Thursday, June 28, 2007

Leaving No Tracks

As if we didn't already know what Cheney is capable of here is further tales of abuse by the most corrupt presidency in US history

Leaving No Tracks

By Jo Becker and Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 27, 2007; Page A01

Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the 19th-ranking Interior Department official, arrived at her desk in Room 6140 a few months after Inauguration Day 2001. A phone message awaited her.

"This is Dick Cheney," said the man on her voice mail, Wooldridge recalled in an interview. "I understand you are the person handling this Klamath situation. Please call me at -- hmm, I guess I don't know my own number. I'm over at the White House."

The vice president has intervened in many cases to undercut long-standing environmental rules for the benefit of business. Wooldridge wrote off the message as a prank. It was not. Cheney had reached far down the chain of command, on so unexpected a point of vice presidential concern, because he had spotted a political threat arriving on Wooldridge's desk.

In Oregon, a battleground state that the Bush-Cheney ticket had lost by less than half of 1 percent, drought-stricken farmers and ranchers were about to be cut off from the irrigation water that kept their cropland and pastures green. Federal biologists said the Endangered Species Act left the government no choice: The survival of two imperiled species of fish was at stake.

Law and science seemed to be on the side of the fish. Then the vice president stepped in.

First Cheney looked for a way around the law, aides said. Next he set in motion a process to challenge the science protecting the fish, according to a former Oregon congressman who lobbied for the farmers.

Because of Cheney's intervention, the government reversed itself and let the water flow in time to save the 2002 growing season, declaring that there was no threat to the fish. What followed was the largest fish kill the West had ever seen, with tens of thousands of salmon rotting on the banks of the Klamath River.

Characteristically, Cheney left no tracks.

The Klamath case is one of many in which the vice president took on a decisive role to undercut long-standing environmental regulations for the benefit of business.

By combining unwavering ideological positions -- such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish -- with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration's approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests.

It was Cheney's insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, that led Christine Todd Whitman to resign as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she said in an interview that provides the most detailed account so far of her departure.

The vice president also pushed to make Nevada's Yucca Mountain the nation's repository for nuclear and radioactive waste, aides said, a victory for the nuclear power industry over those with long-standing safety concerns. And his office was a powerful force behind the White House's decision to rewrite a Clinton-era land-protection measure that put nearly a third of the national forests off limits to logging, mining and most development, former Cheney staff members said.

Cheney's pro-business drive to ease regulations, however, has often set the administration on a collision course with the judicial branch.

The administration, for example, is appealing the order of a federal judge who reinstated the forest protections after she ruled that officials didn't adequately study the environmental consequences of giving states more development authority.

And in April, the Supreme Court rejected two other policies closely associated with Cheney. It rebuffed the effort, ongoing since Whitman's resignation, to loosen some rules under the Clean Air Act. The court also rebuked the administration for not regulating greenhouse gases associated with global warming, issuing its ruling less than two months after Cheney declared that "conflicting viewpoints" remain about the extent of the human contribution to the problem.

In the latter case, Cheney made his environmental views clear in public. But with some notable exceptions, he generally has preferred to operate with stealth, aided by loyalists who owe him for their careers.

When the vice president got wind of a petition to list the cutthroat trout in Yellowstone National Park as a protected species, his office turned to one of his former congressional aides.

The aide, Paul Hoffman, landed his job as deputy assistant interior secretary for fish and wildlife after Cheney recommended him. In an interview, Hoffman said the vice president knew that listing the cutthroat trout would harm the recreational fishing industry in his home state of Wyoming and that he "followed the issue closely." In 2001 and again in 2006, Hoffman's agency declined to list the trout as threatened.

Hoffman also was well positioned to help his former boss with what Cheney aides said was one of the vice president's pet peeves: the Clinton-era ban on snowmobiling in national parks. "He impressed upon us that so many people enjoyed snowmobiling in the Tetons," former Cheney aide Ron Christie said.

