ODFW weighs emergency Deschutes fishing closure

Water levels low - and downstream, dead fish on side-channel

POSTED: 8:49 AM PST December 24, 2013    UPDATED: 9:00 PM PDT October 18, 2013 
Dead fish in Deschutes River
BEND, Ore. -

Low water levels on the Deschutes River have prompted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider closing the river to anglers from Wickiup Reservoir to Benham Falls.

"This year, with the drought conditions we've had, we've seen a little bit more rapid decrease in flows (on the Deschutes River)," ODFW Region Manager Chip Dale said. "It's not out of the ordinary that it never happens, we use to see a lot of that back in the '90s."

Downstream, near the Meadow Camp Picnic area in a side channel of the river, pools are filled with dead fish after the water began to dry up, a visitor told NewsChannel 21 late Thursday, providing video of the scene.

ODFW officials told NewsChannel 21 earlier Thursday no decision will be made until next week on whether to halt fishing.

In the meantime, they asked the public to be good sports and take their fair share of fish.

"We want people to know, if they are out fishing this weekend, to maintain good fishing ethics and make sure that they are recognizing that they may have good catch rates, but to be careful not to overstress fish," Dale said.

The closure would cut the fishing season short by more than a week. The season is scheduled to end on Oct. 31.