Friday, December 28, 2007

The Responsibility of Being a Fishing Celebrity


Many of you have seen the fishing
"superstars" at various fishing industry trade shows haven't you? They usually have a group of people gathered around them as they tout their angling wisdom upon the unlearned masses. You can buy their latest and greatest innovations for fooling even the most stubborn salmon or trout into biting.They seldom miss a photo opportunity.
Yes these are the guys who amaze all of us mere mortals at the indoor casting ponds with their wonderous feats of casting skills.
You'll also see them on television as they hook fish after fish....truly they are fishing heroes.
So where are these guys when there are critical issues at stake and the well being of a certain species of trout or salmon hangs in the balance?
To be fair there are some that actually put their money where their mouth is. You'll see them at the heart of every worthy conservation cause and I have written about a few of them in this blog.These folks are worthy of their fame but most eschew the spotlight as much as they can.
Sadly though those who seem to make the most money and gain the most notoriety and even get enshrined in various so called conservation organization's hall of fame are noticeably absent. They are the ones who jump into the spotlight whenever possible.
We have a bunch of them right up here in the Pacific northwest. You'll rarely see them at any Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife meetings though because they are just too busy schmoozing and making money on the very resource that they claim to care so much about.
Sure they'll be front and center if it makes them more money like the infamous steelhead broodstock programs on the coastal streams but their self centered interest go only as far as the money rolls in.
I believe that these people, these superstars if you will, have a bigger responsibility than us little guys. They make money directly off of the resource. They make their money on the backs of wild fish but are woefully absent when push comes to shove and all of us do have a respondsibilty
I know that I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror if I were making money on those wild resources without giving something back! Think they feel that way?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


From the bottom of my heart I wish each and every one of you a joyous Christmas and a happy New Year. Thank you all for reading my humble writings and sharing in my passion for wild fish and fly fishing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Are You Buying Into the CCA Spiel?

I'm not! Seems like they have performed a mass hypnosis on the fishing crowds here in the Pacific Northwest. Record numbers of members signing up and for what? To get a bigger slice of the pie? To increase hatchery influence? Looks like both!
When I read who some of the major players are in the northwest CCA I know that this is a group I want no part of. The pro hatchery fish crowd is well represented among the CCA numbers. So are those who want to water down the Endangered Species Act and for what? More fish to harvest, more hatchery plants and more of the careless stewardship that has jeopardized wild salmonids in this region in the first place. Oh sure they may jump on board various conservation issues but only if it serves to produce a larger piece of the harvest pie for the apathetic and selfish.
Nope I can and will put my money and efforts into groups have a true wild fish and their habitat agenda.
This might step on some toes and if it does then sorry. I am not so vain as to think I have the power of persuasion over the masses by means of this insignificant blog. I know what I believe and am intelligent enough to research the facts. Seems like the CCA and Gary Loomis have struck a chord with the desperate crowds who want fuller freezers and more jars of eggs.
Too bad because the kind of enthusiasm that the CCA has aroused into the apathetic thousands could really be a benefit to true conservation...stay tuned folks the next year should indeed be interesting for wild fish.

Priceless

I recently commented on the high price of rearing a hatchery fish. I think it's a price too high and the diminishing return that these concrete raised fish provided makes them a poor investment.
What about the cost of a wild fish? Because no real numbers are available as to their return rate it would be impossible to put a dollar and cents price on them.
Too many times in the past these fish have not been given their true worth and devalued to the point that they were deemed unimportant. After all we had this perfectly good hatchery product that should provide everything the angler should desire.

Well something happened along the way to hatchery fish utopia. It was found out that hatchery fish were very poor substitutes for the real thing,namely wild fish.
There are those who look upon wild fish, specifically wild steelhead, as little more than an egg source for their broodstock programs. One north coast guide says we are only "borrowing" wild fish in order to make a better hatchery product. They say the strip mining of the eggs and milt of wild fish is a good thing....I say hogwash.
The comment of borrowing wild steelhead is something I find particularly troubling.
The future generations of wild fish that those "borrowed" eggs would have yielded are essentially turned in hatchery fish so there is no borrowing at all. Those eggs are supposed to have been the future and their potential is gone forever. They are fin clipped and hatchery reared. They are hand fed in their concrete holding pens and released into the river system in the exact same manner as any other hatchery fish.
The value of what has been lost is irreplaceable and cannot be counted and all you have to do is the math for this fact to become real to you if you care about wild fish. Each wild steelhead that is not allowed to spawn and reproduce future generations of wild steelhead are not borrowed but stolen. Their off springs will never emerge from the gravel and defy the odds to return to their river of birth and thus continue the cycle as nature intended to for it to be. Instead they are made into just another poorly engineered facsimile to satisfy the greed of those that cannot see past their own selfishness. It's a vicious cycle we find ourselves in these days. The hatchery failures are well documented but the time to act is speeding by and after all what would you rather have? A healthy return of wild steelhead or just some bastardized man made product.
So if you are on any river in the Pacific northwest and you hook into one of these "superior" hatchery products think about what was sacrificed for that fish to be in the river to take your fly. Think about the wild fish this egg could have become and think about why you should think that the cost of a wild fish cannot be measured.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ode to a Simpler Time


I was saddened to learn that Hardy Brothers. of Alnwick England, yes that Hardy Brothers, had outsourced much of their reel making operations to places such as China. It should have come as no surprise though, as it seems like the claim of high labor costs and materials have left many fly tackle manufacturers with no other choice.....supposedly.
Slowly but surely the spectre of cheap labor and higher profits have invaded almost every aspect of this affliction called fly fishing. It's just that one would think that Hardy might be immune to the effects of the global economy but that is unrealistic wishful thinking.
Excuse me if I don't buy into the whole global economy mantra because I have been personally effected by it.
I worked during a period of time where assembling hamburgers at McDonald's did not fit into the manufacturing category that our current administration would like us to believe. Remember when the Reagan administration attempted to classify ketchup as a vegetable on school lunch menus? Yep same type of bait and switch going on today. Gotta love them republicans huh?
Perhaps I'm just feeling nostalgic and thinking back to a different time.
You know the different times I' m talking about? I miss the time when you could go to places like Sears and Montgomery Ward and buy quality fishing tackle. They had a large sporting goods section where the images of Ted Williams or Curt Gowdy would be advertising the particular type of fishing tackle they endorsed.
At one time you could walk into just about any local hardware store and purchase a bamboo rod! Now in order to get the good old "Made in the USA" label on your gear you pay a premium price and "Made in Alnwick, England" meant ever more money! I didn't mind though because I felt the extra dollars on the sticker price meant superb quality and in many cases it still does.
I am so very lucky that I can still fish unpolluted coastal streams for trout without seeing another fly fisherman all day. I can rig up my fifites vintage Wright&McGill Granger bamboo rod with my sixties vintage Hardy reel with a fly I tied myself.If I had a silk line and gut leader then I really would be in a time warp wouldn't I?
Those days are magical and I should cherish each one. I fool myself into thinking it will always be like this. I get shocked back into reality when I leave the lush green rain forests of the coast range and reluctantly return to 2007 and the Portland metro area.
You can all me old fashioned if you like but if you love an avocation the way I love fly fishing you long for those throw back days. Heck even the seventies weren't all that bad.
So now with almost all fishing tackle manufacturers going over seas in the name of profit and relaxed environmental standards I think I'll search out the old stuff. I love my older reels and bamboo rods they are seasoned and experienced like myself...in other words they are vintage or in my case aged.
It seems ironic though that the best rod making bamboo world wide comes from China and always has but some of the cheapest and lesser quality rods also come from there, go figure!
Yes there are still many quality rods and reels made here in the states and in the UK but it looks like the numbers are dwindling every day.
So I think I'll grab my vintage gear and jump into my Canadian made Ford pickup and head to the river. If you see some old nostalgic looking guy fishing and picking out wind knots then stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Co$t of Hatchery Fi$h in Oregon


What does it cost to raise a hatchery salmon in the state of Oregon? Are we getting our moneys worth?
I ran across this information from the audits division of the secretary of state for Oregon.
We here in Oregon are addicted to hatchery fish and specifically hatchery salmon. The majority seem unwilling to make the tough choice for the betterment of the resource. You'll read about the simple minded solutions of some that suggest that we plant even more hatchery fish on top of recovering wild. They say "There are no true wild fish anymore"....sigh. To just minimize the viability of wild salmonids that way is hard to take isn't it?
Bear in mind that this audit was from over ten years ago so one can just imagine what inflation has done to these costs in 2007.