With Cheney's encouragement, the administration lifted the ban in 2002, and Hoffman followed up in 2005 by writing a proposal to fundamentally change the way national parks are managed. That plan, which would have emphasized recreational use over conservation, attracted so much opposition from park managers and the public that the Interior Department withdrew it. Still, the Bush administration continues to press for expanded snowmobile access, despite numerous studies showing that the vehicles harm the parks' environment and polls showing majority support for the ban.

Hoffman, now in another job at the Interior Department, said Cheney never told him what to do on either issue -- he didn't have to.

"His genius," Hoffman said, is that "he builds networks and puts the right people in the right places, and then trusts them to make well-informed decisions that comport with his overall vision."

'Political Ramifications'

Robert F. Smith had grown desperate by the time he turned to the vice president for help.

Bush and Cheney, who lost Oregon by less than half of 1 percent in 2000, couldn't afford to anger thousands of Republican farmers and ranchers in the state during the 2002 midterm elections. The former Republican congressman from Oregon represented farmers in the Klamath basin who had relied on a government-operated complex of dams and canals built almost a century ago along the Oregon-California border to irrigate nearly a quarter-million acres of arid land.

In April 2001, with the region gripped by the worst drought in memory, the spigot was shut off.

Studies by the federal government's scientists concluded unequivocally that diverting water would harm two federally protected species of fish, violating the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Bureau of Reclamation was forced to declare that farmers must go without in order to maintain higher water levels so that two types of suckerfish in Upper Klamath Lake and the coho salmon that spawn in the Klamath River could survive the dry spell.

Farmers and their families, furious and fearing for their livelihoods, formed a symbolic 10,000-person bucket brigade. Then they took saws and blowtorches to dam gates, clashing with U.S. marshals as water streamed into the canals that fed their withering fields, before the government stopped the flow again.

What they didn't know was that the vice president was already on the case.

Smith had served with Cheney on the House Interior Committee in the 1980s, and the former congressman said he turned to the vice president because he knew him as a man of the West who didn't take kindly to federal bureaucrats meddling with private use of public land. "He saw, as every other person did, what a ridiculous disaster shutting off the water was," Smith said.

Cheney recognized, even before the shut-off and long before others at the White House, that what "at first blush didn't seem like a big deal" had "a lot of political ramifications," said Dylan Glenn, a former aide to President Bush.

Bush and Cheney couldn't afford to anger thousands of solidly Republican farmers and ranchers during the midterm elections and beyond. The case also was rapidly becoming a test for conservatives nationwide of the administration's commitment to fixing what they saw as an imbalance between conservation and economics.

"What does the law say?" Christie, the former aide, recalled the vice president asking. "Isn't there some way around it?"

Next, Cheney called Wooldridge, who was then deputy chief of staff to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton and the woman handling the Klamath situation.

Aides praise Cheney's habit of reaching down to officials who are best informed on a subject he is tackling. But the effect of his calls often leads those mid-level officials scrambling to do what they presume to be his bidding.

That's what happened when a mortified Wooldridge finally returned the vice president's call, after receiving a tart follow-up inquiry from one of his aides. Cheney, she said, "was coming from the perspective that the farmers had to be able to farm -- that was his concern. The fact that the vice president was interested meant that everyone paid attention."

Cheney made sure that attention did not wander. He had Wooldridge brief his staff weekly and, Smith said, he also called the interior secretary directly.

"For months and months, at almost every briefing it was 'Sir, here's where we stand on the Klamath basin,'" recalled Christie, who is now a lobbyist. "His hands-on involvement, it's safe to say, elevated the issue."

'Let the Water Flow'

There was, as it happened, an established exemption to the Endangered Species Act.

A rarely invoked panel of seven Cabinet officials, known informally as the "God Squad," is empowered by the statute to determine that economic hardship outweighs the benefit of protecting threatened wildlife. But after discussing the option with Smith, Cheney rejected that course. He had another idea, one that would not put the administration on record as advocating the extinction of endangered or threatened species.

