- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Wildlife officials in Oregon hope to get hatchery steelhead returning to creeks that feed the Rogue River so anglers will have more luck catching steelhead in the Grants Pass area.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is acclimating about 6,500 young steelhead in Greens Creek for two weeks in hopes the fish will return to the same area in several years as 8-pound (3.5-kilogram) adults. Biologists tell the Mail Tribune (https://bit.ly/2pSnmtZ) that by keeping the steelhead from Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery in Greens Creek before releasing them, the steelhead will remember Greens Creek and return to that area.

Fish and Wildlife is also focusing on getting steelhead to return to nearby Skunk Creek.

“If we can somehow start turning these creeks into assets, that would be a huge thing if we can exploit this fishery more,” said Ryan Battleson, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Salmon Trout Enhancement Program biologist overseeing the project.

Greens and Skunk creeks are considered devoid of wild salmon and steelhead because of artificial and natural barriers.

At Greens Creek, a large concrete box culvert dumps water from a height of six feet into a deep pool about 20 yards from its confluence with the Rogue River. Another similar culvert is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) farther upstream.

Volunteers with an angling club called the Middle Rogue Steelheaders are tending the fish and feeding them until barriers are removed and they are allowed to enter the Rogue River and make their trip to the ocean.

If they survive, they’ll come back to the area as adults where anglers will be waiting.

“That’s why a bunch of people have wanted to help out, take turns feeding them,” said Carl Cole of the Middle Rogue Steelheaders, one of the volunteers caring for the young steelhead.

But only about 3 percent of the steelhead are expected to survive to make it back as adults.

“It’s sad when you realize how few come back,” Cole said. “But better 300 or 400 more showing up in the Rogue here, and that’s more steelhead than we would have seen here. That’s good, but it’s a lot of work.”

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Information from: Mail Tribune, https://www.mailtribune.com/


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