The life and times of Stella the steelhead

The Land Trust is thrilled to announce that we’ve had our first adult steelhead return to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve! Biologists found the radio-tagged adult female at the end of March in the portion of Whychus Creek that runs through the Preserve. She is the first adult steelhead to return to the meadow in 52 years!


The Land Trust is thrilled to announce that we’ve had our first adult steelhead return to Camp Polk Meadow Preserve!

Biologists found the radio-tagged adult female at the end of March in the portion of Whychus Creek that runs through the Preserve. She is the first adult steelhead to return to the meadow in 52 years!

Land Trust staff quickly christened her Stella and began imagining her life and times. Before she found the perfect hiding spot under a log jam at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Stella endured quite the journey:

As our friends at Portland General Electric tell us, Stella was likely captured at Round Butte Dam in the spring of 2014 as a young smolt on her way to the ocean. She was marked by biologists at the dam who clipped her right maxillary jaw bone and then gave her a ride below the dams to the lower Deschutes River. From there she traveled to the Columbia River and beyond to the Pacific Ocean.

After one year in the ocean she began her journey back to Whychus Creek. She avoided anxious fisherman as she traveled up the Deschutes River to the Pelton Dam where she was caught in a trap on October 12, 2015.  There she was measured (24.4 inches!) and weighed and fitted with a radio-tag so to track her movement. Finally, she was detected in Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve on March 17, 2016.

Wow! That’s quite a journey! This is a huge milestone for fish, Whychus Creek, and our entire community. While steelhead have returned to other parts of the upper Deschutes River basin, Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is one of the very few places that now has the habitat for adult steelhead to spawn and juvenile steelhead to grow and prosper. Here’s hoping we find a lot more Stellas in the coming weeks and years!