The thing to do, Cheney told Smith, was to get science on the side of the farmers. And the way to do that was to ask the National Academy of Sciences to scrutinize the work of the federal biologists who wanted to protect the fish.

Smith said he told Cheney that he thought that was a roll of the dice. Academy panels are independently appointed, receive no payment and must reach a conclusion that can withstand peer review.

"It worried me that these are individuals who are unreachable," Smith said of the academy members. But Cheney was firm, expressing no such concerns about the result. "He felt we had to match the science."

Smith also wasn't sure that the Klamath case -- "a small place in a small corner of the country" -- would meet the science academy's rigorous internal process for deciding what to study. Cheney took care of that. "He called them and said, 'Please look at this, it's important,'" Smith said. "Everyone just went flying at it."

William Kearney, a spokesman for the National Academies, said he was unaware of any direct contact from Cheney on the matter. The official request came from the Interior Department, he said.

It was Norton who announced the review, and it was Bush and his political adviser Karl Rove who traveled to Oregon in February 2002 to assure farmers that they had the administration's support. A month later, Cheney got what he wanted when the science academy delivered a preliminary report finding "no substantial scientific foundation" to justify withholding water from the farmers.

There was not enough clear evidence that proposed higher lake levels would benefit suckerfish, the report found. And it hypothesized that the practice of releasing warm lake water into the river during spawning season might do more harm than good to the coho, which thrive in lower temperatures. [Read the report.]

Norton flew to Klamath Falls in March to open the head gate as farmers chanted "Let the water flow!" And seizing on the report's draft findings, the Bureau of Reclamation immediately submitted a new decade-long plan to give the farmers their full share of water.

When the lead biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service team critiqued the science academy's report in a draft opinion objecting to the plan, the critique was edited out by superiors and his objections were overruled, he said. The biologist, Michael Kelly, who has since quit the federal agency, said in a whistle-blower claim that it was clear to him that "someone at a higher level" had ordered his agency to endorse the proposal regardless of the consequences to the fish.

Last year, the government declared a "commercial fishery failure" on the West Coast. Above, dead salmon line the banks of the Klamath River in Sept. 2002. APMonths later, the first of an estimated 77,000 dead salmon began washing up on the banks of the warm, slow-moving river. Not only were threatened coho dying -- so were chinook salmon, the staple of commercial fishing in Oregon and Northern California. State and federal biologists soon concluded that the diversion of water to farms was at least partly responsible.

Fishermen filed lawsuits and courts ruled that the new irrigation plan violated the Endangered Species Act. Echoing Kelly's objections, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit observed that the 10-year plan wouldn't provide enough water for the fish until year nine. By then, the 2005 opinion said, "all the water in the world" could not save the fish, "for there will be none to protect." In March 2006, a federal judge prohibited the government from diverting water for agricultural use whenever water levels dropped beneath a certain point.

Last summer, the federal government declared a "commercial fishery failure" on the West Coast after several years of poor chinook returns virtually shut down the industry, opening the way for Congress to approve more than $60 million in disaster aid to help fishermen recover their losses. That came on top of the $15 million that the government has paid Klamath farmers since 2002 not to farm, in order to reduce demand.

The science academy panel, in its final report, acknowledged that its draft report was "controversial," but it stood by its conclusions. Instead of focusing on the irrigation spigot, it recommended broad and expensive changes to improve fish habitat.
"The farmers were grateful for our decision, but we made the decision based on the scientific outcome," said the panel chairman, William Lewis, a biologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "It just so happened the outcome favored the farmers."

But J.B. Ruhl, another member of the panel and a Florida State University law professor who specializes in endangered species cases, said the Bureau of Reclamation went "too far," making judgments that were not backed up by the academy's draft report. "The approach they took was inviting criticism," Ruhl said, "and I didn't think it was supported by our recommendations."

