Archive | August, 2017

Willamette Valley Projects Improve Fishing Opportunities

KokaneeThe Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other organizations throughout the state, continue to improve boating and angling in Oregon lakes, rivers and streams. Here are a few highlights of recent and ongoing improvements in the Willamette Valley:

Mid-Willamette Watershed District
Detroit Reservoir– Nonprofit angling group Kokanee Power of Oregon is spearheading a project that began releasing larger fingerling Kokanee in the fall with the hope of improving fishing in Detroit Reservoir, said Elise Kelley, a District Fish Biologist for the ODFW. “We will release fish about four or five inches long in the fall over the next few years,” Kelley said, “rather than two to three inches in the summer.” Kokanee Power of Oregon is funding this initial pilot program and will survey anglers with “catch cards,” in order to help with assessing whether the new, larger kokanee are contributing to the fishery.

North Willamette Watershed District – Cascade Unit
Clackamette Park – The Clackamette Park boat ramp on the Clackamas River reopened in late 2016 after being closed due to damage caused by flooding in December 2013. The ramp is located near the mouth of the Clackamas River. Temporary repairs were made so it could be reopened. A much larger project to move the ramp location downstream and replace it is planned for later, likely in 2020 or 2021, said Todd Alsbury, district fish biologist.

Willamette Park – A popular bass, crappie and perch fishery and water recreation area on the Willamette River in Portland received repairs in late 2016. The last upgrade had been in 1997, and improvements were needed due to a large drop off at the end of the boat ramp and sediment accumulation. Boats were unable to use the ramp and boarding docks safely. This caused long delays in launching boats, especially during low-water conditions. Work, coordinated by several agencies, included repairs to the boat ramp toe and the debris boom, as well as dredging of the boat basin.  This project improved public access and safety for boaters launching and retrieving at this park.  Funding for the project was made available from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration funds, Oregon State Marine Board, and City of Portland.

North Willamette Watershed District – Coast Range
Scappoose Bay Marine Park – Dredging around the boat ramp and short-term boat tie up area at Scappoose Bay Marine Park completed in November 2015 has improved conditions for boaters, who were previously grounding out in the channel at low tide. The site is located at the mouth of Scappoose Bay at confluences with the Multnomah Channel and Columbia River. It’s a popular area for outdoor recreation, including fishing for catfish, crappie, yellow perch, largemouth bass, bluegill and carp; boating; water skiing; paddle boarding and sea kayaking. The project was done cooperatively by the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife through U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration funds and Port of St. Helens.

Upper Willamette (South Willamette Watershed District )
McKenzie River – A new boat launch makes it much easier for boaters to get their vessels in the Upper McKenzie River near Frissell Bridge. The U.S. Forest Service project was completed in 2015. The launch was planned as part of the 1992 Upper McKenzie River Management Plan. The river is designated a Wild and Scenic River and an Oregon Scenic Waterway, and this segment of State Highway 126 is a Scenic Byway. The new boat launch replaces an old boat slide that was upstream and on the opposite side of the river. The project was funded with a Federal Highway Administration grant. Now, experienced boaters can use the location for catch-and-release wild trout fishing, said Jeff Ziller, a district fish biologist for ODFW.

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Rhoades Pond Volunteers Keep Fishery Strong

Chinook SalmonEvery year in late summer, volunteers release approximately 100,000 Chinook salmon into the Nestucca River in Tillamook County.

They are the result of months of care and feeding by volunteers from the Nestucca Anglers, as well as investment in the past several years – using Restoration & Enhancement dollars – to restore and improve the facility where they’re raised and prepared for release.

Rhoades Pond is an important part of ensuring a local fishery for commercial and sports fishermen, even in leaner years for wild fish, said Ron Rehn, STEP biologist for the North Coast Watershed District.

“It provides an insurance back up should the fishery be restricted,” Rehn said, and adds to the overall fishery even in good years.

Significant impact

The pond, located about five miles east of the small town of Hebo, began as a trout pond on private property. ODFW began managing it in the early 1980s, using it as a satellite facility for Cedar Creek hatchery, Rehn said.

After program funding was cut, the nonprofit group Nestucca Anglers took it over in 1999. They’ve been raising Chinook salmon there ever since. Wild broodstock are caught by volunteers to create better hatchery fish, Rehn said.

