Thursday, August 20, 2009

They Just Don't Get It

I do not fish for fall chinook anymore and haven't since 2004. You see I have this silly notion that fishing of any kind should be enjoyable. I've noticed that more and more people are turning angling into some sort of blood sport. It's no longer that peaceful endeavour where one can relax and maybe get a fish or two, it is
combat fishing in the truest since of the word.
This is especially true during the fall when the salmon begin their primordial journey to pro create and then die
The large fall chinook will typically run at least 30 pounds with some even larger. That is a lot of meat for the freezer and people kind of lose their minds when these fish are in their home rivers to spawn
I fished for chinook for many years and took many home during that time but the last few years before I ceased fishing for them the mood and attitude of salmon anglers changed into a surliness that I was uncomfortable with. It changed from the good natured camaraderie of fellow anglers to a win at all costs pursuit. I found myself stressing out about not getting my favorite salmon spot and it got to the point where I seldom did.
In other locations people actually would resort to violence and the brandishing of firearms when they felt someone encroached on their waters.
It's sad to see that so many have lost sight of why we fish in the first place.
They are passing on that "I gotta get mine" attitude to their kids.
I have witnessed some very ugly scenes during that time of year in my salmon days.
Fall chinook season will bring out the absolute worst in human behavior. You want to get a glimpse into the true nature of a man? Take him to the Trask or Wilson river in late October and point out there is a pool full of 30 pound plus swimming meat
in that hole, just see how he reacts.
I am still pursuing coastal cutthroat trout until the end of October and encounter these "sports" every year.
One year I was working a productive run, swinging wet flies for trout and hooking then releasing several nice trout. The water I was in was too shallow to hold chinook so I was able to stay well above the bobber and egg guys in the lower deep pool.
They were having no luck at all with their tennis sized baits of cured salmon roe so
one of these gentlemen brought his glob of gooey eggs up to just below where I was and ran it right through my trout run. Well of course the trout are going to ignore my fly from then on and feast on the loose eggs left over from the salmon invader.
What did I do? I left! You cannot teach these slugs proper angling etiquette and no doubt I would have been assaulted, at the very least, with crude remarks and insults
It certainly was not the first or last time I experienced this stuff and so I try to avoid all association with these people.
I am not able to fish some choice spots for cutthroat trout during the waning days of the season but it's okay. My over all enjoyment of the river and fish is more important to me than making sure I get a few casts in among the salmon knuckle draggers.
The folks and sadly many anglers, whether fly or gear, have turned their time on the river into something stressful.
Angling should always be a celebration of every thing that is good about being outdoors. In our busy lives we need these breaks to unwind and collect our thoughts and wits and just get away from the stressful lives we lead.
Unfortunately many just do not get it.


  1. It is the same everywhere.
    When salmon run our Midwest rivers people become unglued to catch-snag-net-pitchfork these fish.
    Latent genetics and instincts are triggered that should remain latent.

    Meat gathering is fine. Humans are hunter-gatherers. But the kind of attitude of modern sport fisher - meat gatherers might lead one to come to the conclusion that the missing link between Homo Sapiens and the Neanderthal has at last been found.

  2. Spencer3:42 PM

    This is so true. My dad has lived in Tillamook his whole life, and has never really got into fishing because of the bloodsport mentality of the whole thing.

    I've been getting him into fly fishing lately, and it all came together for him this past weekend on the Deschutes. He was nymphing for trout (yes, a bobber, but one step at a time :) and managed to hook 5 steelhead on his 5wt in the process.

    He knows a few guys who've gotten caught up in the meathead salmon fishery, and he goes out with them maybe once a year. After spending the weekend fly fishing, he remarked that he had more fun in a single day of fishing, than all the previous days of plunking put together.

    We talked a lot about the tillamook salmon fishery on the way back, and just how nasty it's gotten in the past few years (like you say). He thinks somebody is going to get killed out there one of these years. Less and less fish in the tillamook bay watershed, more people chasing them, and tensions sky high as a result.

    Anyways, it was great getting to show my dad fly fishing, and what fishing should really be about. All his experiences in the tillamook tidewater have been stressful as hell, tossing a flat fishing and sitting around waiting for something to happen. With fly fishing, even if you don't catch anything, you're still enjoying beautiful surroundings (the deschutes canyon in this case) and you're actually forced to think and try different tactics.

    The salmon fishery in tillamook should have been closed 5 years ago, and I still do not understand how it's legal to keep a wild salmon. ODFW needs to get their heads out of their ass.

  3. Wow!

    Then Canada has sounds that plug up like that too.

    Reminds me of fishing the Salmon River in upstate New York. Except there was an option to pay US$10 to US$15/day to fish the private Douglaston Stretch on the lower river. The money collected paid for several full-time river and fishery guardians who immediately ousted any and all misbehavers.

    I caught and killed several hatchery-run steelhead in the 15 to 17lb. range when there was absolutely nobody around (except for the river guardian who heard all the splashing, came over, and ultimately helped with the photos. :-)