Returning Chinook Salmon to the Metolius River

I had a different blog post planned for today, but I always say “take what the river gives you”, so I’m taking my own advice. This post is about a returning Chinook salmon to the Metolius River.

While fishing the river yesterday, I was waiting for the fish to begin rising again and sat on the shore, using my cell phone to capture a few thoughts for a future post.

Something caught my eye and I immediately looked down at a long object swimming past me just over an arms length away.

I was caught a little off-guard because it was a HUGE fish! Was it a Bull Trout moving upstream? No.

It was a Spring Chinook salmon sporting a very nice bright green spaghetti tag from its dorsal fin.

Metolius Chinook Salmon | www.johnkreft.com

This fish was slowly making it’s way upstream along the shore.

Before I knew it, I was running upstream trying to capture a few underwater pictures. She kept moving just a few feet from the bank. For some reason, it wouldn’t wait for me to frame the photo and focus. Here are a few photos. It is the best I could do.

Metolius River Chinook | www.johnkreft.comMetolius River Chinook Head Shot | www.johnkreft.comMetolius River Chinook Scarred Nose | www.johnkreft.com

My wife and I have been two of many volunteers helping to restore native fish in the Deschutes Basin. We’ve helped plant fry in the Metolius River and its tributaries and tagged smolts which were planted in the Crooked River, Whychus Creek, and the Metolius.

Here are links to previous posts about these efforts:

In addition, here is a link to my Metolius River Stewardship Project, the US Forest Service and Trout Unlimited I wrote in June, 2014. It includes a short Trout Unlimited video created by Wahoo Films.

Lastly, you may be interested in another story about Metolius River Sockeye Salmon returning to the as well.

Metolius River Sockeye Salmon | www.johnkreft.com

Of course there was no way for me to know if this fish was a hatchery fish reared by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs or one naturally produced from the few Spring Chinook who returned in prior years. I’m guessing it was one of the thousands of fry or smolt planted in the river.

Take a moment to think about how many miles and obstacles this one fish has overcome. It escaped Bull Trout trying to eat it on its migration to Lake Billy Chinook. It had to find its way through the lake and into traps where it was caught and trucked around the dam and placed into the Lower Deschutes River. It traveled to the Columbia River, making its way to the Pacific Ocean. After reaching maturity, it began its upstream migration, retracing its route AND eluding the many fishermen on its way back to the dam. REMARKABLE!

And it swam past me.

As I stated earlier, it was a special moment and very rewarding to see our volunteer efforts come to fruition.

“Take what the river gives you.”

Enjoy…go fish!

 

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