Friday, December 26, 2008

A Great Book!

This book was my 2008 Christmas gift from my dear wife.

I cannot say enough good things about it. Thousands of Atlantic Salmon and Steelhead flies are richly illustrated in this book that could be compared to George Kelson's classic volume on Atlantic salmon flies.
As you know product endorsements are very rare on this blog but I make exceptions when I feel something deserves recognition and this book certainly does.
This book is published by Amato books and is the fruit of 30 years' research by renowned international fly tying author, Chris Mann.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays From Shane at The Quiet Pool

We are in the biggest snow storm in 40 years here in the Pacific Northwest and with warming temperatures predicted for this weekend the possibly of major flooding is very real. We saw this happen in 1996 and it made huge changes in some of the rivers I fish.
In 2006 one of my favorite trout drifts was forever changed and is not even fishable anymore.
I accidentally caught what might have been the last steelhead ever taken from that particular run.
So swinging my fly for some winter steelhead will be delayed but I look forward to a good season.
Photo Courtesy of Bob Meiser

We saw some major setbacks in the cause of wild salmonid conservation but I think Bill Bakke said it best as we were leaving the meeting that saw ODFW take a giant step backwards in wild trout conservation by allowing a harvest of wild coastal cutthroat trout.
He told me "We can walk away from a defeat but those who were victorious must live with their decision"
Wise words from a very wise man.
So from me to all of you that have taken time to read these amateurish writings of mine I thank you and wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season.
Here is hoping that all your fly fishing dreams come true in 2009

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cheap Crap!

One would think that after over 35 years of fishing in the Pacific Northwest I would learn. Hell no! After all these years I have not learned the lesson of not buying cheap fishing/outdoor gear.
The latest cheap crap I bought was a boot dryer. I was in Harbor Freight, the mecca of cheap crap, and found this boot dryer for $10. I was so excited at finding a cheap boot dryer that I didn't bother to check and see that it ran four "D" cell batteries and in order to run it on household current I had to buy a six volt adapter. So after determining that I had no six volt adapter I ventured out to the Dollar Tree to find come cheap "D" batteries.

I don't know if they have Dollar Tree stores in other parts of the country but I have three of them within two miles of me. You could probably buy the entire store's inventory for less than $1000.
See the pattern here? In order to know that the Dollar Tree had cheap batteries meant that I had been in there before...I'm hopeless! So I got the $1 batteries and of course browsed the cheap Christmas tinsel to see if they had any new colors that I hadn't already bought for use in fly tying.
Well needless to say the crappy boot dryer did what cheap and crappy things do. Yes it crapped out and now resides in the plastic recycle container out in the drive way.
I have a long history of cheapness and it seems like some sort of evolutionary process with me. I'm evidentily still evolving when it comes to cheap crap.
It started with fishing line back in my gear days. I would buy this blue stuff that was about $1.79 for a thousand yards. After losing a huge steelhead I learned my lesson.
Then it was hip boots. I found some for $19.95 and of course in the middle of winter when the water is 38 degrees they leaked and I learned my lesson well at least until the introduction of cheap neoprene waders and cheap breathables.
It went on into rain coats. I found a really nice and cheap one at the local Bi-Mart and when I got wetter than I would have without a raincoat I learned my lesson.
Oh I could go on but I think you get the idea. Cheap rods, reels, line, rifles, sunglasses etc. will fail you at the most critical moments...take it from someone who knows.
So the moral of this story is to buy the best fishing/outdoor gear you can afford! You'll will save yourself from frozen toes, fingers and lost elk hunting opportunities(don't ask) when you purchase quality gear.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Goodbye Bettie

My favorite fantasy girl from bygone days passed away yesterday at the age of 85.
There was just something about Bettie Page that us guys really liked. She became somewhat of a cult figure in recent years and with the picture below you know why.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

River Access - Who's Right, Who's Wrong...Who Knows?

One of the hot topics among anglers here in Oregon is the one of who owns the beds and banks of the rivers of this state.
Should be simple shouldn't it? The Oregon State Constitution says they are public domain! The public is entitled to their use and even the state attorney general agrees.
Not so fast friends!
Seems that someone way back in the seventies in the Oregon legislature thought it politically expedient to muck up the pun intended. In some kind of back room deal they allowed the individual landowners the right to limit access along the river unless that river has been declared navigable.
So here is where we are today! In order for the public to legally access the bank of a river up to the high water mark that river has to be declared navigable by the Oregon Department of State Lands or DSL. The whole navigability process is a long and ponderous process and typically political charged not to mention expensive and extremely divisive.
River front landowners claim they hold deed to the middle of the river their land borders. Some do and some are mistaken but it just isn't that simple.
If their land deed is in fact accurate then unless the river that their land borders has been declared navigable (Eleven rivers in Oregon have been declared navigable in part or whole)then they have say so as to who may traverse the river along their property.
So you can see why this is such a confusing and emotionally charged topic.
The Association of Northwest Steelheaders has been at the forefront of the whole access issue. They have spent a great deal of their money and been subjected to more than a few IRS and Oregon Department of Revenue audit that challenge their non-profit status to determine who is right or wrong. They have been successful in getting most of the Sandy and John Day rivers declared navigable and I applaud them for their efforts.
One would think that the ultimate bad guy in all of this is the landowner! That is not the case at all. Sure there are some that are combative and down right belligerent when it comes to this issue. Some river front landowners have taken the law into their own hands and actually built barbed wire fences across some Oregon rivers along with illegally taking gravel out of rivers where salmon and steelhead spawning occur! Other landowners will let their cattle graze along the river bank which destroys critical stream side riparian zones.

The majority are simply trying to protect their property from litter, vandalism and abuse. They do not own huge tracts of land and in many cases their land has been family owned for several generations.
I cannot imagine owning riverfront property along the more popular salmon and steelhead rivers of this state. I've witnessed the vandalism and littering that occurs and am, without going into the sickening details, disgusted at what I've seen left by those who care nothing about the property of others.

Some over zealous river rights advocates have decided that the confrontational "in your face" approach is the way to handle this explosive issue. This has done little except to piss off landowners who might have been worked with on access issues.
So who is right? Landowners and public use advocates both are! Who is wrong? They both are!
There is no solution to this in the near future because the politicians have not had the intestinal fortitude to tackle this issue. Whether they be on the side of the river using public or whether they be on the side of landowners both large and small it is the politicians of this state that need to sort this out and the sooner the better.
My approach is to only fish where I am allowed to fish. I will respect a landowners request to leave his property and will do so immediately. I have never had a serious confrontation with any landowners because I will not belligerently take the attitude of some who think being confrontational and obnoxious and therefore getting what private land is open taken away. I have taken this stance which is surprisingly unpopular among the majority of fellow anglers but hey when have I cared about taking an unpopular stand?
So my best advice is always respect someone else's property. Do not litter and leave the river bank in better shape that you found it. I suggest knocking on some doors of private landowners and politely asking permission to fish their property. Take along a litter bag and collect up as much garbage as you can. That really impresses a landowner.
I feel this approach will win more friends than enemies in the long run.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Fly fishing Dos and Don'ts According to Me

There are, no doubt, countless lists about how one should conduct himself while enjoying the sport of fly fishing. I am quite sure that they are all encompassing and some would even claim to be the final authority as to what to do and what not to do along the stream.
Well not exactly...
You will have to suffer through yet one more - Namely Mine!

