Friday, November 30, 2012

Late November Musings

So here I sit in late November pondering the winter ahead. I always approach winter with mixed feelings and this winter will be no exception. Cold and wet is something I do not handle well anymore but it's not like winter doesn't have it's attributes after all.
Winter steelhead, especially the hatchery variety, are abundant this time of year and I figure they are put in the river to harvest so harvest them I do.It is the responsible thing to do for any angler to take these fish out of the river. Their adverse effect on wild spawning steelhead is well known although many fishermen are in denial to that fact. I encourage every fisherman I know that pursue hatchery winter steelhead to harvest them no matter their pre-spawning condition and it is irresponsible and just plain ignorant to think you are doing anything noble by releasing hatchery steelhead back into the river.
So friends have a great winter season. I am putting this blog on hiatus for the winter but might post something if I think you will enjoy it.
Congrats MM and WG!!!!!!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Taking Back Something Worth Remembering

"Out where the rivers like to run
I stand alone and take back something worth remembering"

Remember this old song by Three Dog Night that came out in 1970? You can call it cheesy or whatever but these words have stuck with me all these years later.
When I go fishing these days it's no just to catch fish! I know that sounds like a worn out fishing cliche or an excuse for not having a successful day but it's really the truth for me.
I always try to "take back something worth remembering"from a day on the river. It might be insignificant to most but to me it makes the journey worth it.
Last week I travelled east to my mother river, the Deschutes. The fishing was not good at all but you know something? I took back plenty and had a great time. I saw a beautiful black tail deer just out of Maupin. He was so majestic looking. A hunter would think about how much they wanted to "bag" that deer but I just was thinking how lucky I was to see it. I really don't have anything against hunting but I think I would rather just get a picture of this wild deer rather than shooting it.
When on the coastal rivers I enjoy seeing the shore birds and the occasional bald eagle soaring because seeing a bald eagle is always breathtaking for me and not because of some patriotic stirring just because it is the symbol of our country. For me it's knowing these birds were on the edge of extinction and through conservation efforts they have come back from the brink.
Sometimes I bring back a nice quartz I might find along the stream bed or if I am lucky I will find an agate to take home with me. I once encountered an elderly gentleman along the Kilchis river who was collecting rocks. He told me he had lived along the Kilchis most of his life and had no interest in the anadromous salmon and steelhead runs that the region is famous for. He was after rocks and ancient tribal artifacts from indigenous people who inhabited that region. He told me that he has found all kinds of stone tools and arrowheads over the years. You see if I had not taken the time to stop fishing and actually talked to this old fellow I would have really missed out wouldn't I have?
Meeting this man was something I brought back from the river and through that encounter I am always looking for interesting rocks to bring home.
So I guess it is all in the way you approach things isn't it?  I am blessed to live in a part of the country that has so much to offer. Everywhere I go there is always something worth remembering to take home with me and cherish. There was the bobcats and mountain lion I saw or the rock collecting gentleman along the river. Even the few rattlesnakes I have encountered along the Deschutes is a memory I love.
In this old angler's life the simple pleasures are really the best and if an occasional trout decides to take my fly then so much the better I figure, Regardless of fishing success, I always bring back something worth remembering and those are my memories.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oregon Coastal Cutthroat Trout

  These young men have superbly captured the joy of fly fishing for coastal cutthroat trout. In those days when the dramas of life seem to weigh on me too much I can always find solace on a clear coastal range stream. The quiet that I find is...
deafening at times if that makes sense. These wild trout are the last remaining wild trout on the west coast save for wild steelhead trout and I have a special affection for them. In watching the video these young anglers show the simplicity of what fly fishing really is. It just does not get simpler than fishing a dry fly over a clear pool. Too many times we can take for granted the clean, cold running rivers of the Pacific Northwest so awareness of our wild resources is a must! This is not a political issue open for debate but common sense. Thanks again to Brandon and Sam for sharing the joy of trout.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Common Courtesy on the River

