Record number of rainbow trout returning to the Columbia River | Washington
Their population has been devastated by habitat destruction, including the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, as well as overfishing and climate change. The high water temperatures on the Columbia and Snake rivers were also detrimental, as much of the northwest faced excessive heat and relentless drought.
Commissioners and staff from the Oregon and Washington departments of fishing and wildlife met virtually on Friday to discuss options to limit the damage. Most fisheries on the Columbia require anglers to release any rainbow trout they catch this fall.
“There just aren’t many places to make big savings,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River Fisheries Officer in Washington.
The groups that wrote the letter to the commissioners say that is not true. They say shutting down the recreational rainbow trout fishery completely for the fall could prevent unnecessary fish deaths – and fishermen would benefit.
“(We) just don’t believe that the ESA-listed rainbow trout fishery during their worst comeback on record is appropriate for these fish or future generations of fishermen,” the letter said. “For a species that has provided generations of memorable fishing experiences, asking anglers to sit down a season is reasonable and necessary given the circumstances.”
Signatories to the letter included representatives from the Native Fish Society, Friends of the Clearwater, Wild Fish Conservancy, North Umpqua Foundation and Fly Fishers International, in addition to The Conservation Angler.