Sunday, April 19, 2009

Raising the Bar on Conservation

Last Steelhead of the Winter

Are those of you that are wild fish friendly doing all you can to help save them?
I know I'm not and there are some things I can do in my small way to do more for the wild salmon, trout and steelhead in my region of the world.
I am concerned about what effect the upcoming cutthroat harvest will have on pre-smolt wild salmon and steelhead. The 8" minimum that ODFW will allow this season will have an impact on these juveniles and ODFW has done virtually nothing to educate Joe Powerbait on how to tell the difference between trout and smolt. I am pretty sure a lot of smolt will be killed because they will be mistaken for trout.
I am going to spend some days in the Tillamook watershed helping the fishing public identify the difference between cutthroat trout and wild smolt.
Secondly I am also concerned what the ravenously hungry hatchery steelhead smolt, that are released in sizes up to 12",are eating. I and others more learned than myself are pretty sure that they are feasting on out of gravel wild salmon and steelhead fry.
I intend to sample what these large hatchery smolt have in their stomachs. I will report what I find.
There is one other small thing I intend to do this spring and summer with coastal cutthroat trout. I am removing the points on some of my flies! You might think this drastic or silly or whatever but think about it for a second.
I have caught and released thousands of cutthroat trout through the years. I've caught on dry flies, streamers and soft hackles and in all sizes! I enjoy the take more than anything and the actual landing of these trout is not that big of a deal. If I get a long line releases and never have to handle the fish then so much the better. I'm not saying that I will do this with all of my cutthroat trout fly fishing this year but I will certainly do it at times when perhaps the water is a bit too warm or, like my friend Moon, when trying out a new pattern.
I love the take by a trout on a dry fly so what better to enjoy it even more without having to handle the fish?
I've heard of of anglers doing this and I think I will give it a try.
I will also be doing some wild steelhead redd counts for Native Fish Society hopefully on the Mollala river and other rivers in hopes of finding out how many wild steelhead are spawning.
So what are some of your plans to help wild fish?


  1. Anonymous9:46 AM

    Do you have a quick way of identifying Cutthroat? How do you tell the difference between trout and smolt?

  2. We've been talking about making laminated identification posters where open trout seasons coincide with rearing areas for coho and steelhead and posting them at popular campgrounds in those areas. This could be a good approach for you as well or maybe we could send you some?

  3. Anon - I will post some pictures

    One Mule - You certainly can.
    Email me at and we will work out details