The estimated cost to produce a pound of salmon or trout during state fiscal years 1994-1997 varied considerably among the 13 hatcheries, ranging from $4.08 per pound at the Butte Falls hatchery to $9.09 per pound at the Clackamas hatchery.
Similarly, the audit showed considerable variation in the cost to produce an adult salmon that was reported to have been caught or to have returned to freshwater for spawning.
For an adult fall Chinook salmon, the overall cost at the hatcheries reviewed was $39Adult fall Chinook costs ranged from $14 per fish for fish produced by the Salmon River hatchery to $176 per fish for fish produced by the Rock Creek hatchery.
For an adult spring Chinook salmon, the overall cost at the hatcheries was $175. Spring Chinook costs ranged from $90 per fish for fish produced by the Cedar Creek hatchery to $254 per fish for fish produced by the McKenzie hatchery.
The overall cost for an adult Coho salmon was $97. Costs ranged from $67 per fish for fish produced by the North Nehalem hatchery to $530 per fish for fish produced by the Bandon hatchery.
Department management noted that ocean conditions were particularly poor during our audit period, resulting in very low salmon survival rates. Management also stated that fishing restrictions in place during this period resulted in lower catch rates. While the figures we report here may not be representative of current conditions, they do provide a means for making relative comparisons between hatcheries and the types of salmon they produce.

So taking into account the proven fact of the all around inferiority of the hatchery raised product we see in our rivers one must wonder if perhaps a portion of that money could have been spent on wild fish and habitat restoration.
I know if I had a choice as to where my contribution was spent it would be a no brainer for me.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Time to Put Up or Shut Up!

Almost no one complains more about the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife than I do. I take exception to their marginalization of native salmonids like coastal cutthroat trout, wild winter steelhead and various wild salmon species. They seem to be more interested in selling licenses than actually living up to their mission of good stewardship of our native fish.
It's extremely easy to sit back and second guess all that I believe they do incorrectly. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback and believe me there are plenty who do this.
Laziness and complacency are epidemics among the sports fishing crowds here in this region. We complain the loudest but do the least and then cry like newborn babies when things don't go our way or the ODFW does something we don't like.

Well guess what? The opportunity to actually have our collective voices heard is available. ODFW is seeking public input for fishing regulation changes for the 2009 season. This input is available to the public every four years and if you don't think that you can make a difference then guess again. In 2004 ODFW staff proposed a harvest season for coastal cutthroat trout and scheduled public meetings to give concerned sports anglers a chance to speak out in support or opposition to this proposal. Those of us that opposed this horrendous proposal showed up in Tillamook to let our feeling be known and it made a difference! To this date coastal cutthroat trout on the north coast remain protected with catch and release angling only.
I've been assured by ODFW officials that this stupid proposal will be revisited this next year that will affect the 2009 season.
Now before you say that you cannot attend these public meetings and think you have gotten yourself from actually doing something here is your chance to continue to be able to sit on your lazy ass but still contribute.

You can submit your proposals for regulations changes in writing.The 2009 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation Development packets are available to the public at local ODFW offices, the headquarters office in Salem, or online at the link below

ODFW Website

Pretty simple huh? You can make a difference! Don't vicariously live your conservation strategies and ideas through me or anyone else! Get involved...please! If you can show up at public meeting that would be great but if you cannot and are willing to invest the price of a postage stamp on wild fish and reasonable managment in the years ahead then please help out. The future of wild fish in the state of Oregon depend upon it.
Don't live in Oregon but buy a license and fish here? Your input is also welcome.
I will be writing more on this in the next few weeks and months and share with those of you who care what I would like to see changed in the future.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Smoking Gun on Hatchery Steelhead


I was prepared to write today about Norman Maclean and "A River Runs Through It" and indeed will at a future date but this story is too important.While it does state the obvious, as scientists and fish biologists agree about hatchery fish, it also punches some holes in the over all fitness of wild steelhead broodstock programs.
The linked article comes from the "Daily Barometer", a newspaper published by Oregon State University.
Here is the link to the article by Katy Weaver

Hatchery Steelhead Do Not Measure Up!!!


Of course those proponents of hatcheries and steelhead broodstock programs are already trying to put their uneducated spin on all of this with statements like this from professional fishing guide Jack Smith of Tillamook, Oregon
This is why true wild brood stock programs use only wild fish as parents for each hatchery generation. The resulting generation of hatchery fish are offspring of wild fish. Far from being ground breaking news this paper only states the obvious which is that the way we ran hatcheries for all these years was wrong and if supplementation hatcheries are to exist they need to move toward one generation from wild brood stock programs.


Apparently Mr.Smith did not read the whole article by Ms.Weaver. Especially where Blouin makes this statement

As every generation goes through the hatchery, there is a substantial decline in fitness


Get that? Every generation including the first! While they may be only one generation removed from wild parents they are STILL raised in a hatchery environment.
Let's call it like it is, shall we?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thoughts on Winter


The short dreary days, the seemingly endless rains and the bone chilling cold is what awaits me in the months ahead...how I dread this time of year.
I guess at this stage of my life I could be called a fair weather fly fisherman and maybe so but I think I've earned it. Life has slowed down for me and I am fortunate to be able to pick and choose the days I spend on the river. I fear that I may have squandered too many of those ideal and perfect days which, as I grow older, will become harder to come by.
It's cold outside, very cold and my mind has not yet accepted that. Wasn't it just yesterday that I was on the Deschutes and Metolius? Didn't I just get back from a leisurely day of coastal cutthroat trout fishing? No matter how I try to prepare myself for the winter it always seems to take me by surprise.
I will pursue winter steelhead with my spey rod and hopefully have a breakthrough season however it's not the same as a spring or late summer day on the river with a big mayfly hatch and rising trout.
I have discovered one thing about my angling life though and that is simply this. The whole experience of fly fishing is more than just the single moment of hooking a fish. Of course that is the ultimate goal in any anglers life but is it really?
The sheer joy of a perfectly executed cast or the satisfaction of a well placed fly has become of greater importance in the over all scheme of things in this old fly fisherman's life. It's a well worn cliche to say that fly fishing is so much more than just catching a fish but however over used that statement may be it is something the the famous fly fishermen of days gone by absolutely believed. I believe it with all my heart because as I've grown older the simpler things are most important and I seek the simpler things especially when I am on the river. Just the day to day struggles of life are complicated enough for me so I want to have things simple while fishing.
Despite the dreariness that defines winter, I do find the notion of a fly caught winter steelhead as the ultimate challenge and that will sustain me this winter.
In the final analysis though, the winter will be totally what I make it. If I want to mope around the house most of the day in my underwear watching Jerry Springer or sitting in front of the computer that will be easy enough to do....I've done it before.
As I get older the more the winter brings out the little aches and pains as if I didn't enough trouble with those through the rest of the year. I actually do feel best while out on the river and so that shows me that my winter "blues" are purely of my own making.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has diminished now that my children are all grown and dealing with their own holiday issues so the anticipation of young children on a Christmas morning is past...I do wish I saw more of my grand childen though. Traditionally I have kicked off the winter steelhead season around Thanksgiving but thanks to the engineering of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife the hatchery steelhead arrive late in the winter along with the wild steelhead.
So here I perch on the brink of yet another winter and wonder what this winter will bring.
It reminds me of of an old song by an obscure rock group named "Firefall"
I especially like this verse.

"Last night it snowed for the first time.
Everythings covered in white.
How many months till the springtime?
It's a long winter's night"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rivers Without Salmon

