Steelhead fishing season extended through April
Written by Corvallis Gazette-Times   
Sunday, 28 November 2004 10:51
Fishermen on the Alsea River will have an extra month to land a whopper this winter -the steelhead season has been extended through April.

The reason for the continuation is a wild brood stock returning for the second year in a row, said Bob Buckman, fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

The wild brood stock typically swims upstream later in the year.

"That spread out the season a little bit more. We had bright fish returning in February and March," Buckman said.

Late December usually is the peak for the steelhead run. Near Alsea the season starts Wednesday, but areas below the mouth of Fall Creek already are open, Buckman said.

The steelhead season should be improved by fish "recycling," as well. More than 1,000 fish that returned to the Alsea Hatchery last season were put back into the river again so anglers could have a second chance at them.

Last season was the first time in several years that the hatchery had recycled steelhead.

The Alsea Hatchery also has a new parking lot for fishermen. Buckman hoped that would ease congestion along Highway 34.

"We would strongly encourage anglers to use the new parking lot, rather than parking on the shoulder of the road," he said.

There aren't very good methods to predict a steelhead season, Buckman said. In the spring of 2003, the Alsea Hatchery released 129,000 smolts, and those will be the bulk of the return this season.

Steelhead season is an important time of year for Alsea, said local business people. Fishermen stop in the small Coast Range town to eat and buy goods.

Salmon counts for this fall weren't done yet, Buckman said. Last year was a great one for salmon on the Alsea River, though. Wild coho were at their greatest number since 1990, and the number of Chinook spawners was the highest ever recorded.

The salmon rebound has been attributed to improved habitat, reduced ocean harvest and favorable environmental conditions.

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