Archive | Program Update

Volunteers lead fish propagation renewal programs

Letz Creek - fish propagation renewal programs

Every year, volunteers at the Letz Creek Fish Rearing Facility near Lorane, the Munsel Creek Coho Salmon Program in Florence, and Depoe Bay Salmon Enhancement Commission Coho supplementation program give their time to spawn fish, incubate eggs and set these salmon and steelhead free.

Their work may provide a better catch in local rivers and other waterways.

“These efforts also ripple through these communities in other ways, including through programs in local schools and watershed clean-up efforts,” said Christine Clapp, Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program biologist for the Mid-Coast District of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Continue Reading →

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Fish Eggs to Fry program teaches kids throughout Oregon about fish biology and life cycles

Oregon Fish Eggs to Fry

When an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife volunteer or employee walks into a sixth-grade classroom with a small blue cooler, the students watch with wide-eyed attention to see what will happen next.

In the weeks ahead, the students will take daily temperature readings and calculate how long it will be until the fish are mature. They will learn about the life history of fish as they observe the eggs hatching and transforming into “sac fry” before becoming tiny salmon. Soon, the students will take a field trip to a local creek, stream or river to learn about habitat and set these one-inch fish free.

The Fish Eggs to Fry program gives students in classrooms from kindergarten through high school a way to observe the biology of salmon, steelhead or trout first-hand and participate in the life cycle in a hands-on way. It brings to life and reinforces what they’re learning in their lessons. The project also lends itself to a broad variety of additional subject areas, including math, chemistry, writing and art. Continue Reading →

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North Oregon Coast district infrastructure improvements

ADA Platform - north oregon coast watershed enhancements

The 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 improvements in the Northwest part of the state in recent months:

North Coast Watershed District

Nehalem River – In May, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife completed a boat ramp improvement project at the Pittsburg Boat Launch located on the upper Nehalem River north of Vernonia. “A contractor excavated accumulated silt and added gravel on the ramp down to the launch, making the ramp much more accessible for boaters who fish for cutthroat trout and winter steelhead,” said Robert Bradley, district fish biologist. Continue Reading →

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Bucket biology and its impact on Oregon’s fisheries (Part 2)

Bucket Biology

At Howard Prairie reservoir in Southern Oregon, there once was a robust rainbow trout fishery.

“They grew really well and the trout fishery absolutely thrived,” said District Fish Biologist Dan Van Dyke, about the 350,000 rainbow trout released into the reservoir each spring.

Then, about 2005, fishing in the reservoir, located just 18 miles east of Ashland, crashed.

The culprit was the illegal introduction of a surprisingly large list of invader fish: golden shiners, brown bullhead, black crappie, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

It’s a story that’s been repeated throughout Oregon for decades, when carefully managed fisheries of native or stocked fish are greatly damaged because of illegal introductions.

In these cases, individuals dump leftover live bait, possibly not realizing the harm. Others purposely add a different breed of fish in an attempt to alter the fishing grounds. Some also abandon fish and other sea life from a home aquarium or school project.

Continue Reading →

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Southwest Oregon Access Projects

Howard Prairie reservoir - southwest oregonThe 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 improvements in the Southwest part of the state in recent months:

South Coast Fish District

Garrison Lake – Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has designated this lake as a trophy rainbow trout fishery, said District Fish Biologist Todd Confer. In Spring 2016, staff stocked the lake with 1,000 trout that were 2 pounds or larger in size, about six times larger than the typical fish stocked in that area. They will add another 1,300 trophy trout next spring.

Sixes River – In August, nonprofit Curry Citizens for Public Land Access improved the ODFW Mid-Drift Angling Access on the Sixes River. They cleared brush, and graded both the parking area and the access area onto the gravel bar. This will improve access for launching and landing drift boats during the fall Chinook salmon and winter steelhead fishing seasons. Continue Reading →

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Coastal Fall Chinook

Oregon Fall ChinookSalmon fishing is an Oregon tradition. And when the coastal fall Chinook season opens each year, anglers are ready to catch this large fish, a Pacific Northwest delicacy.