So here goes and you are welcome to agree or disagree with my wit and wisdom.
Let's dispense with the obvious because I am sure you all are aware that littering, vandalism and other such vile acts are definite Don'ts. If you are not aware of those absolutes then I am truly amazed that you are able to make use of a computer much less knowing how to communicate abstract thoughts on that computer.
Don't enter a stretch of river and immediately start fishing directly below another angler. This is impolite and if you are found doing this during the fall salmon season then you might likely wind up in the river or having that 13 foot spey shoved in an uncomfortable location where a visit to a proctologist might be necessary.
Whenever I am limited to fishing in close quarters with other anglers I either leave and find some less crowded waters or I ask permission to fish in the same area.
I have yet to be turned down when I use this approach.
Do carry a plastic bag to pick up garbage along the stream bank. This is especially important when fishing, with permission of course, along private land. Nothing impresses a land owner more than an angler cleaning up trash.
Don't have a picture taken of you and your fish with your fly rod in your mouth. Nothing looks stupider than some guy posing for his hero shot with a rod clenched in his teeth. If you must have an ego shot taken then leave the damn fish in the water at all costs! I saw a picture on of some attention seeking moron with a wild Deschutes river spring chinook hauled out of the water and up to the road where his camera was...what a clown!
Do avoid completely all spawning fish and their redds. Be watchful where you wade and never ever cast your fly towards active spawning fish.
Again the enticement of visible fish in the water might be too much for the weak minded to resist but hey we are fly anglers and should know better or at least I hope we should.
Do become involved in conservation at some level. Hey If you can take the time to read the drivel I write on this blog then you can take the time to write your state fish and wildlife department to voice your concerns. They do read this stuff and they do pay attention to what you have to say.
If you can be involved beyond letter writing then so much the better. There will always be plenty of those who like to make like they care but in truth it's little more than lip service. There are a lot of folks who get little if any attention with their conservation efforts and that is the way they like it.
Don't make money off of wild fish and natural resources then give little back! This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I'm not saying it's wrong to make a buck or two off of wild fish and natural resources but it reprehensible to never go beyond that. This goes for anyone from guides to internet website owners who have huge followings. If you think I'm talking about you then I probably am.
Finally by all means Do enjoy what a river and a day outdoors have to offer. Certainly there are fewer and fewer fish available to catch but take the time to consider your surrounding out on the river.
Isn't it a great thing to be alive and along a beautiful stretch of water with your fly rod? Yes catching a few fish is nice to but is it absolutely necessary to salve your ego by catching a fish?

Our rivers out here are sparkling diamonds...every one of them! They may have become tarnished over the years by miuse but they are still a resource of immense enjoyment that you and I are able to utilize. I intend to take that attitude in the coming year. We have suffered some severe setbacks this past year when it comes to protecting wild fish but it's the beauty of where we are and where we live that makes us, or at lest me, fight so hard for it in the first place.
Enjoy that beauty and keep ever mindful of those that fought for your right to be makes a difference when you approach it that way.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Am the Older Generation

Hey all you baby boomers.Do you remember that old song by The Who titled "My Generation" ? For those of us from that era it was kind of our defiant anthem that proclaimed our independence from and differences with our parents.
We told the older generation "Don't try to dig what we all say"
This week we journeyed north to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with our children and to see our son's band perform for the first time.
Remember I am a child of the 60's and cloaked myself with all the trappings that came with that period of time. I immersed myself in the music and lifestyle of the times and the music? The louder the better.
Hendrix, The Who, The Doors and Black Sabbath were just a few of the bands I enjoyed.
I attended more than a few ear splitting live concerts in venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Anaheim Convention Center and the old Paramount theatre in Portland.
Well my friends, those high decibel days are just an ear ringing memory now because the second I entered the place where my son's band "Skeletons With Flesh on Them" was playing I swear the fillings in my teeth were about to vibrated out.
Of course we were the oldest folks present and it was then and there, between my sons pounding drum beat, that I realized that I had become a member of the older generation.
Where did the years go? Even worse! Where did those long brown locks of flowing hair go?
Much of the music of today does not appeal to me much but I can appreciate the musical talent of those preforming it. That was definitely something my parents and most parents of those old days could not do.
Basically all it took is one look at someone like Jim Morrison and that did it. If my parents would have known what Morrison was singing about in a song like "The End" I would have had my LP's confiscated.
Though I am now the "Older Generation" I think the disdain that my parents held for my acid rock helped me appreciate my kids music.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Time to Act is Right Now!!!!

The following was sent to me by Matt Stansberry and The Oregon Fly Fishing board.
Let's get on board with this!

Wading into northwest forest policy is kind of like skinny dipping with piranha only more dangerous and probably dumber. Nonetheless, as anglers who care deeply about the health of our salmon and steelhead runs and the rivers that nurture them we can’t sit quietly by as the BLM puts great local rivers and the fish that inhabit them at risk.
The Western Oregon Plan Revision is the BLM’s attempt to ramp up logging and dramatically reduce riparian protections on 2.6 million acres of land in the western part of the state managed by that agency. The timber industry asserted in a lawsuit that the Northwest Forest Plan cannot apply to Oregon BLM lands, most of which were acquired through the Oregon and California Railroad Act. Instead of defending itself, the agency rolled over and scrapped the Northwest Forest Plan in favor of the WOPR.
Now, the Northwest Forest Plan is far from perfect and federal timber managers have at times had difficulty getting the cut out–but no parties are blameless in that regard. There is middle ground but industry, federal agencies, conservation interests and environmental groups have not always sought it.
Despite its perceived shortcomings, the Northwest Forest Plan has had remarkable success in at least one regard: improving riparian conditions. It is no secret that salmon, trout and steelhead need cold clean water with complex habitat in order to thrive. The Aquatic Conservation Strategy implemented by the Northwest Forest Plan is a cornerstone of Oregon’s salmon recovery efforts and has been successful. Scientists have documented improvement in riparian conditions in over 64% of the streams sampled since implementation of the Aquatic Conservation Strategy. The new plan would eliminate this proven management tool on BLM land.
It gets worse. The BLM also plans to reduce existing Northwest Forest Plan riparian buffer widths by 50% on fish bearing waters as well as on intermittent streams. This will result in over 130,000 acres of previously protected riparian forest being opened to logging. This is not just an academic issue. It puts the waters we love to fish at risk:

The Siuslaw, the Umpqua, the Alsea, the Rogue, all will suffer. Look at the Smith for god’s sake! (You can see a larger version of the map by clicking on it.) It isn’t just conservation and environmental groups sounding the alarm. The Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (state, federal and tribal biologists) had significant concerns about the WOPR and these concerns were largely echoed by NOAA Fisheries and the EPA.
There are over 700 miles of streams under the BLM’s control listed as water quality impaired under section 303d of the Clean Water Act. The largest culprit is water temperature affecting 569 river miles. Reducing buffers could lead to further damage to our rivers and streams due to raised water temperatures as well as increased salmon smothering sediment. Kicking them while they are down: is this how we want to manage our treasured runs of salmon and steelhead?
In addition to further harming already degraded habitat, the Plan will degrade existing high quality habitat. Anchor habitats are pockets of high value habitat that serve as strongholds for endangered salmon and steelhead. This map of the Siuslaw basin shows anchor habitat and BLM land:

The bottom line is that the BLM’s Plan will harm the waters that you fish. This aggression will not stand.–KM
Currently, the WOPR is sitting on the Governor’s desk as he evaluates the plan for consistency with Oregon law. Please write him a personal email as an angler expressing you concern about this plan. If you don’t have time for a personal email just copy the following text and paste it into this link:

Dear Governor Kulongoski:

I am writing you as an angler to express my concern about the Western Oregon Plan Revision. The BLM’s plan to reduce riparian reserves on fish bearing streams and eliminate the Aquatic Conservation Strategy is unacceptable. The WOPR is certain to harm our already struggling populations of salmon and steelhead.

Resource production is an important use of public land; however, the BLM is also an important partner in restoring our salmon and steelhead populations. As such it is critical that they follow the sound, scientifically based standards of the Northwest Forest Plan. They have not. The BLM’s proposal does not do enough to protect or restore beleaguered salmon and steelhead populations.

Angling for salmon and steelhead occupies a special place in northwest culture and the fish must be protected. Thank you for your consideration of my comments.


(Your name here)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ODFW... It's All About Saving Their Own Ass!

