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.


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

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.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Native Fish Society

I talk a lot about conservation on this blog and hopefully it helps those who have questions about the status of wild fish runs.
Native Fish Society is on the cutting edge of what is going on in the Pacific Northwest as far as wild fish issues go.
I am a proud member of Native Fish Society and am thankful for their passion and activism here in the northwest.

Here is a list of Native Fish Society's accomplishments over the years.

We protect places where native fish live: The Native Fish Society has been eagerly protecting salmon, steelhead and trout habitat for over a decade. We have brought, with the help of our partners, over 10,000 acres into public-ownership protection in the Deschutes, John Day, Sandy, Clackamas rivers and Tenmile Creek.
Stopping destruction of rivers is our primary action: In cooperation with other fine groups, we have defeated gravel mines on the Molalla and East Fork Lewis rivers, and we are involved with reforming the Department of Forestry to get better rules to protect native fish streams.
Harvest must support recovery of salmon and steelhead to be legitimate: A primary purpose of NFS is to reform harvest management so that it delivers abundant spawners to their home rivers for spawning and nutrient enrichment. We stopped the proposal to triple the kill of wild steelhead in the lower Columbia in order to increase the catch of hatchery chinook in the gillnet fishery. We are in court to protect Puget Sound ESA-listed chinook from excessive harvest. And we are working with the agencies to improve harvest accountability and to assess risks to wild salmon and steelhead.
Making hatchery programs consistent with wild salmon and trout conservation is vital to recovery: We are advocating hatchery reform so that they do not impede the health and reproductive success of native, wild stocks. We insist that each hatchery conduct a risk assessment. We are raising funds to construct hatchery fish exclusion barriers on tributaries of the Deschutes River. We are in court to protect wild steelhead in the upper Columbia River to prevent hatchery fish from being counted the same as wild fish.
We have established the Native Fish Conservation Policy in Oregon: In 1978, members of NFS established the first wild fish protection policy on the West Coast. This was followed by adoption of the Native Fish Conservation Policy in 2003. This policy is the legal framework through which we can establish conservation plans for each wild, native fish population in each of the state's river basins. And we created the Native Fish and River Steward Program to see that it actually happens.
We have organized to give wild, native fish a voice: Recognizing that a policy like the Native Fish Conservation Policy is only as good as its application, NFS has established the Native Fish and River Stewardship Program to make sure fish have a voice and a future in Oregon watersheds. This program has already helped to protect wild steelhead, spring chinook, sea-run cutthroat trout, redband trout, and lamprey in Oregon and Washington Rivers.
Creating partnerships: Established Fish Cons, which bring a collation of groups together, including Trout Unlimited, Oregon Trout, Federation of Fly Fishers, Northwest Steelheaders, Sierra Club, Oregon Wild, among others, to coordinate on a monthly basis our respective work and assist in accomplishing the goals of fish and habitat conservation.
Making government address fish health and wastewater treatment: Formed a coalition of groups that for the first-time ever got a ballot measure placed before citizens that would have forced an Oregon municipality not to discharge its treated sewage into a river. Even though the city of Molalla ballot measure failed, the vote sent a message to the Department of Environmental Quality that they need to consider other benefits of rivers to communities rather than conduits for wastewater.
Informed action saves native fish and their home waters: The Native Fish Society has established the most extensive library on native salmonids found anywhere that is free to the public on our Web site. Information like this is locked away in obscure journals, but we have liberated it for public use. We believe people need facts to be successful advocates and that science should guide our actions.

Please consider joining and becoming involved with conservation groups like NFS. You will be doing the resource a favor not only now but in the future.