The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife this week adopted temporary rules closing the upper reaches of the Sandy River to the harvest of summer steelhead through Aug. 31 largely as a means of protecting threatened chinook salmon that ply the waters.
The action applies to Sandy River upstream of its confluence with the Salmon River, and includes the Salmon River. Previously, under permanent rules the upper Sandy was open to retention of both wild and hatchery steelhead through the end of August. The Sandy feeds into the Columbia River about 14 miles upstream of Portland.
“The closure is necessary to reduce unintended hooking mortality associated with catch and release of wild spring chinook incidentally caught by anglers targeting summer steelhead,” said Todd Alsbury, ODFW district fish biologist. Sandy River wild chinook, part of the so-called Lower Columbia “evolutionarily significant unit,” are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
ODFW staff working temporary fish traps in the area recently observed large groups of spring chinook holding in pools due to extremely low water conditions that restrict upstream movement, according to Alsbury.
He said anglers were beginning to target these areas simply due to the large number of fish, which are not likely to be summer steelhead. The area will remain closed to angling for steelhead or spring chinook after Aug. 31 under permanent rules.