'More Pro-Industry'

Whitman, then head of the EPA, was on vacation with her family in Colorado when her cellphone rang. The vice president was on the line, and he was clearly irked.

Why was the agency dragging its feet on easing pollution rules for aging power and oil refinery plants?, Cheney wanted to know. An industry that had contributed heavily to the Bush-Cheney campaign was clamoring for change, and the vice president told Whitman that she "hadn't moved it fast enough," she recalled.

Whitman protested, warning Cheney that the administration had to proceed cautiously. It was August 2001, just seven months into the first term. We need to "document this according to the books," she said she told him, "so we don't look like we are ramrodding something through. Because it's going to court."

But the vice president's main concern was getting it done fast, she said, and "doing it in a way that didn't hamper industry."

Cheney's insistence on easing air pollution controls led Christine Todd Whitman, shown with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Cheney aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, to resign as EPA administrator. Getty ImagesAt issue was a provision of the Clean Air Act known as the New Source Review, which requires older plants that belch millions of tons of smog and soot each year to install modern pollution controls when they are refurbished in a way that increases emissions.

Industry officials complained to the White House that even when they had merely performed routine maintenance and repairs, the Clinton administration hit them with violations and multimillion-dollar lawsuits. Cheney's energy task force ordered the EPA to reconsider the rule.

Whitman had already gone several rounds with the vice president over the issue.

She and Cheney first got to know each other in one of the Nixon administration's anti-poverty agencies, working under Donald H. Rumsfeld. When Cheney offered her the job in the Bush administration, the former New Jersey governor marveled at how far both had come. But as with Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill, another longtime friend who owed his Cabinet post to Cheney, Whitman's differences with the vice president would lead to her departure.

Sitting through Cheney's task force meetings, Whitman had been stunned by what she viewed as an unquestioned belief that EPA's regulations were primarily to blame for keeping companies from building new power plants. "I was upset, mad, offended that there seemed to be so much head-nodding around the table," she said.

Whitman said she had to fight "tooth and nail" to prevent Cheney's task force from handing over the job of reforming the New Source Review to the Energy Department, a battle she said she won only after appealing to White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. This was an environmental issue with major implications for air quality and health, she believed, and it shouldn't be driven by a task force primarily concerned with increasing production.

Whitman agreed that the exception for routine maintenance and repair needed to be clarified, but not in a way that undercut the ongoing Clinton-era lawsuits -- many of which had merit, she said.

Cheney listened to her arguments, and as usual didn't say much. Whitman said she also met with the president to "explain my concerns" and to offer an alternative.

She wanted to work a political trade with industry -- eliminating the New Source Review in return for support of Bush's 2002 "Clear Skies" initiative, which outlined a market-based approach to reducing emissions over time. But Clear Skies went nowhere. "There was never any follow-up," Whitman said, and moreover, there was no reason for industry to embrace even a modest pollution control initiative when the vice president was pushing to change the rules for nothing.

She decided to go back to Bush one last time. It was a crapshoot -- the EPA administrator had already been rolled by Cheney when the president reversed himself on a campaign promise to limit carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming -- so she came armed with a political argument.

Whitman said she plunked down two sets of folders filled with news clips. This one, she said, pointing to a stack about 2-1/2 inches thick, contained articles, mostly negative, about the administration's controversial proposal to suspend tough new standards governing arsenic in drinking water. And this one, she said as she pointed to a pile four or five times as thick, are the articles about the rules on aging power plants and refineries -- and the administration hadn't even done anything yet.

"If you think arsenic was bad," she recalled telling Bush, "look at what has already been written about this."

But Whitman left the meeting with the feeling that "the decision had already been made." Cheney had a clear mandate from the president on all things energy-related, she said, and while she could take her case directly to Bush, "you leave and the vice president's still there. So together, they would then shape policy."

What happened next was "a perfect example" of that, she said.

The EPA sent rule revisions to White House officials. The read-back was that they weren't happy and "wanted something that would be more pro-industry," she said.