Am I getting old? Wait a minute...don't answer that! What I mean is, have angling courtesy and ethics passed me by? What happened to the days of drift boats not fishing over your water? What happened to fishermen asking if it's okay to fish below you? What happened to fishing a run by casting and working your way down through the run in order to let the guy above you work the water? Finally what happened to leaving your dog at home and not playing "fetch" with him by having him swim right through where I am fishing or letting him take a dump right in the middle of the path along the river.  Are we so competitive that in order to have a successful day on the river one must have double-digit hookups. In recent years  I have seen a noticeable lack of courtesy among my fellow anglers and I find it disturbing. Some may say that I should take it upon myself to teach ethics and courtesy to these anglers and instruct them on what is acceptable on the river. Perhaps I should, but I am more likely than not to have an obscenity filled response hurled my direction. So when I encounter this type of behavior I just move on. I am not ready, especially at this stage of my life, to have a physical confrontation with some testosterone poisoned "man-child" on the river bank.
I feel the intense competition to catch a dwindling supply of fish and along with the myriad of chest thumping fish photos on the internet have added to this trend. I am not necessarily singling out gear guys either. With a lot of inexpensive fly gear available it's pretty easy to get on the river with a rod, reel and fly line it's just too bad good fishing manners lessons don't come along with it. I've  have also seen too many times the trampling of chum salmon redds by anglers with the latest Sage Z-Axis rod.
If you are a courteous and ethical angler then good for you! If you think that it's every man for himself then why are you even reading this blog!  Face it sport, the world does not revolve around you!
I found this comment on a popular fishing website awhile sadly says it all 

"I could care less about the science; I could care less about research; I could care less about studies. I wish the wild fish would hurry up and go extinct so we can get back to fishing"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Warm Temperatures Increase Stress on Fish

This is good advice from ODFW

From Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

SALEM, Ore. -- With summer temperatures heating up throughout the state, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anglers to take special care when catching and releasing fish.

“Warm water temperatures, especially above 70 degrees, can be very hard on cool water fish such as trout, steelhead and salmon,” said Charlie Corrarino, ODFW Conservation and Recovery Program manager.

Warm water does not hold as much oxygen as cooler water. This means fish are getting less oxygen while they are being caught, and take longer to recover once they are released.

“A lot of fish simply stop biting when the water gets too warm,” Corrarino said. “And many anglers will voluntary limit their fishing when air and water temperatures are high in order protect fish populations.”
However, Corrarino adds, anglers can still safely enjoy trout, steelhead and salmon fishing it they follow a few precautions.

•Fish early in the mornings when water temperatures are lower.

•Fish in lakes and reservoirs with deep waters that provide a cooler refuge for fish.

•Use barbless hooks, land fish quickly and keep them in the water as much as possible in order to minimize stress.

•Shift your fishing efforts to higher elevation mountain lakes and streams where water temperatures often remain cool.

“Once cool fall weather arrives, water temperatures will drop and trout will begin actively feeding again. ODFW also will resume stocking trout in many lakes and reservoirs,” he said. “In fact, fall can offer some of the best fishing of the year.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Baseball and Fly Fishing

As a kid I lived in the Los Angeles area during the sixties. The number of "baby boomers" on our street was impressive so there was always enough of us to play some bastardized form of baseball...we all loved baseball.
Whether it was just playing "Three Flies Up" or "500" or street baseball, us neighborhood kids couldn't get enough of it.
Through my father I grew to live and die with the Dodgers. Many a pleasant Sunday was spent in the left field pavilion of Chavez Ravine also know as Dodger Stadium. It was a cheap enough family outing since seats were only a buck and a half. Dad would spring for a Dodger dog and we would enjoy a Sunday double-header of Drysdale, Koufax and the Davis boys or Willie Mays of the hated Giants parked  a homer just a few rows below us during a game.

I think the love of baseball was just a natural progression into fly fishing. Oregon is a baseball wasteland, for the most part, with only a minor league club in the area and the Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field about 175 miles away. So what does all this have to do with fly fishing?
I think you can find parallels between the two.
Baseball is a game of patience, skill and finesse much like fly fishing over finicky steelhead or selective trout. The duel between the pitcher and the batter is kind of like that between an angler and a fish. The pitcher will try everything in his pitching repertoire to outsmart the batter. Have you ever seen a batter so completely fooled by a curve ball or some off speed pitch that his legs just seem to turn to jelly? How many times have you gone through the contents of your fly box in search of that special pattern that will fool a trout.

