Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What a sad picture. I'm not begrudging this gentleman his triumph because that is a very nice, once in a life time wild steelhead. Many anglers fish their whole lives in search of such a fish. I've only hooked a couple of fish that came close to that size and both broke me off.
This wild steelhead was hooked, landed and killed legally on the Chetco river in southern Oregon. The Chetco is one of the few Oregon rivers where it is legal to harvest wild steelhead.
So you might wonder why this picture saddens me so much since this fellow did what he was legally entitled to do.
It's sad because of the lost potential of that fish. That steelhead spent at least three years in the ocean before returning to it's native river to spawn. It carried the genes to pass onto future generation it's unique qualities. It's sad because those of us that speak out for wild steelhead are shouted down by the harvest mentality crowds.
It's really more than just a dead wild steelhead though. It's the attitude behind it! The responses by some on the largest of fishing forums here in the northwest tells me a lot about the priorities that some "sportsmen" have. They could not care less about the well being of a vanishing run of fish. They couldn't care less about the fact that our wild steelhead runs are a mere fraction of what they were just a couple of decades ago. We have got to change and soon because there will not be any thing left to care about
I'm sure this fisherman had a few nice meals from this fish or maybe he even smoked it for the holidays. Yes I imagine it made a fine meal and this picture will live on the world wide web and in his memory for years to come. In a time when nearly every river in the northwest has hatchery steelhead to harvest don't you think that this fish could have been easily released? He could have taken a few quick measurements and photos to have a nice reproduction mount to hang on his wall. Wonder if this fish tasted good or if it now resides in the freezer among the frozen peas and carrots. We will never know this fishes fate except the the cold stark fact it never spawned and the progeny it could have produced will not return to the Chetco and that my friends is sad.


  1. Hi Shane.
    Quite a lot of fly-fishing blogs and web-sites that I see talk about "pigs" and "hogs" for large trout. I really dislike this. The trout treated as a commodity, even in the language used.

  2. Look at the tail fin on that guy, what a gorgeous fish.

    Would have been a great father or mother to many more.

    Killing wild steelhead reminds me of the harvest rules on the Crooked River near Prineville. Native, reproducing trout population -- and yet killing them is allowed. GAH! Some friends of mine and I gathered together to try to fight it but were snubbed bigtime.

    I feel like the "public opinion process" with ODFW is a sham, to be honest. They seemed like they already had in their head what they wanted to do and were just sitting through the "crap sessions" before implementing exactly what they intended to in the first place.