2015 Lower Deschutes River Aquatic Insect Hatch Activity Survey Results Report by Rick Hafele Now Available

The annual DRA aquatic insect hatch observation report for 2015 is posted to our website. Please click here to access the report.

Photo by Rick Hafele

Photo by Rick Hafele

This report, authored by Rick Hafele, is the result of the many hatch observations in 2015 by several professional guides on the lower Deschutes River. All observers received training at a Deschutes River Alliance workshop in Maupin in March of 2015. They then utilized a mobile device app to report their observations.

We want to give special thanks to the guides who participated (and continue to participate in 2016) in this process. They are: Brian Silvey, John Smeraglio, Evan Unti, Harley Faria, Alex Gonsiewski, and Dan Anthon. We would also like to thank Dave Moskowitz and Rick Trout for the reports they furnished.

The observations are summarized in this report. A continuing trend of earlier hatches, and of fewer and less dense hatches is noted once again in 2015. These trends were seen throughout the months of March to October. Declines from the previous two years were observed for all major groups of insects except midges, which remain unchanged.

Antocha crane fly adult. Photo by Rick Hafele.

Antocha crane fly adult. Photo by Rick Hafele.

The report is 29 pages long and full of information any angler needs to better understand fly-fishing the lower Deschutes River, as well as the trends in aquatic insect populations that have historically occupied the Deschutes River.

The DRA is especially grateful to Rick Hafele for his expertise in aquatic entomology and for the work he put into conceiving and organizing this ongoing monitoring effort, the collating and analysis of the observational data, and the writing of the report.

We intend to continue this monitoring effort to provide surveillance of the long-term trends in lower Deschutes River aquatic insects. The training for the 2016 hatch observers took place in March. We are already receiving their reports for the 2016 report. We’ve also added two benthic (river bottom) kick-sample sites that we began sampling in the fall of 2016.   Since Portland General Electric completed their macroinvertebrate and periphyton sampling in April/May of 2015, no one other than the DRA is monitoring aquatic insect populations in the lower Deschutes River.

Chuck Kenlan with an early evening fish that rose to a caddis imitation. Photo by Greg McMillan.

Chuck Kenlan with an early evening fish that rose to a caddis imitation. Photo by Greg McMillan.

Deschutes River Alliance: Cooler, cleaner H2O for the lower Deschutes River. 

Click here to Donate.

Click here to sign up for the Deschutes River Alliance email newsletter.

More On Portland General Electric’s Report on Periphyton (algae) and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (The R2 Report)

Since the release of PGE’s report on their two-year study of algae and aquatic insects, we’ve received a lot of inquiries from our supporters.  So let us update everyone on where things are at related to our response to the report.

We’ve been able to get four Ph.D. experts in fields related to the ecology of rivers to agree to review the R2 report.   It will take us until early June to get the evaluations back from these individuals.  We think it will be worth the wait.  Please stay tuned.

We’ll also be writing up some of our own assessments of the study.  We have some resident experts of our own on the DRA’s Board of Directors.  You’ll be seeing some of their thoughts within the next couple of weeks.

Photo by Rick Hafele.

Photo by Rick Hafele.

Stonefly Hatch!

In the meantime, we’re headed into late April.  That means the stonefly hatch should be starting anytime.  Please send us your reports on the stonefly hatch to info@deschutesriveralliance.org.   Although our trained hatch observers will be on the river sending in reports, we’d like to hear from all of you.

Several times during recent presentations, PGE’s contractor from R2 Resource Consultants described the wealth of stoneflies he’d seen while doing kick-screening on the lower Deschutes River.  However, the actual R2 report says something else.  “Stoneflies were not numerically abundant, but were widely distributed and contributed substantially to the invertebrate biomass by virtue of the often large size.” (R2 Resource Consultants, Final Report, Lower Deschutes River Macroinvertebrate and Water Quality Study, Prepared for Portland General Electric, 2016, page 97.)

“Not numerically abundant” is more consistent with our observations based on kick-screening and observational adult insect hatch data over the past few years.

So help us out.  Given recent temperatures, the stonefly hatch should begin in a few days to a few weeks.  As Hafele and Hughes said in The Complete Book of Western Hatches, “It is a show that should not be missed.”  Although it seems to be a less dramatic show in the past few years.  We would like to hear about your experiences during the hatch.   Tell us when and where you see the big bugs, what sorts of numbers you see, and how the fish are responding.  Let us know by writing to us at info@deschutesriveralliance.org.  We’ll not disclose any secret fishing locations, nor divulge any other information until after the hatch is over.

Deschutes River Alliance: Cooler, cleaner H2O for the lower Deschutes River. 

Click here to Donate.

Click here to sign up for the Deschutes River Alliance email newsletter.

Portland General Electric Releases Report and Results Of Two Year Study of Lower Deschutes Macroinvertebrates and Periphyton

Study described as finding “post-Selective Water Withdrawal conditions similar to pre-Selective Water Withdrawal, or improved.”

The final report for the Portland General Electric Company’s Lower Deschutes River Macroinvertebrate and Periphyton Study was presented on April 6th and 8th, at meetings hosted by PGE.  R2 Resource Consultants of Redmond, Washington conducted the study, which was completed under contract to, and funded by, PGE.  It was a two-year study conducted over two months (April and October) each year starting in October 2013.  The study was a required condition of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing of the Pelton-Round Butte Hydroelectric Complex.

Yes, you read the stated conclusion of the study correctly.  Conditions in the lower Deschutes River are “not significantly different, post implementation of surface water withdrawal at Round Butte Dam in 2009, than conditions prior to surface water withdrawal.” In fact, according Tim Nightengale of R2 Resource Consultants, the “health of the river is probably better(!) now.”   (We have been unable to find this actual statement in the published version of the study.)  So why the serious disconnect between the described study results and what we are seeing on the lower Deschutes River?

As one property owner said at the Portland presentation of the study results, “I’ve been on the river for over fifty years and the river has never looked like it has in the last few years.”  His disappointment was that none of the negative changes are reflected in the report.  We had the same disappointment.

Again, why the disconnect?

Over the next few months we’ll be answering that question.  The full published version of the study is a 283-page pdf file.  It will take us some time to fully analyze the study and its purported results.   There appear to be a large number of issues that require full examination.

We will also be sending the study out for review and analysis to independent experts.  Following those reviews, we will be publishing an analysis and critique of the study.  We expect this process to take two to three months.

For now, we do want to be clear that we already see some troubling statements and findings in the report.  We will be following up on some of those statements via this blog, prior to publication of the comprehensive review.

Copies of the full report are available here (pdf):

https://www.portlandgeneral.com/-/media/public/corporate-responsibility/environmental-stewardship/water-quality-habitat-protection/deschutes/documents/deschutes-bmi-final-report.pdf?la=en

 

Unusual bloom of algae in March of 2016, approximately one mile below Pelton Reregulation Dam. Photo by Rick Hafele.

Unusual bloom of algae in March of 2016, approximately one mile below Pelton Reregulation Dam. Photo by Rick Hafele.

Greg McMillan and Larry Marxer taking water quality measurements in February, 2016. Photo by Andrew Dutterer.

Greg McMillan and Larry Marxer taking water quality measurements in February, 2016. Photo by Andrew Dutterer.

Deschutes River Alliance: Cooler, cleaner H2O for the lower Deschutes River. 

Click here to Donate.

Click here to sign up for the Deschutes River Alliance email newsletter.