The 2009 Oregon fishing regulations are out and the cold, hard slap to the face of all of us who worked hard to save wild coastal cutthroat trout is in print for all to see! Northwest Zone Trout: 2 per day, 2 daily limits in possession 8-inch minimum length The harsh reality of it all will not fully sink in until I see some Powerbait using idiot carrying a stringer full of wild steelhead smolt with his wife and kids in tow along the river next season.

What this all boils down to is the fact that the dysfunctional state agency AKA Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is full of people that only care about saving their jobs! The governor of this state says all state agencies must cut back as much as ten percent and so the bureaucrats at ODFW are scrambling like cockroaches when you turn the kitchen light on at night to save their asses! It's not really about increasing angling opportunity anymore. The management of ODFW knows that they better generate revenue because the governor's budget ax is going to cut deep on any programs falling under the general fund.
This is an agency who will send up to ten empty suits to a budget meeting where only four members of the general public show up. This is an agency who was, until recently, using gas guzzling pick up trucks to drive up and down the Nestucca river to check a single fish trap! This is an agency that planned an important public meeting about the welfare of cutthroat trout on the Friday before Memorial Day when they know they will get minimal public participation.Finally this is an agency who will spend money on cleaning out mud at a worthless boat ramp that filled right back up with mud at the first high water!
These geniuses at the Salem headquarters and Tillamook regional headquarters were just waiting for the opportunity to screw over wild cutthroat trout in the name of creating angling opportunities. They waited four years to stick it to the wild fish conservation groups and they did with the help of a seemingly detached and disinterested commission.
Their laughable angler review board ramrodded all these harvest proposals through and only one conservation proposal made it through the commission at the final vote.
These are the people charged with the stewardship of our wild fish and after they have summarily mismanaged nearly all wild salmonids into near extinction they set their eyes on the last wild coastal trout population on the west coast...the coastal cutthroat trout.
The old Billy Preston song "Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing" should be the anthem at ODFW headquarters in Salem because that is exactly what is going to be left when these save asses are done!
My good friend John Bracke coined the phrase "Oregon Department of Failure and Waste" and is certainly is an apt description for an agency so top heavy and out of control that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
I'll tell you folks I am disgusted beyond anger at what has transpired this regulation cycle. Wild fish will get killed and grilled and the heritage of this state is dying!
The fabled Tillamook fall Chinook run has been a no show the last two years. The north coast chum salmon are on the verge of disappearing and the wild winter steelhead redds are few and far between! So now it's the cutthroat trout! Who as an indicator species as to the health of wild salmonids in an anadromous coastal river, have not fully recovered from the last interference and folly by ODFW!
ODFW will have to do the mandated cuts that the governor demands but what programs will be cut? None of the sacred cows that should be cut mind you. By sacred cows I am referring to hatcheries and hatchery programs that are obsolete,outdated and polluting!
So any of you that are thinking of visiting Oregon to partake of some "blue ribbon" trout fishing you'd better come soon if you want a chance maybe hook a nice trout! They are quickly disappearing while ODFW and especially those at the Tillamook regional office do their best Emperor Nero impersonation and fiddle while our wild fish burn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Here I sit on this cold November night pondering a trip to the Deschutes tomorrow for one last shot at summer steelhead. Any other time it would be a no brainer but we have had some pretty serious rain this week. Who would have thought there would be torrential downpours in mid-November in the Pacific Northwest but as hard to believe as that is we got buckets full.
The coastal streams are out of their banks and it will be at least 3 or 4 days before they are fishable and besides chinook salmon on a fly are about as exciting as pulling in a log! Some might disagree but they are not an exciting game fish on a fly.
Seriously though, the Deschutes is up a bit and I hear the water clarity is not the best. We will be having a cold clear night and so that might mean a dropping and clearing river but since there is a dam on the Deschutes that pretty much negates that whole theory.
So do I take the chance and go?
I could certainly use the Skagit casting practice but it will burn a tank of gas to get there. I might get lucky and hook into a late summer steelhead but it's bound to be cold. There probably won't be many guys fishing but it gets dark so early I would be leaving the river at 5pm.
Oh the conundrums I am dealing with!
It is the Deschutes though. A magical and beautiful place to be at any time of year!
So what if I don't catch anything it would be nice to get out for one last time before the winter comes.
I might see a bald eagle or perhaps a coyote or deer. I do love this river after all and hey gas is just a "scant" $2.09 a gallon soooo yeah I think I'll go.....maybe

UPDATE: 11/14 10:00 AM
I know some of you must be hanging on the edge of your computer chair while this fishing "drama" plays out.
After seeing that the river spiked up after a water release from Pelton dam my common sense kicked in and sadly I opted not to go.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The State of Fish Address

When I first started this blog it was my intention to fill its pages with flowery prose and humorous anecdotes about the "affliction" we call fly fishing.
I have managed to post a few funny stories about my stumbling along the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and I hope you've enjoyed them along the way.
These days my heart is just not into funny, John Gierach type tales of fly fishing. The tragic decline of our anadromous north American species of trout and salmon is nothing to joke about.
When the once too numerous to count Columbia river Chinook salmon have dwindled down to nearly nothing then where is the humour in that? The north coast Chum salmon runs which were so plentiful that they over crowded the river and would actually move upstream via roadside drainage ditches are just a memory. I witnessed these fish in huge numbers so that the old cliche of being able to walk across the river on the backs of spawning fish was no exaggeration.
Wild steelhead have been in trouble for a long time and no Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife dog and pony shows like the steelhead broodstock programs can bring about a semblance of what once was and in fact have proven to be a set back to wild steelhead recovery.I've made my affection for coastal cutthroat trout well known here and to imagine the killing of these wonderful fish breaks my heart.
The state of wild trout, steelhead and salmon in the west is dreadful. I searched a thesaurus to adequately describe the adjective "bad" and dreadful is what I thought best described what I wanted to say. We cannot soft soap the state of our wild coldwater fisheries and there is nothing to warrant being upbeat about their state at this point in time. So not to sound totally all doom and gloom I think that if there is a glimmer of hope it is that more and more people are aware of the sorry state of things. I have been fortunate enough to live through some real boom periods for salmon, steelhead and trout. I saw the wild summer steelhead of the Columbia tributaries in large numbers and I've seen the abundant coastal fall chinook and coho.One lingering image of those heady days of the not too distant past was the sixty six pound Trask river fall chinook that was laid out on a picnic table by the angler that had just landed him.The days of huge fall salmon are gone and perhaps forever. I've seen a glimpse of the glory days of an early SW Washington summer run of wild steelhead that defied description in their beauty and the phenomenal fighting ability. I even caught a few of them! These "springers" were the fish that made Bill McMillan the fly fishing and conservation legend status he holds today. Their decline broke his heart and he moved away from his rustic cabin on the banks of the Washougal.
There are stories from all over this region about how great it all was.Rivers like the North Umpqua,the Rogue and the Washougal were rivers of legendary fish and fishermen.
I am uncertain that we can once again bring wild salmonids back from the brink as it seems there are many more obstacles than there were just twenty years ago but if people become angry and will not allow this "heritage" to just disappear then maybe there is some hope.
I had to learn to care for wild fish and if an old guy like me can get clued in then so can others.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Northwest Steelheaders....What Happened?