Baseball is a pastoral and timeless. There are no clocks with baseball and as long as you can keep hitting the game can go on forever.
Fly fishing is idyllic as it is pleasant and innocent so can you see the similarities?
The biggest similarity, of course, is springtime! For the baseball fan and fly fisherman the winter can seem endless and unyielding. One might think that winter will never relinquish it's icy grip on not only the weather but our souls. Just when you think that you cannot possibly endure one more storm the words, those wonderful words that are the elixir to our deeply frozen sanity are spoken.... "Pitchers and catchers report next week" or "Did you hear the March Browns are hatching on the McKenzie?"
It's magic!!!!
The winter is in it's death throes and while it might try to make a valiant comeback once or twice during the early spring you know it's just a matter of time. We put up with those early season rain outs and start thinking about those first treks over Mt. Hood or through the Santiam Pass to the Deschutes or Metolius.
We baseball fans/fly fishermen spend endless hours basking in the warmth that is our joy of the season. We think that the days of the 6-4-3 double play or the evening hatch will not end. We are like a child again and the spectre of the coming fall and winter just will not dampen our frolic.
Alas though, when it seems like we need them the most and the autumn arrives with it's hint of the winter yet to come, baseball and fly fishing leave us. Alone and forlorn we dwell on the victories and the defeats of our passion and utter the age old cry of the ever optimistic fan/angler...Wait 'til next year!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Passing of a Legend

Harry Lemire R.I.P.

Harry Lemire was one of the last of a breed of Pacific Northwest steelhead fly fishermen. His exploits  were the thingsanglers like myself strive for.
Ralph Wahl, Mike Kennedy,Frank Moore were all contemporaries of Mr. Lemire and we will sadly not see their like again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

True Love

I read that, at his death, northwest fly fishing legend Mike Kennedy was cremated with his favorite bamboo fly rod and I thought that was one of the coolest things I had ever heard of. Most certainly he must have loved that rod and his family found it fitting that the rod should not ever be used again by anyone else.
Can an angler form such an attachment to an inanimate such as a fishing rod like that? Yes they can and I am living proof of it.
Back in 2005 I was generously offered an opportunity to build my own bamboo rod by a local rod maker. I would do most of the "grunt" work and he would finish it. I jumped on the idea.
We took a single culm, the name of a Tonkin cane "stalk" and with a mallet and special tool split it in six sections. The sections were planed down to very close specifications for the type of rod I wanted with extremely close tolerances as little as  .0001"  and then glued together. The uncured rod was straightened with heat and planed some more until the tapers were perfect. After curing in an oven and varnished with a marine spar varnish, the guides were tied on and the Portuguese cork was shaped by hand. The rod was coated with another coast of varnish and buffed to a mirror sheen. It was perfect! I had taken a living stalk of bamboo and turn it into a fly rod....a labor of love for sure.
Yes I love my handcrafted bamboo fly rod. I think it must be like a musician who loves his violin or guitar. Blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan even named a couple of his guitars he loved them so much. Now I am not talking about the kind of love one feels for his family but the kind of love that makes you feel happy and enjoy life. My cane rod cannot return the love but then again by providing me so much angling pleasure maybe it does. After a day on the river I loving wipe it down with a micro-fleece towel and leave it out of it's case for a few days so it can "breathe" and to air dry any moisture from fishing with it.When the season is over I apply a coat of carnauba wax and briwax. Obviously this the type of rod that needs special care and I do all the things necessary to protect my lovely reed.
It all must sound silly but it really is necessary to take care of a bamboo rod in this manner. These rods cannot be mass produced like ones made of graphite. They are each made by hand and , like a finger print,no two are alike. If I were to buy a bamboo rod crafted by a well known builder I could expect to pay more than $1500.
I will probably never make another of these rods and hopefully this wonderful friend will remain in the family many years after I am gone. Maybe my grandson will love it as I do....I sure hope so

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Cutthroat Trout Equals Simplicity

I recently watched a video that someone had posted on YouTube about fly fishing for cutthroat trout. It was a pretty good fly fishing action video with a jumping trout making some good runs. At the end of the video I noticed the angler had on a strike indicator! I was dumbfounded as to why anyone would need a strike indicator for perhaps the most aggressive trout that swims. These little pirates are ambush predators pure and simple. They savagely attack almost anything thrown their way. I have had them nearly jerk the rod out of my hand when hitting my fly so needless to say they are rarely selective and that is why I cannot see the need for a strike indicator.
I fish the typical wet fly swing for cutts and have had great success over the years fly fishing no other way. I sometimes use a bead head fly to get a little deeper in the early season but have found that cutthroat will definitely move to my fly. A deeper slot will usually find them near the edge of the drop off. Underwater structure is another excellent place to find the trout as is on the seam of the current.
I once took a friend to one of my favorite cutthroat trout haunts and he hauls out this elaborate indicator contraption with three flies! All I could do was laugh. He was making something simple into something way too complicated.
Some overly pretentious fly fishermen turn up their elitist nose at cutthroat trout and I just shake my head. After all you do have to find them and their numbers are not as large as the redsides on the Deschutes! These "harvest trout" are still pursued by the older timers who hold them near and dear from years past and I count myself as one of these old guys. I do not kill them as I do not see the need for it from my standpoint but I can hardly begrudge these elderly fellows a trout or two for the skillet as they reminisce about the old days of blue back fishing.
The younger anglers treat them as little more than nuisances and are more interested in salmon and steelhead and seldom bother with them.
To me tossing a wet fly at a cutthroat trout is my favorite way to fly fish. This is truly the joy of trout for me.The colors and sounds of the spring,summer and fall along with these precocious trout is more than fitting way to spend my days on the river. It really is a simple pleasure.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Are You Bamboo Worthy?

