Monday, December 28, 2009

The Smoking Gun?

There isn't much I could add to this except to say this does not surprise me in the least. Our Fish and Wildlife agencies are corrupt in so many ways.
It really is all about saving their own tenure with the state and some will stop at nothing to do so. In the meantime our wild salmonid populations are apparently expendable to meet that end.


WILD FISH EXTINCTIONS CAUSED BY THE LONG-TERM USE OF HATCHERY FISH ZONES TO MANAGE PACIFIC SALMON (ONCORHYNCHUS) IN WASHINGTON AND OREGON

By Sam Wright
 A common management practice in Washington and Oregon since the early 1960s is the planned, deliberate overfishing and eventual extinction of wild Pacific salmon populations in order to harvest comingled populations of salmon that are produced by artificial production (Wright 1993). In Washington, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Wild Salmonid Policy identified 89 separate naturally spawning Pacific salmon populations that were being subjected to this practice or nearly one-third of all existing Pacific salmon populations in the State (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) 1997: Table II-1, p. 9).
I was the project leader and lead author for this EIS process and had to work with an Assistant Attorney General (AG) assigned to WDFW. My original language in Table 3 described the process in part as “planned, deliberate overfishing and eventual extinction of wild salmon populations in order to harvest comingled hatchery fish”. The AG stated that “this sounded like something illegal” and changed the language of the Table title to “Current fish management plans and practices overfish 89 wild stocks in order to harvest comingled hatchery fish at rates that are not sustainable by wild populations.” This is an example of one of many ways that have been used to disguise the process.
My initial attempt to stop this practice occurred in the early 1980s when I was administrator of the Habitat Management Division for the Washington Department of Fisheries (WDF). My work included involvement in a wide array of habitat protection, enhancement and mitigation projects. I soon began to wonder if I was knowingly committing illegal acts. Was it illegal to commit public funds to habitat improvement work when I knew that viable adult salmon spawners were never going to be provided to reap projected project benefits? Was it illegal to force a landowner to correct an upstream fish passage problem when I knew that spawners were never going to be provided to utilize habitat above the obstruction? Was it illegal to force a developer to fund a costly mitigation project when I knew that spawners were never going to be provided to justify the expenditure? I was also concerned that the “secret” would eventually be revealed to the public and that this could destroy our future ability to protect salmon habitat.
In 1982, I advised WDF that it was essential to end this practice since it was probably illegal in several different respects. The practice appeared to be illegal under the legislation that created WDF and had never been reviewed under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). In addition, all of the more recent hatcheries requiring environmental reviews did not even hint at this practice in their environmental documents. At best, the practice was simply very poor resource stewardship. I then provided a plan to eliminate this practice that was later described in Wright (1993).
The first part of my recommendation was to mark all hatchery Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) and all hatchery coho salmon (O. kisutch) by removal of their adipose fins. The basic principle involved was the ability to manage wild and hatchery salmon as “separate species” and the adipose mark enabled this to be done in practice. The second part of my recommendation was that natural spawning escapement objectives needed to be established for all existing naturally spawning salmon populations and that all fisheries would then be managed to achieve these objectives. The third part of my proposal was that existing and planned hatchery programs would be adjusted as necessary to make them compatible with achieving these natural spawning escapement objectives.
The adipose marking proposal was initially rejected by everyone, but gradually came to be accepted and is now widely implemented. The problem is that it was decoupled from both the establishment and management for natural spawning escapement objectives and the need to make hatchery programs compatible. Adipose marking is meaningless by itself when the same high exploitation rates continue to be applied in non-selective fisheries harvesting comingled wild plus hatchery salmon and hatchery programs continue to be incompatible.
My only successful attempt to expose this problem in a formal publication occurred in Wright (1993). The subtitle was “Salmon managers need to abandon the use of hatchery fish management zones.” WDF tried to stop publication but had to settle for a disclaimer stating that “The views in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Washington Department of Fisheries.” There was a great deal of luck involved in the peer review process since two of three reviewers were not from Washington or Oregon. Two subsequent attempts to expose the problem in formal publications failed when the majority of peer reviewers were from Washington and Oregon.
I initially had high hopes for resolution of the problem when Puget Sound Chinook and Lower Columbia River Chinook were listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Both areas had many Chinook populations on the list of 89 that were being deliberately overfished (WDFW 1997). However, all of these same populations were then assumed to be indistinguishable from hatchery Chinook or “genetically extinct” as wild populations. In Puget Sound, a total of 37 defined Chinook salmon populations were divided into 22 “A” and 15 “B” populations, with the latter group judged to be extinct. The situation in the Lower Columbia River was far worse, with North Lewis River fall Chinook being the only remaining population that was not determined to be extinct.
Unfortunately, my prediction of mass extinctions had been fulfilled. This extinct classification allowed the status quo practices of existing hatchery programs and high exploitation rates to continue for all of these populations. Some even had “escapement goals” identified to complete the public illusion of responsible resource management. Many hatchery Chinook never make it all the way back to existing hatchery traps and end–up spawning naturally. These can then be identified as an escapement goal without compromising the desired hatchery programs and high exploitation rates.
Over the years, there have been many varied attempts to disguise hatchery fish zones such as the “escapement goals” established for 15 Puget Sound “B” group Chinook salmon populations. The only citable reference that precisely identifies salmon populations where there is clear, unambiguous management intent to put adequate numbers of viable natural spawners on the spawning grounds is the Salmon Fishery Management Plan of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PMFC 2003: Table 3-1,15p.). This confirms the solitary status of North Lewis River fall Chinook and that both the entire Columbia River system and the entire South Puget Sound Region are huge hatchery fish zones for coho salmon. As predicted for wild Chinook salmon, there have also been massive extinctions of wild coho salmon populations.
The common practice of deliberately overfishing naturally spawning salmon populations in order to harvest comingled hatchery fish continues to be alive and well in Washington and Oregon (albeit with some new disguises commonly called “hatchery reform”). The solution is still exactly what it was in 1982. At a minimum, resource managers in Washington and Oregon should at least be honest about what they are doing so that countless millions of dollars will not continue to be spent in hatchery fish zones when the same money could be spent much more productively in wild salmon zones. Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent and the management status (wild or hatchery zones) has never been used (as a criteria) to prioritize competing project proposals.

References
PFMC 2003. Fishery management plan for commercial and recreational salmon fishery off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California as revised through Amendment 14. Pacific Fishery Management Council, Portland, OR.

WDFW 1997. Final environmental impact statement for the Wild Salmonid Policy. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.

Wright, S. 1993. Fishery management of wild Pacific salmon stocks to prevent extinctions. Fisheries 18(5):3-4.
Author: Sam Wright, 1522 Evanston Ct. NE, Olympia WA 98506 (360-943-4424, sam.wright@att.net)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays from The Quiet Pool


Here is hoping your stocking is filled with new fly rods and reels instead of a lump of coal!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the Season


No I am not talking about Christmas here, I am talking about fly fishing for winter steelhead.
Yeah I bitch about winter and do it alot but since I do not have the resources to fly to Maui every winter I have come to the realization that I need to make the best of winter.
You would think I would under take a winter distraction that is maybe less masochistic than fly fishing for winter steelhead. I could maybe take up my time having my tongue pieced and then having the stud ripped out by some pissed off bait fisherman. That would probably prove to be less painful than standing waist deep in a forty degree coastal river casting a huge creation of feather and fur to a fish that is about as interested in my offering as a Pacific northwest banana slug is in crossing a salt line.
Take yesterday for instance. I was fishing a particularly treacherous piece of water that my fishing buddy assured me was wade able.
What he didn't tell me was the bank dropped off almost vertically. So in I go and was instantly up to my stomach in frigid water. Of course the shock of this sudden drop off cause me to loose my balance and my sleeve went into the cold water.
The air temperature was only a little warmer than that of the water....we fished only one other hole because I was quite wet.
Sounds like fun huh? Poke me in the eye with a hot poker? Hmmm, let me think about it while I wring out my coat sleeve.
I've done the winter steelhead insanity for over 35 years now but went fly only in just the last 5 years. Fly only means deeper wading and more interaction with the water.
When I gear fished I could stand well up on the bank with hardly ever a need to wade any deeper than my knees. I caught a lot of fish in those days too!
One might ask why in the hell would I torture myself in this way especially for so few fish. I cannot tell you why except to say I just love fly fishing so much that the thought of putting my fly gear away for the winter and picking up a casting or spinning rod was more than I could bear.
I don't need fish to eat and since I rarely bring anything home I've gotten used to not having it and really don't miss it much.
Oh I will certainly kill every hatchery fish I encounter but I usually stay away from areas where there are hatchery fish present. Staying away from areas that hatchery fish frequent will assure me of avoiding my gear fishing brethren and the lower evolved bait chuckers.
The trade off is less fish but it's worth it.
So this winter I will still whine and complain but rest assured this old goat will still be stumbling along a river near you. Look for the old guy with the white beard and corn cob pipe and offer him a cup of hot fortified coffee and perhaps the directions to your can't miss swinging water...the karma earned will pay off in great dividends.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Limp Wrist Fly Chucking Faggots

That is the latest thing that we fly fishermen have been called by the increasingly paranoid bait crowd here in the Pacific northwest.
I thought I would take time to perhaps refute some of that.
If I am limped wristed wouldn't that mess up my casting? I do a fairly good job at single hand casting so the limp wrist insult has no grounds.
I would like to think or at least I hope that I do not "chuck" my flies but I have to admit that there are times on the Deschutes when the wind is raging down the canyon that I may have "chucked" my fly out of defensive necessity. I guess fly chucker could be accurate at times.
Then the faggot part. Do they mean I am a cigarette? Faggot was slang for cigarettes at one time and was also used to describe a bundle of wood used for fuel. I refuse believe that a person would be so ignorant as to use this derogatory description of ones sexual orientation and apply it to fly fishermen...or would they? It's not like I haven't been called this before when I've taken a stand against the abuse of wild salmon and steelhead.
I've been threatened by more than one bait "chucker" and I've found that there is a lot of brave talk on the internet.Since it is so easy to be an anonymous internet warrior but never have to account for such mean spirited slander I mostly ignore this stuff.
All joking aside though it is worrisome that the resistance to conservation of wild salmon and steelhead gets to the point to where this kind of garbage exists. I often tell my detractors that I am pretty easy to find out on the river and I do spend a great deal of time on the north coast which seems to be a breeding ground for anti-conservation sentiment.
So call me anything you want tough guys but you will never be able to call me uninvolved or apathetic. I think being called those names would be the biggest insults of all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cured Salmon Eggs are Toxic



So something we have suspected for many years turns out to be true! Sodium Sulfite cured salmon and steelhead eggs kill fish.
When this study was made public a few well known bait guides were quoted as saying

"They should do the same smolt study with twinkies and see how many die"

"I'll quit using cured eggs if you quit using toilet paper"

One unenlightened bait guide brags about how he discards left over baits in the river to "imprint" on the juvenile salmon and steelhead what to look for when they return in a couple of years....sheer brilliance huh?
The fact is these knuckle draggers have never evolved as anglers. They cannot leave their comfort zone of bait use no matter what the consequences.
This study is just another hurdle that wild salmonid must face and so far the professional guides out on the river could not care less.
The article below was taken from Bill Bakke's Home Waters and Wild Fish


CURED SALMON EGG BAIT KILLS JUVENILE SALMON AND STEELHEAD

By Bill Bakke - Native Fish Society

In 2007 Jeff Misler asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to test cured salmon eggs for toxic compounds, for he was concerned juvenile salmonids were being killed by ingesting the bait.
Oregon State University and ODFW researchers conducted the study for ODFW and made the following discovery: Cured salmon eggs killed juvenile salmon and steelhead.
The research discovered that within a 23 day span 30% of the juvenile salmonids were killed. Upon further investigation, they found that eggs cured with sodium sulfite were lethal. It is this chemical that kills the fish.
They also tested the eggs by giving them a soak to see if they were less lethal. They were testing whether fishing softened their impact. Soak times ranged from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, but the results were the same: the fish died.
Salmon eggs are a favored bait used by anglers fishing for salmon and steelhead. Anglers cure their own eggs or buy them, but if sodium sulfite is used in the curing process they are fishing a poisoned bait.
Additional research on nutrient enrichment of salmon and steelhead streams has pointed out the fact that eggs are preferred by juvenile salmonids. Most salmon eggs are available in early winter months when the juvenile fish are seeking food in cold water when other food supplies are less abundant.
Juvenile fish are seeking the fat rich eggs and anglers fishing steelhead and salmon are using cured eggs. The combination is lethal.
ODFW officials said in a news release that “We’ve already talked with several manufactures and we’re encouraged by their commitment to solving this problem.”
However, ODFW researchers said they “…cannot predict what impact, if any, the ingestion of cured eggs by juvenile fish has on the final size of the adult population.”
In the research proposal to investigate the toxic effect of cured salmon eggs on juvenile salmonids, there is evidence of even more mortality than what was found in the OSU research. A 1979 study showed that consumption of borax cured eggs led to decreased growth and an increase in plasma corticosteroids in chinook and rainbow trout juveniles. Furthermore, we recently observed between 50-60% mortality in a preliminary study feeding cured salmon eggs (Clements Pers Obs).
Measuring the impact based on the effect on adult salmon and steelhead production, is like taking pins out of the voodoo doll. They can reason that not all juveniles survive to return as adults, so the loss of a few or even a gob of young fish is, at best, immaterial and mitigates any need to manage the use of eggs as bait.
At a time when most of our wild salmon and steelhead are depleted and designated a threatened species, sensitive species, and candidate species for ESA-listing, one would hope that the management authorities would recognize a problem rather than trying to minimize it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shane...the Elitist Wannabe


Yep I confess! You see that gentleman in the tweeds and jaunty hat? That's me...well sort of.
In Jack Ohman's new book "Angler Management" he devotes a chapter to the fly fishing elitist and while I may want to be an elitist my bank account says otherwise.
How do I know I want to be an elitist you might ask? Here are a few examples.
I am self conscious about not owning Simms G-3 breathable waders. Seems ridiculous huh? hey all the good fly guys have Simms. Mike McCune wears Simms and so does Ed Ward and Lani Waller.
I smoke a brier pipe while out on the river and it makes me look the part.
Can't afford a real expensive one though like Bill Bakke smokes.
I try to talk about hatches in the way of someone who knows what the hell he is talking about. Yeah I'll drop the occasional Callibaetis or Hexagenia limbata then step back while the person I am talking to marvels at my expertise which they never do.
I do have a couple of bamboo fly rods to thoroughly impress the salmon fishermen on the coast but it is all for naught and I'll usually get the "Can you throw eggs with that stick har har?"
Kind of tough to impress a guy with an inch of dried salmon egg goo on his fishing rod.
I make every effort to drop names like Haig-Brown or Lee Wulff but so far it hasn't gotten me an invitation to join the elite Deschutes Club and I cannot understand why.
Maybe if I carried around a bottle of 18 year old Macallan that would get some acceptance don't you think?
I don't know if I am making any progress in my pilgrimage to fly fishing elitism. I wasn't invited to contribute a Green Butt Skunk to Joel LaFollette's Dan Callaghan commemorative fly plate. Wonder why he wouldn't want on of my flies but would take one from the likes of Bill McMillan or Frank Moore? Do you think word got out that I shopped at the Dollar Tree and Harbor Freight for fly tying supplies?
I might have to disguise myself when going in those stores because I certainly wouldn't want to screw up my ascension to fly fishing elitist.
I would like to think I am well on my way to becoming the real Henning Hale Orviston of "The River Why" fame. Should I tell anyone that I shop at Cabela's?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

How To Win Friends and Influence People on the River





Winter steelhead season is upon us with its cold toes, frozen guides and rude fishermen. I don't think all are deliberately rude but just clueless. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have the "Lords of the River" also known as professional bait guides who think nothing of cutting you off in order to get their "sports" into a fish.
Many of you can no doubt add to the following like compiled by my friend Erik Helm of the Classical Angler


1. If you do get into a run, you are one lucky boy! Under no circumstances should you move. Cast from the same position in all directions. If you wait long enough, a fish might swim through the run and eat your fly or bait/lure.



2. If the approach you are using does not prove effective, under no circumstances change what you are doing. Keep it up and sooner or later you will either catch a steelhead or die, whichever comes first…



3. If someone is in a run, under no circumstances talk to them or look at them. Just proceed below them to their casting distance and low-hole them. They will get the point sooner or later that the entire river belongs to you.



4. If you are fishing with eggs, make absolutely certain to tell everyone how many fish you have caught.



5. If you see someone about to enter an otherwise empty piece of water, run down the bank and jump in the water before they get there. Remember the spoils belong to the bold and greedy.



6. If you are fishing from the bank with spinning gear, make sure that you cut off anybody wading from any good fish holding water.



7. If you are new to fishing with a two-hander and are having trouble casting, just stay in the run and practice your casting without moving. Since you have no chance, neither should anybody else.



8. If you are wading below a nice piece of holding water or a run and want to fish it, do not get out of the water to walk up to the run on the bank or a path. Instead, splash your way stumbling upstream through the heart of the run. This should stir the fish up and put them in a biting mood.

This last one is from yours truly and it goes out to those models of angling etiquette also know as drift boat guides.

9.If you see an angler swinging flies through a run be sure to cut him off and fish his water. Hey he isn't going to catch a damn thing anyway and after all the river belongs to you!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Traditional Speycast

A Fly Fishing Poem


I thought you all might like this poem. I may have posted it before but I like it so much that I'll post it again.
Why does fly fishing inspire poetry like this? Of all the other types of angling there is a romantic quality in casting a fly that cannot be found elsewhere in the fishing pursuits.
Anyway enjoy Mrs. Lamberton's poem...tight lines



Trout Fishing
by
Mrs. Eunice B Lamberton


Give me a rod of the split bamboo,
a rainy day and a fly or two,
a mountain stream where the eddies play,
and mists hang low o'er the winding way,

Give me a haunt by the furling brook,
A hidden spot in a mossy nook,
No sound save hum of the drowsy bee,
or lone bird's tap on the hollow tree.

The world may roll with it's busy throng,
And phantom scenes on it's way along,
It's stocks may rise, or it's stocks may fall,
Ah! What care I for it's baubles all?

I cast my fly o'er the troubled rill,
Luring the beauties by magic skill,
With mind at rest and a heart at ease,
And drink delight at the balmy breeze.

A lusty trout to my glad surprise,
Speckled and bright on the crest arise,
Then splash and plunge in a dazzling whirl,
Hope springs anew as the wavelets curl.

Gracefully swinging from left to right,
Action so gentle- motion so slight,.
Tempting, enticing, on craft intent,
Till yielding tip by the game is bent

Drawing in slowly, then letting go
Under the ripples where mosses grow
Doubting my fortune, lost in a dream,
Blessing the land of forest and stream.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Is A Steelhead Flyfisher?



Jeff Bright wrote this in the latest edition of "Adipose" the newsletter of Wild Steelhead Coalition

In this age of compromised rivers and diminishing habitat a steelhead flyfisher is not merely an angler who pursues sea-run rainbow trout with a fly, but one also fully committed to the preservation and protection of wild steelhead and their rivers.
This commitment includes a desire to become better educated on issues affecting the health of wild steelhead. It means becoming a citizen and steward of the Pacific Northwest, writing letters to agencies and officials, making your voice heard, speaking for the fish, and contributing money to vital efforts.
It means carefully weighing your consumer and political choices and evaluating the impact they have on the ecology of anadromous rivers --not only locally but regionally as well. More than anything, it means rolling up your sleeves to help, in anyway you can, with the fight to save wild steelhead.

Quite a challenge isn't it? I know I fall well short of what Jeff is talking about and I have no excuse.
How about you? What have you done for wild steelhead or any population of wild salmonids?
Groups like Wild Steelhead Coalition,Native Fish Society or
Trout Unlimited are groups that fight for our wild salmonid heritage. Why not join one of these groups if you care about wild steelhead, salmon or trout. It's money well spent and you will be making a difference and it's a good start towards being a good steward of our wild resource.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye


Today marks the 46th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. I remember the day very well and without a doubt it was one of the most tragic occurrences in the history of this nation and a day I will never forget.
I will always commemorate this day as it was of the most indelible memories of my childhood. I was in the 4th grade and we were getting our weekly Spanish lesson on closed circuit TV. It was 11:15 AM on the west coast when the bulletin broke on the TV. At 11:30 we took our lunch as usual when a teacher announced President Kennedy had died. When I got home from school that gloomy Friday I found my mother weeping in front of the television. My father was as quiet and somber as I have ever seen him that weekend. We sat transfixed in front of the television for the next 4 days and I also watched as the murder of Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was broadcast .to the grieving nation. Like I said I will never forget that day as long as I live.
What died that day was more than just a head of state. What died was the hope, promise and potential of dynamic and courageous leadership that we may never see again. We can only speculate about what might have been had President Kennedy lived to serve out his term. I would like to think that we would have achieved the true greatness this country is capable of. We lost our innocence that day and as a nation we suffered a tragedy that is still fresh and still painful to all of us living then.For those of us that remember President Kennedy, he will forever be our handsome young president forever frozen in time at the age of 46 with Jackie in her pink suit with matching pillbox hat......Truly we hardly knew him.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do Wild Fish Matter?


Ask yourself that and I'd bet you would say "Of course they do!" and I'm sure most are sincere so maybe I'm just preaching to the choir here. If that applies to you then you can skip the rest if you want.
If you are not sure then maybe I can help you to see what I'm getting at here.
First of all if you think that by saving hatcheries, going to fin clippings,working on boat ramps or helping the steelhead broodstock program makes you some kind of conservation hero then think again. In 2002 you helped save the north coast hatcheries by showing up at Tillamook county Fairgrounds or ODFW headquarters and feel pretty good huh? Whether you meant well or not all you accomplished is nailing just another nail into the coffin of wild salmonids. Yes I might be blunt here but you did the wild salmon and steelhead of the Pacific northwest no favor at all. If you clipped fins at some Tillamook county good old boys pet project then shame on you!
There is absolutely no excuse for not being educated about wild fish and their habitat...none!
Dumping hatchery raised salmon and steelhead into the habitat of wild fish is death to those wild fish. It's a proven fact that hatchery plantings damage the delicate balance of wild fish and their environment. Didn't know that huh? Well BS! There is no excuse for not knowing. Perhaps you don't really care? That isn't surprising since after all the state of Oregon owes you fish to harvest don't they?
Feeling a little scorched huh? Hey I warned you didn't I?
Listen folks if we are ever going to get to sustainable numbers of wild fish then this hatchery madness has to end. We cannot continue to harvest wild fish at the rate we are going and think that dumping gazillions of hatchery raised fish into a river to replace will solve the problem because it will not.
Allowing the harvest of wild coastal cutthroat trout and the pitiful numbers of returning fall chinook salmon plus a myriad of other devastating situations facing our wild salmonids. Wild winter run steelhead populations are in a death spiral and ignorance along with greed  is what got them there and unless the public gets wised up about what is at stake then it is a gloomy future.
I'm not saying there has not been progress because there has but we risk throwing every gain we have made by idly standing by and doing nothing. Killing sea lions is not the answer and neither is running the gill nets off the Columbia however getting educated and getting involved is the answer. Think beyond your ego and how many quarts of eggs or pounds of fillets you can put in your freezer.
I apologize if you've been offended by the tone of this post.....wait a minute!!!!! No I do not apologize because if anything I've said here makes any of you uncomfortable in any way then I'm glad because maybe you'll get involved. The old saying that is you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem, while being a cliche, never rang truer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hatcheries and Their Effect on Wild Salmonids

This article is by Bill Bakke of Native Fish Society. It is a lengthy read but worth it.



The following quotes are based on scientific evaluation and most are from peer reviewed scientific papers. The lead author and the date of publication are provided for reference. Hatchery solutions for wild salmonid decline have ignited a debate about their effectiveness and impact on wild, native salmonids. While science has shown that in many cases hatchery programs are in conflict with wild salmonid conservation and recovery, the ongoing problem is that this information is not being effectively applied by the management agencies.
Allendorf et al. 1994: We are not aware of a single empirical example in which (hatchery) supplementation has been successfully used as a temporary strategy to permanently increase abundance of naturally spawning populations of Pacific salmon.
Altukhov et al 1991: Artificial reproduction, commercial fisheries, and transfers result in the impairment of gene diversity in salmon populations, and so cause their biological degradation.
Araki et al. 2008: Captive breeding is used to supplement populations of many species that are declining in the wild. The suitability of and long-term species survival from such programs remain largely untested, however. We measured lifetime reproductive success of the first two generations of steelhead trout that were reared in captivity and bred in the wild after they were released. By reconstructing a three-generation pedigree with microsatellite markers, we show that genetic effects of domestication reduce subsequent reproductive capabilities by 40% per captive-reared generation when fish are moved to natural environments. These results suggest that even a few generations of domestication may have negative effects on natural reproduction in the wild and that the repeated use of captive-reared parents to supplement wild populations should be carefully reconsidered.
Araki et al. 2008: “Our review indicates that salmonids appear to be very susceptible to fitness loss while in captivity. The degree of fitness loss appears to be mitigated to some extent by using local, wild fish for broodstock, but we found little evidence to suggest that it can be avoided altogether. The general finding of low relative fitness of hatchery fish combined with studies that have found broad scale negative associations between the presence of hatchery fish and wild population performance, should give fisheries managers pause as they consider whether to include hatchery production in their conservation toolbox.”

Bachman 1984: Hatchery brown trout fed less, moved more, and expended more energy than wild brown trout in streams.
Bams 1970: Hatchery pink salmon migrated to the ocean one to two weeks earlier than wild pinks.
Berejikian and Ford 2003: Competitive asymmetries between hatchery and natural spawners and possibly their offspring can clearly contribute to the differences in relative fitness. Hatchery fish have lower fitness.
Blouin 2003: Non-local domesticated hatchery summer-run steelhead achieved 17-54% the lifetime fitness of natural native fish.
Blouin 2009: "If anyone ever had any doubts about the genetic differences between hatchery and wild fish, the data are now pretty clear. The effect is so strong that it carries over into the first wild-born generation. Even if fish are born in the wild and survive to reproduce, those adults that had hatchery parents still produce substantially fewer surviving offspring than those with wild parents. That's pretty remarkable."
Blouin 2009: “The implication is that hatchery salmonids – many of which do survive to reproduce in the wild– could be gradually reducing the fitness of the wild populations with which they interbreed. Those hatchery fish provide one more hurdle to overcome in the goal of sustaining wild runs, along with problems caused by dams, loss or degradation of habitat, pollution, overfishing and other causes. Aside from weakening the wild gene pool, the release of captive-bred fish also raises the risk of introducing diseases and increasing competition for limited resources.”
Blouin 2009: There is about a 40% loss in reproductive fitness for each generation spent in a hatchery.
Brannon et al. 1999: (Independent Scientific Advisory Board) : The three recent independent reviews of fish and wildlife recovery efforts in the Columbia River Basin addressed hatcheries. There was consensus among the three panels (National Fish Hatchery Review Panel, National Research Council, Independent Science Group), which underscores the importance of their contributions in revising the scientific foundation for hatchery policy. The ten general conclusions made by the panels are listed below.

1. Hatcheries generally have failed to meet their objectives

2. Hatcheries have imparted adverse effects on natural populations

3. Managers have failed to evaluate hatchery programs

4. Rationale justifying hatchery production was based on untested assumptions.

5. Hatchery supplementation should be linked with habitat improvements

6. Genetic considerations have to be included in hatchery programs.

7. More research and experimental approaches are required.

8. Stock transfers and introductions of non-native species should be discontinued.

9. Artificial production should have a new role in fisheries management.

10. Hatcheries should be used as temporary refuges rather than for long-term production.

Brauner 1994: In freshwater swimming velocity tests, wild coho salmon smolts swam faster than hatchery fish. In seawater hatchery fish performance compared to wild fish was poor. Hatchery fish had more difficulty osmoregulating.
Byrne et al. 1992: Building more hatcheries should cause alarm to biologists concerned with the preservation of native stocks until it is demonstrated that supplementation can be done in a way that does not reduce fitness of the native stock.

California Dept. Fish and Game 2002: The brains of hatchery raised rainbow trout are smaller in 7 out of 8 critical neuroanatomical measures than those of their wild reared counterparts.
Chilcote et al. 1986: Hatchery steelhead are only 38% as successful in producing smolts as wild steelhead.
Chilcote 2002: “…there will be little benefit to bringing some of the wild fish into the hatchery environment if the resulting hatchery smolts will have ocean survival rates that are 1/10 of those for wild smolts….all indications are that hatchery fish, even from wild broodstocks, are not as successful as wild fish in producing viable offspring under natural conditions….”
Chilcote 2003: A naturally spawning population comprised of equal numbers of hatchery and wild fish would produce 63% fewer recruits per spawner than one comprised entirely of wild fish. For natural populations, removal rather than addition of hatchery fish may be the most effective strategy to improve productivity and resilience.
Chilcote 2008: At a recent meeting of lower Columbia River Salmon Recovery Stakeholders, the document , Recovery Strategies to Close the Conservation Gap Methods and Assumptions, hatchery fish impacts are discussed. It says, “…relative population survival rates (recruits produced per spawner) were found to decrease at a rate equal to or greater than the proportion of hatchery fish in the natural spawning population. In other words, a spawning population with 20% hatchery strays (regardless of the type of hatchery program and whether they are integrated or segregated) had the net survival rate (recruits per spawner) that was 20% less than a population comprised entirely of wild fish (0% hatchery strays). Likewise, a population with 40% hatchery strays had a population survival rate that was 40% lower than a population comprised entirely of wild fish.”
Dickson 1982: Juvenile hatchery fish show a behavioral shift in stream feeding position compared to wild fish. Hatchery fish feed nearer the surface. This may expose them to greater predation.
Ersbak et al. 1983: Hatchery trout conditions declined after stocking. Hatchery fish were less flexible in switching to available food in the stream.
Fenderson, 1968: Hatchery fish are more aggressive and dominate wild fish, and hatchery fish have a higher mortality.
Flagg et al., 1999: The reviews conclude that artificial culture environments condition salmonids to respond to food, habitat, conspecifics and predators differently than fish reared in natural environments. It is now recognized that artificial rearing conditions can produce fish distinctly different from wild cohorts in behavior, morphology, and physiology
Fleming, et al., 1993: The divergence of hatchery fish in traits important for reproductive success has raised concerns. This study shows that hatchery coho salmon males are competitively inferior to wild fish, and attained only 62% of the breeding success of wild males. Hatchery females had more difficulty in spawning than wild fish and hatchery fish had only 82% of the breeding success of wild fish. These results indicate hatchery fish may pose an ecological and genetic threat to wild fish.
Fleming et al. 1994: Results of this study imply that hatchery fish have restricted abilities to rehabilitate wild populations, and may pose ecological and genetic threats to the conservation of wild populations.
Fleming et al. 1997: Reproductive success defined in the study as the ability to produce viable eyed embryos did not differ between hatchery and natural females. Hatchery males, however, achieved only 51% the estimated relative reproductive success of natural males under conditions of mutual competition. Hatchery males were less able to monopolize access to spawning females and suffered more severe wounding and greater mortality than natural males.
Flick, et al. 1964: Wild brook trout had higher summer and winter survival than hatchery fish.
Ford, 2002: Substantial phenotypic changes and fitness reductions can occur even if a large fraction of the captive broodstock is brought in from the wild every generation. This suggests that regularly bringing wild-origin broodstock into captive populations cannot be relied upon to eliminate the effects of inadvertent domestication selection.
Gudjonsson and Scarnecchia 2009: “In some rivers the salmon stocks have been enhanced by the release of smolts produced by using local brood stock. Smolts reared in hatcheries and released in rivers frequently had 50% lower return rates than wild smolts.
Hilborn 1992: Pacific salmon hatcheries have failed to deliver expected benefits and they pose the greatest single threat to the long-term maintenance of salmonids.
Hooton 2009: “Most hatchery programs produce steelhead that reflect only a small fraction of the natural life history variability inherent within and between wild populations. The numbers of steelhead that can result from carefully administered hatchery programs may be impressive, but those fish represent only a narrow segment of the diversity and adaptability of wild fish. Such products cannot be relied on to sustain natural populations over the long term.”
Hulett et al. 1994: Hatchery winter steelhead were about one-half as effective as wild winter-run steelhead in naturally producing smolt offspring. Hatchery winter steelhead were about one sixth as effective as wild winter steelhead in naturally produced adult offspring.
IEAB 2002: Cost to catch for hatchery fish:
Hatchery Species Produced Cost of a Salmon that is caught
Leavenworth spring chinook $4,800
Entiat spring chinook $68,031 (Highest $891,000)
Winthrop spring chinook $23,068
Priest Rapids fall chinook $12.00 (Highest - $293)
Irrigon summer steelhead $453
Spring Cr. fall chinook $237 (range 14.53 - $460)
Clatsop coho $124
Spring chinook $233
Fall chinook $65
Nez Perce fall and spring chinook $3,700
McCall spring chinook $786 (range $522 to $1,051)

The benefit of the fishery is $45 to $77 per fish for the commercial fishery and $60 per fish for the sport fishery.
Jonsson et al. 1993: Differences were evident for hatchery Atlantic salmon relative to wild salmon, with common genetic backgrounds, in breeding success after a single generation in the hatchery. Hatchery females averaged about 80% the breeding success of wild females. Hatchery males had significantly reduced breeding success, averaging about 65% of the success of wild males.
Kincaid, 1994: Atlantic salmon held in hatcheries for four generations produced juveniles that had different performance characteristics than progeny from wild parents.
Knudson et al. 2006. “Perhaps the most important conclusion of our study is that even a hatchery program designed to minimize differences between hatchery and wild fish did not produce fish that were identical to wild fish.”
Kostow 2003 : Our data support a conclusion that hatchery summer steelhead adults and their offspring contribute to wild steelhead population declines through competition for spawning and rearing habitats.
Kostow 2004: “In conclusion, this study demonstrated large average phenotype and survival differences between hatchery-produced and naturally produced fish from the same parent gene pool. These results indicate that a different selection regime was affecting each of the groups. The processes indicated by these results can be expected to lead to eventual genetic divergence between the new hatchery stock and its wild source population, thus limiting the usefulness of the stock for conservation purposes to only the first few generations.
Leider, et. al., 1990: The mean percentage of offspring from naturally spawning hatchery steelhead decreased at successive life history stages, compared to wild steelhead, from a potential of 85-87% at the egg stage to 42% at the adult stage. Reproductive success of naturally spawning hatchery steelhead compared to wild steelhead decreases from 75-78% at the subyearling stage to 10.8-12.9% at the adult stage.
Levings, et al., 1986: Hatchery chinook used the estuary a shorter period of time than wild chinook. The greatest overlap between hatchery and wild chinook in the estuary is in the transition zone where greater competition could occur.
Mason, et al., 1997: Hatchery x wild and wild x wild crosses had higher survival in the natural stream compared to hatchery x hatchery crosses.
McClure : “Continued interbreeding with hatchery-origin fish of lower fitness can lower the fitness of the wild population. Generally, large, long-term hatchery programs that dominate production of a population is a high risk factor for certain viability criteria and can lead to increased risk for the population. The populations meeting ‘high viability’ criteria will necessarily be large and spatially complex. In order to meet these criteria (spatial structure and diversity) there should be little or no introgression between hatchery fish and the wild component of the population. Populations supported by hatchery supplementation for more than three generations do not in most cases meet ICTRT viability criteria at the population level.”
McLean et al. 1997: Hatchery steelhead spawning in the wild had markedly lower reproductive success than native wild steelhead. Wild females that spawned in 1996 produced 9 times as many adult offspring per capita as did hatchery females that spawned in the wild. Wild females that spawned in 1997 produced 42 times as many adult offspring as hatchery females. The wild steelhead population more than met replacement requirements (approximately 3.7 – 6.7 adult offspring were produced per female), but the hatchery steelhead were far below replacement (<0.5>
Meffe 1992: Countless salmon stocks have declined precipitously over the last century as a result of overfishing and widespread habitat destruction. A central feature of recovery efforts has been to build many hatcheries to produce large quantities of fish to restock streams. This approach addresses the symptoms but not the causes of the declines.
Miller, 1953: Hatchery cutthroat trout had lower survival compared to wild fish due to absence of natural selection at early life stages.
Miller et al. 1990: Over 300 (hatchery) supplementation projects were reviewed and the authors found: 1) examples of success at rebuilding self-sustaining anadromous fish runs with hatchery fish are scarce (22 out of 316 projects reviewed), 2) success was primarily from providing fish for harvest, and 3) adverse impacts to wild stocks have been shown or postulated for every type of hatchery fish introduction to rebuild runs.
Moran and Waples 2007: “…we show some compelling differences in reproductive success of hatchery and wild fish. Naturally spawning hatchery fish are less than half as productive as wild fish.”
Mullan, et al., 1992: Hatchery spring chinook produced more precocious males than wild chinook. This could be one factor in the low survival of hatchery fish.
Naish et al. 2008: If one concern has been identified, it is that many hatchery programmes continue to be operated with few objectives, and with a poor understanding of the magnitude and importance of the impacts of genetic effects of hatchery releases and the role of this information in informing remedial actions.

A rapidly growing body of literature points towards detrimental behavioral interactions between hatchery and wild fish. More is known about these interactions in freshwater rearing habitats than in estuarine and marine environments. There is also, however, a paucity of information on whether risk avoidance measures are effective at reducing competition and predation and, as far as we know, little attention is directed towards carrying capacity when the size of release is considered.
Nickelson 1986: Hatchery coho salmon have lower survival than wild coho relative to poor ocean productivity cycles. Hatchery coho juveniles are more abundant after stocking in streams but the result is fewer adult returns and fewer juvenile coho salmon in the next generation than in streams that were not stocked.
Nickelson 2003: To aid in the recovery of depressed wild salmon populations, the operation of hatcheries must be changed to reduce interactions of juvenile hatchery fish with wild fish.
Perry, et al. 1993: Idaho has been trying to unravel the secrets of hatchery and wild salmon interactions in nature. Since hatchery salmon do not survive as well as wild salmon, it is important to fix this problem. It is possible that a hatchery supplementation program may inadvertently replace the target natural population with one having lower survival and reproductive potential.
Ratliff, 1981: Wild fall chinook were more resistant to C. shasta than were hatchery chinook.
Reisenbichler, et al. 1977: His research shows that hatchery x hatchery crosses of steelhead fry survival was lower than for wild x wild crosses and wild x hatchery crosses in streams. Likewise he found that hatchery x hatchery crosses survived better in the hatchery environment. The hatchery fish were derived from local wild steelhead and had changed in performance in two generations of hatchery rearing. Conclusion: differences in survival suggested that the short-term effect of hatchery adults spawning in the wild is the production of fewer smolts and ultimately, fewer returning adults than are produced from the same number of wild steelhead spawners.
Reisenbichler 1986: Most (hatchery fish) outplanting programs have been unsuccessful. Rigorous planning, evaluation, and investigation are required to increase the likelihood of success and the ability to promptly discern failure.
Reisenbichler 1994: Gene flow from hatchery fish also is deleterious because hatchery populations genetically adapt to the unnatural conditions of the hatchery environment at the expense of adaptedness for living in natural streams. This domestication is significant even in the first generation of hatchery rearing.
Reisenbichler 1996: Available data suggest progressively declining fitness for natural rearing with increasing generations in the hatchery. The reduction in survival from egg to adult may be about 25% after one generation in the hatchery and 85% after six generations. Reduction in survival from yearling to adult may be about 15% after one generation in the hatchery and 67% after many generations.
RIST 2009: “Most information available indicates that artificially-propagated fish do have ecological impacts on wild salmonid populations under most conditions (e.g. a 50% reduction in productivity for steelhead in an Oregon population). To the degree that the trait distributions seen in wild salmon populations are adaptations to their environments, selection imposed by the hatchery environment could result in reduced fitness of hatchery fish in the wild.”
Shrimpton, et al., 1994: Juvenile hatchery coho showed a reduced tolerance to salt water compared to wild coho.
Slaney, et al., 1993: Hatchery adult steelhead strayed more than wild steelhead
Sosiak, et al., 1979: As juveniles, hatchery fish had less stomach fullness and fed on fewer taxa than wild fish. This was determined after hatchery fish were in streams from one to three months.
Steward et al. 1990: Authors reviewed 606 hatchery supplementation studies and found that few directly assessed the effects on natural stocks. Genetic and ecological effects and changes in productivity of the native stocks that can result remain largely unmeasured. However, the general failure of supplementation to achieve management objectives is evident from the continued decline of wild stocks.
Swain, et al. 1991: Hatchery coho salmon diverged from the wild fish in fin size and body dimensions. These were considered adaptations to the hatchery environment.
Taylor, 1986: Hatchery coho salmon diverged in body structure and variation from that of the wild coho.
Vincent 1987: Hatchery stocking ended in a Montana stream and wild trout more than doubled (160%) and the wild trout biomass increased by 10 times.
Waples 1991: Genetic interactions between hatchery and wild salmonids will increase as hatchery supplementation becomes a more dominate form of hatchery management.
Waples 1994: Hatchery captive brood stocks may shift genetic structure in natural populations.
Wohlfarth 1986: Stocking with hatchery stocks cannot replace wild productivity because hatchery fish are selected for adaptation to the hatchery environment and do not perform well in the natural environment.
Wood, et al., 1960: Hatchery coho salmon 14 months after release into a stream did not reach the body composition of the wild salmon in time for downstream migration

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Lonely River


The rocks on the stream bank are wet as I walk along this small coastal river. They never seem to dry this time of year as a matter of fact. The river is a lonely place now and even though the semi-busy highway 6 is just a few dozen yards above me I feel alone. It's not like I miss the crowds of years gone by but these days it's like fishermen have resigned themselves to their angling fate and moved on to other pursuits.
An angler could expect, in years past, to be greeted by the pungent smell of rotting salmon carcasses but the salmon aren't here. The wild steelhead weren't here last winter and the wild cutthroat trout weren't here this summer and fall. The best days of the Pacific Northwest anadromous fish runs are long gone and like some said recently we are fishing on the crumbs or even worse the crumbs of the crumbs.
We can look to ocean conditions and El Nino as the culprit to this latest salmon drought and be optimistic in knowing this is just a cyclical thing and it indeed is. The comeback or rebound seems to be smaller and smaller every cycle though.You will hear us old guys talking about the "Good old days" of the 70's and compared to what we have now I guess there really were the good old days. Have we passed the point of no return? I certainly hope not but how can one be optimistic? Can we point to an ecological breakthrough that will restore the status quo? I've not read of any.
Where does our optimism, if any, lay?
Will I continue to spend lonely days along the rivers that I learned to love because of not only the angling pleasure I derived from them but the vibrant life that always sustained my well being? Yes I will keep coming back for as long as I am able to. As the years go by the rivers seem to be less alive than they were in the past although the evergreens flourish along the hillside of this lush rain forest. The river seems to die just a little bit more as if mourning the loss of it's children...the salmon.
If I were a religious person I would certainly pray for the restoration a natural resource we took for granted for far too long.
I would also pray that there would be a collective awakening of what is at stake and what we are on the verge of losing that is if we have not lost it already.
The river that once sustained life just weeps now. On going but devoid of what made it unique.
I'll still walk along the lonely river as long as my legs allow me too. I'll be that old gray haired guy with his old bamboo fly rod that wistfully reminisces about the good old days.
I'll wonder if future generations of anglers will talk about these days as the good old days...I wonder

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Long Dark Tunnel of Winter


I know what you are thinking
"Oh brother! He's starting his winter whine fest early this year"
Well maybe I am. It seems like I never prepare myself for the onset of winter and this year is no different. I know there is still another six weeks until the winter solstice but despite what the calendar says winter is here.
Getting dark at 5pm every day is the biggest clue and I just cannot get used to it. My limited fishing days are impossibly short during this time of year and the chill in the air is a dead give away that winter is indeed here.
I think of winter as a long dark tunnel. You enter at one end in the sun and warmth of summer and as you travel further into the tunnel it gets darker. When you've reached the darkest point there in the distance is the light of spring.
My trout rods are put away for the season and when the days are shortest I'll get out my bamboo rods for a fresh coat of wax and rream of spring but for now I am looking forward to swinging some big winter flies for the tight lipped winter steelhead of the coastal streams. The beginning of the winter steelhead season begins in earnest after the first of the year. In years past the traditional kick-off to the winter season was the day after Thanksgiving but through manipulation by ODFW those early lower river hatchery brats have been eliminated. Instead the broodstock hatchery winter steelhead arrive about the same time as the wild winter steelhead.
Well you all know how I feel about the broodstock fiasco so I will leave it at that.
It seems like just yesterday I was walking along the sands of Kaanapali Beach on Maui or driving over Mt. Hood on my way to the Deschutes.
Now I watch the river level on the Wilson or Trask and wonder when the inevitable floods will come.
I'll make the best of it all though because fly fishing is not just a spring and summer pursuit anymore.
I cannot wait for the days along my favorite stream trying to entice a sluggish winter steelhead into striking a fly that seems big enough to choke a horse.
I've yet to start up my winter fly tying blitz but it's coming as it does when I get cabin fever.
So here is hoping that the north coast does not have another 100 year flood for the third year in a row.
Hope you all are dealing with the winters of your own lives well.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Skagit Snap T Spey Cast

Good friend John Bracke demonstrating the Snap T spey cast on the Deschutes river.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Stupid is as Stupid Does...A Never Changing Concept


I thought I would bring this one back to the top because a rash of stupidity has broken out on the internet fishing forums again again.
I originally wrote this in April of 2008.
Sometimes the sheer ignorance of the fishing masses absolutely drives me nuts. This is the age of the world wide web for crying out loud! These fools must have at least enough intelligence to operate a computer so why do they have such assinine notions about anything from wild steelhead to indicators on spey rods.
Hey I'm no Einstein but I am capable of an abstract thought or two.
Anyway enjoy the reprise of this classic Shane rant.


Yes pretty blunt I know but hey when have I ever not been blunt on this blog?
It's pretty simple logic actually and so if you have ever taken the time to actually dig deeper than the need to fill your freezer and put aside your own selfishness then I'm not talking about you.
So hang on folks it's going to be a bumpy ride.
You are stupid if....
You believe that hatchery fish will be the salvation of wild fish.
You think that cormorants, terns and cutthroat trout steal all the salmon smolt.
You think that fin clipping parties and releasing bright hatchery steelhead is conservation.
You think the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has the best interest of wild fish in mind.
You think the elimination of sea lions will solve our Columbia river salmon problems.
You feel that allowing broodstock steelhead to spawn will help augment wild steelhead populations.
You think the way to get kids excited about fishing is to allow them to kill a few wild trout.
You think that simply creating more hatchery fish will solve the problem of diminishing returns.
Should I go on?
Apparently many of the anglers in the state of Oregon just cannot bear the thought of not having hatchery fish.
It's been proven time and time again throughout the decades how detrimental hatcheries are to wild fish but for some reason it just does not matter to a harvest drunk group of anglers and that my friends is stupidity at it's worst.
How did we get to this point of addiction?
Instead of beating on this topic endlessly here with just a few opinions I would invite you all to look at some of the discussion going on over at ifish.net. There are a few enlightened and thoughtful comments there but the majority are truly tragic....you can decide which is which.
I could fill this blog with the ignorant notions of some, even those that the sports fishing community puts on a pedestal.
Yes I am frustrated by some of the idiotic things I read and hear and my only release is to intensify my conservation efforts. You just want to grab these uninformed zombies and shake some sense into them.
Believe it or not I do think a reasonable and intelligent hatchery policy can co-exist with wild salmonid recovery. My only question is when will we see that reasonable and intelligent policy because we are not seeing it now especially on the north coast?
I also think the ODFW has some very gifted and talented folks working for them but it seems that this policy driven agency insists on wasting that talent.
I really wish I could be optimistic about the future but I am having a hard time doing that when I encounter the just plain ignorant forces on the stream bank and on the internet that cannot see past the end of their selfish noses.
So bear with me folks because the light of conservation cannot be hidden forever. There are many that just will not let it be hidden. Hopefully the light of intelligent management of wild fish and their habitat will shine....keep the faith!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ignorance Is No Excuse


The salmon in the above picture was taken illegally on the Nestucca river last week. See the intact adipose? That is a wild fish and there is no harvest of wild coho allowed this year.
I am pretty sure the guy that caught this fish was ignorant of the fact that he could no legally harvest a wild coho salmon because I doubt he would have had his picture taken for all the internet to see. However ignorance is no excuse and hopefully the OSP found out his identity and he was cited.
The person taking the picture might have been from that tackle shop in the back ground and if it was I amazed he didn't tell the guy he had an illegal fish in his possession.
The photo appeared on ifish.net and what also amazed me was the number of people making excuses for this idiot! At least one being a professional guide!
Are ethics not important? Is being informed and educated not important anymore? Apparently so.
Of course the over zealous thought police on that website have since removed the controversial thread.
There is enough information out there these days so a "Duh I didn't know" just doesn't cut it anymore.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Snagging Chum Salmon.....Fun for the Whole Family


Photo by Lambton

While reconnoitering the Miami River today to see how many chum salmon have shown up I stopped at the Moss Creek Bridge for a look down in the deep pool that is below the bridge.
There was a father on one side and his adolescent son on the other bank and in the water was probably 20-30 chum salmon that were near their spawning stage. They bunch up in large number in the Miami and nearby Kilchis river where they are easy target for the unwashed masses.
This father and son team were trying, successfully I might add, to foul hook the salmon in the pool. Oh sure they had a legal spinner on but about 12 inches above the treble hooked spinner these "sportsmen" had attached lead weight.
The kid snagged two or three fish and his proud father apparently taught him well.  As I stood there watching in a sort of sad fascination, trying figure out why a father would teach his son this abhorrent practice, the mom showed up with two daughters to join in the fun.
I had seen enough and drove away to get in cell phone range to call the Oregon State Police in Tillamook to report the snagfest.
This, my friends, is why I no longer fish for salmon! I knew that when I left home today I would most likely see some salmon abuse that would piss me off and I was not disappointed.
Between the snagger family and the asshole running his chartreuse "fly" over spawning chums with his spey rod on the Kilchis I knew that the dark side of fishing was having it's season.
Why ODFW allows the targeting of endangered chum salmon is a complete mystery to me but they do and they actually promote it.
Fall salmon season is a whole different and undesirable ballgame and I am glad I am no longer a participant.
Heavy rains the rest of this week will hopefully push the chums out of their vulnerable lays and into there spawning grounds although they are already spawning in both rivers.
Hopefully OSP got there and maybe a hefty citation will make this shitty dad think better of teaching his kids to disrespect wildlife, especially endangered salmon. I somehow doubt it though as this kid was really into abusing these fish. Way to go dad!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Big Thank You to ODFW

Now hang on there cowboy I haven't suddenly turned into friend of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife...quite the contrary! So  here goes my end of the coastal trout season rant.
Yes I just wanted to thank ODFW for opening up a harvest season for cutthroat trout after 17 years of catch and release.
I am soooo grateful for the bait plunker in nearly every run that I have cast a fly in previous years. You might think I'm whining because I want my own little fly fishing haven. Well yeah I guess that's part of it but the most important part of it, as proven by this season that ends today, these trout are not present in the numbers that Robert Bradley and Bob Buckman of ODFW claimed. The phony "Oregon Clam Diggers Association",those of your that attended the meeting last October in Forest Grove remember them don't you? , claimed there were huge numbers of these fish available. Well they're not, it was a lie and this season was proof of it. This is the first time in many years that I saw dead cutthroat trout so yeah excuse me for wanting to preserve a little catch and release fishing on a species whose numbers were lied about in order to sell licenses. I know this blog gets read by a few from ODFW and if I've offended them by calling some of their employees liars then tough shit! You so called "stewards" have really screwed things up. I'm pissed off at the way our wild fisheries are being managed or should I say mismanaged. ODFW seems to be hell bent to compromise every remaining run of wild trout, salmon and steelhead left in this state.
Take a look at the salmon fiasco on both the Columbia and it's tributaries and the coastal watersheds and you will understand.
So yes thank you ODFW for being incompetent bureaucrats. I'll see you lying pricks at the  budget hearings next year where you will try to justify your mismanagement....assholes

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Am A Fly Fisherman


You might wonder what the significance of the title of this entry is. Maybe you're are thinking that I am just stating the obvious because this blog is fly fishing themed.
What I am trying to say is just this. I fly fish and only fly fish.Winter or summer it's fly fishing only for me. I don't use bait or spinners or jigs any longer. I am not an elitist in the sense that I look down my nose who do not follow the same angling path as I do because you must remember that it's that fraternity of anglers that I evolved from.
When I fish I don't take a spinning rod along just in case I can't hook anything with a fly. I used to do that until someone somewhere said "Shane, you'll never grow as a fly fisherman until you give yourself wholly to fly fishing" and he was right of course. I spent a lot of years chasing salmon and steelhead with bait, drift gear and the like and I caught a lot of fish in all sizes and had my share of days where I caught my daily limit. It was a grand time too and I look back on those days with a great deal of affection.
I pretty much did all I could do with gear amd bait here in Oregon and Washington and really had nothing to prove any longer. I had dabbled with fly fishing and in fact it was my summer time angling method and the only way I would fish for trout.
Winter steelhead and fall chinook however were strictly pursued with bait or other hardware.
Long story short I found myself not enjoying that rat race any longer. DDriving to the Wilson anxious about whether my favorite run would be occupied.
So one day I laid aside the drift bobbers, jigs and pencil lead forever. My catch rate, of course, went from filled hatchery tags to near nothing and my family, who had gotten used to fresh salmon and steelhead for dinner were left wanting.
In my angling life it was the best decision I ever made.
There is nothing more inspiring to me as a trout rising to a dry fly or a steelhead's first frantic run downstream as my Hardy reel screams in protest.
Do we fly fishermen have a monopoly on angling contentment? Not hardly! Some still approach it as some kind of ego inflating blood sport. For me it's a way to feel young again in this old body. I find myself looking at everything around me in a much different way like walking along a coastal river bank hoping to find a nice piece of quartz or a nice agate.I hope one day to maybe find a native American arrowhead. You notice the life along the shore more than you did when all you were interested in was getting your lead just right in order to get a good drift.
When I fish my favorite trout hang outs I almost instantly notice any subtle difference with it or the area around it.
I never did before! I had fun back then but it was the kind of fun born out of success and that success was measured by the number of fish I hooked.
Some of my most memorable trips in the years since I became "fly only" have been fish less.
There was one trip to the Wilson river while fishing another favorite run that I was serenaded by a bull elk bugling just across the river. The encounters with otter, eagles and bobcats will forever live in my memory.
When I fish with gear I never had to to look around and take notice of a beautiful flower or a water ouzel tying to make a living along the waterline.
So I can say when asked "Are you a fisherman?" I say "Yes, a fly fisherman"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Fly Fishing With an Indicator Is Not Fly Fishing...A Rant Revisited



If our father had had his say, nobody who did not know how to catch a fish would be allowed to disgrace a fish by catching him.
Norman Maclean
"A River Runs Through It"




Probably going to get some flack from some of you on this so I will don my bullet proof undies. Let's get right down to it friends!
Attaching a floating device to your fly line leader in order to see a fish strike your nymph is what I call "Bobber and jig" fishing. Now you must understand that I am somewhat a traditionalist and I feel this type of angling has shortened the learning curve to the point that anybody can go out and slam a bunch of trout or even steelhead.
Before you bring up the argument that if I am such a traditionalist why don't I use bamboo rods, silk fly lines and cat gut leaders I did preface the traditionalist statement with "somewhat" and wonder where in the hell would you get a cat gut leader anyway? Were they really made of cat gut? So I am not a fly fishing fascist in the truest sense of the word and I doubt the Fario Club would invite me to join them in Paris this year! I do however think our style of angling is pretty special and really hate to see it bastardized into what it seems to be morphing into these days.
To put an indicator on your fly leader destroys the cast! Isn't the cast integral in our sport? Isn't also the drag free drift? How can you possibly get any pleasure out fly fishing like that? Oh yes, I forgot! You can catch more fish using your bobber and jig set-up can't you? Well if that is what you seek then you really should just get a spinning rod! It's a hell of a lot easier.
To use an indicator on a two-handed spey rod is even worse! Why would you pack that unwieldy 13 foot rod around if you are going to ruin everything by putting a damn bobber on it? Am I missing something here? I've seen more and more spey rods with indicator on them this year than ever before.
Hey if you want to fish that way then fine! Fish that way but I would be willing to bet that Lee Wulff would never fish with a bobber neither would Roderick Haig-Brown! Yes I know Haig-Brown was an innovator and actually killed trout but do you reality think he would go the "Thingamabobber" route? I kind of doubt it.
I have a good friend who manufactures his own steelhead jigs and I'm sure he can set you up on whatever you need.
Yes this is a rant but when I see a fly angler on the Deschutes go straight to his bobber and jig setup I just shrug.
In the final analysis I have to say to each his own and I am sure there are many conscientious fly anglers who feel the need to attach a bobber to their line. They are no doubt ethical anglers, who care about wild trout and steelhead, that use bobbers on their fly rod and I appreciate their efforts.
Arrogantly and Pompously Yours,
Shane the elitist wannabe and douchebag exposer

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The End of the Season


As I drove back from the Deschutes on Monday it hit me about the time the snow started hitting my windshield as we drove over Blue Box Pass.
This was probably my last trip over here this year. I cannot say for sure that I won't make another trip but it's doubtful.
In years past I loved the fall and in many ways I still do but why do the things I love all end at the same time?
The season for cutthroat trout ends on Saturday...trick or treat. This was the first year I saw people killing these wild fish. This was the first season that I actually had to compete with people plunking bait.One favorite riffle, where I spent many a care free summer evening, I saw a huge wild cutthroat trout in a bait plunkers ice chest and it ruined my day.I seriously pondered giving up the pursuit of these fish but that was just a fleeting notion.
Do we get emotionally attached to such things as trout? I know I do and seeing that big dead fish just confirmed my affection for them.
The trip to the Deschutes was different as it usually is in the fall. Very little insect action going on and the ever present wind had the slightest hint of winter. As I waded through the familiar rocks and ledges I just felt a little colder and a little sadder. The Deschutes is such a different place in the colder weather of fall and winter.
Those inviting riffles and pools look so grey and indifferent now.It was just a few weeks ago that they were warm and inviting. Such a stark contrast to the warm spring and early summer evenings of salmon flies and slurping trout. Now it just looks cold and lonely.
Then finally the days of late October brings the end of the baseball season. No more casual glances at last nights box score. No pennant races and for my beloved Dodgers, no World Series.
Since I have no stomach or patience to pursue salmon with some of the dregs of society I will wait for the arrival of winter steelhead and watch with concerned fascination as the rain swelled coastal streams ravage themselves as they do on an annual basis.
As I get older it gets tougher to cope with the fall. There is so much I promised myself I would do this summer but I never seemed to get around to doing it. Now I face another season of dreaming and planning for the fantasy fishing trips of next year. Kind of like that old cry of the die hard baseball fan "Wait 'til next year"

ODFW Feeds the Hungry of Oregon...... Catfood


This is the news release the the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife posted on their web page.


October 23, 2009


CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Oregon’s hungry will fare a little better this year, thanks to an extraordinary run of coho salmon.
ODFW staff and volunteers process surplus coho at the Sandy fish hatchery before turning the fish over to the Oregon Food Bank to help feed Oregon’s hungry.
Thousands of surplus coho are being processed at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fish hatcheries along the North Coast and Columbia River in preparation for distribution to the hungry through food banks around the state.
“These huge runs of coho could not have come at a better time, with a down economy and Oregon facing historically high unemployment rates,” said Bill Otto, manager of ODFW’s North Fish Hatchery Group.
For the past two weeks, ODFW staff, American Canadian Fisheries employees and volunteers at six hatcheries have been putting up to 2,000 fish a day on ice in plastic containers known as totes and turning them over to the Oregon Food Bank.
“This is a lot of fish, and there are a lot more on the way,” said Ken Bourne, manager of ODFW’s Sandy fish hatchery. “What would we do with these surplus fish if we didn’t have the Oregon Food Bank?”
The totes are taken from the hatcheries by semi-truck to American Canadian Fisheries’ processing plant in Bellingham, Wash., where the fish are filleted and flash frozen for free in preparation for distribution to 20 regional food banks around the state next March
“It’s not often that we have the opportunity to get this kind of premium protein for the families we serve,” said Dan Crunican, food resource developer for the Oregon Food Bank.
No one knows for sure how much salmon will be processed this year – that depends on the coho, but everyone agrees it will be considerably more than the 22,000 pounds of fillets that were donated and distributed last year.
This year’s coho run is on track to be one of the largest salmon returns in the Columbia basin over the past decade, with 703,000 coho forecast to enter the Columbia at Astoria. That compares to an actual run size of 472,000 coho last year. This year’s run was large enough that fishery managers increased the bag limit to three fish a day and extended the season in many areas. Despite these measures, several ODFW hatcheries have been inundated with fish.
“We’ve expanded opportunities for sport fishermen, achieved our hatchery production goals and met our tribal obligations,” said Otto, who oversees 11 hatcheries in ODFW’s Northwest Region. “We are fortunate that we are able to help feed a lot of people who are hurting right now.”
The Oregon Food Bank Network is seeing a substantial increase in the number of people needing help, according to Jean Kempe-Ware, Oregon Food Bank public relations manager.
“The number of people seeking emergency food through the OFB Network is unprecedented,” she said.
The food bank and its affiliates across the state are currently feeding about 240,000 people a month, up from approximately 200,000 last year. More than a third of the recipients are children, according to Kempe-Ware.



What the story fails to mention is these coho are pet food and fertilizer grade.
The picture on the front page of the Oregonian showed coho with fungus on them.
In other word these fish would have been sold for cat food but for some reason some genius at ODFW thought that using these surplus salmon to feed the poor of Oregon and other regions would be a great idea.
What it shows me is ODFW. once again, over did their hatchery production of coho and had tens of thousand unharvested salmon show up at their Columbia river hatcheries. They took the eggs needed to fill their hatchery needs for future hatchery runs and now are left with a huge amount of fish.
I am getting to the point that I am never surprised by the dumb ass things this agency does.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

GREAT NEWS! North Umpqua Wild Steelhead Safe...For now


This posting is courtesy of Matt Stansberry of The Caddis Fly Angling Shop

October 23rd, 2009 ·


Communique from Bruce McIntosh, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Fish Division Deputy Administrator, Inland Fisheries
As the management of North Umpqua winter steelhead is of great interest to Oregonians, last week ODFW made the following decisions regarding the future management of these fish:


•In response to interested publics in the Umpqua basin and Commission direction, ODFW has been looking at a range of options to implement consumptive fisheries for winter steelhead in the North Umpqua River over the last year.


•While no formal proposals were completed, ODFW did have internal discussions that considered the full range of options, from status quo, to a limited fishery on wild winter steelhead, to the implementation of a small winter steelhead hatchery program in the North Umpqua River.


•At this time, ODFW has concluded that the best way to address the management of North Umpqua winter steelhead is through the development of a coastal winter steelhead conservation plan, which would include the North Umpqua.


•ODFW will begin development of a coastal winter steelhead conservation plan in the latter part of 2010. Development of the plan will address all aspects of steelhead management for all the populations from the Necanicum at the north end of the Species Management Unit to the Sixes at the southern end.


•The coastal winter steelhead plan will be developed based on the direction provided by ODFW’s Native Fish Conservation Policy and will seek input and involvement from appropriate public, tribal, state, local, and federal management partners.


Breathe easy, stay vigilant. And thanks for everybody’s support on this.


Matt Stansberry

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Late, Great Fall Chinook Salmon


I don't think a word like abysmal can adequately describes the status of the west coast fall Chinook salmon runs the last couple of years. I suppose there are other adjectives that may be better but I was thinking of something so downward and fathomless and filled with gloom to really project how much in trouble these fish are in.
Whether it be the legendary runs of the Smith River in Northern California or the "pigs" of the Tillamook watershed there are none that deny that these fish are disappearing at an alarming rate.
It's downright scary and no one seems to be able to put a finger on the exact culprit in the fall Chinook's demise. There are probably many reasons and the cumulative effect of all of those reasons are probably why we are where we are today.
So let's look at a few...
Loss of habitat in critical spawning areas might be the largest reason. Siltation, loss of riparian buffer zones, poor logging practices have all play a role. The powers that be have finally recognized this and are trying to do something about it but it may be too late. Good positive strides in proper logging practices have been implemented and we are seeing some progress. Obviously there is more work to be done though.
Of course the numerous hydro-electric dams along the Columbia river and it's tributaries were and are a huge part of the problem. These man made barriers have destroyed countless millions of down river juveniles and have impeded the returning adults. The dams have also provided a smorgasbord of easy pickings for predators of all kinds.
Over harvest by everyone from sportsmen to commercial interests have added to the Chinook's woes over the years and while state agencies have reduced bag limits and catch allocations they ignored the warning signs for way too long.
The greedy sports anglers, armed with the latest internet fishing report, have long sought the coveted Chinook salmon roe to use as bait and while some may call this insignificant it is just wishful thinking to say this has not had some impact. The Tillamook region is still famous for it's "hen hunters" who stripped ripe females solely for their eggs and I would be willing to bet you could use fresh Chinook salmon roe as some form of currency for barter in that area of Oregon. Many salmon "celebrities" have made their living selling the latest and greatest salmon egg cure in order to facilitate those egg hunters.
Foreign troll fleets and Columbia river gill netters decimated these salmon for decades to feed the ever increasing demand from the non-fishing public for salmon to eat. In the past entire coastal economies were built around the Chinook and coho salmon returns of the fall.
Then of course is mismanagement by state fishery agencies. The tales of these bungling managers of these important resource could fill a massive volume. I have posted my criticism of these agencies many times on this blog and will not rehash old rants but I will say this much and I mean this with all of my heart. I firmly believe our state fish and wild life agencies must be reorganized and reformed from top to bottom. It's time for the bureaucrats, save asses and politicians to be prevented from pulling the strings and mismanaging our wild salmonids. Along with all of this is the archaic hatchery policies and practices that have changed little in decades and the effect of hatchery fish on wild fish is well documented. The old saying of "Throw the Scoundrels Out" certainly would apply here.
Finally there is that great unknown called ocean conditions. We are not real sure what goes on out in the salt but we do know that pollution and, yes, global warming have an effect and will continue to do so until some enlightened people who can make a difference will step up and do it.
I would really like my grand children to be able to watch in wonder the ritual of spawning salmon or witness a massive Chinook plow it's way through a shallow riffle on it's way to it's ultimate destiny and fate.
We will be a poorer world without the Chinook salmon and indeed any wild salmon or trout to enjoy and cherish for future generations.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Confessions of a Cynic

Am I a cynic? Do I take a negative view of what is happening to our wild salmon and trout? Do I see the proverbial glass as half empty?
Yes to all of the above!
I don't enjoy being a cynic. I wish that we didn't have a state agency that cares little about our wild salmonids and I wish I could become a fan of ODFW... I really do!
Thing is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is an agency out of control with an agenda that does not bode well for wild fish.Here is an example of what I'm talking about.
Do you realize that ODFW has it's greedy eyes on perhaps the last remaining decent population of wild winter steelhead? The North Umpqua runs of wild winter steelhead have long been a target of just about everyone who just cannot stand to not be able to kill a wild fish in order to sate their ego.
Then there is the steelhead broodstock programs that put the coastal wild winter steelhead into a tailspin. The recovering populations had the rug pulled out from under them with this program. All one has to do is talk to a river guide and they will tell you how few spawning redds there were the last few seasons. By river guides I'm talking about those that have nothing to lose by telling the truth! There are plenty of bait guides on the north coast who will exaggerate their catch reports to the local ODFW office in order in order to keep these wild fish raping programs going. These are the same guides that run trips that fish over spawning fish in order to get their clients a hook up or two.
I could right volumes about the coastal cutthroat trout mess that was foisted on the rivers of the northern coast.
So yes I am a cynic and will continue to be as long as this states self proclaimed stewards of the resource change course and actually live up to their mission.
When will that happen? Cynically I do not see it happening until there is some visionary leadership in place that will clean house. As long as the addiction to hatchery programs and bait guide welfare still influence policy then I guess I will remain the grumpy old complainer that I am.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mist on the River


The autumnal equinox was most assuredly upon me as I journeyed to the northern coast yesterday for a day of pursuing coastal cutthroat trout on a fly.
The leaves of the coastal corridor were well into their autumn regalia of reds and oranges as I drove along in the constant rain.
As I arrived at my first destination I saw that there was a fine mist rising from the river. The river isn't at it's full autumn flow but with the turning leaves and the mist the scene was surreal and beautiful and the eager cutthroat trout just added to the beauty of the scene.
I fished at several different likely cutthroat hangouts on 4 rivers and they all had this mist rising from them. I absent mindedly left my camera at home so the photograph in this posting was borrowed from the internet so you can get an idea of how this looked.
In the last several years of my angling life I have avoided as much interaction with fall salmon bank fishermen as possible. While there are many who fish with respect and ethics there are some that do not and I make sure to give them a wide berth on the river.These are the ones that make the most noise and throw away the most garbage along the river bank so while these "sportsmen" may be in the minority their presence is profoundly felt by all that are in the area. The salmon runs this year have not materialized on the upper portions of these coastal rivers yet and so I had my choice of places to cast my fly without the company of these unwashed masses.
There was a small hatch of stone flies and blue winged olives going on that the trout were mildly interested in and instead they were likely snacking on emerging October caddis which would provide a more filling meal.
There were a few lonely coho salmon rolling in the slower water and one near death chinook that put on an aerial display that would have been the envy of any steelhead as he neared his unavoidable demise after completely his mission of procreation.
I used to love the fall as it, at least to me, was a season filled with so much and such little time to do it all. The sounds of migrating waterfowl and changing leaves always got me excited. The return of the fall chinook was near and that meant fresh meat and fresh bait for the freezer.
These days though I am almost melancholy when autumn arrives. It means that the cold of winter is near and it means that the winter of my years grow nearer also. I think about what the next year will be bring and how this old broke down fly fisherman will fare. I prefer to fish alone more and more in this autumn of my own life because I am not as patient anymore with the quirks of other anglers and do not want to force my own quirks and foibles on anyone else. I like it this way and am seldom lonely on a river as I have the shore birds and swaying firs to keep me company. I will make at least one or two more coastal trips for my beloved cutthroat trout and one or two more trips east of the mountains for the steelhead of the Deschutes.
While the change of season makes me somewhat sad it also is still an enjoyable time to be alive here in the beautiful and awe inspiring Pacific northwest.