I have been involved with the Association of Northwest Steelheaders (ANWS) since 1973 and I am a life member. I also served on the ANWS executive committee for two years as secretary so I know more than a little bit about this group.
This organization has been, in the past, at the front line of wild fish conservation issues. They spearheaded the drive to make steelhead trout a game fish in Oregon and I can remember collecting initiative petition signatures at Portland's Rose Parade to get this measure on the 1974 ballot.
The ANWS was a very vocal grass roots wild fish advocacy group in Oregon, Washington and Idaho with thousands of members all with a common goal!
Through their association with Trout Unlimited they became a force to be reckoned with.
Look at ANWS today!The ANWS is no longer active in Washington and Idaho and their association with Trout Unlimited is just a distant memory. When taking on important conservation issues of the day the Steelheaders are no shows! When trying to save wild coastal cutthroat trout from harvest the Steelheaders were actually in favor of it with one of their most "legendary" members actually testifying in favor of killing these wild fish. They "canonize" people for enshrinement in their Hall of Fame who are not deserving while ignoring those warriors from the past who made them what they once were.
Their focus now is river access and they have indeed made some progress in that fight. At the same time though, they have succeeded in alienating landowners who could have been worked with. Some of their members are confrontational and belligerent when dealing with river front landowners and have generally set back the cause for access.
In 2002 they initially backed a ballot initiative that would have provided riparian protection in the upper reaches of north coast rivers that would have protected wild salmonids. When members of a couple of mid-Willamette valley chapters threatened to pull out of ANWS because of their support the executive committee backed down and rescinded their support and it was then I left.
There are many fine and dedicated members of ANWS but by in large they have become little more than a big fishing club. They no longer have any clout in fishery politics and seemingly care little about wild salmonids except to increase the sports harvest of these same wild fish.
Too bad! I miss this group and their fight for our fishing resource and am no longer an active member. Maybe someday they will return to their mission statement of "Anglers Dedicated to Enhancing and Protecting Fisheries and their Habitats for Today and the Future"

Monday, November 03, 2008

Putting the Wraps On My Trout Season

October 31st was the final day of my 2008 trout season and it was a memorable one. I was fortunate to hook many nice cutthroat trout and this season will provide me with many great memories to sustain me through the winter.
I could never seem to quite get it all together for the Deschutes this year and while I did manage to catch and release a few rainbows east of the mountains high gas prices definitely kept me close to home.
I took some large coastal cutthroat trout with many different patterns and in many different rivers this year. One very large trout literally removed my reel from the sliding band reel seat of my rod! Picture me fighting a large trout while trying to reattach my reel to my rod. I managed to do it and land the trout!
Why do I have such an affection for these trout? Cutthroat trout are a simple fish in that they strike with abandon and fight ferociously belying their smaller size. While they are a simple trout they are most affected by the interference of man. As I've posted before there are many species of cutthroat trout that simply do not exist anymore.
The coastal variety that I fish for are affected by habitat degradation and that is the number one culprit in their dwindling numbers.
So next year these trout face yet another obstacle and that is a harvest. It saddens me to no end that this is happening but it is and we will just have to rededicate our efforts to save these fish.
So now I face the winter season with the rain and cold. The steelhead of winter will provide a great challenge but I will still long for those days of spring and will anxiously await them.
I hope all of you had a great trout season. Whether you fish in the large freestone rivers of the west or the small chalk streams of the UK or even the wind swept shores of Patagonia we all love our trout don't we?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Dance of the Chum Salmon

This year could be a make or break year for chum salmon! Their numbers are severely down on the north coast with two years of heavy fall floods the returns from this year are critical for their survival. Please rethink your angling on these fish as they need a break and by avoiding any unnecessary angling pressure and being ever mindful of their redds you and I can make a difference with chum salmon.
When I am out on the river I always feel blessed when I can witness nature in action. Whether it's seeing a family of river otter or a bald eagle or a bobcat or something as simple as a common shore bird trying to scratch out a living along the banks of a river. Mother nature never fails to come through.
A few years back I was floating the tidewater portion of the Kilchis river on the northern Oregon coast and witnessed a natural phenomena that I will never forget. I like to call it the dance of the chum salmon because it could not have been more precisely choreographed if a professional dancer had actually been involved. Picture a school of at least five hundred of these salmon rolling on the water surface in unison! That is what I saw and I saw it more than was, to use a tired cliché, awe inspiring. It's something I would never had witnessed had I not been in the lowest portion of the river on an incoming tide.
The return of the chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) to two small Oregon rivers has taken place every year around election day. You will see their mottled shapes in large numbers in the Miami and Kilchis river near Tillamook as they ascend the shallow riffles of the lower river. They come into fresh water ready to spawn and will usually spawn in the lower reaches of these rivers. As salmon go the chums are on the lowest rung of the salmon hierarchy. Despite being extremely plentiful in Alaska, commercial fishers often choose not to fish for them because of their low market value in comparison to the more sought after species like Chinook or Coho.
Their harvest value to the angler is also low because they turn very quickly upon entering the river.
The one thing that these salmon take a back seat to no other Pacific salmon is their fight. I know of no other species in the Pacific north west that battles when hooked better than the chum. These fish come readily to a fly and would break an eight weight fly rod quite easily. Yes they will snap your $700 Winston Boron fly rod as easily as they would your $50 Eagle Claw.

This is me from a few years ago fighting a chum salmon on the Miami River in Oregon.

The over developed canine like teeth give them their other popular nickname "Dog" salmon. One could just imagine the ferociousness that the toothy males exhibit when spawning and doing battle with other amorous males.
They are as unique in their behavior and coloration as any other of their more popular brethren.
As I said these salmon deteriorate quickly and are not good table fare. In Oregon they are protected under the Endangered Species Act because of their declining numbers while in Washington they remain abundant at least for the time being.
I like to think of these chum as the "working class" among the various salmon species. You have the regal Chinook or King salmon and you have the acrobatic and enigmatic Coho but the unattractive scrappy chum seem to have to work harder and get less recognition that it's more photo-genetic brethren. Their determination is admirable and while they won't win any beauty prize they will fight like no other west coast salmon.
They all come up the rivers seemingly at once and when you look into a pool only to see hundreds of them it's at times breathtaking. They get little respect from most anglers also and that is too bad. Because of the sheer numbers that are present in the river during the chums spawning and also their catch and release status they are not treated with care upon their release. Unceremoniously booted back in the river after being snagged is a treatment these fish do not deserve. One has to care about wild fish to know the importance of every one of them but sadly many do not.
So with their life's task complete and they are near death they are at the mercy of the river just like they were a few years earlier and just out of the gravel. A noble warrior, who like the working class hero I compared them to earlier, did his job and did it well.
Any of you that fish for chums please be aware that their numerous redds in the lower portion of the river should be avoided and special care needs to be taken when wading in chum salmon rivers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Maybe It's Time To Re-Think 6X Tippets

I guess the old cliche "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" should be on my headstone someday.
During this trout season I have had more than a few fish that have broken me off with a powerful head shake but being an untrainable old dog I "doggedly" insist on using a 6X tippet which is about three pound test.
Today I hooked another surprise summer steelhead and of course he broke me off. Not surprising, I suppose, but when larger than average cutthroat trout are doing the same thing then maybe a heavier tippet might be in think?
When fishing this time of year it's not all that uncommon to hook an occasional steelhead and it makes for a great day although they are seldom landed. I have also hooked some larger than usual trout during October and have left my fly in their lip.
The coastal trout season ends on Friday and I might get out one more time before I pack up my trout gear for the winter. I especially hate to see it end this year because next year there will be a harvest allowed on these wild trout. Maybe by prolonging the season, if only in my mind, these fish will remain protected but alas it's not to be.
I find myself wondering how I will react when I see dead eight inch cutthroat trout on someones stringer. I know it will be hard not to say something but I will try to bite my tongue and move on.
It makes me sad and filled with self doubt about what more I could have done to protect these wild fish. I know I could have done more and wish I would have.
I'll have a long and cold winter to ponder that and prepare myself for this kill fishery next year so maybe I'll just stick to the upper reaches of the coastal rivers and thus sequester myself from the harvest crowd and any potential confrontations.
Pessimistically speaking though, I know the best days of coastal cutthroat trout fishing with a fly are behind me now and I wish I could say that their future does not look bleak but reality being what it is I would be just kidding myself.
So I would encourage each of you to not let wild trout vanish and the only thing left is memories...please be involved

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Quiet Pool - The Book

Awhile back I received an email from outdoors writer Dan Homel of Bellingham, Washington and he told me he had written a fly fishing book titled "The Quiet Pool" He was gracious enough to send me an autographed copy. Since "The Quiet Pool" is the name of this epic blog he thought I might be interested in reading his book.
Well it took me awhile to get around to reading it but if you get a chance to get a copy I do recommend it.You might have to do a little searching for a copy of this book but if you find it and are interested in why we rain soaked folk of the Pacific northwest are so affectionate about our region then give this book a try.