So where are they? That certainly must be the number one question on the mind of every Pacific Northwest salmon angler this season.
The annual fall return of the coastal chinook, coho and chum salmon is missing! No hordes of chum salmon filling the riffle and holes of the Miami and Kilchis river and no rotting carcasses that greet the angler's olfactory senses upon walking to the river bank. As recent as last year as I walked down the Kilchis river, scattering the hundreds of dying chum salmon that swam in my path, the runs seemed to be on track as far as a fragile recovering and endangered fish can be. Their numbers have not come close to the levels we saw in earlier years but they were still plentiful and would provide the exploring fly fisherman with a satisfied sense of well being because they had defied odds and returned once again....but not this year and that is frightening.
Chum salmon in Oregon are protected so there is no sports or commercial harvest. One has to think about some kind of change in the ocean or maybe global warming?
The harbinger of upcoming disaster was probably there for us all to see but we missed it.
Loss of habitat, climate change, a change in the ocean up swell, angling pressure and egg hunters can all share in the blame.
Let's take a look at the last of these culprits shall we? First let me state that prime salmon roe is gold! I've often mused that it could be used as currency in Tillamook county because of it's value. Enterprising bait dealers will sell their cured eggs at about $25.00 a quart and that is about normal for cured salmon roe.
The over sized eggs of a ripe female makes the egg hunters of the north coast giddy in anticipation catching a hen salmon. Doesn't matter what condition the edible flesh of these fish are, it's the five or so pounds of fresh roe that is the real prize. Often these "sportsmen" will release a big bright male salmon in favor of the eggs of a grey bellied female.
See the vicious cycle here? Gotta catch more hens to get eggs to catch more hens to get eggs and so on.
So how many eggs do salmon have?
Generally from 2,500 to 7,000 depending on species and size of fish. The chinook salmon generally produces the most and largest, most desirable by sports angler, eggs.
Those eggs will yield a return of one to five percent. Do the math because it all adds up doesn't it.
We Americans are very good at finger pointing except when it comes to pointing the finger at ourselves.
After years of egg harvesting it's bound to take a toll don't you think? Again the greed of some affects many.
So while egg hunters are not the biggest suspects in the salmon decline they surely have played a part in it especially in coastal rivers which are primarily wild fish. The commercially sold eggs are generally from hatcheries surplus and are not sports caught.
The recognition of the impact of this "egg hunting" is slow in coming but there are some that are now not keeping females and that is a good sign. Hopefully the enlightenment of some will influence others and that can indeed make a difference.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Idyllic Fly Fishing


Have you ever seen those old vintage fly fishing photos from back in the fifties? You know the ones I'm talking about. Usually an advertisement for product on the back cover of a magazine or perhaps on the inside but I really think they are cool.
The person fishing is absolutely immaculate! Not a hair out of place and neatly dressed. If the fly fisherman was not wearing waders then his trouser were perfectly pressed and creased. Usually this gentleman would be wearing a jaunty fedora of some kind with a brier pipe clenched firmly in his angular jaw.
If the ad features a female angler she is of course beautiful and showing just enough titillation to keep us guys interested. Some even wore skirts!!! Make up perfectly applied too. Of course those were the days when the dangers of cigarette smoking were not fully known but the picture looked good and the model was indeed beautiful.

The rivers and lakes are pristine, the fish are big and the sky is blue. Some ads showed the fly fisherman relaxing in his immaculate camp around the campfire that would be cooking up a pan full of tasty trout.
I often wonder if it was ever really like that. Was there a time that the rivers ran unfettered by dams and unpolluted by man? Or is it just a fantasy cleverly manipulated for the camera.
There are still plenty of places that the idealistic fly fisherman can wet a line and hook into some beautiful wild trout.
There are still places that hardly show the influence and impact of man. Pretty women and handsome men can still be seen casting the perfect loop to a rising trout. I think we are very lucky that those places do exist and one does not have to travel the globe to find them.
I know a few places near me that are still pristine and unspoiled. Take a look at the Metolius in central Oregon or the North Fork Umpqua or even high up in the headwaters of any coastal stream. You'll find me there and while I may not get mistaken for Brad Pitt from "A River Runs Through It" I'm not so much of an eyesore as to spoil the lovely setting. I doubt that I'll be getting offers to pose for any Hardy Bros. advertisements though.
Beauty and idyllic fly fishing can be found...just look harder.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's All About Me !!!!!


The largest northwest internet fishing forum is in a tizzy because the CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) basically told them "Don't call us, we'll call you"
The owner of that website is so put off by this "dissing" by the CCA that this owner openly posts that they regrets joining them (CCA) and then the link to the CCA on that fishing websites homepage was summarily removed. It was later returned after the owner forced an apology from CCA Northwest.
So what does all this mean? Someone gets their feelings hurt because they didn't get the spotlight that they are so used to shown on them for once? Kind of childish when you consider the greater good of the resource that is involved isn't it?
I'm in no way endorsing the CCA. I know very little about them and have decided to take a wait and see attitude about this group. If they are only interested in quotas and allocation then I will not support them in any way. If they are truly a conservation organization then great!
The thing that makes this public disassociation by CCA of that website and the self important indignation by the owner of that site so ridiculous is this! Conservation should never, ever be about personalities or groups...ever!!! What is wrong with these people?
Are they putting their petty and childish behavior before the plight of the fish? It would sure seem so wouldn't it?
So this is what it's come down to here in the northwest huh? Peoples feelings are more important than the mission! So goes the selfish harvest mentality crowd.
It's disgusting that the focus always seems to be directed to personalities instead of what is really important.
Listen folks! It's all about wild fish and their habitat and how we best protect them. It's not about the spotlight or who gets the proper amount of attention shown them.
This is destructive and in the long run it hurts the resource.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

.......And Summer Would Go On Forever


The end of summer has suddenly thrust itself into my consciousness and so it's reality time for me. Winter, with it's endless rains, short days and bone chilling cold is looming on the not to distant horizon. I can barely talk about it actually...sigh!
No more leisurely excursions to the north coast. No more casting a fly until almost nine o'clock in the evening and no more furiously tying reverse spiders. Coastal cutthroat trout season is over and once again it came too soon and left me unprepared for the cold months ahead. The season for coastal cutthroat trout ended October 31st.
I keep saying I want to get over to the Deschutes in the winter time but who am I kidding? It's a cold bleak place over there in the winter and to me the Deschutes is a place of warmth, life and movement not freezing winds blowing through the canyon.
It was a good season for this old fly fisherman. I had many joyful trips in pursuit of these great fish. I hooked many large trout that encourages me and makes me hopeful of their future. I hooked one "accidental" summer steelhead this year while pursuing cutts and that was just a very brief encounter.
I will begin my countdown until next years opener but it will be a busy off season. Once again the spectre of a kill season for these trout has reared it's ugly head. The usual greed and ignorance has supplanted common sense and those of us that care will try get the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to come to their senses.
It will not be an easy battle but I think with enough motivated conservation minded anglers involved we can and will make a difference.
So now I lovingly put my bamboo rods away for a few months knowing full well that some cold night in January I will take each one out and perhaps give them a fresh coat of briwax. As the spring approaches I will eagerly wait for the renewal that that sun and the trout will bring.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Return to the River


In Roderick L. Haig-Brown's classic book Return to the River the author describes the journey of the Pacific fall chinook salmon to the rivers of their origin.This book tells the saga of the arduous journey these fish endure and have endured for countless generations. Those of us that live in the Pacific Northwest and wander the rivers of this region have the privilege of seeing this ritual of nature every fall. The notion that these fish can travel from their beginnings as a tiny inch long frye just out of gravel, avoiding predators of all varieties to make their way to the ocean is mind boggling. To actually see them return to that very same spot on their fateful journey to fulfill their one purpose in life, to pro-create, thus insuring the continuation of the species is hard to grasp.
How these magnificent fish can smell their river of birth cannot be explained or at least explained in terms that a person like myself can fully understand.It is a wonder that plays itself out over and over each fall.
Autumn is a time of change and movement. The fall leaves paint the skyline with bursts of color that cannot be described adequately... blazing hues of change for sure.
The air is filled with migratory waterfowl on their way to warmer southern climes. Autumn is truly a magical time of year. The last of the indian summer days pass far too quickly as the threat of the winter ahead hints of cold to come at the same time the remembrance of the summer just past lingers also.
I will stand and watch in awe as the ritual of the salmon is played out before me in the fine gravel of a coastal river.
I've said before it is like watching a finely choreographed ballet. The males of the species anxious to "service" a solitary female. The beaten and savaged warriors bear the scars as they battle each other for the right to cover the females eggs with their milt.
When their purpose is met and their last ounce of energy expended they meet their inevitable fate which is death. Their decomposing bodies providing nutrients for the generation that follows. The cycle is thus played out on thousands of rivers and small tributary creeks throughout the northwest.
If you have never witnessed this then you are truly missing out on a miracle of nature.
It's so unfortunate that these salmon have become what amounts to being a political pawn because they stand for so much more. The native tribes of the Pacific coast knew the importance of salmon and still do.
As long as I am able I will always return to the river but not to try to deceive these fish with hook and line but to appreciate and marvel at what they do to perpetuate their kind. I sincerely hope that this fall ritual continues long after I am gone and I can go to my rest with the satisfaction of knowing that I did all I could to help them along the way in their journey of death and ultimately life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Is ODFW Really This Clueless?



