Tuesday April 25, 2023

The Spokesman-Review

Steelhead are tough, resilient fish, and when it comes to providing regular hatchery-based fishing opportunities, have proven to be largely reliable over the years.

But they haven’t been doing so well of late. Returns of Endangered Species Act-protected wild steelhead have long been a concern and the past five-plus years have been especially rough on them. The hatchery fish that drive fisheries from Astoria, Oregon, to Kooskia and Riggins in Idaho have faltered as well.

Not every year has been alarming. The 2022 return of steelhead surprised fisheries managers. But the fish are expected to tank again this year and fisheries managers are expecting one of the lowest returns, if not the lowest, on record.

So what ails them? No one knows for sure.

There are obvious culprits like the dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers and the predators that take their meals in the reservoirs.

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