For those of us that are lucky enough to live here in the Pacific Northwest many of the rivers and lakes mentioned in this book are familiar. The Olympic peninsula in Washington is one of those storied places gave birth to many spey casting techniques that spey casters throughout the world know well.
What I like about the book is the hominess that one feels as Dan relates his experiences while pursuing steelhead, salmon, trout and even bass.Maybe this book appeals to me because it is written in a region of the world where I live and those of us that we are truly fortunate to live here know how special those rivers and lakes of the Pacific Northwest are.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

People You Meet Along the Way

In my angling life I've been able to travel and fish many places through out the Pacific northwest. I have not been a world traveler like many of you have but here in my little corner of the world I've wet many a line over thirty five years of fishing and fished many rivers and small creeks.
Through those thirty five years I've met a lot of people, mostly anglers, who have made for an interesting journey through those years. Some nice and some not so nice but it's always been entertaining none the less.
I would like to share a few with you.
There was the old gentleman searching for native American artifacts along the upper Kilchis river that comes to mind.
He said he had found many relics of the indigenous tribes that once inhabited the area and he wanted to open a museum to display his relics.
He said the best time to find arrowheads and other stone tools was right after a period of high water.
He said he never, in all his many decades along the Kilchis river, paid much attention to the once numerous salmon.
Then there was "Joe" who owned property along that same Kilchis river. My fishing partner and I had floated the river that day and we pulled up onto this likely looking salmon hole.
Joe shows up, a little irate, and tells us that this was private property. We immediately apologized and assure him that we will leave right then and there.
Maybe Joe was testing us but his whole demeanor changed and he complimented us on our politeness. Joe said we could fish there anytime as he chatted with us for a while and wistfully recalled the salmon runs from the past.
Not all of the people I've met along the river have been...well "people"
There was a pair of Labrador Retrievers that I would swear were the biggest con-artists I've met.
They would bark and generally raise hell with you as you floated by but it was all a ploy to get part of your lunch! We gave them cookies and chips and suddenly they were our best friends and would follow us down the river for at least a half mile wanting to get petted or get some more treats.
Then there was the ancient Siberian Husky that would search the bank for anything edible. Since this was a salmon hole there would be a lot of bait scraps to be had and this old boy ate it all whether it be old sand shrimp or discarded salmon cured roe. He was a regular visitor every time I fished this spot for quite a few years. I was later to find out he had died of old age and I still think of him any time I'm passing through that salmon hole or fly fishing it for trout.
I've gotten many a history lesson from the elderly gents that I chat with as they recall the "old" days and the great salmon and steelhead runs of the 40's or 50's. I wonder what how many of them still fish or are still around. One old fellow told me the smell of my pipe reminded him of his father.
Each of those rivers and each fishing spot along those rivers have a story for me and when I am there I cannot help but remember them and the people I have met there. Most are pleasant and friendly but some are not.
I've had a few unpleasant encounters but they always stayed verbal and taught me that fishing is something more to some people than a relaxing day on the stream. I've learned that if I encounter someone that does not want to chat or share fishing theories then it is best to just move on with a pleasant "Have a good one" as we part.
Over the year the paths of a river change somewhat due to floods and the like and so to do the folks you meet. I would hope that sometime, somewhere, someone will think of me as that friendly old guy that smoked a pipe and maybe made their day on the river a more pleasant one.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why Cutthroat Trout are Important

"These trout are from 16 to 23 inches in length, precisely resemble our mountain or speckled trout in form and the position of their fins, but the specks on these are of a deep black instead of the red or gold of those common in the U' States. These are furnished with long teeth on the pallet and tongue and have generally a small dash of red on each behind the front ventral fins; the flesh is of a pale yellowish red, or when in good order, of rose red"
- Meriwether Lewis
Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
June 13, 1805

I recently purchased Patrick Trotter's expansive work titled "Cutthroat - Native Trout of the West" which along with Les Johnson's "Fly Fishing for Coastal Cutthroat Trout" are the best and most definitive narratives on these wonderful trout.

Why are these trout so important beyond their appeal as game fish? These trout and especially the coastal sub species oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii are an indicator of the over all health of the watersheds they are native to. Of course I am not degreed as a fish biologist but this scenario has proven to be true on the north Oregon coastal streams for all the years I have been pursuing them with a fly. When the cutthroat populations in these streams are down so too will be the other salmonid species in that watershed and this is true currently along the coast.
The cutthroat trout are the one species of trout that are prevalent through the western US and is not likely to be found in a wild state east of the Rockie Mountains. Several sub species are, unfortunately, now extinct but at one time cutthroat trout ranged as far south as the Pecos River and Rio Grande rivers in southwest Texas.

The cutthroat trout, which were so plentiful at one time, are most prone to man's intrusion into their habitat.Their spawning gravel is silted over by bad logging practices and the woody structure that provides them sanctuary has been carelessly removed by state fish and wildlife agencies. They do not adapt to being removed and relocated in other waters and perhaps that is why we do not see them in the eastern US.
While some elitist anglers might show them a certain amount of disdain because of their aggressiveness while casting flies at the more "desirable" species of rainbow or brown trout I have a special affection for cutthroat trout. We cannot, in good conscience, allow this to happen! We cannot just give lip service any longer! These fish are too important to see them slowly disappear as some species of cutthroat trout have done.
Cutthroat trout are important because we seem to have over looked them for so many years that now, as their numbers decline, we cannot ignore or over look them any more.
When ODFW regional biologist Jeff Ziller recently scoffed at them by saying "They are only cutthroat trout after all" in a meeting one has to become alarmed at this attitude. They are important because they are the only wild trout that occurs exclusively in the West.
We cannot easily dismiss them as unimportant and non-vital. We do that with enough coldwater fisheries we will one day be wondering what happened.
ODFW feels that a child will get more interested in angling by being allowed to kill a wild trout! They have said this and it is undeniable! It is a matter of public record in fact.
I would propose that instead of teaching children that these trout are so inconsequential that the child's self worth will surely be boosted by killing them that maybe we should teach them just how special any wild salmonid is.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fish Pimp

"Pimp - to make use of often dishonorably for one's own gain or benefit"

I know what you are thinking dear readers and yes I am going to rant, once again, about those internet "pimps" who continue to use their site to prostitute our wild salmonids.
You know who they are if you have been paying attention to this blog the last couple of years.
These folks think nothing of making money on our dwindling fish runs. They actively advertise on their mega-sites and draw more and more people to pursue less and less salmon, steelhead and trout.
Some of this might be tolerable if these "pimps" would give back to the resource they plunder! Most do not though!
Oh they will actively promote more hatchery programs and feel good about themselves in doing so but sorry pal that isn't giving back anything.
Our year long fight to save wild cutthroat trout from a reckless harvest is a prime example of why I am so vigilant in my criticism. Not once did these "pimps" show up at ODFW hearings or even write a letter in opposition! Not once!!!
Oh they will surely take advantage of every opportunity to sell stickers and hats at various events and in fact spend an entire week at the annual Sportsmen's show here in Portland, Oregon to sell their crap. However to actually become involved in the process of saving wild fish? Couldn't be bothered!
One large website does an annual Christmas toy drive for sick children who have to spend the holidays in the hospital.This is a very worthy cause to which I commend all involved and have been involved myself in the past.
Why then, does this fish entrepreneur use this event to sell the cheap hats, stickers and over priced clothing for profit?
Then there are the guides who sell time, and expensive time at that,on the river to clients who want to catch fish.They make a living by using the resource but these guides will not show up at any public meeting that does not directly benefit them monetarily! Even when the meeting venue is close by! You won't see these drift boat rowing, jet sled driving "pimps" at any ODFW meeting that involves wild fish unless it involves killing them. They show up in numbers when the fish killing pie is divided up though.
I find this type of behavior to be without honor and unethical and very much "pimp like"
Is it too much to ask these pimps to "Pay it Forward" a little bit? Get involved in something for the greater good that does not involve financial gain?
With our salmon, steelhead and trout populations coming perilously
close to disappearing it would make sense to do all one could do help out wouldn't it? In conclusion it makes me wonder how can these people sleep at night? Maybe they are up late counting their money or scheming for new ways to make money on what few fish there are left.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Way of a Trout

To most people a woodland stream is a pleasant scene of sun and shadow and rippling water.
But to an angler it is a community of many forms of life all centering, in his mind at least, on the most beautiful and aggressive of freshwater fish....
the trout.