I can just hear the eyeballs rolling out there in cyber land but please save your judgement until after you read what I am trying to say.
I do know that those of you that own bamboo fly rods completely understand where I am coming from.
A bamboo fly rod is like nothing else in this outdoor pursuit. You hardly ever hear a hunter talk of their rifles or shotguns in such an affectionate way as we fly fishers talk about our "cane"

Why is that? Could it be that cane rods cannot be mass produced like firearms? I think that is part of it. Sure there is some automation involved but the final product is largely hand crafted. I don't think that is all of it though.
I think their is some sort of mystical connection an angler feels with his rod pursuing trout on a river like the Metolius or a small chalk stream somewhere distant.
Every bamboo rod is completely unique and every rod maker's personality is put into it. No two rods are alike just like a fingerprint.
You cannot just throw a cane rod into the back of your vehicle or simply put it away after a day on the river. You have to care for it like the finely crafted thing it is.
I'm not saying they are so super fragile that you are taking a big risk in even using it. They are tough and in many ways more durable than graphite.
A relationship with a bamboo rod should not be a casual thing and you have to ask yourself if you are willing to commit yourself to the care of this handcrafted work of art.
Legendary northwest fly fisherman Mike Kennedy loved his bamboo rod so much that at his death his favorite bamboo rod was cremated with him and the ashes were scattered off Mott bridge on the North Umpqua river. I think that is about the coolest thing I've ever heard a fly fisherman do.
I participated in the building of one of my rods. I straightened and filed down the nodes and I sliced my hands and fingers while hand planing the strips. It's a labor of true love and takes enormous patience from those that want something more from their fly rod.
The rods made from legendary rod makers like Glen Brackett or Bob Clay, whose rods are so high in demand that one has to wait for nearly a year or more to get his hands on one. Why would someone wait that long for a fly rod? The hours of labor involved make the costs of owning one of these rods very expensive but to me it's worth it and the first trout taken with one of these exquisite rods is memorable.
Does it help you catch more fish? I kind of doubt it. Does it make you a better caster? No, not at all. Is it practical to have one of these rods? Not even close. For me, however, it's feeling that I cannot find the words for. That familiar "pop" you hear as you take your rod apart or look of the agate guide or the slow loading of the rod as you cast, it's worth every cent.
So if you are contemplating a purchase of a cane rod then I would think you need to ask yourself if you are worthy of owning a fishing tool so filled with tradition and every thing that is right about this pursuit.
Enjoy a part of fly fishing lore and as you fish your new rod think of all the wonder that comes with owning a bamboo rod.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Cost of Freedom

On this Memorial Day  I want to take a moment to honor those Americans who paid the ultimate price.
I don't believe we can ever adequately express the debt of gratitude we should feel to those fallen heroes in the wars this nation has been involved in.

So as we grill our burgers, drink our beer and enjoy our three day weekend let's remember what it is that gives us the freedom to do those things.

Monday, May 14, 2012

New Research: Hatchery Salmon Posing Problems For Wild Stocks

It's something we have known for awhile now but to the pro-hatchery crowd this is what is called an "inconvenient truth"

Click here for full story

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Classical Angler: Pride of ownership

Written by my friend and fellow blogger Erik Helm...enjoy

The Classical Angler: Pride of ownership: As fly fishermen (and women), we tend to somehow reach a stage where the aesthetics of equipment becomes important to us. There is somethi...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Coastal Conservation Association? Not Really!

CCA is anything but a conservation organization as I have long suspected. Their agenda is more hatchery fish means more fish for sports anglers. They have this ongoing war with Columbia river commercial gillnetters and claim it's because the gill nets are non-selective killing devices that kill hatchery and wild fish alike. No argument there but sports anglers do the same and most could care less about saving wild fish. They oppose barbless hooks and any measure that would safeguard wild fish while all the while talking about how concerned they are....bullshit!

