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Oregon rivers see historically low counts of steelhead fish

Mon., June 19, 2017, 1:12 p.m.

This undated photo provided by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a steelhead in the Lower Deschutes. For many anglers, fall is all about summer steelhead and the Lower Deschutes is one of the best rivers in the West to fish for the elusive, aggressive, oceangoing rainbow trout. (Uncredited / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)
This undated photo provided by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a steelhead in the Lower Deschutes. For many anglers, fall is all about summer steelhead and the Lower Deschutes is one of the best rivers in the West to fish for the elusive, aggressive, oceangoing rainbow trout. (Uncredited / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

SALEM – Fisheries managers say steelhead fish in Santiam and Willamette rivers in northwestern Oregon have hit low levels not seen in over 40 years.

The Statesman Journal reported that typically about 5,600 wild winter steelhead crossing through Willamette Falls annually. Officials said this year, it was around 800.

Numbers for hatchery-raised summer steelhead also came out low. This year, the count came out to 1,100 compared to the regular average of 18,000 fish per year.

Bruce McIntosh with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the low counts are due to years of poor ocean conditions and drought. He says those factors have limited the steelhead’s food supply.

McIntosh says sea lions have also become a significant threat to the fish.



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