Umatilla, John Day and Walla Walla rivers will be closed through the end of the year.

That’s because the number of Columbia River steelhead, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is the lowest it’s been at this point in the year since recording began in 1938. About half as many steelhead have passed Bonneville Dam this summer as have the past five years.

ODFW’s decision came just hours after a meeting between fish and wildlife commissioners from Washington and Oregon.

Find a full list of Columbia Basin fishing closures and restrictions in Oregon here.

“We know these actions are going to negatively affect anglers this year and we don’t take that lightly,” said ODFW Fish Division Deputy Administrator Shaun Clements in a news release. “But they are unfortunately necessary at this time to give the fish the best chance to rebound and ensure the populations can support fisheries in future years.”

A coalition of conservation and fishing organizations had earlier called for a basin-wide shutdown of recreational steelhead fisheries.

Washington had not announced additional closures as of Saturday morning. ODFW said the agency will continue to monitor steelhead returns to determine if some steelhead fisheries can reopen.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Bradley W. Parks