Have you ever seen a Metolius River Sockeye Salmon? Neither had I until last week. I’ve been fishing the Metolius River for over 45 years, spending many enjoyable days along this beautiful river. We fish it a lot. But this was a first!

Metolius River Sockeye Salmon
Metolius River Sockeye Salmon | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius River Sockeye Salmon | www.johnkreft.com

Historically, Spring Chinook and Sockeye Salmon called the Metolius River home. But in all the years I’ve fished it, I never saw any salmon in the river.

Until last week.

Dancing Trout (my wife) and I were observing the river, watching for rising trout. We always try to find bugs floating in the surface film and watch for rings left from rising fish, splashy rises, or even a nose on occasion.

We’ve seen Kokanee in the river the last few weeks. It’s enjoyable to watch them swim upstream or school up as the pre-spawning rituals begin. And we find trout behind them too. Occasionally, a bull trout.

Well, all of a sudden I heard “John!” from Dancing Trout. It was a voice I have heard when something important is happening and I pay attention! “Look at this…a Sockeye!” Sure enough, this fish was swimming close to shore and I immediately took out my waterproof Olympus TG4 camera and took a few quick pictures before it swam away.

I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. It was a first for me and I tried to follow that salmon downstream as it slowly moved around in the river.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on RiverKeeper Flies about the Metolius River Stewardship Project, a joint effort by the US Forest Service and Trout Unlimited to restore areas loved to death. One component of the Project was to add woody debris back into the water, creating additional holding spots for migrating fish on their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

All the work has really paid off.

Historically, Sockeye Salmon migrated all the way from Suttle Lake to the Pacific Ocean. But the Pelton and Round Butte dams were built in the 1960s, blocking their natural route.

To help salmon and steelhead return to the Metolius, Crooked and Deschutes rivers, a reintroduction project was created as part of the re-licensing requirement of Pelton Round Butte Hydro Project. The $100 million water mixing and fish passage tower was designed to help flow within Lake Billy Chinook in an attempt to get these young fish in traps and around the dams. It became operational in 2010.

We volunteered with the Project, providing an angler’s voice for where to place stone steps and trails to key fishing locations. Other activities were helping plant shrubs, trees, and grasses during the rehabilitation work.

Karen and I were two of the anglers in the following short Trout Unlimited film created by Wahoo Films from Bend, OR. Here is the video.

Be sure to click on the link for more information about the Metolius River Stewardship Project and a few beautiful photos of fish and the scenery of the Metolius River.

Lastly, here is a link to a post about Spring Chinook Salmon Fry we helped plant in the Metolius River.

Any season of the year is beautiful on the river.

Metolius Water Fall|www.johnkreft.com
Metolius Water Winter|www.johnkreft.com

Now is a good time to hike along the river, so keep your eye out for more Metolius River Sockeye Salmon. I’ve checked them off my list. All I need now is a Spring Chinook!

Enjoy…go fish!

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  1. Thank you John. I viewed the video and found it very enlightening ! I will check in with one of the groups that is helping to protect the Metolious.
    Best regards
    Jerry Martisak

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