- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Hatcheries in northwest Oregon have released fish ahead of schedule due to decreasing water levels.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North Nehalem Hatchery released 1,550 rainbow trout averaging 1 pound each in early June. The trout had been scheduled for release in September at about 2 pounds each, reported The Statesman Journal (http://stjr.nl/1GC2k23).

“At the time we released our trout . the lakes were getting borderline, but we were still able to stock the fish,” said Robert Bradley, a fish biologist with the department’s Tillamook office. “But looking ahead more than likely they would have been at really warm temperatures at the time the scheduled stocking rolled around.”

Bradley said being able to use the water at the hatcheries for raising salmon and steelhead was a higher priority.

Spring chinook being raised at the Trask River Hatchery near Tillamook will be released about a month earlier than planned.

“We typically release our spring Chinook smolts toward the end of July,” Bradley said. “We’ve already released a few groups of them to free up some space at the hatcheries.

Spring chinook at Cedar Creek Hatchery and fall chinook at Rhoades Pond fisheries are doing better off because they are raising fewer fish than the state’s larger hatcheries, he said.

A problem that has already been seen with lower water levels in rivers and streams is that there have been reports of non-hatchery wild fish being left out to dry.

“The biggest concern that we’ve seen already is the stranding of some juvenile fish trapped in the back-water areas,” Bradley said. “There’s probably some of that going on that we’re not going to know about. They’ll probably dry up or birds or whatever will get to them.”

Bradley said anything that is caught and released should be handled carefully in these weather and water conditions.

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Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com

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