By Courtney Sherwood
PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Fishing restrictions aimed at saving beleaguered cold-water fish amid a particularly hot, dry Pacific Northwest summer have been lifted on two Oregon rivers, though angling is still limited in many regional waters, wildlife officials said on Friday.
"Over the last 10 days or so, water temperatures have trended back down toward normal, after a month of drought conditions and abnormally high temperatures," said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Todd Confer.
Water temperatures have risen due to hot air and historically low mountain snow melt across the Pacific Northwest region this summer, causing the death of thousands of fish.
Officials imposed restrictions on fishing in the Rogue and Deschutes rivers and trucked Columbia River salmon to cooler waters.
Anadromous Salmon migrate from saltwater into Northwest rivers in seasonal runs, swimming upstream to spawn.
While hot temperatures harmed spring Chinook populations, there is hope that falling temperatures will improve the outlook for the fall Chinook and Coho salmon which are expected to begin the journey in September, Confer said.
The restrictions, which barred angling during the hottest part of the day, were lifted on Thursday on the Rogue River and last week on the Deschutes.
It is not clear to wildlife officials if next year's spring runs are likely to face the same challenges, he said.
"This is part of the discussion we're having, internally – whether this is the result of variation in weather patterns, or part of a long-term trend as the result of climate change," Confer said.
In Washington state, many rivers and streams remained closed to fishing in the Olympic Peninsula, Puget Sound area, Yakima Basin, and elsewhere, even as rain hit Seattle on Friday.
State officials said local fish hatcheries have lost about 1.5 million juvenile fish in 2015 and were using re-circulation pumps and aerators to reduce the effects of warm water temperatures.
(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Sandra Maler)