TILLAMOOK, Ore. – In what may be the first of many drought-related activities this year, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife rescheduled the planned release of trophy trout in five North Coast lakes.
The release of 1,550 two-pound trout, originally set for September, was rescheduled to an earlier date as the result of low water flows at ODFW’s Nehalem Hatchery. The fish will be stocked in the same locations – Cape Meares, Town, Coffenbury, Lost and Sunset lakes – only now they will be released at a smaller size, less than one pound each. These trout will be released just prior to Free Fishing Weekend, which will take across Oregon June 6-7.
ODFW is not able to raise the trout to “trophy” size because of low water flows at the hatchery, which is fed by the North Fork Nehalem River. The North Fork is a tributary of the Nehalem River, which is currently running about 33 percent of normal flow for this time of year.
“We don’t usually see streams this low until late June or July,” said Robert Bradley, ODFW fish biologist. “We just haven’t had the rain that we need to maintain river flows.”
The trout are being moved out of the Nehalem Hatchery early, according to Bradley, to make sure there is enough water to support steelhead and salmon that will be reared at the facility until they can be released next spring.