KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — A worker checking the spill gate at a southern Oregon dam for obstructions thought he found a log.
After closing inspection, PacifiCorp hydro foreman Todd Engelbrecht discovered it was the carcass of a really big fish. The white sturgeon found Thursday at Keno Dam is an estimated 9½-feet long and 250 pounds.
“It was quite a surprise,” Engelbrecht told the Herald and News.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Bill Tinniswood examined the carcass and said it’s the biggest freshwater fish he’s ever touched.
He said sturgeon from the Columbia River were sent to Klamath County in 1958 in an attempt to stock local waterways.
There has been no evidence of the species reproducing, Tinniswood said, but sturgeon have long lifespans and fish like the one found Thursday are believed to be from the original transplant group.
An examination of the carcass revealed the fish to be a female laden with what Tinniswood estimated to be millions of eggs. He said she may have been waiting to find a male to spawn with and her inability to do so caused a large volume of eggs to accumulate.
“That was an incredible number of eggs,” he said.
There was no clear evidence of how she died, but she appeared to have sustained a head injury before or after death, Tinniswood said.