HOT HOT HOT
We are in for a roasting hot weekend and water temperatures are getting dangerously high near the mouth of the Deschutes. Just two days ago the Moody temperature gauge showed a reading of 72.5 - a temperature that could be lethal to any trout hooked played and released in such warm water. The temps cool as you travel up river, but they are still dangerously warm.
PGE, managers of the Pelton Round Butte dam complex on the Deschutes, have been pouring warm water off the top of the reservoir up until about 3 days ago. As they have always had the power to do, they mixed in a little more water from the bottom of the reservoir (which is cold clean water straight out of the Metolius) and that is starting to cool the river down.
It should infuriate anyone who loves this river that PGE chooses to keep the Deschutes warm - claiming to be trying to "return the river to historical pre-dam temperatures" which is just ridiculous. Before the dams went in in 1964, the Deschutes was grazed heavily and there were far fewer trees to provide shade on the water. So, the pre-dam conditions are not exactly something great to strive for: warmer water and less riparian habitat?
Even though the pre-dam conditions were less favorable for trout and steelhead and salmon, this is where PGE wants to take the river. However, they are going above and beyond meeting predam conditions, they are warming the water even more than the water was ever warmed pre-dams. Right now, the Deschutes at Moody is nearing 73 degrees. In a period on record pre-dams of 1955-1962 the MAXIMUM temperature recorded at Moody was 71 degrees and the average (mean) temp at Moody was 62 in the month of June. The minimum temp in the month of June during that time frame was 53 degrees. These pre-dam temperature data are coming right out of a table taken from a report published by the Oregon State Game Commission called Lower Deschutes River, Oregon; Discharge and the Fish Environment published in November of 1967. This study provides baseline pre-dam data. Here is the table:
We contacted ODFW earlier this week to ask them what they were going to do about the lethal temperatures in the Deschutes and they said that they are thinking about implementing Hoot Owl hours for fishing - but would not do so until next week some time. Hoot Owl means that you can fish in the morning, but not in the afternoon. Usually 2:00 PM is the time that fishing ends. We will keep you posted on that front.
If you look at the two USGS gauges - one at Moody near the mouth of the Deschutes and the other at Madras near the base of the dam (100 river miles upstream of Moody) you can see that the temperature of the Deschutes at the mouth is starting to cool thanks to the temperature of the water at Madras dropping. Here are the gauges:
We chose to cancel all of our trips this week - due to this insanely hot weather we are forecast to have. I have been issuing refund checks all day. It was just not safe for the fish, the anglers, or the guides to spend all day in temperatures over 108 degrees. If you do choose to fish, please do so in the morning and refrain from fishing in the late afternoon because water temps will be very dangerous to the trout.
Consider some high-elevation fishing where the creeks are cooler, or possibly finding a high elevation lake with cooler water temperatures. It is the right thing to do for the Deschutes trout and, God knows, they need someone to be on their side because all of the regulators and the dam operators are failing them.