What they may not realize is what has happened behind the scenes, year-round, to make the fishing season a success.

Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program volunteers work continuously to spawn, raise and release fish. Meanwhile, Restoration and Enhancement program funds support their efforts by supplying fish food, improving their facilities and funding projects to improve fishing.

Together, these programs help provide a great catch for Oregon anglers. Continue Reading →

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Bucket biology and its impact on Oregon’s fisheries (Part 1)

bucket biology

In the cool waters of Diamond Lake, anglers can fish for rainbow trout surrounded by the beauty of Diamond Peak and the encompassing forest.

In eastern Oregon’s Ontario, at a location accessible by car, entry-level anglers can find easy fishing success thanks to a schooling blue gill population.

And in the mountainous areas of Central Oregon, fisheries for kokanee, brown trout and rainbow trout are alive and well in Paulina and East lakes, part of the Newberry Crater.

Yet these fisheries and many others like them throughout Oregon are always at risk thanks to a silent danger that could at any time begin lurking below their surfaces.

Invasive species introduced to the lakes and reservoirs by individuals who dump leftover live bait into the water, not realizing the harm, or by others who want to change the fishing grounds themselves, take over.

This so-called “bucket biology” is harmful to fisheries, disappointing for anglers who count on getting a good catch at their favorite lakes, and it’s illegal with a hefty fine for those who are caught.

Continue Reading →

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ODFW STEP turns 35 this year!

ODFW Step birthday

When STEP biologist Tom Rumreich thinks about how much good the Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program has done for fish and habitat in its 35 years, he thinks of the volunteers who’ve planted countless trees to shape and stabilize banks.

He can picture the multitude of children who’ve had the opportunity to catch and learn about fish.

He recalls a creek restoration project in the program’s earliest days, where gravel and hatchbox fry Coho salmon were added where habitat had been damaged. He’s excited today to know that now, three-and-a-half decades later the Coho are still there.

In other projects, volunteers have corrected fish passage in places where barriers kept salmon from getting back to historic spawning areas.

“The small streams and barriers like that, looking at them individually, it’s not significant, but when you look at them collectively along the coast of Oregon, it’s huge,” Rumreich said.

Continue Reading →

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North coast High School program teaches students fisheries biology

North Coast High School Program

Not every 16-year-old kid knows how to work with spawning salmon, incubate a freshwater fish egg, rear the juveniles and then release them into a river or bay.

Yet quite a large number of teenagers in Clatsop County have learned exactly that in the past several decades thanks to hatchery programs at both Astoria and Warrenton high schools.

In these programs, science isn’t found only in textbooks, but in real-life examples.

“A lot of the kids are really craving that. …They want to see and experience it,” said Lee Cain, a science teacher at Astoria High School. “Once they get up close and personal with living organisms, a lot of kids are really hooked.”

Cain teaches the aquatic biology program at Astoria High.

The program began on a much smaller scale in the early 1970s, when teacher Eldon Korpela began working with students to rear salmon eggs in buckets, Cain said.

Now the program has a classroom, a data lab, a research lab and a wet lab, as well as tanks and ponds.

Students can take semester-long fisheries biology and marine biology classes.

Continue Reading →

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STEP Volunteers survey metro-area steelhead at Rogue Valley’s Bear Creek

Rogue Valley - bear creek

For years STEP volunteers have trapped wild steelhead in urban areas of the Rogue Valley’s Bear Creek tributaries. During that time, it became apparent that juvenile steelhead rely on the smallest seasonal streams as refuge during high water events. What hasn’t been known is how far they travel within the watershed.

In attempt to get answers to that question, Rogue area STEP biologist Ryan Battleson and area volunteers began fin clipping juveniles caught in traps. Now when young fish are captured again in another stream survey trap, the STEP team will have a better idea of where the steelhead hideout and how far they travel within the basin.

Trapping began in 2005 in 34 Rogue Basin streams, including 11 Bear Creek Tributaries. Results exceeded expectations from the onset. Young steelhead were caught in every trap that was placed, including five streams that were thought to be fishless. Continue Reading →

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