Photo by Bill McMillan

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or ODFW apparently are unaware of the wild steelhead populations on the north coast! I really wish someone would wise them up before it's too late if it's not too late already.
Back a few years ago the gear guides on the north coast couldn't stand the fact that they couldn't make money off of the wild winter steelhead that return to the coastal rivers in February through April. They must have been thinking and scheming about a way to cover them from the end of the yearly winter hatchery steelhead bloodbath until the first spring chinook showed either in the Columbia or on the coast. They convinced ODFW that they would be willing partners in the wild steelhead broodstock programs. They would collect fish throughout the late winter months and by gosh if they made money at that time of year on guided trips then so must the better!
So now we have several years of the broodstock program under our belts and where are we?
Sure! the Tillamook area guides are making a bunch of money on their "collection" trips but what about the over all well being of the wild fish that is sustaining these programs?
Did ODFW forget about the wild fish in all this? It would certainly appear so.They are willing to plant some of the broodstock smolt in the lower river but they still insist on main stem plants in the very area and right on top of newly out of gravel wild smolt.
Were the area ODFW fish biologists off that day or something? Why did the head fish biologist not even know which fish were planted where? Do they even care? One has to wonder.
I'm obviously not a biologist but it does not take a degree to see what is happening. No, the ODFW biologists are not clueless! They know exactly what they are doing and that is ignoring science in order to pander to a vocal bunch of professional guides who have figured out a way to make money off of a recovering wild steelhead population that is being damaged by these broodstock plants.
So hey all you bait chucking, $175 a day mercenaries! Sleep well guys because you are contributing to the demise of what few wild fish remain...hope you can face your children some day when they ask you if you did all you could prevent the extinction of wild salmon and steelhead.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oncorhynchus Clarkii.....Clarkii


The fish so nice they named it twice!
I cannot think of a species of fish that I love more than these silvery coastal dwellers. They come to a fly with aggressive abandon and fight like a fish twice their size.
Beautiful is not an apt description of their various colors of the spring, summer and fall. The resident variety will take on a heavily spotted bronze coloration with the red gill slash (where they got their name) very prominent. The sea run variety, while heavily spotted also will be silver with a deep hued blue back...hence the nickname "blue backs" and the red slash will be very faint.
The fall is prime time action for cutthroat trout which supposedly follow the fall salmon up river to feed on their eggs. That may just be an urban legend because while they will feed on just about anything, aquatic insects by in large make up the cutthroat's diet.

As aggressive as they are they are also a species most affected by man's interference. The introduction of various species of hatchery fish on the north coast rivers have pushed these trout out of their usual habitat and forced them to compete with those hatchery plants for available food. The coastal rivers are not blessed with an abundance of food so these sensitive fish have to feed on what is available, The over sized hatchery smolt have depleted their numbers to a critical point and so any harvest would put them in even more peril.
The north coast locals do not have much regard for cutthroat trout and treat them as little more than nuisance in their pursuit of the larger salmon and steelhead. They are not much more than a bait stealer to salmon/steelhead anglers and they take little care in releasing them.
The over all well being of a coastal anadromous river can be measured by it's cutthroat trout population.
If you have a wild coastal cutthroat trout population in decline it's a good bet that other wild fish in that system are in trouble also.
These fish face many obstacles in their recovery. Over harvest, habitat degradation, hatcheries and angler ignorance hurt these once plentiful populations.
These trout are the last of the wild trout on the northern coast save for wild steelhead.
They are as beautiful as they are mysterious and delightful.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Coho are Protected Again

Once again a federal court judge has had to undue the meddling of the Bush administration.
This is truly good news and will have an effect on how all the Oregon coast rivers are managed as far as harvest.
Kudos and appreciation go out to the groups involved for making this happen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Protections for Oregon Coast Coho Salmon: July Court Ruling Upheld.

PORTLAND, Ore.
A federal judge has declared illegal the Bush administration’s decision to remove endangered species protections for Oregon Coast coho salmon. U.S. District Judge Garr King adopted in its entirety the July 2007 recommendation of Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart that the administration’s refusal to list the coho be set aside. The court ruled that coho’s legal “threatened” status be reviewed and a new listing decision be finalized within 60 days. Restoration of ESA listing would prohibit actions that harm the species and require the government to prepare recovery plans.
The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by fishermen and conservation groups last year.
The decision to withdraw endangered species protections from the coho was predicated on a novel scientific theory adopted by federal agencies. The theory held that coho are inherently resilient at low populations, and that they will always bounce back. The court cited extensive scientific critiques of that theory from government scientists, who said that it was unreliable and failed to pass the “red-face test.” The court ruled that the new theory did not represent the “best available science” as required by law.

“This is a victory for good science and for Oregon’s future,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who argued the case for the groups. “Restoring protections for these salmon today means a greener and economically vibrant Oregon tomorrow.”

“Oregon coast coho are still on life support, and recovery depends on protecting and restoring the rivers and streams these fish depend on,” said Dr. Chris Frissell, former Oregon State University salmon biologist and Senior Staff Scientist with Pacific Rivers Council. “This decision restores vital habitat protection so that the coho can begin moving toward recovery.”

Once a staple of Oregon’s salmon fishing fleet but now off-limits to commercial fishermen, coastal coho runs have sharply declined from their historical abundance. Fishermen look forward to rebuilt coho stocks which once constituted a substantial part of their income. They know this means rebuilding the stream side spawning habitat needed by the fish.

“For the sake of our fishing families and communities, now is not the time to slack off on habitat protections for coho salmon,” said Glen Spain, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Eliminating these protections shifted the conservation burden onto the backs of fishermen, without protecting the rivers and streams the coho depend on. With federal habitat protections restored, coho have a chance to recover and, one day, draconian fishing restrictions can be lifted.” Coast Range Association Director Chuck Willer said "let's put the legal issues behind us and get on with the work of restoring coastal freshwater habitat and returning the coho to abundance."

Historically, more than 2 million coho salmon spawned in Oregon’s coastal rivers. Due to decades of aggressive logging and poorly managed fishing, those numbers collapsed. Runs bottomed out at about 14,000 in 1997, a decline of more than 99 percent from historic levels. The runs were listed under the Endangered Species Act the following year. Coast coho returns showed some improvements in the early 2000s but have generally declined since then, and still remain at a small fraction of historic levels.
The slight rebound between 2001 and 2003 prompted the state of Oregon to prematurely declare Coast coho sufficiently recovered to be stripped of federal protection. The federal agency charged with administering the fishery, National Marine Fisheries Service overruled its own scientists who raised grave doubts about Oregon’s novel population analysis as well as the status of the species to remove federal endangered species protections in 2006.
The plaintiffs include the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Rivers Council, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Wild, Native Fish Society, and Umpqua Watersheds. They were represented by attorneys Patti Goldman and Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice in Seattle.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

News Flash!!! Hatchery Steelhead Inferior


Please excuse the sarcasm but this is not exactly new information. Anyone with any modicum of common sense knows about the over all inferior traits of hatchery fish versus wild fish. Sadly many are either in denial or so blinded by their "harvest mentality" that they cannot see beyond their ignorance, greed and selfishness.
Their favorite argument is "I don't belive there are any truly wild fish left anyway"
My God if I had a dollar for everytime I've either heard that or seen it posted somewhere I could retire! Hey wait a minute I am retired!!! well anyway you get the idea.
Here is an article from Reuters that just reinforces what scientists already know.




By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When it comes to making babies, steelhead trout like it wild.

In a study published on Thursday with great implications for captive breeding programs, U.S. researchers found that after being set free, steelhead trout reared in hatcheries produced offspring far less fit than those of wild-bred fish.
In fact, when these captive-bred trout are released in the wild, they are roughly 40 percent less successful at producing offspring that survive to adulthood than their wild cousins, according to the research in the journal Science.
"With each generation through the hatchery, the fitness of the resulting fish when they breed in the wild declines remarkably quickly," Michael Blouin, an Oregon State University zoology professor who was one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview.
The researchers used genetics to track generations of steelhead trout in the Hood River in Oregon. They said the findings showed definitively that while they may look the same, wild fish and fish from hatcheries are not the same.
They added that the findings suggest that the idea of releasing captive-reared fish into the wild to help boost the wild population should be carefully reconsidered.
This is probably because the offspring of captive-reared fish inherited traits that might work in the slow-moving world of a hatchery but turn them into sushi in the fish-eat-fish world of the wild, the researchers said.
Blouin noted that there are two different missions for fish hatcheries. The traditional mission has been to produce fish for harvest, and Blouin said they are really good at that.
"These highly domesticated stocks perform well in a hatchery. The offspring are calm and they feed well and they grow well," Blouin said.
Another type of conservation-minded "supplementation" hatcheries produce fish intended to be added to wild populations to augment their numbers.
"There are no good data showing that supplementation programs work. And now we have genetic data showing that one might be a little concerned," Blouin said.
The steelhead trout is an important type of salmonid fish, which includes salmon and trout.
"If you're trying to create hatchery fish that are going to perform well in the wild, you want to minimize the number of generations in captivity. Even just a single extra generation through the hatchery causes a really large, detectable decline," Blouin said.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Teach Your Children Well


