Make the McKenzie Connection!

Chinook angling on the McKenzie River will close July 8

Chinook salmon angling on the McKenzie River will close beginning Monday, July 8 through the end of the year. ODFW is taking this step to protect the unexpectedly small runs of both wild and hatchery Chinook salmon observed at Leaburg Dam

on the McKenzie River in 2024. Continued angling pressure on this small return of salmon could jeopardize meeting conservation targets upstream of Leaburg Dam and broodstock needs for future hatchery production. ODFW biologists do not currently know what factors

may have caused this small run of spring Chinook. 

Determining factors and considerations for closing the Chinook fishery on the McKenzie River:

* The upper Willamette spring Chinook return to Willamette Falls (near Oregon City) is typically 80-90% complete by now and the number of Chinook coming over the falls is decreasing.

* Wild (unclipped) adult salmon returns over Leaburg are typically 1,200 – 1,800 annually. The average number of unclipped fish upstream (past 3 years) by June 28 is 570 fish. ODFW has observed 272 as of July 1, less than half of the average.

* Adult Chinook return data to the McKenzie River suggest this could be the lowest wild Chinook return on record, potentially lower than when Willamette spring Chinook was ESA listed in the 1990s.

* ODFW requires around 225 hatchery spring Chinook pairs (450 fish total, 225 females) to make production goals for the McKenzie. Currently, ODFW has collected less than 60 adults.

* The shortage of hatchery Chinook is partially attributed to poor survival of juvenile fish that were released at a small size from the Leaburg Hatchery during the Holiday Farm Fire in 2020 (returning as 5-year-olds in 2024).

The majority of the McKenzie spring Chinook fishery occurs in May and June, however, reducing the handling of wild fish and closing the harvest of hatchery fish at this time will get us closer to conservation and production objectives.

Summer steelhead returns are very good this year and fishing has been productive. ODFW will maintain that opportunity by keeping the steelhead fishery open.

Anglers may also want to note that ODFW is preparing to provide the opportunity to harvest coho in the McKenzie beginning on October 1, 2024. Coho were first observed in fishable numbers in the McKenzie during 2023 and ODFW expects another large run of coho

in the Willamette Basin in 2024. More information will be available in August when the coho run begins at Willamette Falls.

 

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