Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fly Fishing Ethics

For various reasons we fly fishermen are held to a higher standard as far as angling ethics go and while most of us try to exhibit good angling ethics some don't. So if you are confused or wondering what good fly fishing ethics are then you've come to the right place.
Here are a few to ponder.

Spawning Fish

Never fish in an area where you can see spawning fish working. I know it's tempting but just move on and let those spawners do their thing in peace.


Same as above. You want to leave spawning redds undisturbed. Not sure what a spawning redd looks like? Google it!

Low Holing

Gear and bait fishermen do this a lot and if you have evolved from the gut slinging crowd into fly fishing then leave this rude habit, along with your Powerbait in the past. Always ask if it's okay to step below a fellow fly angler! I like at least 100 yards of swing water below me and on the short coastal winter streams that is hard to come by. Even on big rivers like the Deschutes it is hard to get that much space. Some fly guides take it to the other extreme and act like they need a mile of river below them.

Barbless Hooks and Nets

If you intend to release your catch then pinch those barbs and try to avoid using a net. Sometimes you have to net your fish so be sure it's a rubberized net that won't remove slime from the fish. Be sure you are educated on handling wild fish.

Photos of your catch

If you've hooked a wild fish then keep it in the water. It is not good for the fish to be held out of the water for your ego shot.

Remove hatchery fish from the river

You and I pay BIG money for these fish so for cryin' out loud utilize them! You are not doing the wild salmonid populations of your river any favors by releasing hatchery salmon, steelhead and trout. Unfit to eat? Simple!Bonk it, Tag it if that is the law, open up the body cavity and THEN release it back into the river. This will provide stream nutrients for smolt, aquatic insects, crawfish and other river life. You can also take it home and use it for crab bait or fertilizer.
Disclaimer - This is what I do and might be against the fishing regulations so do this at your own risk.

Leave the river in better shape than you found it

Pretty simple actually. Anything you brought in please take it with you and maybe some extra.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's Hatcheries to the Rescue

Once again hatcheries are going to ride to the rescue and save us all! The California Department of Fish and Game released 16.5 million fall chinook smolt as an effort to bolster horrendous returns of fall chinook in the states central valley streams.
16.5 million is a shit load of smolt! However it is pretty well known that fall chinook hatchery programs do not work out well and I would be surprised if this turned out to be any  different.
In Oregon we have our own hatchery fall chinook failures in nearly every coastal river from the Necanicum all the way south. We don't see the massive numbers like California is planting but we get about a .03% return. That makes those fish that do return about as rare as Sasquatch and about as expensive as an Imelda Marcos shoe buying trip.
This all reminds me of the saying "The height of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result"
So good luck California! I'm sure you are going to need it.

Here is the original press release from California F&W

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) completed the release of 16.5 million young Sacramento Fall-Run Chinook salmon in northern California on June 15. The majority of the young salmon, called smolts, were placed into acclimation pens in San Pablo Bay prior to release, while others were released in rivers that flow to the bay. Smolts that survive to adulthood will return in two to four years to spawn in Central Valley rivers, boosting the recovery of the species in California waters.

“We hope this year’s above-average water flow and the use of a variety of release sites will improve the overall survival of the smolts and increase the return of adult salmon to their home rivers,” said Neil Manji, DFG Fisheries Branch Chief.
On June 8, the last major release of 650,000 Sacramento Fall-Run Chinook smolts took place near Mare Island Straits adjacent to San Pablo Bay. They were trucked from Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova to the site, confined in net pens to acclimate and towed out into the bay and released on the outgoing tide. The acclimation pens are operated by the nonprofit Fishery Foundation of California (FFC).
Since the collapse of the Sacramento Fall-Run Chinook salmon stocks in 2007, DFG has stepped up acclimation efforts and selected new release sites to help improve survival rates. This year, new sites for release included the mouth of the American River (to boost returns to the American River) and Eddos Harbor on the San Joaquin River near the Antioch Bridge (to boost returns to Mokelumne and Merced rivers).
“The releases went well,” said Biologist Kari Burr, FFC Acclimation Project Manager. “Once adults return and information is collected, biologists will be able to fine-tune release locations for the coming years.”
At release sites in the San Pablo Bay and Eddos Harbor, acclimation pens provided safe haven for the 3- to 5-inch-long salmon when they were released from pitch-dark transport tanks into bay and river waters. The pens allow the smolts to adjust to their new surroundings inside the safety of the net pens.
The release sites were selected in order to minimize in-river losses due to predation, pollution and other causes, and to help minimize the number of salmon that return to a different river than the one where they were raised.
The salmon smolts were raised at and trucked in from four DFG-operated Central Valley hatcheries.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Story of Heartbreak Hill

I guess I'm a typical angler. Somewhat superstitious, prone to rituals and mostly full of shit!
With all of that in mind I want to tell you the story of "Heartbreak Hill"
Through my fishing life I have known more than one "Heartbreak Hill"
Let's see...there's the steep hill going down into Cedar Creek on the Sandy. Then there are a few spots on the Wilson that I should call "Cardiac Hill" because I swear I am going to have a coronary infarction hauling my over fed carcass up to the road after fishing at that spot and so I don't fish there anymore.
The one I'm talking about is really a slight incline going east bound on Highway 6, better known as the Wilson River highway. It's not a hill one must ascend on foot either.
The reason I call it "Heartbreak Hill" is mainly because of the frame of mind I am most times in as I travel home after a day of swing flies for steelhead on the north coast..get it? I'm heartbroken that I didn't hook anything.
It's not always a heartbreak though. If I have a particularly good day on the river, whether it be hooking a fish or two or maybe something like seeing a bald eagle up close or a nice herd of elk. This last Tuesday I travelled to the north coast in search of trout or steelhead. My first stop was at my former go to hole for big cutthroat trout. This spot has yielded many big trout for me over the years but since ODFW, in it's infinite stupidity, deemed that these wild trout are plentiful enough to kill a few my former honey hole is now occupied by plunkers! You can only imagine the horror and anger I felt last year as I was shown a cutthroat trout near 20" gutted and in some assholes ice chest.
It was on to another former go to spot that the trout just don't hang out in that much anymore. After doing my typical ritual of working this spot downstream I was rewarded with the unmistakable take of a coastal cutthroat trout. These trout are not nibblers or slurpers as some rainbows tend to be. They announce their presence firmly,aggressively and acrobatically after they are hooked.
I was pretty pleased with that and hoped that there were other trout present but there were not so on I moved to another nearby river.
I swung steelhead flies for a while with no success and I decided to move upriver to another favorite spot.
I got a very strong take on my first cast into a quick run but he didn't stick so I moved a bit upstream and after playing tag with this fish he finally committed and I played him until he did a long line release and went on his way. I fished my way down stream but had no other willing trout. Now I know many of you catch a lot more fish than me but in my advancing years I no longer feel the need to whip the water to a froth and put up big numbers. Those days are gone and I have my memories of fish long past.
These days a couple of quality encounters do me just fine and this day was no different.
As I travelled home I did not go up "Heartbreak Hill" this day. The day was a success all in all and this old angler was more than satisfied with what he took home from his day on the river.
I guess "Heartbreak Hill" rarely shows up much anymore. I cannot think of too many bad days I have had while fishing. Sometime it's just the little things that make a trip a success. If I find a nice agate or quartz then it's a great day indeed.
It's important to me to make sure a day does not end with a ride of"Heartbreak Hill" and I fish or don't fish in my own way to see to it that that happens.
I would think that some first time visitors to this blog thinking it's site full of fly fishing secrets..sorry to disappoint. I chose the title "The Quiet Pool" for a reason and after some refinement over the 4 years of it's existence it's about where I wanted it to be from the beginning.
And while I still do my rants at the mismanagement of ODFW I mostly just like to reflect.
Thanks for reading

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spawning Wild Steelhead

Wild steelhead spawning in the river is an awesome thing to witness. When you take into account that these ocean going rainbow trout travel thousands of miles into the ocean from their river of birth and return to the same river 2-3 years later boggles the imagination.
This is why the conservation of wild salmon, steelhead and trout is so important and something very near and dear to my heart.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hatchery Accountability by ODFW

Ever wonder how much those coastal hatchery summer steelhead cost? I can tell you they cost a hell pf a lot. We pay a premium price for our fishing here in Oregon but are we getting our moneys worth?