What do we teach our children about the world around us? Do we teach them to honor and respect every good thing that nature has to offer or do we teach them that the world is their oyster and they can do whatever they like?
Someone said that if we allow kids to kill a few wild trout that we are doing them a great favor and making them love fishing and the outdoors all the more.
I firmly believe that type of thinking is deadly wrong. We teach them to harvest and take regardless of the consequences. We teach them that conservation is less important than our selfish wants. We teach them that killing a wild fish has no long term effects on the general well being of that endangered fishes future. We teach them that instant gratification wins out and later consequences do not matter.
Why not teach kids to love and nurture and work for the improvement of the last remaining wild trout populations we have? Why not teach them to work for the betterment of the resource? Why not teach them that releasing wild fish is a good thing and helps insure the future of the species. Those who just want to kill will not admit that the pratice of catch and relese has helped bring some trout populations back from the brink.
I was ready to write about the north coast and the beautiful fish that I encountered there yesterday. I am pretty critical of that region because it has so much to offer yet some soulless and selfish people believe that the well of wild fish will never dry up.
Sure what are a few dead trout going to matter in the grand scheme of things? It's so much more important to allow a young angler to kill a few and so he will feel good about himself.After all his father and his grandfather killed wild trout with apparent reckless abandon so why should the next generation not be allowed to?
Indeed it was that recklessness that got us into the situation we are in now.
Careless adults with run away egos think this heritage of harvest should continue unchecked. They make excuses and accuse those that actually do care of doing harm because we practice catch and release. Do you think they may feel a little guilty? or are they so gullible and ignorant so as to not know any better. Perhaps they are just a victim of what ever whim might strike them at the time.
I feel so very strongly about conservation of our last remaining wild fish that when some narcissistic egomaniac writes about what a great idea killing a few coastal cutthroat trout is for kids I get what I believe is righteous indignation.
It takes someone so selfish and self absorbed that they care little about anything but themselves.
It's an emotional issue for me and while it may seem like this is an emotional response to some witless person's rant it goes beyond emotion.
We teach our children that everything is theirs to plunders and take without remorse then we teach them greed and a lack of respect that will not serve them well as adults.
We implant in our children the harvest first and worry about the over all effect later.We teach them that the future of a population of wild trout or any precious natural resource is not important.
Sad isn't it?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The New Crusaders for Northwest Salmon?


It appears that there is a new kid on the block as far as fish conservation goes.
The CCA which is short for Coastal Conservation Association has burst upon the scene here in the Pacific Northwest and it looks like people are falling all over themselves to join. The CCA is an east coast organization who has lobbied for saltwater fishery issues.
Here is their mission statement which was taken directly from their website and it states the following....
The stated purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on
conservation of marine resources. The objective of CCA is to
conserve, promote and enhance the present and future
availability of these coastal resources for the benefit and
enjoyment of the general public.

The CCA movement comes to the northwest at the recommendation of Gary Loomis of Loomis Rods. Loomis is quite influential in the region and has been instrumental in putting thousands of hatchery fish into rivers like the Lewis and Cowlitz in Washington with his "Fish First" group using hatch boxes.
So what have we got here with the CCA? A group that will fight for wild fish and their habitat? A group that will take on polluters and their harmful practices that affect our lakes and streams? A champion for the cause of restoring the remnants of our wild salmonids to a semblance of their former selves?
or just another group that wants a bunch of fish to harvest and promises to go to bat fo their membership in getting them a bigger slice of the salmon pie. Once again the general fishing public is looking to a savior that they think will get the gillnets, both commercial and tribal, out of the Columbia river. Once again the "I don't give a damn about wild fish issues" general fishing public is looking for yet another groups to help them fill their freezers with salmon fillets and cured eggs. Once again, like a spoiled little child, the general sports fishermen and women want what they want when they want it!
They can make all kinds of excuses for their apathetic approach to any issue that does not involve harvesting more fish but they are woefully absent when it comes down to dealing with the tough issues involved. If it means protecting wild salmon or steelhead then they always have other priorities or are indignant to the point of rage because they feel they are not getting their lion's share of the allocation pie of havestable salmon.
I really don't know much about CCA and according to a good friend that has joined CCA the harvest drunk sports anglers of the Pacific Northwest are going to be disappointed in CCA.This is apparently not a group that takes on allocation and quota issues. If the CCA is truly concerned about the over all well being of our coldwater and marine fisheries then I welcome them. We shall see! I am reserving judgment on this organization until I get more information and see them in action.
Face it! The gillnets, especially the native American ones are not going anywhere and all these "conservation" organizations are not going to make much of a difference. The gill netters usually clean the floor with the sports groups during allocation hearings for Columbia river salmon because the sports groups spend so much of their time fighting like hungry dogs for a bone.
The whole process of wild fish enhancement involves sacrifice and making hard choices. So call me cynical but I just don't see many people willing to put the needs of the resource AND WILD FISH ahead of their own greed!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Some Things are Worth Fighting For.....


....and about also!
I am on a crusade so to speak. I happen to believe we are truly blessed to have one of the last populations of wild trout right here on the north coast. Of course I am talking about coastal cutthroat trout.
Think about it for a moment. Where on the Oregon coast can you find another species of wild trout?
What is really sad though is too many consider this trout as little more than an after thought. A nuisance that will steal your salmon roe! Fortunately they cannot be harvested and that gets them the scorn of many bait/gear fishermen who target the salmon and steelhead who inhabit the same coastal rivers.
These trout are marginalized by those who just need to kill something every time they are on the river.
A few years ago when I still fished for fall chinook I happened upon a guy fishing for these trout with bait!!! To make matters worse it was the off season to boot!
I asked him if he knew what those dead fish were on his stringer and he swore they were jack salmon!
Of course he knew what they were but pleaded ignorance when confronted by me. I went up to my vehicle to call the Oregon State Police and when I returned he had left and he also left behind the dead cutthroat trout.
Sad isn't it?
We are facing an upcoming battle with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife over these trout. They seem to think that their populations can sustain a harvest! I am not a fish biologist but I know that these fish are no where near plentiful enough to harvest.
It's time to get in peoples face about their nonchalant attitude concerning the coastal cutthroat trout.
There are those with influence who could do more about the plight of these trout but they don't! There are those who think that killing a couple of eight inch trout is their right. It's the ignorance and selfishness of these people that the fight is against.
I intend to do all that I can for these wild fish and other endangered wild fish. It's time to fight!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Friends of The Quiet Pool

Dear Readers,
You'll notice that my links section is titled "Friends of The Quiet Pool"
Well there is a good reason for that. These organizations,businesses and friends are in agreement with me in the struggle to protect our cold water fisheries throughout the world. They neither solicited me to link them here and they do not pay me any fee to do so. The fly shops listed here support conservation efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest and I support them with my business. I feel it's unethical and dishonest to make money off of our wild fish without giving something back. You might notice that I do not link various groups or businesses that do not support wild fish and conservation issues.
I also will not link any organization that supports any program that is harmful to wild fish in any way. These programs include hatcheries, steelhead broodstock programs and anything that could cause harm to wild salmonids and their habitat.
I also will not support any candidate or political party on this blog that does not support environmental issues.
I really have no idea how many people read this blog but as you may have noticed I have directed some of my harshest criticism at those who I feel exploit and make money off of what I call the "backs" of our wild salmon, trout and steelhead.
As I've said before you will never read anything here that is, in my opinion,not wildfish friendly except to point out and comment about the wrongness of their position.
With that being said any and all are welcome here. I would sincerely hope that you may read something here that will further you along in your fly fishing journey.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Here They Come

Do you feel that crispness in the evening air? Here it is the first of September and we wonder where the summer has gone! All those fishing trips we wanted to do this summer just didn't come to pass and now we are in the unfortunate side of summer...Yes Fall is in the air.
I really don't mind the coming of fall that much because some of my favorite fly fishing happens this time of year. With the fall rains the coastal cutthroat trout will be following the fall salmon into the north coast rivers and it will make for some very nice fly fishing.
The summer steelheading on the Deschutes will be foremost in many a fly fishers thoughts and dreams including my own.
Perhaps the biggest event in many anglers lives will be the annual fall chinook salmon runs. The Tillamook basin is home to some of the biggest chinook salmon this side of Alaska and although they don't compare to the "pigs" that spawned in that region of years ago you can still run into some very large fish.



