Eastern Oregon creek sees first salmon spawn in 30 years

troutdude
troutdude
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Salmon were documented spawning in McKay Creek near Pendleton Oregon for the first time in 30 years, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced on Feb. 23.

The spawning was made possible by the partial removal of a fish weir, which was placed in the creek by the Bureau of Reclamation in the 1990s because McKay Reservoir Dam operations were drying up sections of the creek. Prior to the 2024 season, salmon and summer steelhead had not spawned above the weir since it was installed.

“That means a fish-passage project started last summer is producing near immediate results as salmon and summer steelhead can now use this habitat to spawn and possibly rear,” the ODFW stated.

The weir project is part of a larger effort to improve fish passage in McKay Creek, which feeds into the Umatilla River. The ODFW currently deems the McKay Reservoir Dam the 11th highest fish passage priority in the state.


ODFW fish biologist Taylor McCroskey in Umatilla County was among the experts who recently counted 72 salmon-made rock clearings during a 6-mile survey of McKay Creek. These clearings, known as redds, are used by female salmon to lay their eggs. ODFW experts said that 72 was a “high number” of redds for the creek.

“We could definitely see a higher number of salmon and steelhead returning to the Umatilla basin in the upcoming years because of this now available habitat in McKay Creek,” McCroskey said. “Again, it’s the first time [that] adult salmon and steelhead will be able to spawn in McKay Creek since the adult barrier went in back in the 1990s.”

Steelhead are also expected to return to the habitat during their spawning this spring.

“The available habitat in McKay Creek is the lower six miles of habitat, below the McKay Reservoir Dam which currently blocks fish passage to 108 miles of habitat and represents 26 miles of stream miles upstream of the dam,” the ODFW stated. “The habitat above the dam also represents about 25 percent of suitable steelhead spawning and rearing habitat in the Umatilla River Basin. The McKay Creek drainage produces some of the coldest water in the Umatilla basin, making it an ideal spawning/rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead.”
 
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jamisonace
jamisonace
This is awesome but it makes me feel old when they say 30 years ago and then remind me that it was in the 90s.
 
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troutdude
troutdude
I feel ya Jamie!
 
troutdude
troutdude
Here's a pic of the weir that was removed.

1709142511912.jpeg
 
troutdude
troutdude
Or maybe the "weir" looked more like this? :ROFLMAO:

1709142558675.jpeg
 
EOBOY
EOBOY
My friend Terry lived in Pilot Rock and hated that wier! He passed in 2022 I'm sure he would be doing a jig.
And my Dad who caught more SteelHead in the Umatilla river than you'd believe, was really upset when they buit it.
 
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hobster
hobster
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troutdude
troutdude
hobster said:
Wouldn’t that be considered a Bobber Weir? 😉
Well played Jedi Master! LOL
 

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