Fishing to open Aug. 15 on Deschutes River thanks to improved summer steelhead returns

THE DALLES, Ore.—Salmon, steelhead, trout and bass fishing will be open under normal permanent regulations starting Aug. 15 on the Deschutes River from Moody Rapids upstream to Pelton Dam in the Deschutes River. 

After last year’s critically low returns in steelhead (fish that would have spawned in spring 2022), ODFW announced a new Deschutes River steelhead fishery framework to take conservation action during low returns. The framework closes the lower Deschutes River fishery until passage thresholds at Bonneville are met to assure ODFW managers that the sport fishery will not have population impacts.  

In May, ODFW announced that the usual summertime steelhead fishing season on the Deschutes River was closed from June 1-Aug. 15 per the new framework.  

Staff have been closely monitoring unmarked steelhead returns to Bonneville Dam starting on July 1. Early returns of A-run steelhead are sufficient to warrant re-opening the Deschutes River to angling on Aug. 15.  

“We needed to surpass 9,900 unmarked steelhead over Bonneville Dam during the month of July to open the fishery on Aug. 15 and get above conservation concern levels,” said Jason Seals, ODFW Deschutes district fish biologist. “Thankfully, we have seen some recovery from last year’s low returns. 

“We are still expecting modest returns based on our run projections to the Deschutes but within abundance levels that the fishery won’t have population impacts,” he continued. 

ODFW managers in the Deschutes will continue to monitor the run until the end of August to make sure the run does not return to critical conservations levels, as seen in 2021. At current return rates of unmarked steelhead to Bonneville Dam, it is unlikely restrictions will be re-enacted, but anglers should always check the Fishing Report for their zone for the latest regulations (click Regulation Updates) https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/central-zone  

For more background on summer steelhead management in the Columbia Basin and the Deschutes River steelhead fishery framework, visit https://myodfw.com/articles/steelhead-management-columbia-snake-river-basins