I enjoy watching them plow through the shallow riffles of the still summer low streams with their backs out of the water on their fatal journey to their spawning grounds.
It's is an amazing sight for those that are unfamiliar with nature in action.
Unfortunately it's also a time of ugliness and greed. It's a time to see people at their absolute worse. The sight of these huge fish in a small pool of a small river is apparently too much to take for some.
Armed with their lead weighted treble hooks these "sportsmen" literally rip these salmon out of the river. Most of these fish are really not very good table fare but the bounty of salmon eggs is just too much for some people to resist.
They will disdain the hooking the male salmon, whose flesh is much better, in favor of the near useless pale meat of an egg laden female.They will retain the eggs but the carcass will be wasted. It's illegal, of course, but it's very wide spread through the pacific northwest.
With the seemingly ever increasing angling population competing for fewer fish the urgency of these knuckle draggers to fill their freezers with meat and eggs is a sight to behold.
Fist fights, knife fights and even shootings are a not uncommon occurrence on our northwest rivers in the fall.
This year will mark a sharp downturn in returning chinook salmon in the coastal rivers of Oregon. We began to see the signs last fall and with the Columbia river chinook salmon runs being dismal so we can just imagine what chaos awaits this fall.
If you want to see nature at it's best however just find an out of the way area of any coastal river with a good vantage point to watch these magnificent fish in their mating ritual.
To watch them is like watching some kind of natural ballet. Several male salmon move around and vie for position along side the female. They ram each other with their exaggerated "kyped" jaws with several males being able to "service" one female.
When their one purpose in life completed the spent warriors wait for their inevitable fate.
Their rotting carcasses will provide much needed stream nutrients for the emerging off springs to repeat the cycle again.
Friends this is something that cannot be duplicated in the concrete environment of a hatchery. We cannot improve upon the perfection of nature now can we?

Monday, August 27, 2007

What Fly Fishing Is and Is Not


So to begin with let's dispose of all the definitions of what fly fishing is and is not. We all know the what it is as far as tackle and the like so with that taken care of there is, at least in my uneducated opinion, more to it.
I will try to expand on the idiosyncrasies of the deeper meaning of the "affliction" I call fly fishing.
Fly fishing is not about catching a freezer full of fish! You want to do that then there are much more effective and cheaper ways than chucking a fly to accomplish your carnivorous desires. If you are fly fishing to feed yourself then you very well may turn into a vegetarian.
Fly fishing is about deception. You are trying to fool a fish into thinking your abstract creation is something edible. Your creation or maybe someone else's is presented in a way to hopefully deceive a trout into feeding.
Fly fishing is about solitude and oneness. Yes I know that sounds like a cliché but you cannot stand next to someone and cast a fly.
Fly fishing is about physics. A perfectly executed cast is truly a marvel that an expert in trigonometry or geometry could appreciate.
Fly fishing is not about ego or at least it shouldn't be.
Fly fishing is about a one on one connection to your quarry. A dry fly is about as simple as it gets when you think about it. It is just your line and leader connected to a tiny bit of fur or feather on a hook....basic stuff really.
Fly fishing is not about selfishness but then we can be terribly possessive of those waters we have grown fond of.
Fly fishing is not about blowing your own horn but celebrating a communion with the water, the fish and everything surrounding.
Fly fishing is about discovery and inner thoughts. The quietness of the stream at dusk only broken by the splash of a leaping fish or a screaming reel is music to some.
There is a darker side of "fly fishing" though. It happens when the summer steelhead ascend the Columbia and enter some of the smaller tributary creeks for a respite from the warmer water of the big river. Herman creek just east of Bonneville dam seemingly gets a huge number of hatchery steelhead. This strain of fish amazingly takes a fly better than any place in Oregon! Imagine that!!! All you need is an intermediate sinking fly line,a short leader and a weighted fly. You strip like crazy and these fly eating steelhead, in seventy degree water mind you, hit your fly with reckless abandon!!!! Bull feces!!!!!
Some of these fish are no doubt accidentally hooked but this practice, most commonly referred to as flossing, is also practiced and even advocated for coho salmon. So as you can see fly fishing is not just about tweeds,briar pipes and single malt scotch whiskey. There are those that would use a fly rod as a tool to break the law and that is troubling to say the least.
I'll comment more on this later in the fall when the remnant Oregon coast chum salmon start up the Miami and Kilchis rivers on their spawning run.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fishing, Conservation,the Internet and Money

I've thought a lot about the effect the world wide web has had on our rivers and lakes and frankly I do not like what I am seeing.Apparantly there is a lot of money to be made by putting maximum numbers of people on the streambanks around the Pacific northwest and the resource is the loser.
When I first started fishing in Oregon way back in 1973 of course there was no internet. I learned to drift fish and then fly fish with the help of some friends who took me under their wing and showed me the ropes.There was a hell of a lot of trial and error along the way. I fished two years before catching my first steelhead on the Sandy river and that was pretty much a normal learning period for a new steelheader.
Today's anglers want instant gratification. I doubt many have the patience to wait two years to get a steelhead or salmon and when you really think about it why should they? There is a wealth of information and instruction available just a keystroke away. Fishing tackle, of course, has improved by leaps and bounds since I acquired my first Ambassadeur 5000A casting reel in 1974 so it is not unrealistic to hook your first fish on one of your first trips out to the river and in fact I have seen it happen.

One fishing website at the forefront of this "revolution" of information has been Ifish.net With thousands of hits per day this site has cashed in on the very popular and lucative Pacific northwest salmon and steelhead runs and is making money doing it! Problem is that ifish has brought other less desirable consequences to the region's fishing scene and that being a general lack of compassion for wild fish issues. The owner of the site has downplayed the role fishing ethics on our northwest rivers and is a staunch supporter of the hatchery/harvest dogma. Now don't get me wrong here,there has been no endorsements by the ifish management of anything illegal but there has also been little if anything done on that website to encourage anything more than to perpetuate the harvest mentality that is undermining wild salmonid recovery in the northwest.Also in fairness, Ifish is not been the only website to use the internet to "cash in" on salmon and steelhead runs in our rivers.Despite being the largest regional fishing website sadly they give only a passing nod to conservation issues and conservation groups.
Does is sound like I'm doing a little ax grinding here? Yes I am, but everything I've written here has been born out on our rivers throughout the region so I'm not just making this stuff up and I am not the only one who holds this opinion. With the "live on the river and up to the minute" fishing reports by cell phones and hundreds of pictures of grinning fishermen holding up their latest catch with easily recognizable landmarks in the back ground. This site is indeed influential but, in my opinion, for many of the wrong reasons.I've linked the ifish website because it would be only fair to let anyone who reads this to check out the website for themselves and form their own opinion.
So do those websites, fishing guides and tackle manufacturers have a heavier burden to bear as far as helping the very resource that is their cash cow? Absolutely they do and I'm not talking about supporting groups who think that helping the resource consists of sponsoring fishing derbies, posting news of fin-clippings and supporting groups who represent the interests of tackle manufacturing businesses or fighting other user groups for the right to kill the last fish. To my way of thinking there is too much at stake here and unfortunately wild fish and their habitat are the losers and in the long run so are we.
So I would challenge every website owner, fishing guide and any business that makes money on the backs of salmon and steelhead to be strong advocates of wild fish issues and I'm not talking about supporting broodstock programs either. There are some groups and businesses that are "wild fish friendly" but they are in the minority! The majority of them will give all kinds of lip service to the causes I've mentioned but in reality their participation and support is pretty pathetic.
The challenge also goes out to any individual who has benefited from information provided by websites like ifish.net to get on board and think beyond your filled tags, cured eggs and freezers full of fish. Again there is too much to lose here and those that do care cannot do it by themselves.
I can swear to all of you there are bigger issues at stake here than crowded fishing ramps, sea lions and the latest and greatest egg cures. So if you make money on the resource then you owe that resource something in return...it is just that simple.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Matole