The link below is from Spencer Miles "White Fish Can't Jump" blog. Take a look
CCA and ODFW want Hatchery Acclimation Site on Wild and Scenic Molalla River

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Earth Does Not Belong To Us.....

....But we think it does!
I spend a lot of time outdoors and the outdoors is a beautiful place to be sure. The rivers, the forest, the high desert of Central and Eastern Oregon are a marvel of beauty.
We do not own it, however, and never have. We are just passing through and what counts most is what we do with our time here on earth.
We are not very good tenants of this planet, our home. If there is some sort of cosmic landlord he would probably kick us out with out refunding our cleaning deposit. We have certainly made a mess of things here on our rental "home"
We have polluted the water by dumping everything from raw sewage to toxic chemicals into it. We have over harvested almost every natural resource that has been given to us. We have gouged the earth with our greed for riches and over populated it to it's breaking point.
It was just our generation either! Our parents,grand parents and every generation before has done the same. Our generation has the technological resources to dig deeper and pollute more than the generations of our forefathers. We also have the technology to try to reverse at least a little of the damage humans have done as far back into history as we can go.
Global warming? Well according to most scientists this is real and man made. Why then has it become such a political football? Are we so arrogant as to think our presence has left no footprint on our planet?
What kind of earth are we leaving the next generation of tenants? A better one I hope but this "Mother Earth" of ours does have a breaking point. How many more species need to go extinct for us to understand? How many more metric tons of pollution do we need to pump into the air? How many wild rivers do we need to dam or forest we need to cut down? We are certainly slow learners in the proper way to take care of our home aren't we? So if I am called an environmental wacko or tree hugger or wild fish hugger by the soulless and greedy I will wear that handle with pride because it is the least I can do for my home.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ted Rhea and Dean Marsh,Farewell My Friends...... One Year Later

I posted this a year ago today. Some say "life goes on" and it indeed does but on this cold and wet first day of spring I'm thinking of these two friends and the families and friends they left behind one year ago. Death is a part of life but that does not make losing a loved one any easier. So this is for the families and friends of Ted Rhea and Dean Marsh and for all who grieve for a loved one or dear friend who left too soon. Time might make things a bit easier but time does not fill that empty place in our hearts. It is an open wound that does not never will.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is It Too Much To Ask?

Observations from the winter steelhead season just past.

I have been fishing in the Pacific northwest for almost 40 years. I have seen or experienced nearly everything a steelhead fisherman can experience. In all those years I have never seen or experienced the behavior I have seen from my fellow anglers as I have witnessed this winter. I am disheartened and disgusted!
Is it too much to expect simple, common courtesy? Sometimes this stuff happens and it is just part of the game but almost every trip? Rude, drunk river guides fishing through the water I am fishing? Garbage like I have never seen before? Over crowding and boorish behavior by other fly fishermen? This is just plain crazy.
I've come to the point in my fishing life to where all I want from a fishing trip is peace and enjoyment! Is that too much to ask?
I have caught a lot of fish over the years. Big ones and small ones. Some on a fly others with conventional gear and even bait!. I enjoy catching fish like any angler would but I have arrived at the point to where catching a fish just isn't the whole ball game for me. Fishing in peace where I can swing my fly in water undisturbed by morons and assholes is enough to make my day a success. I can't even seem to get that on storied waters like the Deschutes! If this post sounds like I am whining then absolutely I am. I also realize that most who read this are not the type of slobs I am talking about either but I also know that some indeed are who I am talking about....some are even fly fishermen!
I have to wonder why it has become like this. Is it hatchery programs that are not well thought out like maybe the steelhead broodstock program? Yes without a doubt that contributes but you know guys each of us is responsible for our own behavior and even though we can look at hatchery programs as contributing to this mess we should know that we can still be good stewards out on the river.
So for you guys that are good stewards then I tip my fisherman's cap to you and thank you for your good stewardship of the resource.
To those of you that are only interested in putting up big numbers while spoiling the enjoyment that comes from fishing for others then shame on you. I assume you know what doing the right thing means so dammit DO IT!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Native Fish Society Speaks Out For Wild Salmonids

By Bill Bakke
The Native Fish Society has an important mission that others believe in and support. We are making progress. I have worked in native fish conservation for more than 40 years and have spent time with legislators in my constant effort to strengthen and fund conservation. Senator Jan Wyers responded in the 1980s by funding five native fish conservation positions at ODFW. It was though that program that key people were hired and important work for Oregon’s wild salmonids was accomplished. In 2012 the legislature is again concerned about the future of wild salmonids as more and more populations are protected under the ESA and others are lost forever. The NFS Hatchery Accountability Project clearly states that there needs to be better accountability for biological and cost impacts of hatchery programs. There have been two hearings this session and in the next session our goal is to hold the agency accountable.

