Evidence shows Miller Lake lamprey back in the lake for first time since the 1950s

Miller Lake - Chemult, OR (Klamath County)

Miller Lake lamprey is the smallest landlocked parasitic lamprey in the world.ODFW
Photo Credit: ODFW

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

CHEMULT, Ore – New evidence of Miller Lake lamprey shows these tiny fish are now back in Miller Lake for the first time since the 1950s.

The evidence?

Lamprey wounds on six brown trout caught at Miller Lake this past summer by Jordan Ortega, an Oregon State University graduate student. Ortega is part of a team working to get lamprey back into Miller Lake.    

Juvenile Miller Lake lamprey are parasitic feeders of trout and speckled dace. In the lake, it's likely fish are not killed by lamprey feeding on them. However, biologists think trout prey on the lamprey.

ODFW's lamprey biologist Ben Clemens says the brown trout wounds show recovery efforts are working. Most of the wounds were fresh, indicating some Miller Lake lamprey now live in the lake.

"This is exciting news for a team that's been working nearly two decades to restore these lamprey back into Miller Lake," Clemens said.

The team partners have been capturing Miller Lake lamprey downstream of the lake. Captured lamprey are moved to streams above the lake. The goal has been to have those lamprey eventually return to Miller Lake.

"It's rewarding to see this work pay off and know some lamprey are now indeed living again in Miller Lake," Clemens said.

The smallest landlocked parasitic lamprey in the world, Miller Lake lamprey were nearly wiped out from the lake in the 1950s. At the time, fish biologists thought the lamprey harmed other game fish.

In the 1990s, a small population was found in the Klamath Basin, kicking off conservation efforts.

In 2005, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission approved ODFW's Miller Lake Lamprey Conservation Plan. The plan outlines ways to protect and restore lamprey to the lake and Klamath Basin tributaries.

Removing a dam blocking upstream migration in 2005 was a major action to help Miller Lake lamprey.

Since dam removal, the trapping and relocating project happens nearly every summer. ODFW, Western Fishes, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Oregon State University work together on this project.

Older than dinosaurs, all of Oregon's 10 species of lamprey remain primitive. Miller Lake lamprey are state listed as a Sensitive Species and are an Oregon Conservation Strategy Species.

Read more about Oregon's lamprey on our online brochure.  

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: ODFW Recreation Report
Crooked River: Steelhead have begun entering the Crooked River basin
East Lake: Anglers report good fishing
Hosmer Lake: Anglers report that fishing at Hosmer has improved
Lava Lake: Recent reports of good fishing
Paulina Lake: Anglers are reporting good kokanee fishing
Wickiup Reservoir: The reservoir is very low at 18 percent
Breitenbush River: Breitenbush River Report
Quartzville Creek: Flows have dropped considerably and should continue to moderate throughout the week
Santiam River ( North Fork) : This year’s strong coho salmon run is just about done for the year
Santiam River ( North Fork) Above Detroit Lake: Flows are still in excellent shape
Santiam River (South Fork): Currently flows are around 1,340 cfs
Walter Wirth Lake: Walter Wirth Lake Report
Alsea River: Fall Chinook fishing picked up last week on the Alsea
Necanicum River: The Necanicum has dropped back to low and clear conditions
Nehalem River: Recent rains have moved the majority of fish up into the rivers
Nehalem River- North Fork: The hatchery coho run is definitely winding down on the North fork
Nestucca River: Nestucca River Report
Salmon River: Fall Chinook fishing has slowed down on the Salmon River
Trask River: The hatchery coho run is mostly done on the Trask
Wilson River: Wilson River Report
Yaquina River: Fall Chinook fishing continues to be slow on the Yaquina
Agate Lake: Agate remains at 13 percent full
Applegate Reservoir: Applegate Reservoir Report
Chetco River: Low and clear
Coquille River: Coquille River Report
Elk River: Low and clear
Emigrant Reservoir: Emigrant remains at 3 percent full
Fish Lake : Fish Lake is filling with the input of various springs and is now at 31 percent full
Rogue River - Middle: Current flow is around 1,200cfs
Rogue River- Upper: Reservoir releases have dropped to their typical November levels
Sixes River: Low and clear
Ana Reservoir: Ana Reservoir Report
Chewaucan River: As winter approaches and temperatures drop expect fishing to be slow
Klamath River - Upper - OR: Klamath River Fishing Report
Lake Of The Woods: Water temperatures will be very cold and likely freezing early mornings
Sycan River: Fishing not recommended
Snake River- Below Hells Canyon Reservoir: Sturgeon fishing can be good in the Snake River downstream of Hells Canyon Dam