The Northwest is experiencing the worst summer steelhead returns on record. Steelhead stocks from British Columbia to southern Oregon and as far inland as the Snake River basin are doing poorly. Sadly, we are likely to see greater variability in run sizes, with smaller peaks and deeper troughs.
Summer is over, but before we put it behind us, it’s worth considering that the summer of 2020 was likely one of the two hottest summers in the northern hemisphere since humans began measuring the temperature of air and water. Hot temperatures directly—and sometimes dramatically—affect steelhead and many other salmonid species. So our Science Friday review this week of a study of steelhead in California’s Eel River is timely.
This is a topic we have discussed several times in the past, but given the critical nature of cold water refugia, and as the warming climate makes the warmest time of year even hotter, it’s a good time to review what we know about these crucially important habitats.
Late last month, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife held a public meeting on YouTube regarding thermal angling sanctuaries for Columbia River summer steelhead. Wild Steelheaders United covered the importance of thermal angling sanctuaries, also known as cold water refugia, on the blog just before ODFW held their meeting. ODFW’s proposals include thermal angling sanctuaries – limited closures to …