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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking at the meager returns of summer steelhead going thru the falls at Oregon City, the graph that shows the current returns against last year (which was poor) and the 10 year average, and my own personal experience, its time to mothball my steelhead gear. I used to make the drive to the North and South Santiam Rivers and have an expectation of at least encountering a steelhead. For the past 3 years, that has not happened, and looking at the returns for this year, its not worth the drive. Beautiful rivers, but not for fishing. There are trout and some chinook, but very few summer run steelhead. There are lakes and streams for trout and Kokanee, but sadly, the hatchery production has fallen off and the predation of smolts have delivered the death blow to what used to be an excellent fishery.
 

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I stopped years ago when the numbers started to plummet. Yes it is a sad day when those beautiful rivers lost all ocean going fish. Not sure the reason why no more hatchery stock but I guess we wait until the natives come back strong and the sea lions loose their teeth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The climate has never been static. Ice ages come and go. The arctic was forested at one time. I don't think we can lay the blame to a single factor--but increased hatchery production would certainly help. Five years ago and prior, the South Santiam River was filled with outgoing steelhead smolt in the early spring. That no longer happens.
 

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agreed. turned into someones cash cow.
 

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They stopped planting summers in the upper Sandy thirty some years ago. I had the time of my life while those fish were up there. The trouble is you were fishing over holding Springers. Small stream Springer fishing is wild but it is dam poor conservation of the resource.
 

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Summer steelhead are not native to the Willamette Basin.
 
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OK, someone can knock the fishery because it was hatchery summers, but it was a fun, exciting fishery to fish the North Santiam for them. It provided excellent quality fish with a catch rate that far exceeded fishing for springers in the Willamette. And, as a bonus, one even caught the occasional spring chinook.
 

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Sad. Fond memories fishing the south santiam in my college days, '04-'08. Lotsa summer steelhead around then, and the old guys were saying how slow it was compared to years prior.

Is it time to change my moniker, to Oregonstockedtrout?
 

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The North Santiam was a great fishery not only for the number and quality of the fish, but because it was a fast-flowing stream with numerous boulders that provided a lot of pocket water, deep holes and great runs to explore for hiding/resting steelhead/salmon. One could back bounce bait or run plugs and spend the entire day fishing the great opportunities it provided with enthusiasm for every spot likely to hold a fish. If one wanted to, one could bring along a fly rod and fish for trout also.
 

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Here’s some data on smolt releases, no real changes from 2003 to 2016. The adults return 2 yrs later.

85E09386-A7C4-45AD-91F0-6F23C4F1C33D.png


So no real changes in smolt releases over this window. However, Willamette Falls passage numbers that we all can find online show that adult runs of summer steelhead tanked in 2015 (i.e., the 2013 smolt releases), rebounded ok in 2016, tanked again in 2017 (i.e., 2015 smolt releases), and has remained very low ever since.

I’ve only been fishing it since 1999 but am friends with some of the guys who started the program and fished it early-on. There were smolt releases changes in the 1990s when ESA listing happened. But more recently, I am not sure that the low numbers of adult fish can be clearly attributed to lower numbers of smolt releases
 

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Loved to fish those Steely's in the Willamette and did pretty well. Not any more... sad 😌
 

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I’m always suspicious of what ODFW claims as are many others. Look at Jagman’s post. River was filled with outgoing steelhead smolts in the spring. Not so any more. If they’re being released, where are they?
 

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The rivers had 100,000+ fish over the falls many spring chinook and summer steelhead. There would be 1000 fish days and more over the falls. That's when you got excited and started drifting or bank fishing on the South up by the dam. Several 10+ fish days. I would say they are gone but then again maybe not.
 

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Fwiw, we had 1000 fish winter steelhead count days in January & February. Too bad that was 30 years ago when sealions didn't gobble up the run and hatcheries threw a few hundred thousand fry in EVERY river.
Valley rivers still get stocked, just not as many drop points where odfw dropped them before. And your 300,000 springer plants went down to a hundy.
 
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