By Bill Bakke
The Native Fish Society has asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to complete a cost/benefit analysis of Oregon’s hatchery system. Fiscal and ecological accountability is needed in the operation of Oregon’s hatchery system. This need is even more acute now with the recently announced declines in the state’s general fund.
Oregon’s fish hatchery program is growing at the rate of about a million dollars a year. This growth rate is unsustainable given the likely loss of general tax revenues that currently help fund the program. The only way to compensate for the loss of state taxpayer support for the hatchery program would be for the recreational and commercial anglers to support additional large increases to their license fees.
NFS has asked the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to complete a cost/benefit analysis for each of its separate hatchery programs in order to help determine the risks of these programs to native species and to help prioritize individual hatchery operations as reductions in these programs occur. The Hatchery Accountability Project provides a legitimate process that the department could use to determine which hatchery programs need to be reduced or eliminated. This process could lead to a smaller and more fiscally sound and sustainable hatchery program over the long term.
Oregon operates a fish hatchery system statewide that includes several dozen separate facilities. These facilities produce millions of salmon, steelhead and trout each year for release into the waters of the state to support commercial and recreational fisheries. For many years, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has said reform of the hatchery system is underway. The only major visible reform that NFS has seen has been the relocation of coastal coho releases to the Young’s Bay area and the expansion of supplementation and acclimation programs. These small changes are relatively insignificant and some may actually be counterproductive. There has not been any fundamental change to the way ODFW operates the hatchery system.
The Hatchery Accountability Project would provide the department with a legitimate way to prioritize its various programs based upon which programs are the most cost effective, which ones provide the largest benefit to the most anglers and which projects have the least potential for inflicting harm to native fish and wildlife resources. Saving the best programs and eliminating the worst ones should help lead to a more sustainable state hatchery program.
The Oregon Hatchery Accountability Project is based upon the following criteria:

• What is the return on investment in terms of fish caught in commercial and recreational fisheries?

• Are the angling opportunities provided commensurate with the investment?

• What are the environmental risks and costs associated with each hatchery program?

NFS has asked ODFW to begin the analysis on hatchery programs that a) seem overly expensive b) only serve small segments of the angling community or c) have a high risk of adversely effecting native fish and wildlife populations. Examples of such programs include:
1. The Atlantic salmon stocking program

2. The Cascade lakes brook trout stocking program

3. Trout stocking in flowing waters

4. The Willamette basin summer steelhead program

5. Programs that utilize non-native or introduced fish stocks

6. The transfer of anadromous salmonids among watersheds

“The Native Fish Society believes that the information provided by the Hatchery Accountability Project will provide ODFW, the Governor, the Oregon Legislature and the public with valuable tools to use in assuring that Oregon’s fish hatchery program is operated in the public interest for the long-term benefit and health of our native fish populations,” said NFS Executive Director Bill Bakke, “All we ask is that ODFW conduct an annual cost-benefit analysis of its hatcheries. That way the taxpayers, who are paying for the hatcheries, can make informed decisions about them. It just makes sound business sense to do so.”

The ODFW Commission will decide on the agency’s budget at their July 16 meeting, and it is NFS’ hope that the Commission will direct the agency to begin the Hatchery Accountability Project at this time.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Russ and Mike

Well dear readers I once again miscalculated the famous Deschutes river salmon fly hatch. This year it was way back in the early part of May!
As Cubs fans would say maybe next year.
I did venture over last Tuesday and while the fishing was not exactly spectacular I did have the pleasure of meeting two elderly gentlemen named Russ and Mike. We chatted for quite a while as we waited for some kind of hatch to materialize that never did.
Mike told me about his father's 1930'sNorth Umpqua encounter with none other than Zane Grey. Seems like all those stories about Mr. Grey being an arrogant ass were indeed true according to Mike's father. It was a pleasure talking with them
I fished until dark and finally enticed a couple of trout to take an interest in my caddis dry fly.
Every trip to the Deschutes is a mystery. You never know what you are going to see or who you are going to meet. I met Russ, Mike and a little toxic reptile friend that I gave a wide berth to.
I enjoy seeing the diverse wild life of central Oregon. The red winged black birds and Ospreys. The wild turkeys and the turkey buzzards lunching on a roadside carrion meal and of course the rattle snakes.
The ride home through the wilderness between Pine Grove and the Timberline turn off is something I always enjoy.
I use that time to think and ponder everything from how my ball club is doing to how to save wild fish. Most times I listen to books on CD. Through the public library I found a copy of David James Duncan's classic "The River Why" so that has been on my CD player for my journeys to the Deschutes or to the "Tamanawis" on the north coast. This is my third time either reading or listening to this wonderful book...the movie does not do it justice.
On another note I'll bet none of you noticed that The Quiet Pool turned 7 years old recently last June. I am amazed myself that much useless ramblings and mindless drivel can come out of my water logged brain. I wanted to thank those of you who have been following my poor punctuation since 2006 although I would imagine that most if not all have moved on to more enlightening endeavours like playing Angry Birds.
I plan on doing this as long as I have silly notions to type or ODFW to bitch about. I hope you haven't been too bored.