Oregon heat wave increases stress on fish

By Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

With summer temperatures heating up throughout the state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anglers to take special care when catching and releasing fish.

“Warm water temperatures, especially above 70 degrees, can be very hard on cool water fish such as trout, steelhead and salmon,” said Charlie Corrarino, ODFW Conservation and Recovery Program manager.

Warm water does not hold as much oxygen as cooler water. This means fish are getting less oxygen while they are being caught, and take longer to recover once they are released.

“A lot of fish simply stop biting when the water gets too warm,” Corrarino said. “And many anglers will voluntary limit their fishing when air and water temperatures are high in order protect fish populations.”

However, Corrarino adds, anglers can still safely enjoy trout, steelhead and salmon fishing it they follow a few precautions.

Fish early in the mornings when water temperatures are lower.
Fish in lakes and reservoirs with deep waters that provide a cooler refuge for fish.
Use barbless hooks, land fish quickly and keep them in the water as much as possible in order to minimize stress.
Shift your fishing efforts to higher elevation mountain lakes and streams where water temperatures often remain cool.

Anglers also can turn their attention to warmwater species, such as bass, bluegill and crappie, that are available in many lakes and reservoirs statewide. However, even warmwater fish can feel the effects of the heat and anglers should try to land and release them as quickly as possible.

Corrarino points out that hot summer temperatures don’t necessarily mark the end of trout fishing for the year.

“Once cool fall weather arrives, water temperatures will drop and trout will begin actively feeding again. ODFW also will resume stocking trout in many lakes and reservoirs,” he said. “In fact, fall can offer some of the best fishing of the year.”

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