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More sockeye spotted in Metolius River

By John Hendricks
Published On: Oct 18 2012 12:33:08 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2012 01:01:10 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21 John Hendricks reports on the return of sockeye salmon to the Metolius river

CAMP SHERMAN, Ore. -

The buzz around Camp Sherman northwest of Sisters is fish. For the first time in 45 years, sockeye salmon have been seen swimming in the Metolius River.

"We've had reports since about the middle of September that people have seen sockeye throughout the Metolius," said Mike Gauvin, the Pelton Mitigation Coordinator with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "We were out doing another survey today (Wednesday) and observed another fish. It was downstream of the one that we saw back in September."

Gauvin was caught by surprise himself one day while doing fish counts in the river.

"I just saw this big flash of red, and I looked down and saw the green tags, and I knew right away it what it was," said Gauvin.

He finished up his fish survey, and when he returned, the fish was still there, so he grabbed his camera and took several pictures and video from underwater.

Some 17 years of planning and more than $100 million have lead to this moment. The state of Oregon and its partners developed an underwater tower at the Pelton Dam to pull water for electricity and create a way for fish to be trucked downstream. The whole effort was to restore fish to the Deschutes Basin.

"It feels real good, that we have been working hard for a number of years trying to get to this point," said Gauvin.

As the Metolius continues to run and the spawning chinook and sockeye die off, fish and wildlife experts are looking forward to what happens next year, when the salmon return again.

"It really is year one," said Gauvin. "It's ground zero for this, so we are still learning where these fish are moving to, where they are spawning, and how they are migrating. There is a lot were are still learning about these fish."

ODFW says it will be a while before anglers will get a chance at these historic fish.

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