At one time it was possible to expect administrative solutions to problems affecting native fish management by government agencies, but that has changed, so legal action is necessary to force the government to follow its own rules and comply with state and federal law. This is why we have put ODFW on notice to clean-up its Sandy Hatchery program so that wild winter steelhead, coho, fall chinook and spring chinook are protected and a path is opened up for their recovery under the ESA. A 76% stray rate of hatchery spring chinook into the wild chinook spawning grounds is not acceptable under state or federal rules and it needs to be corrected.

We are in Stevenson Washington tonight defending the management program for recovery of wild summer steelhead in Wind River. This run has been protected as a wild steelhead management river since 1982, but there is local pressure for a stock and kill fishery. We are involved in these public meetings to make sure that the Wind River wild summer steelhead continue to rebuild and eventually recover.
The NFS is working for wild salmon, steelhead and trout throughout the Northwest through direct action and by supporting the good work of other groups. Our volunteer river stewards are working in their communities for healthy watersheds and native fish. It is a big job and for a small organization and it can seem wild and wooly, but we are undaunted in our efforts and we have a record of success when we take time to look in the rear-view mirror. 
I am committed to the future of the Native Fish Society because it is an effective advocate for native wild fish in the Northwest. We base our advocacy on the best available science and there is a lot of it being published that has direct bearing on our conservation work. We have a history of success but we could do better with more funding and more folks to push our advocacy program forward. The point is that as we grow our funding base we do so without sacrificing our mission for native wild fish. The organization and its leadership have made that commitment and with the support of our members and friends we can be successful in solving complex and difficult problems for wild native fish in the region.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

As Winter Wanes

So here I sit with just a few weeks left of winter. And what kind of winter has it been?  Well it has certainly been a better winter than last year that is for sure!
All of that aside though, I am ready for spring. All the signs are there too! Baseball's spring training has begun. I can uncover my outside faucets because the chance of freezing them to the point of bursting is minimal. I am also beginning my six month long sneeze fest which means there is pollen floating around in the air that irritates my sinuses.
I dusted off my old drift fishing gear to hopefully put a few hatchery steelhead in the freezer this luck as the rain this year has been nearly relentless. I complain about the hatchery influence so much on this blog that I figure instead of sitting around all winter waiting for the rivers to drop into some sort of reasonable fly fishing levels I could kill a few of these hatchery fish thereby doing my part to take as many out of the river as possible.No luck with that but I did manage a nice wild buck while swinging a fly with my Spey rod.
I have been lazy too. You may have noticed that I have re posted a few earlier entries from this blog. Kind of a "Best of the Quiet Pool" sort of thing. Well it's really not laziness, it's more like not having much to write about. God knows I have covered the "Winter, ODFW and Hatcheries all Suck" topics ad nauseum on this blog. I also write about the Deschutes river a lot as well. I think the Deschutes is a subject that I could never run out of things to write about it and my love for it.
I mean could you ever find too many words to describe something beautiful like Van Gogh's "Starry Night" or the feeling you get the first time you see your new born child? Beauty and wonder are beyond my weak human abilities to do justice to in words.
So as the first trip over the Cascades to central Oregon in pursuit of rainbow trout nears I anticipate the reunion with my "Mother River"
Like a child anticipates Christmas or as someone who has not seen a loved one for a long time anticipates.
It is just that isn't it? You have to look at a river as more than just a place to catch fish. I love the trip over to the Deschutes almost as much as the actual fishing. I love to look for things I have never seen before as I travel east. Maybe it will be a species of bird that I have never seen before or spotting a bald eagle, which is always something I would never get tired of. As I have evolved as an angler and as a person I try to be satisfied with what is around me at the moment. It doesn't always work out that way but I will say the beauty of the outdoors never disappoints's is the human factor that disappoints and spoils the moment.
I don't care what Punxsutawney Phil might or might not have seen on February 2nd! I am looking forward to the renewal of spring. Winter be damned and as British poet Anne Bradstreet wrote.
“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Hatchery Influence


The following is an opinion by my good friend John Bracke of the Nestucca river. John has long been an important advocate for wild salmon and steelhead for many years along the north coast of Oregon.

The use of hatchery fish is nothing new. What has happened is the removal of the hatchery product from stretches of river that had been planted. While the removal of the hatchery product is good for the wild fish it is also bad for the wild fish. Many of today's remaining wild populations are being influenced with a percentage of successful hatchery spawn. With the removal of the hatchery product the obvious then comes out. A percentage of the wild run is made up of hatchery strays that have spawned successfully.
This fact is obvious on all of Oregon's hatchery polluted fisheries dealing with ocean migrating runs. The agency in charge realizing that the hatchery product is somewhat successful in the wild then removes the bad hatchery product and then begins to use the wild return for their hatchery use. This is justifiable because the fish is of wild origin and if they due spawn in the wild the agency feels the impacts are not as bad. Not quite so fast the agency has been put on notice not to exceed a 10% stray rate into the wild spawning population. Their new reason for failing to meet these guidelines are that they do not have the money nor the willingness too look into this problem. They are going to take this issue up during the new native fish policy.
Not so fast, a large part of the problem with the new broodstock fiasco is the run timing. We now have the hatchery return coinciding with the wild return in run timing and in spawning. The pressure is then twice as bad. Before you had a group just fishing on wild fish with little impact. Move a hatchery product on top of this run and you have a mess.
With the removal of the hatchery run you will see a decline in the wild population. Within 4-5 years depending on the hatchery influence in the drainage the true population of the wild return will become obvious.
How due we solve this problem. The hatchery fish are not cheap with the cost of the product being what it is let's put the expense of the product on those who would prefer to purse such prey and make it mandatory that they kill every hatchery fish they catch and not play catch and release on such fish. This form of fishing has had a much more negative affect on the wild population and creates even more problems.
Then we have those of us who would prefer to fish on wild runs instead of hatchery crap. We also need to pay for our fishery as well. A user fee for each drainage would benefit not only the drainage but also the surrounding area. What it boils down to is who is willing to pay for the expense associated with a wild fishery or a hatchery fishery. At this point in time the only people willing are anyone?
Then the idea of shifting towards a consumptive wild fishery on steelhead and everything else. Sorry folks, the ocean migrating runs that this state has left are not healthy enough for a total take on the wild population. Yes, they will open up certain fisheries to boost tag sales and optimism that the run is better than it really is.
What the problem really revolves around is public involvement. If the agency only hears from the kill crowd who do you think gets what they want. Those of us involved in the health and welfare of the wild fish can only due so much. The fisheries are in trouble due to the lack of involvement, from the new angler. When I say new I mean within the last 2 decades.
Those that have dropped out thanks for getting out of the way, you only created more problems than they were worth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To All You Fishing Superstars Out There

When I started this blog over 5 years ago my intention was to write down my thoughts and opinions based on my life of fly fishing. With the exception of a few politically charged offerings I've kept pretty much to what I set out to do.
If you've come here to get instructions or advice then I can tell you that there are many out there who know a hell of a lot more than me. I try to be a good steward of the rivers and the fish that live in the rivers that I love. I do not want notoriety beyond doing what I can for wild salmonids. I know many people who feel the same as I do.
What I have seen the last few years is the emergence of the fishing "superstar". They are in both the fly fishing community and the conventional gear crowds. The internet is their playground and you cannot escape their plethora of hero pictures. These young and some times even middle age fishing studs have a little success and all of the sudden they know it all and are even writing articles in national magazines. They are giving "sage" advice on hooking big numbers of fish worldwide.
Most of these stars are in their 20's  or 30's and have had very little time to experience shaving their damn face much less learning all the ins and outs of fishing.
I find these instant experts funny in a pathetic sort of way. They rig up their indicators and bobbers and brag of big numbers and fishing in exotic locales. They have their images plastered all over the internet with holding wild steelhead out of the water out. Their "posse" of wannabes are there to sing their praises and tell them " You da man!"
They even have a series of DVDs out their to exhibit their exploits to those that can only dream of fishing in such far away places.
You can call me a cynic and maybe I am but these rock stars are hurting our sport and most of the time that actions and attitudes are the only impression the general public gets of fishing. This "in your face look at me" brashness wears pretty thin to most everyone but their peers,camp followers and ass kissers. Another thing they do to hurt the sport is the way they come across to those who might be interested in taking up fishing. They care little about conservation or anything that might limit them from putting up the big numbers and plastering their face all over the internet.
You won't see them at an important public hearings when the well being of wild trout and salmon is being discussed. They are too busy having pictures holding wild trout or steelhead out of the water. They are too busy treating salmon and steelhead fishing like some sort of angling extreme sport to be play along with snow boarding and skateboarding.
Oh they will exploit the resource and talk about what a darn shame it is that all the wild salmonids are disappearing but to get them to take action? They love the bloated hatchery runs in small coastal rivers and you can see them holding court with the morons who don't know any better.
So young man, I say young because most of you are younger than my kids, I will acknowledge that you are a better fisherman than me. You catch more and bigger fish than me but I am not impressed and in fact I am worried that after the old guys are gone the traditions of fishing in the Pacific Northwest and more importantly conservation are going to be left in your hands
I doubt you are up to the task and so all the things that are wonderful about casting a dry fly to a rising trout or drift fishing for winter steelhead will be gone and that scares the hell out of me.
So young dudes if you have time to actually do something more than being a steelhead fishing superstar and popping zits in the mirror then maybe you can help us old guys out as we try to save a few wild trout. You don't respect the river, the resource or anything but your own over-inflated ego!
If you think I am writing about you then yes I more than likely; with it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Haunted by Water

