Aug. 3, 2015
THE DALLES, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has lifted fishing restrictions the lower Deschutes River. Anglers can now fish after 2 p.m. from Macks Canyon to the mouth of the river. The change is effective immediately.
Water temperatures in the lower Deschutes are back to near normal for August, prompting fishery managers to re-open the river to regular fishing hours. The entire lower Deschutes River from the Pelton Dam to the mouth is now open for fishing from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
“We typically see water temperatures in the lower Deschutes begin to cool in August,” said Rod French, ODFW fish biologist. “Despite some very warm temperatures in late June and early July, the river is starting to look more normal as we head into August.”
A number of factors contribute to the August cool down, French said, including:
the increasing influence of cold water springs as river levels drop, and
longer nights and cooler nighttime temperatures and the changing angle of the sun increasing shade cast by the steep canyon walls.
Fishery managers will continue to monitor water temperatures in the lower Deschutes and will be prepared to announce subsequent closures, if necessary.
In the meantime, anglers are encouraged to follow the usual precautions when catch-and-release fishing in warm weather:
Fish early in the day when water temperatures are cooler.
Check water temperatures frequently and stop fishing when they reach 70 degrees.
Use barbless hooks so you can release fish quickly.
Keep the fish in the water as you unhook them, and cradle the fish upright until it revives enough to swim away.
The lower Deschutes was included in the July 16 closure of most rivers and streams in the state to fishing for trout, salmon and steelhead after 2 p.m. The closure is to help protect native fish already stressed by low water levels and high water temperatures associated with this year’s drought.
ODFW has also re-opened the upper reaches of two northeast Oregon streams to regular fishing hours: the Imnaha River above Freezeout Creek and the Wenaha River above Crooked Creek.
Both are cold water systems somewhat immune to excessive water temperatures, and were inadvertently included in the statewide restrictions.
These three changes from the early closure are consistent with ODFW’s exemption process, where cool, high elevation streams, spring-fed systems, tail-race fisheries and estuaries are generally exempt from early closures. The Department will continue to monitor conditions across the state and evaluate proposed changes on a case-by-case basis, but anglers can anticipate that the most closures are likely to remain in effect until temperatures cool significantly, generally associated with shorter days, cooler nights and fall rains.