The end result, which she said was written at the direction of the White House and announced in August 2003, vastly broadened the definition of routine maintenance. It allowed some of the nation's dirtiest plants to make major modifications without installing costly new pollution controls.

By that time, Whitman had already announced her resignation, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family. But the real reason, she said, was the new rule.

"I just couldn't sign it," she said. "The president has a right to have an administrator who could defend it, and I just couldn't."

A federal appeals court has since found that the rule change violated the Clean Air Act. In their ruling, the judges said that the administration had redefined the law in a way that could be valid "only in a Humpty-Dumpty world."

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Time to Get Radical on the North Coast of Oregon

Some times it takes a radical approach and decisive action to change things for the better! Robert Kennedy once said "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not"
So with the words of this great man in mind I think "why not?" Do we need to take some radical action to make a difference relating to our environment? I think so and especially when I think about a resource that means a lot to me because I spend so much time there.
With purely unselfish intentions in mind I would like to see these changes enacted on the rivers of the north coast of Oregon

... Close the Salmonberry, Tillamook and Miami rivers to angling for five years
... Close the Kilchis river from the end of March through the middle of November
... No bait use on any northern coast river from January 1st through March 31st and barbless hooks only
... Five fish limit per year of hen fall chinook on any Tillamook basin river
... No bait for coastal cutthroat trout anywhere in the Tillamook basin with single barbless hooks
... End or limit hatchery plants including steelhead broodstock programs
... Close inefficient hatcheries likes those on Three Rivers and Trask river
... Charge a deposit for all Styrofoam bait containers anywhere in Tillamook county
... No hatchery steelhead plants above Kansas Creek on the Wilson River
... No hatchery steelhead plants above Farmers Creek on the Nestucca
... Adopt a basin management plan that covers all rivers in the Tillamook basin
... Manage the Kilchis river for wild steelhead only

So tell me are these proposals radical? I don't think they are! I think that if we are going to have any impact and progress in saving a dwindling resource like that on the north coast then maybe these are not radical enough?

Monday, June 25, 2007

This is what it's all about folks

Recently Miguel Morejohn sent me this wonderful video of spawning steelhead. Just click on the link below to view the video

Spawning Steelhead

I hope you enjoy it because this is what we like! Wild fish spawning undisturbed! It's what I am passionate about and this is something that just cannot be duplicated in a hatchery environment

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Did Not Know That!

Remember when Dana Carvey used to impersonate the late Johnny Carson? He would mimic Carson's famous line when Johnny's straight man Ed McMahon would say something profound.
Anyway while touring a few of the northwest's popular internet fishing sites I found these pearls of wisdom about various conservation and environmental topics.

Did you know that.....

It's perfectly okay to kill rattlesnakes on the Deschutes because they just might bite you or your dog that is supposed to be on leash ?

Coastal cutthroat trout are voracious predators that eat more salmon and steelhead smolt than terns,cormorant or heron?

Fishing ethics are not important enough to discuss in a public forum?

It's perfectly fine and ethical to use bait for cutthroat trout in a catch and release only fishery?

Steelhead broodstock programs are a good thing for wild steelhead and actually increases those wild populations?

A passing drift boat will cause salmon to go on the bite?

There are no "truly" wild fish left so it's just fine to kill a few?

The rest of the state should not have a say on whether or not wild North Umpqua steelhead should or should not be killed?

You can take the Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife at their word?

Dousing your fly with shrimp scent is still fly fishing?

Dumping millions of hatchery steelhead into a river with a recovering wild fish population is a dandy idea?

Oh and here is the best one.....

A former ODFW director/commissioner claims the north coast cutthroat trout population are healthy enough to harvest! It just so happens this person also works for the company that makes, are you ready for this? Power Bait!

