Dirty Willamette fish?

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Gar

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Having just moved to the state, I hear a lot of people talk about how dirty the Willamette is. I understand that historically it was a bit of a sewer, but in more recent times surely it (we) has cleaned up a bit, no?

Is it still a gross place to be, or is the anti-Willy sentiment outdated?

What about fish from there; can they be eaten?

~M~
 
S

steelhead_stalkers

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We just fished last week below Willamette falls and the lower river may be kind of dirty but those springers where some of the most tasty fish I have ever eaten! :D They are only in the Willamette for a day by the time you catch them down there so not much time for them to smell like brown trout. :lol: Like thuggin said the further up you go the cleaner it is.
 
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beaverfan

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Most people will say to stay away from fish in the Willamette, no need for that at all. The harbor in Portland has far more dangerous chemicals in the water than above the falls. My dad was a water quality specialist with DEQ for 45 years and like what was said earlier it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. Granted I don't keep fish from there very often, but I don't keep fish all that much. As long as you don't go eating the fish every night for a month you will be just fine.
 
B

Bullitt

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Some the best looking sturgeon I have caught have been above the falls. Big, fat, and "bright" like the fish in the estuary. I don't eat any sturgeon and if I were to eat any other resident fish I'd do it in small quantities. Even fish in the ocean have "warnings" placed on them now.

x2 I know guys that don't like to eat salmon/steelhead after they travel through all the willamette nastyness to my neck of the woods but i eat em.

I gotta laugh at folks with this attitude. More for me I guess. :lol:
 
C

c_chickens

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if its cooked right it shoudnt matter! i had some sturgeon a couple of months ago an it was great! when we get a lot of rain is when they"ll release the poop the water is high an moving quick! every major city does it! my gramps works 4 the city of portland working on the sewers an working on that big pipe project! so instead of it getn dumped in2 the willy it goes in 2 the columbia! the salt water cleans it an if u think about that (where do the salmon come from,or go) the ocean!!!!!!
 
T

tonylovepdx

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if its cooked right it shoudnt matter! i had some sturgeon a couple of months ago an it was great! when we get a lot of rain is when they"ll release the poop the water is high an moving quick! every major city does it! my gramps works 4 the city of portland working on the sewers an working on that big pipe project! so instead of it getn dumped in2 the willy it goes in 2 the columbia! the salt water cleans it an if u think about that (where do the salmon come from,or go) the ocean!!!!!!

Discharge in to the Willamette is straight raw sewage (albeit heavily watered down by storm runoff.) Waste that goes through the big pipe project goes to the sewage treatment plant and then to the Columbia, at which point it is practically drinkable. So there's a little more to it than just redirecting it to another river.
 
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Thuggin4Life

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It has nothing to do with cooking it right. the toxins that are in fish don't just cook out.
 
B

beaverfan

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There are far more dangerous stuff in the Willy than the sewage. The real problem comes from the chemicals used for logging. Below the falls the worst stuff was put in there by industrial businesses. Sewage moves through the system very quickly, the really bad stuff isn't even in the water it's in the silt at the bottom of the river. Like Thuggin mentioned cooking has nothing to do with it either the fish has built up toxins or it hasn't.
 
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beaverfan

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I'm not "blaming" anyone. There are lots of other contributing factors in the Willamette from farmlands, to sewage but the main issue above the falls come from saw mills pumping nasty stuff into the water. (heavy metals, etc.) Those "heavy" chemicals sink to the bottom quickly and stay there. The run off from sewage and farmlands tends to flow through the water more. Eventually it gets purged fromt the system, not so for the heavier stuff. It's the same deal with the Rogue, they've had all kinds of problems removing the dams down there because they have to carefully dredge the silt from the bottoms of the reservoirs removing tons and tons of nasty stuff before they can remove the dams.
 
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Thuggin4Life

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Yeah just have to stick up for the loggers but i know in the old days some non environment friendly stuff happened.
 
