Lostine, Ore. • These speckled, rose-tinted fish haven't been spotted in this bubbling river in remote northeastern Oregon for more than 30 years — until now.
But this week, the waters of the Lostine River suddenly came alive as hundreds of the 4- and 5-inch-long juvenile coho salmon shot from a long white hose attached to a water tanker truck and into the frigid current. The fish jumped and splashed and some, momentarily shell-shocked, hid along the bank as onlookers crowded in for photos.
Nine truckloads of smolts were trucked some 300 miles to this river, some half a million young fish in all.
The juvenile fish are being released at a critical point in their life cycle when they learn to recognize their home region before leaving for the Pacific Ocean. Their bodies also are changing so they can survive in saltwater.
We're finally getting the tuning right, so with luck, there will be a return of coho to these waters.
The Nez Perce Tribe has been working toward this for a long time. Best of luck to the effort.