I could go on and on but my point is just this. When a new angler/outdoors person logs into one of these fishing sites, desiring to learn about fishing and reads this stuff what are they supposed to believe?
Some old crank like me and others who give a damn about wild fish conservation and our environment or these other self appointed "prophets" of what is best for the resource namely the I gotta mine mentality.
I'm not patting myself on the back here because my evolution into a wild fish advocate was years in the making and I learn something new every day. So why not give the resource the benefit of the doubt huh?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Judge's ruling is a victory for wild salmon

Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman and Native Fish Society

One fish, two fish, wild fish, zoo fish.

Or so goes the Bush administration's simplistic approach to counting rare salmon. It took a federal judge to remind the feds that there's a fundamental difference between a salmon reared in a hatchery and a salmon born in the wild that returns to spawn in its native habitat.

The difference can't be overstated. Wild fish will determine whether salmon will remain an icon that lives in our region and in our rivers. Without wild fish, salmon are doomed to live only in our memories.

Yet the feds have stuck to a whopper of an argument ‹ claiming, for purposes of salmon recovery, that hatchery fish and wild fish are one and the same.
Hatchery fish are weaker than wild fish. Hatchery-raised fish may not mirror the subtle but significant behavioral patterns that allow salmon to complete a remarkable life's journey, from mountain stream bed to hostile Pacific Ocean and back. These are the traits that make wild fish tougher and more valuable than their hatchery-raised brethren.

Even in promoting a "fish are fish" philosophy, the feds acknowledged the limited value of hatchery fish and said, in some rivers, the long-term consequences of stocking rivers with hatchery fish may offset the short-term benefits.

Of course, hatchery fish do serve a purpose, one more political than biological: Hatcheries boost salmon numbers. A rule of thumb, in Idaho, is 80 percent hatchery fish to 20 percent wild fish. Quintupling the salmon numbers has to be attractive to an administration determined to protect lower Snake River dams ‹ even at the expense of protecting the wild fish that must navigate around these dams.

In rejecting the feds' salmon-counting scheme Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour scored one in the column of common sense. Unfortunately, the legal record is mixed. Coughenour acknowledges his ruling runs counter to a 2001 federal court decision. A showdown before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals appears inevitable.
Let's hope the appeals court backs up Coughenour, and as soon as possible.
We're six years into this debate, and counting. The feds are fighting to defend a Seussian system of fuzzy math, while Idaho's wild salmon fight a political current that pushes them a little closer to oblivion.

Typical of the Bush administrations "Good Stewardship of the environment" self-proclamation isn't it?
We have a bout eighteen months left of the national nightmare that is George W. Bush. Hopefully in January 2009 the country can start anew and begin to repair the damage what this immoral presidency has done to our fish and our natural resources.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Does Everything Have To Be A Lesson In Ethics???

Yes it absolutely does! Without ethics on the streambank among sports fishers it would be a chaotic mess!
Can you believe someone would actually be naive enough to seriously ask that question? It is an exact quote from a popular northwest fishing website!
This topic always seems to be a controversial one and I cannot figure out why that is.You can go to any number of other northwest fishing forums and find arguments about this very thing.
So what exactly is the definition of ethics?
According to Webster ethics is " a set of moral principles, a theory or system of moral values"
So how does that translate into fishing in general? With the endangered status of many species of salmonids here on the Pacific coast it can encompass many things. Not using bait in certain situations, especially in a zero retention fishery or not fishing over fish that are on their spawning redds or not wading across an area of river where there are active spawning redds. These are all things that can be encountered every day on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and most sports anglers are ethical enough to realize that and act accordingly. They are also issues in that anyone with a modicum of common sense will understand.
So what about those that thumb their nose at fishing ethics? They'll use methods of fishing that, while not illegal, can and do cause harm to fish. They have little regard for what is best for the resource and generally thumb their nose at doing the right thing.
Is it healthy for an angler to hold his fish out of the water for a "Kodak moment" ?
No absolutely not but their ego won't allow them to think beyond themselves.
Is it healthy or ethical to fish in a catch and release fishery when the water is too warm? These are conditions that occur every summer but even on the warmest days you'll see people fishing.The combinaion of warm water and the build up of lactic acid in a fishes system due to stress can spell death in almost every instance.
How about selectively taking female salmon only just for the eggs? It's done on a regular basis and it is legal.The carcass of the egg-stripped female salmon is then discarded because the flesh is usually unfit for human consumption.
So how is the general fishing public educated? By example that's how! There are those that are in the public eye whose responsibility it is to set this example of ethical fishing behavior. Some do it but unfortunately some very public and influential fishing "celebrities" do not!
I think by even asking "Does everything have to be a lesson in ethics??? " is a sign of ignorance,selfishness or both. You ought to know better! If you are reading this and thinking "Hey I think he might be talking about me" then I probably am!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Retro Fly Fishing

Last summer my lovely wife and I spent a couple of days in the central Oregon town of Sisters.You see Sisters is one of those unique places where a dry fly elitest and a rugged cattle rancher can both feel comfortable in and it's very near the upper Deschutes,the Metolius river and those wonderful Century drive lakes. I could easily see myself living there someday.Maybe you'll find my over fed self loitering around the Camp Sherman store some day in the future...who knows?
So anyway back to our two day vacation in the charming little town of Sisters which just happens to have the Payne bamboo fly rod franchise. It's tucked away in a side mall so I had to really look for it but I did find it open the day we were in town.
The Payne Co. franchise in Sisters is owned by Dave Holloman and the shop is typical of any bamboo rod makers shop meaning there are dozens of rods and bunches of Tonkin bamboo is various stages of completion.I went in to chat with Dave and right there here on the counter was a restored Wright & McGill Granger Victory!!!! I had long wanted an old Granger rod after seeing a few around and liking the nostalgic feel of them.
This old W&M Granger actually fit my hand perfectly....imagine that! The best thing is Dave only wanted $325 for it!!! I did a quick calculation in my head about upcoming bills and when that came up short I thought about what I could sell on eBay but I felt my acquiring this bamboo rod was time critical.In other words I convinced myself that I had to strike while the iron was hot. A light went off in my head and I queried my lovely bride of nearly 28 years if she might be of assistance. I pleaded and made grandiose promises to counter her obvious skepticism. You see my wife is a very patient, reluctant and long suffering supporter of my fly fishing habits but she knew I wanted this rod and she came through for me!
So I was now the proud owner of vintage bamboo fly rod which would serve as a perfect complement to my other bamboo rods. This rod is actually at least as old as me and probably in a lot better shape than me too!
I of course needed a vintage reel to compliment this rod so I searched around and found a Hardy LRH which works well with the Granger.
I just guess it's part of growing older when you covet those items that were made when you were a child and then feel all nostalgic when you find them. I'll keep this rod and hopefully someday one of my grandchildren will have it and maybe they will think of their "Papa".

I've decided to allow anonymous comments on this blog and if everyone is pleasant I'll keep it that way but if it gets nasty then it's back to members only

