Healthy fish run numbers leadto shift in

Too many returning steelhead and salmon has prompted the moving of allowable fishing closer to Foster dam, according to Bill Nyara, manager of the South Santiam Fish Hatchery.

Nyara said the numbers of fish returning to the area is up significantly, which prompted moving the “deadline” markers approximately 150 closer to the dam.

“We’ve had incredible recovery and harvest, great returns,” Nyara said.

Nyara said the old deadline markers were 200 feet west of the fishway, as required by an out of date rule.

“We no longer use that fishway,” Nyara said. “The Foster fish ladder is still more than 200 feet from the new deadline.”

Nyara and staff hope the new deadline will increase the number of fish harvested by anglers.

“There have been good ocean conditions,” Nyara said of the increased fish numbers.

He said some 11,000 steelhead and 2,500 salmon have already been recycles.

“That’s a lot of hauling,” he said of the work required to return the fish into the river.

“I’d say the year the fish went out to the ocean must have been a good water year,” Nyara said. “The steelhead, in general, are coming back larger than normal. There must be good feed out there.”

In addition to bright yellow poles on each side of the Santiam, hatchery staff members have installed posters that list rules and warn that the new deadline could be moved if the rules aren’t followed.

Nyara said he is concerned that some anglers might be tempted to fish even closed to the dam with the deadline movement.

Access on the hatchery side of the river is somewhat limited, Nyara said, but there is excellent access on the opposite bank.

“This may be permanent depending on how things work out,” Nyara said. “We’re concerned about increased littering and about increased usage impacting the staff who live on site. If too many fishermen start getting here very or late at night and make too much noise, we might have to change things.”

Wednesday morning, Chris Kutsch, 17, and Josh Totten, 13, both of Scio, were trying there luck at the new deadline site.

“I think the new deadline would be good for late in the season, but maybe earlier in the year, the old deadline might be better,” Kutsch said. “In the spring, the flow should be better on both sides and fishing should be better as well.”

While the two anglers were plying the waters, Long Salladay picked up a nice 10 pound steelhead just a few yards away. He landed it without a net and said this year’s fishing has been extremely good.