CLACKAMAS, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to allow more fishing from a boat or other floating device on the Sandy River starting in 2021. Current sport fishing regulations prohibit fishing from a floating device upstream of Oxbow Park. The department is proposing to eliminate this old prohibition to increase the ability for anglers to harvest hatchery salmon and steelhead. Increased harvest of these hatchery fish is a conservation measure to help the department continue to minimize the number of hatchery fish that might escape and spawn with protected wild fish populations.
If adopted by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in August, this change would open an additional 25 miles of the Sandy River to fishing from a floating device for salmon and steelhead. Currently angling from a floating device is restricted to 12 miles in the lower river downstream of Oxbow Park. While simplifying angling regulations, the proposal would not affect the existing prohibition on operating a motorized boat upstream of Dabney State Park.
Submit comments on the proposed angling regulation change to ODFW using the following website: https://odfw.wufoo.com/forms/sandy-river-proposed-regulation-change/ or mail to Ben Walczak, District Fish Biologist, at 17330 SE Evelyn Street, Clackamas, OR 97015 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments are requested by May 26, 2020. Additional opportunities to comment on a final rule proposal will also occur later this year during the public comment period associated with Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission consideration of 2021 Sport Fishing Regulations.
Sandy River Proposed Regulation Change – Angling from a Floating Device
Proposal: Eliminate the current Sandy River rule prohibiting angling from a floating device from 200 feet below the Oxbow Park boat ramp upstream.
Purpose of the Change:
Conservation. Increase the harvest of hatchery salmon and steelhead to reduce the number of hatchery fish that could potentially interact with wild fish in spawning areas.
ODFW is currently meeting the standards to limit the interaction of hatchery and wild salmon and steelhead on spawning grounds (pHOS) but wants to assure this conservation measure continues to be achieved.
The number of Sandy River hatchery spring chinook smolts released in 2020 was increased to 200,000 fish (from 132,000). Increased opportunities for angler harvest is desired to assure the pHOS standard continues to be met.
The change would provide increased angling opportunity in a uniquely serene setting on the slopes of Mt. Hood in close proximity to the Portland Metro area. The change should also increase the contribution of hatchery fish to anglers.
The change would add over 25 miles of the Sandy River open for salmon and steelhead angling from a floating device. Currently only about 12 miles are open.
Angling access in the Sandy River has steadily declined since the rule prohibiting angling from a floating device was adopted. Over time private landowners have become less tolerant of allowing anglers access across their lands due to increasing problems with river users, primarily non-anglers during summer months. Also, the topography of the Sandy River limits the ability to fish from the shore in many areas but in some of these locations angling from a boat is feasible.
This change simplifies angling regulations by removing an outdated regulation originally adopted in 1949. The 1949 rule prohibited angling from a floating device upstream of the Viking (Stark Street) Bridge. In 1988 the prohibition was moved upstream to Oxbow Park. The current regulation is inconsistent with other Willamette Zone regulations, is difficult to enforce, and may be a barrier limiting angler participation.
The proposed rule change will not affect the existing prohibition on operating motorized boats upstream of Dabney State Park (Oregon Marine Board rule).