Yes the need to kill wild fish is still flourishing in Tillamook County folks.
While fly fishing for cutthroat trout last Friday on the Trask and Wilson rivers I witnessed it and can, unfortunately, report that it is quite well and still very much in force.
I had just pulled into a favorite tidewater stretch on the Trask river and encountered a couple of women "plunking" for trout. Lo and behold they hooked one and were desperately trying to remove the hook in order to put it on the stringer one of the kids that was with them was eagerly holding at the ready. Well as fish do, this lucky trout managed to wiggle off of the hook and land back in the water. Of course these two gals were mortified especially with me chuckling out loud. They soon left and took their bait with them.
How do I know that they were not intending to release the trout you might ask? Listen friends you don't use bait for catch and release! Well some do I guess.
I moved over to the nearby Wilson river to try my luck. I was fishing a run that had produced trout in the past and hooked up immediately.A young man who was there with his wife and baby commented "Well there's dinner tonight huh?" The fish was all of 10" mind you. I politely replied that I would never kill one of these wild trout.
Now one might think that these are isolated incidents but after fishing the coastal region for many years I have found that catch and release is the exception rather than the rule! Only when folks are forced to release wild fish will they actually do it.
It's not just a Tillamook county phenomena so don't think I am singling just this region out. It's a coast wide thing where locals have not come to grips with the fact that their salmon and trout are disappearing. Gone are those days of bringing home huge chinook salmon and stringers full of "harvest trout"
The bait guides claim that the wild winter steelhead populations are in fine shape but I think they are exaggerating and even down right lying so they can continue to get their broodstock programs funded. They claim that the wild steelhead are plentiful enough to warrant the mining of wild eggs for use in these hatchery programs.That along with district fish biologist "cooking the books" in order to provide these bait guides with a chance to make money on the backs of wild steelhead.
I've done redd surveys the past few years and what others who have done surveys and we are all seeing the same thing! There is an alarmingly low number of redds in the coastal rivers.
So choose for yourself who you think is right!
The harvest mentality will probably never go away though as long as there are remnant runs of wild salmon and steelhead to plunder by the ignorant and greedy.