Tanker Truck Full Of Salmon Flips Over Releasing All Of The Fish Into The Wrong Oregon River

Tanker truck crash
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

You’ve heard of fly fishing, but what about crash fishing?

I’ll go ahead and tell you that it’s not ideal, as made evident by a rather scary and unique incident that took place in Oregon. A tanker truck that was transporting a large amount of fish to be relocated to the Imnaha River flipped on a sharp curve of a road that ran by a small creek, and though it was obviously bad, it could have been a whole lot worse.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife released a lengthy statement and overview of the events that occurred explaining where and how the tanker truck crashed:

“On March 29th, near Lookingglass Hatchery in northeast Oregon, a fish tanker truck was involved in an accident while transporting approximately 102,000 spring Chinook smolts for release in the Imnaha River.

The ODFW employee who was driving the truck is safe but received minor injuries. The accident occurred on a sharp corner with the 53-foot truck rolling onto the passenger side, skidding on its side on the pavement, and then going over a rocky embankment causing it to roll onto its roof.”

Tanker crash
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Thankfully, the driver of the semi-truck walked away with only minor injuries. However, the 102,000 fish were not as lucky. Well, that is at least a portion of them.

In a weird silver lining to the story, the tanker crashed on the bank of Lookingglass Creek, which runs into the Grande Ronde River. When the truck crashed, the salmon and the water they were being transported in bursted out of the tanker.

Though 25,000 of the salmon never made it into the water and died while still in the tanker or on the bank, it’s estimated that around 77,000 of the fish made it to the creek and were somewhat successfully transplanted… just in the wrong body of water.

So it wasn’t a total loss, though the ODFW stated that the salmon they did lose in the accident will likely have an impact on their conservation efforts:

“The smolts lost represent about 20 percent of the total that will be released into the Imnaha River this year. Fishery managers expect to see about 500-900 fewer adult fish returning in 2026 and 2027 due to the loss.

The 77,000 fish that made it into Lookingglass Creek will likely return there and produce approximately 350-700 additional adults.”

All in all, it’s a miracle that the driver of the truck was okay, and that a majority of the fish that were being transported managed to still make it into a body of water, just not the one they were supposed to be added into.

Can you imagine what those fish probably went through when they got sloshed around inside the tanker and then violently dumped into the water? They may have made it out with their lives. but I’d guess they’ll be dealing with some PTSD from those events.

If they even remember it…

tanker crash salmon
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock