Thursday, February 26, 2009

Makes Me Want To Puke!!!!

Look at this picture and if you are not upset to the point of outrage then you don't care about wild steelhead and their well being!
This egomaniac asshole claimed that this wild steelhead had to be killed because it was bleeding profusely from the gills.....BULLSHIT!!!
He ends up contradicting himself in the story and is tripped up several times by people who were there or knew what really happened.
So why is this upsetting? This guy wanted to kill this fish of a lifetime to satisfy his need to feel fulfilled and to feel like someone important. You would think that a man his age would have gotten past the whole chest thumping thing but apparently not and this wild steelhead paid the price.
Why would I curse at the sight of such a thing as a large and dead wild winter steelhead? Well folks if you are new here then go back and read some of the things I have posted in the past! I've done this blog for nearly three years and I have made it abundantly clear as to where I stand on wild steelhead.
Sure it was legal to kill this fish from Washington's Olympic Peninsula. It truly was a fish of a lifetime and no doubt this guy was proud! He must of been in order to brag and lie about the circumstance surrounding him clubbing this magnificent steelhead to death!
I wish I was able to tell this clown to his face that I think him killing this steelhead shows he doesn't give a damn. I hope karma catches up to him and he breaks his Spey rod on a snag.
Our collective psyche as anglers and conservationists cannot sit idly by while this stuff still goes on. We need to mature as anglers and get beyond the harvest mentality that still abound in places like Tillamook county or Forks Washington.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hey Brother, Can You Spare Some Water?

A winter in the Pacific Northwest is usually feast or famine! In late December of 2008 we had two feet of snow on the ground and lots of fact too much water.
The rivers ran very high and muddy and fishing was an exercise in futility.
January was a mixed bag with rain at the beginning and then it's like someone pulled the plug! No significant rain since.

Late February and my favorite rivers sit at summer lows. The fish, what few there are, are static and it's miraculous when someone actually catches one. The water temperatures are very cold, as can be expected during winter, and of course very low. I can wade at all my usual summer places in the vain effort to find a willing steelhead but I must be mindful that a slip into winter water is nothing to be laughed at.
It's not like these "drought" conditions have not occurred before. Those of you that are from this area might be old enough to remember the winter of 1977. We basically went with out precipitation for almost the entire winter. People were in panic mode and calling for the governor of Oregon to order some cloud seeding. In the end, of course, it rained. The threat of not enough snow pack in the Cascades came and went and we caught our fish.
So even right now as I write this epic blog entry it's blowing outside and the forecast is for blustery winter weather. You know what I am pondering for tomorrow? You guessed it, fishing!!!!!

***** UPDATE *****

And just like that the rivers all rose about 1' and are off color. I guess I should have written about this low water before huh?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is ODFW the Enemy of Wild Fish?...You Tell Me

Am I asking a rhetorical question here? Maybe! Let's take a look at Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's record concerning Oregon's wild salmonids. I'll summarize the evidence on a few key issues and you good folks decide.

Steelhead Broodstock Programs

I've written about this before so briefly it all boils down to the following. The taking of wild steelhead eggs and making them into a harvestable hatchery commodity. With depressed populations of wild winter steelhead does this sound like a good idea?

Coastal Cutthroat Trout Harvest

Again lots of info on this blog about what took place last fall. With an 8" minimum and an uneducated Portland Metro public descending on coastal streams what do you think the impact on juvenile wild salmon and steelhead will be?

North Umpqua Wild Steelhead

After doing the right thing and ending the harvest of wild winter steelhead on this legendary river ODFW regional biologists did not even wait a year before (7 months to be exact) before recommending the repeal of the no harvest rule.

North Coast Chum Salmon Fishery

There are two rivers in Oregon that have a population of more than just a few of these salmon. Their numbers have steadily declined to an alarming point but these endangered fish, which were once too numerous to count, are harassed and abused by idiotic "anglers" with a C&R season that also allows the use of bait.

Salmonberry River Steelhead

ODFW fish biologists have stated that this run of wild winter steelhead is perhaps the most genetically pure and important strain of wild winter steelhead in the state!
To prove just how important these fish are ODFW not only allows a fishery on them but also allows the use of bait!

I've over simplified this evidence but if one cares to dig deeper you'll see all the facts there. The wild salmonid populations of this state are hurting big time folks and we have a Fish and Wildlife agency that is out of control. It's all about angler opportunities according to the agency spokesman.
Sorry but I wouldn't call these actions opportunities, I would call them an all out assault on wild salmon, steelhead and decide!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Metolius River...More Precious Than Money

I thought this article by Sandy Lonsdale was a good fit here on The Quiet Pool. The Metolius is almost a holy place here in Oregon and it's pristine value cannot be put into dollars and cents. It's unfortunate that some think it can.

Money or Metolius? It’s an easy pick
By Sandy Lonsdale / Bulletin guest columnist

February 15. 2009 4:00AM PST

Is there anything in Central Oregon that is worth more than money? Anything at all that we should conserve and protect in its original form, unimproved? Like a sunny walk on a forest trail under tall pines? Hours of quiet, contemplative fly-fishing on a wild stream? What about sharing a silent sunrise or sunset with your partner while snuggled up in a warm sleeping bag? What’s it worth, or have you missed it?

When we moved to Bend for my dad to start a new business in 1972, Central Oregon was full of million-dollar experiences.

When guests would visit from other states or other countries, we would always make time in their schedules to take them to the head of the Metolius River, walk the West Metolius trail, maybe a picnic at the head of Jack Creek, fishing on the Middle Deschutes, up the road to Mount Bachelor and views of the mighty Cascade peaks, lunch at the Pine Tavern.

These experiences were special to us, and we did our best to show off this place to others and instill the same sense of wonder in them.

Obviously Mr. Lundgren and Jim Kean, the proponents of the roughly 1,500-person development two miles west of Camp Sherman, and others need one of our tours. The idea of an “environmentally sensitive” destination resort in the Metolius basin is about as oxymoronic as anything I’ve heard in awhile. What are these people thinking?

It was bad enough when this entire square mile of ancient forest was clear-cut by the timber industry back in the 1950s and ’60s.

If the new owners want to develop eco-tourism and want a challenge, I suggest they try to bring back the forest that once sheltered this land and nourished its inhabitants for thousands of years.

“Democratize access” to the Wild and Scenic Metolius basin? You mean there is democracy missing now because there are not thousands of people living right on top of it? Today anyone can go there for a visit, the waters flowing and trees growing are owned and managed by and for all of America; they are public resources.

If anything, the Metolian resort, with 450 home sites and 180 lodging units, would privatize and commercialize the area for those who could afford to move there.

When we were through soaking up that sunshine, we picked up the blanket, made sure we left no trace, and headed for home to savor the feeling for as long as we could. Then we worked to protect what we appreciated about this place we called home. We thought and acted beyond self interest for the common interest of all.

The Metolius River, its tributaries and the surrounding national forest and Cascades retain their special character and wonder not by chance. Hundreds and thousands of people have contributed their time, thoughts and energies to keeping this place wild, unsullied and wondrous.

There is an opportunity to act: The Oregon State Land Conservation and Development Commission will hold two more field hearings in Madras to consider a proposal before the legislature to make the Metolius River Basin an Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC).

(The exact time and locations have not been finalized. One will be on Feb. 26 and the second on March 11. Call 503-373-0050 for more information.)

Please attend these hearings and learn more about it. Then act to keep this very special place special for all to come and see, feel, enjoy.

Central Oregon already has the resorts, let’s keep the destination intact and protect the environmentally sensitive. It’s our choice. Call your legislator now; tomorrow may take it away.

Sandy Lonsdale lives in Bend.

Is there a more beautiful river and region in Oregon than the Metolius watershed? I'm asking that not as a fly fisherman but as someone who thinks that there are some places that you just don't mess with.
Ms. Lonsdale understands that and so do thousands of others who visit this special river.
After all do we really need another destination resort especially in this economy? What is there about making another 18 hole golf course in the Metolius watershed that is going to improve your golf game? I'm sure there are those who would love to development the area around Crater Lake...they just don't understand or even try to.
It makes me sick to see the lust for money cloud the vision of people who have no soul and cannot stand to see an area of such beauty just left the hell alone?
My gratitude goes out to those who see the Metolius as a rare gem that cannot be exploited.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Just Winter

I walk along the exposed rocks of a winter river that is far to low, cold and clear. Runs that were once too swift and deep for my fly are now at a summer level and seem to spitefully grab ahold of my feathered creation to keep as their own.
The slate grey sky and bone chilling cold makes me anxious like I might be trapped in this place by some freakish accident forever. I am mindful that I have strayed above the normal waters of most anglers much like a wayward hatchery steelhead would and I double check to make sure my truck is parked where I left it. The fish are absent and with no apparent precipitation forthcoming I use this trek as an excuse to practice my Skagit style casting. The opposite shoulder technique that my friend John is so good at comes hard to me and I cop out on fishing the river left bank of the winter stream in favor of the double spey which I can do with some ease.
I know that winter is just the price we must pay for spring and summer as any patient angler knows but it seems like the grip that winter holds is relentless.I know it's just my longing for warmth that makes it seem so permanent. I know it's just winter and unremarkable from any winter past for me. With so much uncertainty in the world these days the people I meet on the stream bank have an anxious and worried look about them. I truly feel for those who have lost their homes and jobs because of the recession that has a stranglehold on us all....a cold winter seems to just make the anxiousness and worry more tangible.
The daylight is noticeably longer now however and with the advent of baseball's spring training the hope of spring and rising trout is more than just some whimsical notion by an old, broke down angler like me. It's the promise of spring that sustains me through these winter months.
I've seen pictures of the first March Browns of the season so I am hopeful.
The best part of the winter steelhead season is still ahead though and the torrential rains that will fill the river are sure to return and I will shrug my shoulder as to dismiss my silly winter rants.
Here is hoping that all of you are anticipating the end of winter as you oil your reels, clean your fly lines and tie more trout flies than you'll ever need.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Good Old Days

When I was a kid I always thought it was cool to listen to my parents and especially my grandparents talk about the good old days.
When they talked about the good old days they meant the 30's and 40's. I would listen to the stories about rationing during the depression and World War II. Not that those were good times mind you but they would sentimentally reminisce about the days when your only entertainment would come via the radio.
Yes I am sure those were nostalgic times for them.
I was thinking the other day, while making one bad Skagit cast after another, on one of my favorite winter steelhead streams about my good old days of fishing here in the Pacific Northwest.
I'm talking about about the early 70's specifically because that is when I first picked up a fishing rod to pursue the salmon, steelhead and trout of this region.
Back in those days there was no internet! If you were pursuing winter steelhead you had to pay close attention to the river levels much like today. The difference, of course, was not a mouse click away like it is today. There was a number you called to get the latest river levels. More times than not the information was not real up to date so you watched the weather forecast and took your chances. Hey it worked too! We hooked a lot of steelhead back in those days. Those good old days were filled with anticipation of a Saturday trip after a long week of work. We boraxed our roe back then because the new super cures were not yet invented. I loved the after Thanksgiving tackle sales where I could stock up on all the gear I would need for the winter.
The reel of choice was the old ABU Ambassadeur level winds that could throw a birds nest big enough for an eagle to nest in. Very seldom did we use spinning rods for our winter steelheading.
Of course the Holy Grail of steelhead rods was the Fenwick FS83C. This brown fiberglass rod was the desire for all serious steelheaders and the $49.95 price tag was out of reach for most of us blue collar guys.
Hey we even read Fishing and Hunting news to get the latest "Metalhead" reports! I sometimes miss that outdated rag.
Then there was the fly fishing world of nearly forty years ago. It was pretty common to find Leonard Duracane or Orvis bamboo rods at most fly shops back then. Hardy reels were also very commonplace too. Graphite was still in it's infancy back then but it was pretty easy to build your own rod out of the best Lamiglas fiberglass blanks.
Jim Teeny was taking the fly fishing world by storm with his epic 16mm films of East Lake in Central Oregon. We salivated about those big rainbows and browns of the Newberry Crater lakes. We all tied counterfeit "Teeny Nymphs" but of course never realized the success of Teeny....wonder why?
Back in those days the Deschutes was still a legendary summer steelhead river and I remember how terrified I was of a potential but ultimately unlikely encounter with a Deschutes rattlesnake. This fear was something my older fishing partners had a lot of fun with.Speaking of legends the master of dry line steelhead fly Fishing, Bill McMillan could be found along the Washougal river back then. I would marvel at his sophisticated but aloof approach to steelhead on a fly.
Bill Bakke was around back then too.We mostly thought his ideas on wild fish conservation were pretty far fetched and over our heads. Bill's hair and beard were still red back then too! Little did we know that the vision of guys like Bakke and McMillan laid the ground work for wild salmonid conservation today.
I was young and impressionable back then and now I am just old and jaded.
While the world wide web has brought a vast amount of information to our computer screens I think it has hurt our resource also. There is no "paying your dues" anymore when it comes to learning to be an angler as most new guys do not have the patience to learn the right way. Of course fishing ethics has not made the transition to the 21st century all that well either and it shows.
Salmon and steelhead seem to be more of a commodity these days with the internet forums where one can post a myriad of photos of his/her heroic piscatorial conquests to the adulation of the cyber world masses.
On a positive note, modern conservation science has made great strides in recognizing the perils our coldwater fisheries face and how to best deal with those perils. Enlightened conservation groups are working hard to make a difference.
So while I miss some aspects of those good old days I am glad of what I've learned over the years. I've matured into someone who thinks wild salmon, trout and steelhead are pretty damn important.
This is a picture of me from 1974 holding my first winter steelhead caught on the Sandy river. A spawner female shooting single eggs!!! That rod was made by me also. Wow things sure have changed haven't they?