The annual Deschutes River fish rescue returns Saturday and organizers are asking the community for support.
The rescue takes place in the side channels of the river where fish can become stuck in pools due to a reduced flow.
“At Lava Island the river goes into two different channels,” Deschutes River Conservancy Program Manager Jacob Kimiecik said. “The channel creates these pools, and in those pools the water gets so low that the river is no longer flowing. As such, the fish get trapped. What we do is we go out there and help rescue those fish and put them back in the other channel where they can continue to swim up and downstream.”
The operation this year is expected to last three days, powered through community volunteers.
“What we need volunteers to do is help us not only catch the fish and get them into buckets and nets, but also to help count the fish, identify the species and rerelease them into the proper channel,” he said.
Kimiecik says additional volunteers are needed for three days beginning this Saturday, Oct 14. It was originally going to start next Monday, but was moved up due to changing conditions.
The rescue takes place each fall as irrigation districts begin to store water instead of releasing it into Wickiup Reservoir.
Kimiecik says the rescue is essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem along the Deschutes.
“The number of fish that we recover each year varies, sometimes it’s in the upper hundreds, but other times it’s thousands and thousands of fish,” he said. “If we just left them there, unfortunately, their fate might not be as exciting as if we release them to the still flowing side of the channel.”
You can sign up using the link here.