Board members Tim Goforth, Jeff Dose, Averi Willow, Len Volland, and Joe Ferguson met on December 8 with with ODFW staff Tim Walters (Umpqua Watershed Manager), Greg Huchko (Umpqua District Fish Biologist), and Jason Brandt (Assistant District Fish Biologist) to discuss a range of issues.
We had a good exchange of viewpoints and information. The major items of discussion:
ODFW's ability to read the fish-count data at Winchester Dam has been severely restricted due to budget and staffing cuts. They do not have staff to compile the 24 hour/day counts, and no complete counts have been compiled at Winchester Dam or the Rock Creek ladder sincelast July.
Continuous counts at Winchester will be replaced by extrapolating from 8-hour counts on 200 days/year, based on 15-year hourly averages of the six species counted. ODFW's statistician estimated a 90% confidence level in this process. This process was used to estimate the summer steelhead count shown as July 20 - Sept 27 on ODFW's website. The estimated count is the lowest since 1964.
Compiling data at Rock Creek remains unfunded.
- Winchester counts are used to help estimate runs up and down the coast. The Winchester data should be as accurate as possible.
- Last summer saw temperature and flow conditions unlike anything seen in their 15 year sample period, and warmer temperatures can impact the timing of fish movement.
- Accurate counts Winchester and Rock Creek are necessary to establish wild/hatchery ratios (pHOS).
- Any re-calibration of the average run size and daily migration timing will be based on incomplete data.
Tim Walters noted that they had to respond to the staff cuts, that the new process is statistically sound, but they would welcome volunteer help in compiling the data. They are actually more interested in getting the counts at the Rock Creek ladder.
Greg said they could also use some help removing hatchery fish from the holding pond, and they are interested in numbers and location of hatchery fish caught in the fly water.
If you're interested in helping review the 2015 data, or in removal of the adult hatchery fish, or in recording hatchery fish you catch in the fly water, contact a board member. We should have more information about these efforts in late February.
Protecting Winter Spawners
There's been an increase in people fishing over spawning winter steelhead in the upper River, and we discussed how to protect these fish. ODFW had no enthusiasm for a partial closure. Regulations were just adopted for this two-year cycle, and we have no hard data that would warrant emergency closure. And, they're again focussing on simplifying the regulations. However they will contact OSP and ask them to pay more attention in this area.
Averi Willow worked with Eric Figura and Janie Pardo at the North Umpqua Ranger Station, and they produced some signs for placement at some of the paths down to the River asking people to avoid fishing these areas.
ODFW found a 6" chub along with lots of golden shiners in Diamond Lake. The chub appeared to be a new arrival, rather than a rotenone survivor, but they'll be conducting a broader search this spring.
For now, they're investigating the use of Tiger trout, a sterile, highly piscivorous cross between brown trout & brook trout, to control the chub problem. Fishing for the tigers would be catch-and-release.