Do you remember the time when you were in high school that beautiful girl you had a huge crush on? She sat in front of you in math class, you would let her copy your homework and you would day dream about her. She was always very nice to you but alas you knew it was never go beyond that "We're just friends" relationship however you dreamed anyway.
I think of the Metolius river kind of in the same way. Beautiful in every way but you know it will never go any further than enjoying her beauty as a friend. You know she will never give out her secrets and her charms to you. You know that there is a magic there that is beyond words and you'll never get "intimate" with her. She will let you wade and fish her fast riffles and clear pools but as far as hooking any of her precious fish? Sorry but you are just not her type.
Knowing this you still cannot keep away from her.
The Metolius is a mystery beyond the way it stingily gives up it's bounty. The Metolius virtually springs out of the earth from some hidden subterranean cavern in central Oregon. It widens and meanders through meadows of such breathtaking beauty that one can become emotional just gazing at it. It's deceptively swift flowing current passes through the ponderosa pine laden forest of central Oregon before meeting up with the Deschutes and Crooked River at Lake Billy Chinook.
I and my lovely, long suffering bride were fortunate enough to spend some time on this river recently and while I did not have much success with the trout I did love the few precious days that I was able to spend there.
It seems that those who are most familiar with this river speak of it in an almost reverential tone. While I am not nearly as familiar with it as I wish I find myself doing the same thing.
I found it most disgusting watching some adult tourist throwing Cheetos off of the Camp Sherman bridge to the lunker bull trout that hang out there. I made the remark that these sorts are not deserving of the Metolius and therefore should not be allowed to be near it! Extreme thinking to be sure and my wife let me know that but anyone that has been there and marveled at it's beauty knows what I mean.
I've talked often about having a growing affection for a river and while it may sound a bit maudlin to some I cannot help but think it makes perfect sense to others.
As I left the Metolius on Friday I just had to have one last look at this river so mysterious and alluring. I hoped that my next visit finds this lovely place, called "Matole" by native Americans of the area, as beautiful and unspoiled as ever.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Beautiful Poem by Gottfried Keller


Something in this poem by Gottfried Keller says what I feel. Gottfried Keller is an atheist and while I do not totally embrace atheism I am finding it makes a lot more sense that the Wal-Mart Christianity we see in America today.We see no condemnation,judgement and intolerance in atheism while I see all of this and more in the so called body of Christ. Why would anyone be attracted to that? Are George Bush and Jerry Falwell examples of American Christianity? No thanks!


During the cold days of winter time

Feeling life’s gloom and finality

I’ve banned you completely from my mind,

Mirage of immorality.


Now that summer is aglow and gay

Now I can see I have done well.

I have crowned my head with a wreath today,

Delusion, though, lies in its shell.



I’m travelling on the stream so clear

Feeling its coolness on my hand.

And I look up to the bluest sphere

And search – no better fatherland.



Blooming lily, only now I know

The meaning of your soft-hued hail.

How ever much my heart aglow,

I know, like you, I’ll pass away.



You lovely roses, I’m greeting thee,

In fleeting bliss of your life here.

Back from the boundless I turn with glee

Towards your gracefulness so dear!


Live life to the utmost, bloom and glow

Is what your scent and light teach me,

And then willing and gracefully bestow

Your life never again to be.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Great News for Wild Steelhead

Picture from Mott Bridge of North Umpqua River wild steelhead



This from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website

Effective Jan. 1, 2008, anglers will no longer be able to keep wild winter steelhead on the Umpqua River. The Commission considered several proposals to eliminate the harvest of wild steelhead and voted to make the fishery catch-and-release only for wild winter steelhead in the mainstem and North Fork Umpqua River. Previously, regulations allowed the harvest of one wild steelhead per day and five per year.

Isn't that great news? Now on to the next step and that is the reduction of hatchery plants on rivers with native steelhead populations. The most harmful of these is the disastrous wild steelhead broodstock programs.
Keep the faith all you wild fish lovers! With numbers and unselfish conservation minded anglers we can make a difference!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Time To Vent

A fisherman in Newport Beach, California stabs a sea lion to death with a steak knife for stealing his bait...and on the top NW fishing forum he is applauded! One neanderthal even likened this guys killing of the sea lion to the civil disobedience of Rosa Parks!!!! On a fly fishing forum a thread about native Americans netters on the Columbia runs for several days with the majority of posters railing against the tribal harvest with some posts bordering on racism. My God!!! what is wrong with these people? Are we so self absorbed that the ends justify the means no matter what?
I could fill this blog with examples of "me first" posts by sports anglers. We, and I include myself in this group because I sports fish, whine, gripe, threaten and generally ridicule those that don't agree that we sports anglers are entitled to harvest fish above and beyond every other fish resource user group out there.
"We" go into spring chinook salmon allocation hearings with this gigantic feeling of entitlement. The government owes us fish after all and no one should be able to take any without us getting our lion's share first and just screw everyone else!
Pacific northwest native American tribes ancient heritage and culture revolves around the returning Columbia river salmon. We brought disease, introduced alcohol, took their fish and dammed their river and some wonder why they are suspicious of the white man!
I have no problem with the fish the tribes get and since it's federally mandated for them to get 50% of the fish those who continue to complain about it are wasting their breath.
Another example of our screwed up priorities is the reaction to the removal of Marmot dam on the Sandy river. On the same hugely popular northwest fishing forum there are those who are afraid that the potential return of more wild fish will cause them to not be able to kill fish and thus satisfy their greed.The same people who complain that they aren't getting their share of fish are those same ones who sit on their collective asses and do nothing when it comes to conservation issues. Oh sure there are those who put up a big show about how concerned they are about wild fish but when it comes right down to it they are just as lazy and just as complacent as those who do nothing. The fact that they are clueless is just an example of how lazy they really are.
So to wrap this bitch session up let me just say that we are obligated as so called sportsmen to respect the resource we all enjoy and do all we can to preserve it and protect it. Remember the earth is not ours to plunder and waste! We need to do better before it's too late.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Old Man and The Kid


The old man looked forward to his day on the river with the kid as he gathered up his rod and headed out in pursuit of trout.The kid was always on the river waiting for him in the quiet hush of the summer low stream. He was quite fond of the kid and knew him as well as anyone did. He enjoyed the kid's wry sense of humor and often found himself chuckling at something the kid said or did.
He saw that the kid was impetuous and sometimes brash but that didn't bother the old man much because it reminded him so much of himself after all.The kid was a likeable young man that laughed easily and enjoyed the moment he was in. He would not plan ahead but the old man knew that it was all a part of his charm and that he no doubt would carry that trait into old age.
You see he and the kid had a lot in common. They both lost their father when they were just teenagers. The old man knew that the kid had not gone through the grieving process as he did, but he knew he would someday. He knew the kid would think a lot about his father and his father would often be in his dreams for years afterwards. The death of his father just did not seem to register much with the kid right now though and the old man wished that he could say or do something that would spare the kid the sadness that would come when it all came home to him years after his father had died. It happened to him and he knew it would be tough on the kid. He knew the kid would miss the companionship that a father provided and would miss the counsel that only a parent could give.
It bothered the old man though, that the kid never took the time to enjoy his days on the river. The kid never appreciated the beauty that surrounded him as he fished the rivers of his youth. So many times the old man wanted to tell the kid to slow down and take it all in. He wanted to tell him to look at the trees and the river and everything around you because it's not just about catching a lot of fish after all. He wanted to tell the kid to be aware of how lucky he was because it will not always be like this...he just couldn't tell him though because the kid was not one to take advice very well.
He could see that the kid had times of great joy and deep sadness ahead of him. For all the bad choices the kid made there would be many good choices to balance his life out. It did not, however, keep the the old man from grimacing at the bad choices the kid did make and the old man knew they were irrespondsible and immature. The old man guessed the kid would just have to find that out just as he did. He also knew that the kid would struggle with self confidence,doubt and even depression as he grew older.
The kid was in fact a constant companion to the old man as they wandered the rivers in search of trout and steelhead. It was too bad, the old man thought, that the kid was never able to help him through those gloomy winter days when the old man
felt so alone and sometimes even sad. However, just like clock work, the kid was always ready to go when the warmth of the sun returned in the spring.
The old man sadly knew that there would come a day when he and the kid would no longer wade the coastal streams in search of trout or hike up the Deschutes canyon together. He knew the kid would move on and he would not be there to help him along in his journey through life. He took satisfaction in knowing the kid would be alright without him though. He just wondered about the day when the memory of his youthful companion would be faded and confused.
The old man knew that one day the kid would appreciate the beauty of the river and the fish that swam there. He knew the kid would appreciate a finely made bamboo fly rod and the joy of a rising trout and the old man took comfort in that.
The old man moves slower these days but he remembers the time when he, like the kid, could go anywhere he wanted. A time when he didn't have to pick the places he cast his fly just because it provided easy access to the river. The old man knew that, unlike the endless flow of the river he would have the joys and sorrows he knew was finite and only here for such a short time. He remembers that kid of so many years ago and was glad they got the chance to know each other finally.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Trout Grass


I have a love affair bamboo fly rods.There is nothing like fly fishing one of these rods. This film "Trout Grass" captures the essence of what I have been saying. Here is a short outline of the movie

