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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A friend drifted Mehama to Stayton yesterday in 5 hours. There was a little dragging of the boat, but he noted about 200 dead steelhead and salmon in that section. The fish were silver in color, so they died from something other than maturity. Could it be warm water and virii in the Willamette, could it be stress at the Stayton diversion dams, or could it be some other cause? If it is some other cause, what could it possibly be?

There are still lots of fresh steelhead in the North Santiam and a few fresh Chinooks. Fishing will probably improve throughout August and September, but it is important to solve the mystery of these dead fish so that any problems can be solved.
 

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From Mehama to Stayton, there is plenty of farm land that borders the river. Could farm chemicals be discharged into the river?

Bill,

You have fished this river for years; Have you ever seen this before?
 

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Pretty sure ODFW would want to hear about that.
 

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They also recycle fish down to Mehema and another spot between there and Stayton. These may just be fish that did not survive the rerun trips. I hope its not something worse than that anyway. :whazzup: :shrug:

Jon :smile: :grin: :smile:
 

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ODFW is aware of the dead fish. There are survey crews that drift the river looking for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Originally posted by Hooker:
From Mehama to Stayton, there is plenty of farm land that borders the river. Could farm chemicals be discharged into the river?

Bill,

You have fished this river for years; Have you ever seen this before?
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">Not in this magnitude. I am suspicious of the 2 mentioned problems. The diversion dam really hinders upstream migration, and the additional stress may be a mortality factor. I am most suspicious of virus growth in the warm Willamette, which is 75 degrees or so below Salem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Originally posted by LilSteelie:
ODFW is aware of the dead fish. There are survey crews that drift the river looking for them.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">Since ODFW knows about the dead fish, what are the plans to identify the cause? Will there be a report that lists the possible causes and an analysis of the probable mortality? This is an excellent opportunity to put good science to work for a very important cause. Historically, the North Santiam has produced more steelhead and salmon than any other river in the upper and middle Willamette Valley. Anglers should be proud of ODFW for being on top of this issue.

Bill Sanderson
 

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I passed on this information to the creel checker today about the dead fish. I have been working the Fisherman's Bend to Mehema section the past two months and have noticed a number of fish dead in that section also. Not the numbers that have been seen below but enough to make some concern as the fish that I saw were bright also. It can't be a water temp thing up in that section. I hope the ODFW can come up with some answers
 

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last year floated stayton to jefferson a few times,and one of the trips about this time of year, one trip we noticed that from stayton to shelburn there were anywhere from 5 to 10 dead salmon in every deep hole,in that stretch. good conversation in the barber shop we came to the conclusion it was either the chemicals, or the water temperature.
 

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Rip a lip 31 I rember that trip last year and I rember getting out into the water several times and I don't think it was the water temp because I rember it felling really cool. Who knows though I fish the South quite a bit and never see the amount of dead fish like I saw on the North last year. Somthing needs to be done so that this dead fish problem doesnt start affecting our native runs.
 

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I wish that I knew why they were dead. I think that lots of fish use up to much energy trying to find a way to get over the Stayton dam. Even after they find their way through they are just to tired and beat up to continue.

Also, those salmon are by no means "shiny". They are still immature fish but immediatelty after they die they turn a bright white which makes them look bright. If you get really close to one you will see what I mean.
 

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you'd think by now we'd know enough about steelhead, salmon, and their watersheds to be able to quickly determine the cause of this sort of thing. I believe it was last year in Seattle where it was shown that skunge from road run-off killed Coho almost instantly upon contact.

ODFW has a limited budget, and always gets hassled here on ifish for not putting enough funds into hatcheries. This unfortunate fish-kill illustrates the value of having fish biologists doing fish biology first, to understand how these magnificent creatures make a living, which will ultimately aid in their smart management (and yes I'm aware that these summers are hatchery origin fish)
 

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I would suspect it is caused by warm water. Someone said the water isn't really that warm though.

In 1992 or '93 we saw lot's of dead springers floating down both the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers caused by a hot streak in the weather and that was in May.

I haven't kept track but it seems to me you have had a warm, dry summer up there in the valley this year.

I would hope and imagine the bio's will identify the cause of the problem.

Dan
 

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you would notice a chemical spill , or dumping ground , everything around there would be dead or deformed... and it would not be just up the north it would travel down to the mainstem and into the willie.....
 

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It has been a few days now since discovering these dead fish. Has there been any word on ODFW's findings?
 

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I talked with a creel checker who said it was getting that time of year, and that sometimes the fish will look chrome in a foot or two of water after a day of so of being dead. He was going to check and see what he could find out and get in touch with me.

Bill,
were the fish bunched up, or scattered out? With the water so low, we haven't even tried to float it in over a onth...
 

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Dear Friends:

From my readings & experience I understand that salmon will die in warm water due to a disease but the steelhead can take the heat without getting the disease.

I wonder what killed the steelhead?

Best Fishes
 
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