-Frederick O. Hutchinson

While browsing through an antique store, recently, I picked up a first edition copy of the old Trout Unlimited book "The Way of a Trout".
This book was first published in 1972 and while that might not necessarily qualify it for antique status it is in very nice condition.
The book doesn't necessarily tell me anything that I didn't already know it did bring me back to my early days of conservation awareness.
This book had an accompanying film as well and it can be located here
The Way of a Trout
So what is the way of a trout? Well I can only relate it to the trout here in Oregon and Washington.
These Pacific Northwest trout face pretty much the same challenges as they did back in 1972 when the book was published but on a much more intense scale.
Along with a myriad of predators that the wild trout faces we know that the biggest and most destructive predator is, of course, ourselves. Trout also face all the other barriers and obstacles that made conservation as important back in 1972 as it is today.
I am struck by how intuitive,insightful the author, R.P. Van Gytenbeck and Trout Unlimited itself were thirty six years ago. This was at the very beginning of the ecology movement and Trout Unlimited was at the forefront in coldwater fishery conservation. This is why I made a lifetime commitment to them recently.
In my own pursuit of trout and primarily coastal cutthroat trout these past several years I have often pondered just how much these fish have to go through to achieve their sole purpose in life. I think about that as I patrol the banks of my favorite streams and I think it is what spurs me on both in my angling life and my conservation life as well.
These fish are worth the effort! So are the salmon and steelhead trout which inhabit the same rivers! Whether or not you are a religious person one cannot help but be in wonder at these little miracles of nature. If there is a supreme being then certainly trout are his/her perfect creation.
Some see trout as a food source and use hook and line as a means to acquire that food....that's fair enough I guess.Yes, I suppose, a nice frying pan full of wild trout might make ones mouth water. If you are reading this and are that hungry then look me up and I'll buy you a Big Mac if that is what it take to sate your appetite and not kill a wild trout
Some, myself included, see trout as a simplistic means to feel good about being where we are at this moment in time. Does that makes sense? To me it does! I think killing a wild trout for sustenance is a weak excuse at best . I feel fortunate enough to have been able to experience trout in a wonderful way and that does not include bashing it over the head for a measly dinner.
The way of a trout is perhaps the way of ourselves when you get right down to it. Life is a perilous journey to be sure and is wrought with obstacles and indeed our own predators. Maybe if more saw it that way we would not continuously have to struggle to save them.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

2008 National League West Champs

In the midst of economical doom and gloom there are a few bright spots to be found and this is one of least for me!
Thanks Manny! Hope you are back in blue next year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Angler in Autumn

I used to love the fall. Fall is a time of movement change and preparation. The waterfowl heading for warmer climates and of course the return of the fall salmon.
I loved that crispness in the air and the fall colors that make the trees look like they are ablaze.
There was the hint of the winter ahead and also the winter steelhead that would soon be in my favorite rivers. I braved the cold and ice in my younger days when these great ocean going rainbow trout were plentiful and worth the chill of a winter morning.
So what changed you might ask? Why does autumn no longer hold the affection it once did?
I think it has a lot to do with getting older and getting slower. The cool mornings seem to chill me more than they once did and the spectre of winter is looming larger than it once did for me.
There is still the waning days of coastal cutthroat fly fishing but I fish with a sadness in knowing that it will never be the same after the decision the was made to allow the killing of these precious fish.
Oh I will still pursue them but the thought that somewhere along the coast someone will be fishing for the trout with killing on their minds.
I no longer hunt for waterfowl or deer and elk hunt. I do not pursue fall salmon any longer either but still enjoy observing their annual spawning ritual. Maybe that is part of my melancholy towards fall. The salmon runs are a mere ghost of their former selves and the constant bickering between greedy user groups has turned me off.
I still come back to the reality of knowing my best years are behind me and the springs and summers of my life are limited. The fall might be a time of change but as I get older I think that I wish it would remain spring and summer forever.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Requiem For Cutthroat Trout

Well it's done! Cutthroat trout are the latest victim of an agency that reminds one of this weeks Wall Street fiasco!
As unprepared as the ODFW staff was in 2004 they certainly made up for this time.
I want to thank fellow members of Native Fish Society and Trout Unlimited for doing all they could to make sure these trout are protected.I also appreciate all who participated in the process whether it was signing the petition or emailing your opposition to the commissioner at ODFW. We did the best we could but I think the deck was stacked against us with the agenda that ODFW staff was pushing.
The people who were in favor of this harvest outnumbered us who opposed it as did the correspondence sent ODFW.
I've always said that apathy and indifference will kill more wild fish than any hook or net and this year long process proved it.
So it's a sad day for me and more importantly for Oregon's wild population of coastal cutthroat trout.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Do the Right Thing

Did you ever get that advice from a parent? Make sure you do the right thing and you will be okay. It's good advice and I have given it to my own children. We as fly fishermen and quasi-conservationists need do the right thing when it comes to our precious resource maybe above all other sports anglers.
What do I mean by doing the right thing out on the river or lake or woods or wherever we find ourselves in our outdoor pursuits?
The following is my unofficial responsibilities list or "doing the right thing"

Fish barbless hooks! It's proven that a barbless hook is less harmful to released fish.
Avoid the use of non-biodegradable fluorocarbon lines. Pretty simple really. This type of fishing line, while desirable because of the stealth factor, does not break down like monofilament line does.
Do not ever wade through spawning redds. This is self explanatory but we hear tales of careless anglers stomping through active redds way too much.
Practice safe catch and release! We fly anglers get a lot of flak by conventional anglers about catch and release. We need to make sure we do it right in order to insure the survival of the fish.
Get involved in the conservation of wild salmonids! I've said it before and I will continue to say it! If we don't set aside our desire to catch a "Nice mess of fish" and get active in saving wild fish then what will our children and grandchildren think of us. Apathy has killed more fish than any commercial net ever did.
I know that I may be preaching to the choir and this is all elementary stuff to many of you but the hour is late folks!
This Friday, September 19Th is the day the the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife commission decides on the fate of the last remaining populations of wild coastal cutthroat trout. If our efforts fail to convince the commission of the need to protect these wonderful fish then we very well may see the doom of these trout and very soon. A two fish a day with an eight inch minimum will decimate these fish and they may not survive not to mention the effect this kill fishery will have on pre-migrant wild juvenile salmon and steelhead.
Sound like doom and gloom? Well I can just say that I am not optimistic as to the decision that will be made this Friday.
ODFW has an agenda and protection of wild salmonids is not a part of that agenda.
I will keep you posted of the outcome.

A Hair Raising Tale

Remember that old Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song from back in the 70's?

Almost cut my hair
Happened just the other day
It's getting kind of long
I could have said it was in my way.

