Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is ODFW Using A Magic 8 Ball To Manage Our Wild Fisheries?

What a fun bunch the people at ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) are. These crazy guys seem to just make up native fish management as they go along. Did you hear the latest? ODFW regional biologists claimed that there is an abundance of coastal cutthroat trout. The rivers were full of these wild trout and having a harvest on them wouldn't make a dent it their populations they claimed. Doesn't the thought of eating a few of these coastal beauties make your mouth water?
On opening day the ODFW conducted a coast wide creel survey and guess what!?!?!? Fishing was abysmal! So where were all these fish? I was skunked for the first time ever on every one of my favorite early season runs....hmmmm! Those of us that intimately know the status of the cutthroat trout population were screaming about the dangers of a harvest years ago. WE told them in 2000, we told them in 2004 and we told them in 2008!
Oh it gets better folks.
ODFW is predicting a huge return of wild coho salmon on the coast and is going to allow a harvest of these salmon for the first time since the mid-nineties. Meanwhile the wild coastal fall chinook returns are in the proverbial toilet and so ODFW is going to tighten regulations in order to protect these fish to the point of closing some major fall chinook rivers this fall.
Okay let me see if I have this right. We're closing rivers to protect dwindling chinook populations but allowing a slay-fest on wild coho salmon in these same rivers and at the same time! Sheer brilliance!I could fill pages with the foibles of this state agency charged with protecting and enhancing our cold water resource.
How about this one. ODFW has planted hatchery rainbow trout in the Yamhill river for the first time in many years. This river has a very fragile wild coho, steelhead and cutthroat trout population and in fact you could probably count the returning adults on one hand the numbers are so minuscule.So hell yes let's dump a bunch of hungry pellet head trout in the midst of these wild fish.The biologist claimed that the wild smolt would have left the system by the time of these plants! Where did he get his degree? From ebay? I am beginning to think that the powers that be at ODFW are using one of those magic 8 balls to plot their strategy for fishery management.

All kidding aside friends. This agency is run by a bunch of people who are trying to justify their existence and conjure up ways to invigorate lagging license sales and by allowing the exploitation of wild salmonids to accomplish that goal. So I believe it's time to ratchet up the heat on ODFW. I want to see those creel surveys from Memorial Day weekend and I want to know where the countless thousands of these phantom cutthroat trout are. I want to know how ODFW intends to manage both a restrictive Chinook fishery and a kill fishery for wild coho at the same time in the same rivers?
Come on ODFW shake that magic 8 ball and let's see what kind of answer you come up with.
More on these topics as time goes on but I am seeing people motivated to hold ODFW accountable like never before. Will it do any good? Hell yes it will!

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