Each spring, the tiny fry travel from Cedar Creek Hatchery to Rhoades Pond, usually in early April.

Volunteers feed them twice daily, and monitor the pond to ensure healthy conditions. Once the fish are large enough, volunteers – as many as 200 of them – gather to hold a large fin-clipping event on the second Saturday in June, so the fish can be easily identified as a hatchery fish.

By about September, they release about 100,000 smolts into the Nestucca River from two local sites: Cloverdale, Farmer Creek Wayside and Three Rivers, said Ron Byrd, who is president for Nestucca Anglers.

These are the only fall Chinook salmon released into the Nestucca each year, Rehn said.

In the many years that the Nestucca Anglers have reared fish at Rhoades Pond, they have released a total of more than 1.2 million smolts into the Nestucca basin, with the fish comprising 20 to 25 percent of fish caught there according to creel studies.

“It is definitely working. It’s a huge contribution to the angling community,” Byrd said. “And, obviously, it takes the pressure off the native fish also.”

Many improvements

The Rhoades Pond site has been made better in recent years by repairs and improvements that have included re-lining the pond with a new concrete liner. The old liner had been damaged by flooding and elk in past years.

The intake and supply line at the river needed to be replaced. The outlet structure also required replacement.

“The intake is the structure that collects water at the river, and the supply line sends it to the pond,” Rehn explained. “The outlet is a screened structure that lets water out and keeps fish in.”

Other essential improvements included adding netting to prevent birds from eating the tiny fish, and an electric fence to keep otters out of the pond.

New tables, a trough, cover and lighting in the clipping area add efficiency to the volunteer-run project.

Additional improvements included upgrading electricity, replacing the pump house, demolishing an old caretaker’s house and installing a monitoring alarm to notify ODFW if water flow to the pond is lost.

So many people are involved in the Rhoades Pond efforts to raise fish that when a local angler catches one, they don’t say they caught a hatchery or fin-clipped fish, Byrd said, but a Rhoades Pond fish.

“You spend the time and energy to raise these fish,” Byrd said. “It’s a pretty big kudos to be able to catch one of them.”

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North Coast Volunteer Remembered for Dedication

Dave Booth's steelheadWhen fishermen catch trophy class winter steelhead along Oregon’s coastal rivers, they have volunteers to thank.

Broodstock programs for the fish are successful because of people like Dave Booth, an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife volunteer who died this past February.

Booth, who lived in Beaver, was a longtime salmon and steelhead angler, and important to the program capturing wild steelhead on the Nestucca River. He accepted a leadership role as a volunteer to make it possible for bank anglers on the Nestucca to capture wild steelhead and get them to the Cedar Creek Hatchery.

“Dave Booth was one of the most dedicated and dependable volunteers we have ever had,” said Robert Bradley, an ODFW biologist. “He recruited people into the broodstock program. He transported captured steelhead and chinook for us.”

“Dave’s work provided double benefits for our staff,” Bradley added. “He recruited volunteers for the Rhoades Pond chinook and steelhead programs.”

Somehow, Booth always seemed to be there whenever steelhead were being caught. Anglers knew he had a holding tube and a transfer box in his truck. Before long, the yell, “Get the tube” sounded a reason for excitement and pride as another wild fish was captured for the program.

Booth loved to fish, but would sacrifice fishing time to haul the captured fish to the hatchery.

“For years and years, we depended on Dave to bring captured fish to us,” said Joe Hobart, a Cedar Creek Hatchery biologist. “He did countless hours of work that freed us to do other projects.”

Booth had a significant impact on the broodstock program, and earned the trust of ODFW and his fellow anglers.

Broodstock programs are important, as noted by Bill Monroe, outdoor writer for the Oregonian, who said, “Broodstock programs have restored not only a vibrant fishery, but anglers’ sense of participation.”

Dave brought that sense of participation to a group of bank anglers, and will be missed by all.

ODFW needs dedicated people like him to keep broodstock programs strong.

Opportunities for getting involved in broodstock and other fish programs exist throughout the state. If you would like to contribute to these and other ODFW programs like Booth did, contact your local STEP biologist or visit the STEP website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/STEP/

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