I didn't "almost" cut my hair unfortunately. Quite the opposite in fact!
I probably haven't actually paid for a hair cut for the last 10 years and considering my balding pate it just would be a waste of money to do so.
I have an old pair of electric clippers that I got from my dad. They are perhaps 50 or so years old and really need to be cleaned and sharpened. They have cut my hair maybe a thousand times over that 50 year span and I have a sentimental attachment to them.
I remember the marathon haircuts I had to submit to and these haircuts always ended with the same result! A "butch". Why it took my father so damn long to basically give me a Marine Corps style haircut is beyond me but to a kid my age it took, what seemed like, forever. He always left just enough in the front to grease up with this grease/wax gel appropriately called butch wax! I wonder if they still sell that stuff? I can still smell that pasty pink crap to this day.
Dad had a regular barber kit with trimmers, brushes and scissors that he seldom used and I always wondered why he didn't cut his own hair. He had a kind of crew cut looking thing that he wore for almost his entire adult life until my mother nagged (something she was an expert at) him into letting his hair grow out.
When I took my last butch haircut when preparing for freshman football I was more than happy to never have to sit in that damn yellow high chair in the garage again while the neighborhood kids could laugh at me.....oh the indignity of it all.
As I grew older I embraced the whole counter culture thing with very long hair. My dad would say he didn't care if my hair got so long that I had to part it to use the restroom.
So fast forward to the other night. I figured it was time for my quarterly shearing and proceeded to use my antique and unsharpened clippers for a trim of what little hair I have left. I couldn't seem to get them to cut my hair and thought they were clogged or maybe my old clippers were about to give up the ghost. I took a practice swipe across my head and after it was too late I realized that I had not replaced the plastic guard back on the head that would keep me from trimming too close.
Here is the end result!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to School

For those of you that come here to be inspired by my fly fishing anecdotes I apologize.
Gas prices, weather and abysmal returns have made it a real struggle this summer. I had some early season success with trout until someone pulled the plug on the flows in my favorite trout streams. That coupled with warm weather which heats up the water and thus makes catch and release a dangerous (for the fish) proposition.
I've been fighting a lot of "web wars" with those silly republicans and it's like they even make it too easy! Sarah Palin for Christ Sake? Well she does kind of have that naughty librarian look to her doesn't she?
Anyway it's Labor Day Weekend! The traditional end of summer. The last chance to BBQ those salmon that didn't show up or take that last summer trip with the kids to the beach before school starts back up.
As a kid I absolutely hated this weekend. You vainly tried to fit in a summers worth of fun into three short days of Labor Day weekend. I would find myself looking at the clock and sadly watching my summer freedom tick away.
Damn, I would think to myself, no more staying up and watching TV until all the stations signed off for the night. No more staying out late with the neighborhood kids playing "ditch", a kind of hide and seek variation. No more sleeping in and doing nothing or sleeping over at my pal Ted Rhea's house.
Yes that last weekend was horrible. New clothes and school supplies always seemed to be put off until that last weekend so off we would go to the local JC Penney's, Woolsworths or WT Grants to take care of it.
Oh how I hated those new packages of JC Penney's underwear that my parents bought me or those new blue jeans that were not washed before wearing and therefore they could almost stand up by themselves they were so stiff. Being a "Husky" kid I always had to roll the cuffs up because the length was too long for a fat kid like myself. They looked like I had both of my feet in buckets.
I also hated those Big Chief writing tablets and Pee-Chee folders or the new No. 2 pencils that my dad insisted on scribing my name into. I would think why in the hell do I need a protractor for anyway.
Remembering back on the first day of junior high I was shocked to see those formerly homely tomboy girls suddenly turned into babes over the three months of summer vacation. Of course I and my friends had absolutely no luck in charming those girls we had teased in 5th and 6th grade. We were still those clumsy oafs who had not magically turned into hunks over the summer.....Geez that seemed so unfair at the time and stills does.
So as I browsed the "Back To School" aisle of the local department store yesterday and saw all those sad looking kids with their moms buying school supplies. I felt like telling them that I felt for them and they should enjoy being young when the only thing you had to worry about are those new jockey shorts and biting the erasers off of your new pencils that your dad put your name on.
Hope you all had a great summer!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Before I go any further with this entry I just want to make a few things clear. I believe that gill nets are an antiquated, non-selective fish killing tool. They kill indiscriminately any fish, wild or hathcery, salmon, steelhead or sturgeon, that encounters them. Their time as an efficient means of harvest has come and gone.
To put commercial gillnetting on the Columbia River in a historic perspective let me say that it is just a shadow of it's former self.
In years past they were indeed the scourge of the salmon and steelhead runs in the Columbia.
The Barbee Seafood Company, parent company of Bumble Bee Tuna, of Astoria was the main employer of the region processing millions of pounds of gill netted and troll caught salmon and steelhead.
The gill netters have also had their fair share of salmon poachers and thieves among their group so this is not exactly a pristine, squeaky clean group.
In 1974 the people of the state of Oregon voted that the steelhead trout should be a game fish and could no longer be commercially caught.
This spelled the beginning of the end of gill netting as a commercially viable means of harvest and supplying fresh salmon for the dinner table. With the over all down turn of the over fished salmon runs in the Columbia the Barbee processing plants closed it's doors in Astoria for good.
The commercial gillnetting continues today but with a fraction of it's former fleet. Compared to their checkered past the commercial gill netters these days are but a small piece of the salmon down turn.
So with all that being said one would think that the gill nets have a minor effect on the overall well being of wild and hatchery salmon entering the big western river. That is the truth and in the whole scheme of salmon demise in the Columbia gill nets are a very minor player.
Face it! Columbia river salmon face a plethora of obstacles ranging from obsolete hydro dams to spawning habitat degradation. There is predation from birds and pinnipeds and ssshhhh we don't want to mention this but over fishing by sports anglers. Yes that is the dirty little secret that these spoiled rotten children AKA sports fishers conveniently overlook.
Enter 2007 and the Coastal Conservation Association.These saviors from the east claim they are going to kick the gill netters asses off of the river. Gary Loomis of Loomis Rods is their Northwest spokesman and what a charmer he is. He could sell ice trays to an Eskimo and the poor pitiful sports fishers have bought into his spiel hook, line and $25 membership fee.
Pretty clever tactic actually. They target the most visible "culprit" but ignore the most culpable reasons. Why is that? Could it be that CCA counts among it's life members GHW Bush and his monkey son George W? I bet Dick Cheney is a member too.
Could it be possible that the CCA is just a front for a bunch of rich Texas oilmen?
The CCA is full of members, in good standing, of that environmentally sympathetic group called the Republican Party!
So you might wonder why I am skeptical of this group and their agenda?
Bear in mind that the CCA is just another no show at the meetings and hearing that do not involve harvest. Their motto should be "If we can't kill it then we don't care"
So I am left to wonder when, if ever, the real culprits in the demise of Columbia river salmon will be exposed and incur the wrath of the mighty CCA. The real bad guy that has done more than any other group to bring about the fall of our once mighty salmon runs.
Who am I talking about? Well friends go take a look in the mirror.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Missing in Action

It has been a tumultuous time for those involved in wild fish conservation here in Oregon.
We have faced the onslaught against wild fish by the very agency whose supposed mission it is to protect these fish! Yes I am, once again, talking about the ODFW.
Turn out at public meeting to try to reason with an increasingly hostile Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have been generally well attended by those who share a concern for our dwindling native fish population. Have we scored points with the commission? I certainly hope so but it all culminates on September 19th in Forest Grove, Oregon when the seven commissioner will decide the fate of not only my beloved coastal cutthroat trout but the wild winter steelhead on the North Umpqua River and the wild spring chinook on the Mollala River and other conservation issues.
I hope the message has gotten to them that the killing of wild trout is not the key in getting Oregon's youth to embrace angling.
Despite the good turnouts from varied groups conservationists and anglers there were some notable people who were no shows at not only the most recent meeting but by in large all meetings where the fate of wild fish was the main topic.
I feel that you should know who is and who is not fighting the good fight for wild salmonids in the state of Oregon. These people make their living on the wild fish and fisheries of this state and they have an obligation, in my opinion and others, to give something back. I never even read anything submitted in writing by these folks. I mean how damn hard is it to send an email? Evidently pretty damn difficult judging from the lack of messages to ODFW from some of these "stars"