Irishrover

Irishrover

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The Willamett River from south of the Ross Island Bridge to the mouth was heavely use by industry. After WWII Zidell scrapped many cargo ship right by the Ross Island Bridge and a lot of oil and othere chemical ended up in the river there. Prior to that there, where docks along the Broadway and Steel Bridges where ships tied up and off loaded their cargo. With the avent of container ships those docks became obsolete. The exception being the grain port on the east bank by the Steel bribge. As you go further down river toward terminal 2 and 4 you find another general cargo area. That area was a Kaiser ship yard during WWII. They built Liberty ships and baby flat tops there. Again some by product ended up in the river. Across the river on the west bank are the oil ternimals and a couple of chemical companies. Pemwalt Chemical is one of those. Also there is the lasing effects of the ship yard at Swan Island. (Which around 1927 stopped being an Island and became Portland International Airport until 1940). The muck at the bottom of the river is full of chemicals including PCBs. That strech of the river is part of the Federal Super Fund Clean up. The main damage was from industrial chemicals and heavey metals as a by product of ship scrapping, ship building and industies located on the river. Now because of the size of the container ships they go to a terminal on the Columbia. Up river the paper mills were creating their own havoc. This is just how thing were done back then, I'm only saying at least we have learned from the mistakes made.

The good news is that since the 1970s the river has been on the mend. It's going to take a long time but folks are headed in the right direction. It's come a long way from the day of scrapping ship between the Ross Island and Hawthorn Bridges. I can remember every once in a while one of those ships would catch fire becase of a cutting torch. You could see the smoke for miles.

Just my opinion but I would not eat a resident fish caught in the lower Willy.

Here is an interesting link regarding the Willamette and the Super Fund clean up. Oh and yes I wish the City of Portland would stop dumping their sewage in the river. It remind me of a certain river in The Philippines.
 
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B

bigdog

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You know what that was interesting reading there. Thank you for that history leason Irishrover and I mean that.

CJ
 
C

Cohosanders

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We just fished last week below Willamette falls and the lower river may be kind of dirty but those springers where some of the most tasty fish I have ever eaten! :D They are only in the Willamette for a day by the time you catch them down there so not much time for them to smell like brown trout. :lol: Like thuggin said the further up you go the cleaner it is.

I bought into the stigma of the dirty Willy for years until I caught my first springer and it was the tastiest fish that I have ever caught(& that is saying a lot). The Coho & Steelhead I have caught out of much cleaner rivers are tasty, but that Willy springer was a culinary delight:clap:


BTW The Springers are just passing through and not permanent residents so I think they should be O.K.
 
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B

Bullitt

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Surprised no mentioned farming. All the chem and fert that is put on the fields. Where does it go when it rains? We do live in the grass seed capitol of the world. I've been fishing the willamette long enough to notice a change in when the algae bloom happens over the last 20 years or so.
 
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beaverfan

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Farming was mentioned, the chemicals from farm runoff pose a very serious threat to the fish but not nearly as big of threat to us. These chemicals stay suspended in the water and don't settle into the sediment. The chemicals from industry/logmills are heavier and do settle into the sediment. These are the chemicals that are most dangerous to us. Luckily there has been much improvement in the management of the Willamette and these chemicals are being "buried" beneath new sediment that does not contain these chemicals. With a few exceptions the Sturgeon and other resident fish seldom consume enough of these chemicals to deem them unedible. If eaten occasionally they pose very little threat to a healthy person. Your more likely to get sick from food you buy at the grocery store.
 
G

Gar

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so when they scrape that crap outta the lakes and rivers, what can they do with it? It's not like the lead, PCBs, etc. just disappear after all....

~M~
 
Irishrover

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You know what that was interesting reading there. Thank you for that history leason Irishrover and I mean that.

CJ
Your welcome CJ. I do like history especially Oregon history.
 

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