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!