So who are these no shows,couldn't be bothered icons of northwest fishing?
Well let's start with Jennie Logsdon Martin, owner of Ifish, the largest Internet website in the Pacific Northwest.
Ifish boasts of tens of thousands of hits daily on that site. Ms.Logsdon-Martin has been awarded various honors from pseudo-conservation groups like the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association (NSIA) It should also be noted that those two groups were also no shows at important meetings this year with the exception of meeting that dealt with who gets to kill the most fish.
Also missing was Scott Richmond of Westfly. Westfly is a fly fishing oriented website and also is a non-profit corporation registered in Oregon. It is an approved 501(c)(3) corporation under the IRS tax code. Westfly gives only a passing nod to conservation and one would think that since this is a fly fishing forum that there would be some kind of conservation interest. From personal experience that has not been the case. When the owner does not make wild fish issues a priority then neither do the members.
Representatives from some of the more prestigious fly fishing clubs in the area did not feel saving cutthroat trout was worth their time and effort. Maybe the members were too busy planning their next bonefish trip to Belize or something or perhaps their BMW was in the shop.
Then there is the much heralded Coastal Conservation Association or CCA.This group has taken the northwest by storm and supposedly they want to end Columbia River commercial gillnetting in order to save ESA protected salmon. Well guess what! Yes that is correct! When the fight for wild salmon, trout and steelhead needed all the help we could get they were no where to be found.
I could also mention the myriad of professional fishing guides that couldn't bother to submit input in writing even if they could not attend meetings.
It's disappointing how little those who could make a difference seem to care little about the future of our cold water fisheries other than to bitch about how few fish they are allowed to kill.
These folks will gladly take your money for membership, hats, stickers and other merchandise but ask them to help out and save a few wild fish? No way!
So it's the common foot soldiers who, just like in a real shooting war,must bear the brunt of the fighting.
However, if there is a buck to be made then you can bet these Northwest fishing celebrities and do nothing groups will be there ready to take your cash in order, as some of them like to put it, save the fish.
Shame on them!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Trout Unlimited - A Lifetime Commitment

I decided to do something that I've only done once before. I took out a lifetime membership to Trout Unlimited.
There is a lot that can be said about TU and it's their unwavering commitment to our cold water fisheries that made me go from a year to year member to a lifetime member.
Trout Unlimited's mission is simple
To conserve, protect and restore North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.

Their vision is bold
By the next generation, Trout Unlimited will ensure that robust populations of native and wild coldwater fish once again thrive within their North American range, so that our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters.

Isn't that what we all want after all? The promise of clean rivers and wild fish for our grandchildren. I know that is what I want!
There are many enemies of wild fish and some do not even know they are enemies. Our coldwater fisheries have been assaulted for the past eight years by an agenda that cares only about profit.
I get angry at the carelessness and ignorance by those that have the "What's in it for me" attitude.
Thus my lifetime pledge to wild fish and clean rivers in my own corner of the world.
Check them out along with other conservation organizations that I have linked her on this blog.....make a commitment and you grandchildren will thank you long after you've made your last cast.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

ODFW Wants to Kill Wild Trout

Does the title of this entry shock you? Do you think I'm sensationalizing? Do you think I'm making this up?
Believe me friends I wish I were. It's true and here is proof from none other than Rhine Messmer of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Messmer says:

We want to make sure members of the angling community know that these proposals are being reconsidered and that there’s still an opportunity for public comment,” he said.
Our biologists have said the cutthroat trout populations in coastal streams and rivers are healthy and can sustain limited harvest,” Messmer said. “Narrowing opportunity on these rivers is counter to ODFW goals to increase fishing opportunities, especially for young or novice anglers.”
Messmer said coastal rivers and streams are great “entry-level” fisheries, and that being able to keep a fish is important to many new anglers, especially youth.
The Commission decided to reconsider the proposal, in part, because of vocal support at the August Commission meeting. Several people testifying supported the proposal as a way to minimize the negative impacts of angling on wild fish.

Wonder who the talkative biologist is? I'm pretty sure it's either Rick Klumph, Chris Knudsen or Robert Bradley of the Tillamook office of ODFW.
Funny thing is when I queried about cutthroat trout populations on the northern coast of Oregon these guys could not give me a straight answer. In fact the information that they refer to shows those populations on a downward downward trend.
ODFW is supposedly rallying the Tillamook kill crowd to come to the final meeting on September 19 to show support for the harvest proposal.
I have written a lot about my love for coastal cutthroat trout on this blog and their welfare is very important to me. I knew ODFW would use the "kid" excuse as a means to boost lagging license sales.
It's a sad state of affairs when a state agency will actually promote the killing of a wild trout and actively campaign for this harvest.
I can guarantee you that my big mouth is going to be heard on the 19th. This reckless, ignore actual science approach to wild fish management is wrong and will not stand. To use the excuse that kids need to kill trout in order to feel fulfilled and flock to the rivers in huge numbers is bogus and weak and shows an agency that is out of touch or just does not care.It does show biologists ODFW employees who lack character and only want to save their own sorry asses from the budget cuts that are sure to come.
On a positive note I know of at least three ODFW commissioners who believe these fish are worth protecting. The seven commission members are the final word on fishing regulations and here is hoping they do the correct thing on the 19th.
Here is a list of the seven ODFW commsioners and their email addresses. If you can please write them and tell them you oppose proposal 150P and support 132P
This is just too important.

Marla Rae (Chairperson) - The Rae Group
333 High Street NE, Suite 202
Salem, OR 97301

Skip Klarquist -
Zalutsky & Klarquist, PC
215 SW Washington Street, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97204

Zane Smith Jr. -
1243 Delrose Drive
Springfield, OR 97477-1594

Dan Edge -
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
OSU, 104 Nash Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331-2910

Carter Kerns NO Email Contact
503 N Main St.
Pendleton, OR 97801-2243

Jon Englund -
Englund Marine Supply Co, Inc.
PO Box 296
Astoria , OR 97103

Bobby Levy - bobby.levy@my180.netPO Box 69
Echo , OR 97826

You can also send comments to Rhine Messmer at ODFW

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Hotter Than Hell in Oregon

Do you think I could take this one hundred degree plus weather and save it for say January? Yes, yes I know I promised not to bitch about the warm weather last winter.
Yep it's the dog days of summer all right and so that puts a screeching halt to my fly fishing during the warmest of these days.
With water temperatures above sixty five in most areas it is prudent to either fish the first hours of daylight and the last hours before night fall or don't fish at all. Warm water is toxic to cold water species like trout and so I err on the side of caution during these times.
I worked, for many years, in an aluminum foundry. If there is a place called hell then it certainly must be like that foundry was. We poured molten metal into iron molds to make parts for the large semis that blow you off the road as they pass by.
Many times the temperature was over 120 degrees on the molding line and we had to wear heavy cotton clothing because of safety. Polyester melts when molten aluminum comes in contact with it and of course that makes for some very nasty burns.
One other thing that was also by products of such a hot work place is PRICKLY HEAT!!!
Guys know what I'm talking a about and I think I kept the company that makes Desitin ointment in business all those years.
I have a few war wounds (burns) besides a bad back to show from my years of labor though and I am not ashamed that I lived the life of a blue collar union working stiff.
I thought I would never be able to enjoy the summer time because of my aversion to extreme heat and it did take awhile to adjust after retirement. I now just love a summer evening as the sun goes down and the heat relaxes it's stranglehold on the day.
The sounds of a summer evening in a even a modest sized city like the one where I reside are for some reason soothing to me. There is a hum in the air as if the earth is sighing in relief from being baked all day long.
Of course the insect hatches along the Deschutes are absolutely mind boggling in their intensity at this time of day. The caddis are like a thick black cloak as I ply my trade to the trout that slurp bugs like a thirsty dog in the river. I usually inhale a few caddis as I watch the sun dip below the impressive canyon wall of the river...wonder if they are fattening?
My friend, Bamboo Mike, calls this the magic hour and I think that is a nice way to describe it. The trout converge on the piscatorial smorgasbord that the emerging and dying insects offer up.
These are the times that trout seem to cast aside all caution and feed on the surface. This is a dry fly fisherman's joy for sure!
So when the chill of winter invades my well being I will think of days like this and hopefully it will warm me and sustain me through those cold days.