The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released nearly 50,000 trout near the Leaburg Hatchery following a dam malfunction.
On Monday Dec. 29, the Leaburg Hatchery was the focal point of emergency actions spearheaded by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife following a dam malfunction.
The Leaburg Dam had a gate issue which prompted ODFW officials to release close to 50,000 trout in local Willamette Valley fishing spots. 9,300 "pounders" and 42,000 fingerling trout were distributed over six locations in an effort to bring populations at the Leaburg Hatchery back to functioning levels.
Jeff Ziller, ODFW district fish manager, told reporters the reason for the ill-timed response: "This is not a great time to release fish but it's the best we can do under the circumstances."
Leaburg Hatchery is one of the OWFW's prime trout producing facilities in the Beaver State, located on the McKenzie River.
The hatchery usually draws water from Leaburg Lake, which has dropped significantly due to the gate malfunction at the Leaburg Dam. For now, the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which owns the Leaburg Dam, is taking water from the reservoir and distributing it into the McKenzie River.
Hatchery manager Erik Withalm told reporters this is only a temporary solution.
We're expecting to run out of water from Leaburg Lake any time.
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Future impact of this emergency release to the trout populations in the area is expected to be minimal as the Leaburg Hatchery usually has some extra fish in its waters. Other fisheries may have to adjust their future releases, but the change should be manageable.
Many of the 42,000 fingerling trout released into Cottage Grove Reservoir, Dornea Reservoir, and Detriot Reservoir are too small for anglers to take home. Only about 25 percent of these fish exceed the minimum length of eight inches.
Anglers who jumped on this quick release found success at many locations including, Cottage Grove Reservoir, Hills Creek Reservoir, Junction City Pond, Walter Wirth Lake, Dorena Reservoir, and Walling Pond. For safety, the Leaburg Hatchery will be closed to public until further notice.