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Apathetic Angler

The economies of the states of Oregon and Washington are heavily dependent on recreational fishing dollars and I'm not referring just to revenue the state gets from license and tag sales. When you consider the revenue generated from tackle,food, lodging, fuel, guide fees and watercraft you are talking about a tremendous amount of money. I'm not sure just how many angling licenses are sold in this region but you would have to think that it numbers in the hundreds of thousands so one could also assume that sports anglers would be a powerful lobby for the resource wouldn't you? You would think that they are well represented in Salem and Olympia wouldn't you? You would think that Fish and Game commission hearings are standing room only wouldn't you?
Well my friend you would be assuming wrong! There is perhaps no "special" interest group in the entire region that is lazier, more apathetic,more fragmented and more selfish than sports fishers. Oh sure there are plenty of groups to join and some even do very good work for the resource but to actually get some fishermen off of their collective butts to get involved is akin to pulling teeth. Okay I know what some might be thinking "Well I'm not retired like you Shane, so I don't have the luxury of going to hearings and being involved" I would counter that while someone might not be able to actually attend meetings they certainly can use a computer to send emails and use a phone to call state representatives on important issues so that argument does not hold water.
When the Tillamook county good old boys thought they were going to lose their precious hatcheries a few years ago it was impressive how mobilized the rank and file angling community became.
Which leads me to my second point and that is the matter of selfishness. When it comes to sea lions devouring salmon below Bonneville or gill nets in the lower Columbia or native American tribes exercising their federally mandated harvest rights then there is plenty of so called righteous indignation. If the state of Oregon were to offer tags for the shooting sea lions I would imagine there would be a huge number of people applying for them. Why would that stir people to action? Simple! They feel that these conspiratorial pinnipeds are ripping off the salmon that are rightfully dare they! Same thing with commercial and tribal fisheries. The selfish sports fishing crowd thinks that all harvestable fish belong to them. Sad isn't it? Oh they think going to fin clippings or helping to collect wild steelhead for the broodstock programs is doing their part but in reality they are hurting wild fish in the process and pretty much are doing this for their own self interest.
When there is an effort that involves actually doing something for the wild fish populations and their habitat in the region this huge group is largely absent! They just don't care and will not get involved.
What is truly sad is the divisiveness among the various sports groups. The boaters hate the bank fishermen, the gear guys hate the fly fishers and vise-versa and meanwhile the entire resource that everyone claims to love suffers.
You'll likely get a more passionate arguments about how long it should take to launch a boat or proper anchoring techniques than you will, among on the various fishing websites, about any conservation issues.
It never ceases to amaze me just how little regard so many have for wild fish and their habitat or how many "posers" there are that talk a good game but actually are clueless about the real issues.
You might call me cynical but I've seen it and been a part of the same mindset in years past. I'm not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers because I feel I am on a journey of enlightenment and education that is a long ways from being over. I'm learning from past mistakes and hopefully I can make a difference and provide my grandchildren an opportunity to enjoy the wonders of nature and the environment that I've enjoyed. I have learned at least this much though! I'm not going to help bring about a change of attitude among my fellow anglers by sitting on the sidelines hoping someone else will do it for me. I am not going to be an apathetic angler and hopefully you won't be either.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Trout Magic

As you dear readers know I have a passion for coastal cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki clarki for those of you that are dying to know what their scientific name is.
So yesterday I ventured out in pursuit of these coastal beauties.
My first stop on the Wilson yielded a few hesitant biters and one hook up but nothing to write home about and the next stop yielded not even that. So off to destination number two and that is the Trask river just south of Tillamook. There I was rewarded with a nice fifteen inch sea run beauty pictured below and I never had to even lift him out of the water to snap the picture.

So off to destination number three namely the Kilchis river which is just north of Tillamook. I tried casting my spider under all the obvious cutthroat holding spots with no luck and was actually thinking of heading back over the hill. I let me fly dangle right off the part of the run where the riffle drops into a deeper hole when my dream coastal cutthroat trout hit! He was at least eighteen inches and possibly more. The great thing was I could actually see his efforts to spit the fly because the water was very clear so I had a front row view of the whole battle. He never broke water once and his fight was reminiscent of a small chinook in that he was constantly shaking his head. As I slid him up into the shallows to remove the fly he came unhooked and swam casually off into the deep none the worse for wear. A perfect release and a truly memorable fish that I will never forget.

I try to get my fish in as soon as possible so as not to overly tax them and therefore hurt them. I wish more people would do this along with not lifting the fish out of the water whenever possible. I know by doing this that I can assure that fishes survivability.
So with the sun quickly setting on the coast I made a few more casts but no takers. It was a great day and a great week for me and the trout I love so much.
Why there are those that insist on pursuing cutthroat trout by using bait is beyond me! These fish, to a fault, are very aggressive and there is never a need to use bait. I think those that would have to resort to the use of bait for a "zero" retention fishery are soulless egomaniacs that don't understand the big picture in wild fish conservation.