For many anglers, a fly rod is more than a fishing instrument. It's an antenna, capturing signals of the natural world. But what of the process that turns ordinary materials into extraordinary tools? And why do people around the world continue to spend their days happily wading in rivers if they do not keep what they capture?
Unveiling the magic of international camaraderie, fine craftsmanship and flowing water, Trout Grass tracks the 10,000-mile journey of bamboo around the world. From a lush forest in China's Guangdong Province to a rustic workshop in Montana this film follows the transition of bamboo from a living plant to a finished fly rod. As a renowned rod maker treks to the source of his inspiration and a craftsman half-way around the world feels the "spirit of the bamboo world" we find what it takes to convert a piece of grass into a six-sided baton ready to conduct an orchestra of trout and water.
This documentary highlights Hoagy Carmichael on his first visit to China, where he experiences the country's mystical bamboo forests. As a legendary split-cane fly rod craftsman and author of the art's seminal study (A Masters Guide to Building a Bamboo Fly Rod, with Everett Garrison), these far-off lands have fueled Hoagy's dreams for over 40 years.
While in China we follow the hands of a bamboo importer who travels to a remote Chinese village to individually sort through thousands of bamboo poles. He is looking for poles perfectly suited for bamboo rod makers around the world.
In Montana, we see master-builder Glenn Brackett tap into "the power of unseen hands" in his shop, while converting this hardy piece of grass into a fly rod. The result is an instrument so revered for its strength, precision and beauty one wonders if trout feel lucky when caught and released by one of Glenn's rods.
From the hands of a builder to the hands of an angler

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Victory for Wild Salmon

Once again we have to use the legal system to keep the renegade Bush administration from raping yet another natural resource.



From Earthjustice

PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal judge has recommended that the Bush administrations decision to remove endangered species protections for Oregon Coast coho salmon be declared illegal. The court recommended that coho’s legal “threatened” status be reviewed and a new listing decision be finalized within 60 days. Restoration of ESA listing would prohibit actions that harm the species and require the government to prepare recovery plans.

The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by fishermen and conservation groups last year. The case was assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice Stewart. The government will have an opportunity to object to her recommendations before they are approved by a district court judge.

The decision to withdraw endangered species protections from the coho was predicated on a novel scientific theory adopted by federal agencies. The theory held that coho are inherently resilient at low populations, and that they will always bounce back. The court cited extensive scientific critiques of that theory from government scientists, who said that it was unreliable and failed to pass the “red-face test.” The court ruled that the new theory did not represent the “best available science” as required by law.

“This is a victory for good science and for Oregon’s future,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who argued the case for the groups. “Restoring protections for these salmon today means a greener and economically vibrant Oregon tomorrow.”

“Oregon coast coho are still on life support, and recovery depends on protecting and restoring the rivers and streams these fish depend on,” said Dr. Chris Frissell, former Oregon State University salmon biologist and Senior Staff Scientist with Pacific Rivers Council. “This decision restores vital habitat protection so that the coho can begin moving toward recovery.”

Once a staple of Oregon’s salmon fishing fleet but now off-limits to commercial fishermen, coastal coho runs have sharply declined from their historical abundance. Fishermen look forward to rebuilt coho stocks which once constituted a substantial part of their income. They know this means rebuilding the streamside spawning habitat needed by the fish.

“For the sake of our fishing families and communities, now is not the time to slack off on habitat protections for coho salmon,” said Glen Spain, with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “Eliminating these protections shifted the conservation burden onto the backs of fishermen, without protecting the rivers and streams the coho depend on. With federal habitat protections restored, coho have a chance to recover and, one day, draconian fishing restrictions can be lifted.”

Historically, more than 2 million coho salmon spawned in Oregon’s coastal rivers. Due to decades of aggressive logging and poorly managed fishing, those numbers collapsed. Runs bottomed out at about 14,000 in 1997, a decline of more than 99 percent from historic levels. The runs were listed under the Endangered Species Act the following year. Coast coho returns showed some improvements in the early 2000s but have generally declined since then, and still remain at a small fraction of historic levels.

The slight rebound between 2001 and 2003 prompted the state of Oregon to prematurely declare Coast coho sufficiently recovered to be stripped of federal protection. The federal agency charged with administering the fishery, National Marine Fisheries Service overruled its own scientists—who raised grave doubts about Oregon’s novel population analysis as well as the status of the species—to remove federal endangered species protections in 2006.

The plaintiffs include the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Pacific Rivers Council, Trout Unlimited, Oregon Wild, Native Fish Society, and Umpqua Watersheds. They were represented by attorneys Patti Goldman and Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice in Seattle.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stewardship Pledge

I got this from the Recycled Fish website and it makes sense to take this pledge don't you think? You see if we sit back and complain without actually doing something then it's just empty words.

STEWARDSHIP PLEDGE

I choose to be a good steward of our natural resources on the water, in the field, and in my everyday life by living a lifestyle of environmental awareness - with positive impact.

I will learn the fish and game laws where I hunt or fish, and always abide by them.

I will practice Catch and Release and Selective Harvest faithfully and responsibly.

I will “police my resource,” by turning in poachers, and reporting polluters.

I will make up for “the other guy,” the one who has not yet embraced stewardship, by cleaning up the areas that I fish, hunt, hike and camp.

I will not trespass to fish or hunt, I will respect private property and help make a good name for sportsmen among private landowners.

I will boat in a safe and responsible manner.

I will treat other users of the resource with exceptional respect, with the intention that anglers would become known widely as the primary stewards of the resource.

I’ll look for conservation projects where I can participate with time, money, or other
resources.

I will encourage others to take the stewardship pledge and I will promote the ethic of natural resource stewardship.

I choose to serve as a role model in protecting what remains, and recovering what’s been lost of our wild and natural places.

I am a steward.

I hope each of you follow the spirit of this pledge....wild fish need us!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Beloved River


The "Dog Days" have arrived early this year and here we are in early July with the temperature expected to be a "toasty" 102 degrees. The water temperatures makes it too warm to ethically fish for any fish that one would expect to release and so what does a bored fly angler like me do?
For twenty seven years I really dreaded the beginning of the warm season. I toiled in an aluminum foundry and toted molten metal up and down a concrete catwalk pouring casting for the big class 8 trucks such as Freightliner and Peterbilt. To quote John Wayne from the movie "The Quiet Man" when he was talking about his days in a Pittsburgh steel mill "It's so hot that a man loses his fear of hell"
So when a days like we will have this week approaches I would dread it. When I retired I swore that I would never again complain about the summer so I won't...mostly I won't
I do love the summer nights here in the northwest though. It just seems as though the world is sighing in relief after being mercifully released from the heat. The sounds of the night are alive in the summer and I often listen to them as I drift off to sleep.
I'm a night person you see, and so I've spent many an evening listening to the chirps of the crickets or the croaks of bull frogs. Everything just seems to come alive at evening time after a hot day and I've always had my most enjoyable days casting a fly at dusk. The nocturnal bats that take flight at dusk would be fooled into thinking my fly, as I cast it, was some insect for them to eat. I am surprised that I never accidentally hook one.
I've been watching the steelhead counts as they go over the Columbia river dams and have started getting the "Deschutes urge".The good fishing is still at least a month off though but it would not be unheard of to venture over to Heritage Landing and take a stroll upriver once this relentless heat loosens it's stranglehold on Oregon.
It's really a magical place the Deschutes. When one thinks of Oregon they might think of lush rain forests and green hues that dominate ones view as they travel the Willamette Valley or cross the coast range. It's a whole different scene though once you get to The Dalles and beyond. It's a beige desert landscape that has it's own special beauty. I'll walk the mile or so distance up river to where I want to begin my stalking of the famous Deschutes summer steelhead and even on a moderately warm day the coolness of the water as I wade in is a welcomed respite.
I've found that anglers that love the Deschutes fiercely protect her like a loved one would. It breaks our heart to see our "beloved" soiled or abused in any way. The Deschutes is showing the strain of this abuse in certain portions. The litter that those so thoughtless and uncaring leave along the streambank makes you sad after you get past your rage of the insult to your beloved river.
You begin to care for this river the first time you fish it because it has a dangerous attraction of the wild western stream that it is and you find yourself drawn to it as one who might be attracted to a romance that is dangerous. To some it becomes the familiar friend you've missed all winter. You'll fish it time and time again without really putting much thought into the fish you didn't catch because you are just glad to be there.
So summer is truly upon us and those anglers that pursue the fall coho and chinook are planning their tactics for the lower Columbia. The families on vacation are planning their trips to dreamed about places and as for me I'm thinking about sagebrush. swinging flies, rattlesnakes and the beloved river just east of here.