I recently re-read "A River Runs Through It" by Norman Maclean. This is a wonderful story of two brother growing up and flyfishing in Montana during the early 1900's with their Presbyterian minister father. It is also a deep and tragic telling of the loss of a loved one and the helplessness the author felt when he could not save his brother.
Maclean paints a picture in words of the waters and trout of the Montana of his youth. I could easily fill an entire entry with the lofty prose he treats the reader to.
I think the one thing that attracts me to this story is the deep understanding that Maclean had with his surroundings and how the great Montana trout rivers spoke to him in the timeless manner. I can only try to relate to my own angling life.
Maclean does not rely on a bunch flowery adjectives to tell his story like so many erstwhile writers do today. He puts into words the very sadness he never got over at the loss of someone that he could not help.
Don't we all have someone in our lives like Norman Maclean's brother Paul. Someone so gifted yet so fatally flawed that you know that your precarious grip on them and your love for them is not enough. Paul Maclean was a shooting star that shone bright but so quickly and prematurely extinguished.
Maclean wrote " All good things come by grace and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy" So I would ask simply what does that say to you? I know that Maclean was writing about the art of casting a fly but I think it says least to me it does.
To me it says simply that the things we work hard for are things we cannot take for granted once we get them. We strive to make the best casts or tie the most perfect fly but how about the journey?
Is fly fishing a means to an end? I suppose it is for me because it is only through the simple but beautiful "four count movement" That perfect peace in an angling life can be achieved or at least striven for.
I had a friend who wanted to proudly display a picture of a steelhead he had recently caught. He acted like I would be angry that he got a fish and I had not ? I was happy for him! I was happy for him in a way that can only come through the satisfaction of knowing I need not compete anymore.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Please Kill Hatchery Fish

When I say kill hatchery fish I mean just that! If you buy an angling license you are helping to pay for the rearing of hatchery fish. That cost has an astronomical price per fish so since you and I are paying for them we should utilize them by killing them and therefore removing them from the river.
Sound wasteful? Not at all! You are just utilizing a resource that was put in place for you to harvest fish. You say you just like to catch and release all fish and cannot bring yourself to kill any. Well that is fine and good for wild fish as they should almost always be released to propagate the species so good on you for being a good steward of the wild resource. On the same line of thinking, you are also being a good steward of the resource when you remove hatchery salmon, trout and steelhead from rivers with a wild fish population.Remember that hatchery salmon, trout and steelhead should never ever be allowed to co-mingle with wild salmon,trout and that? The effect on the wild population is devastating!
So here is my advice. Want to eat some fish? Kill your limit of hatchery fish! Did you catch a trophy sized hatchery fish? Congratulations! Kill it and then have it mounted or better yet take measurements and pictures for a replica mount then kill the hatchery fish to eat or give away or use as fertilizer for your wife's rose bed. The important thing is to harvest that hatchery fish.
How about if the fish is unfit for consumption from spawning? I kill it, tag it and release it back into the river for nutrients. I do that but you might not want to do it because it is considered wasting a game fish so do not do anything illegal! If you've caught your daily limit of hatchery fish then go home and come back the next day and kill your hatchery fish limit again.
You may get the warm fuzzies by letting a hatchery fish go and thinking you've done the fish a big favor, well you may have done that fish a big favor but you sure as hell didn't do the resource any favors! That fish could stray into wild salmonid spawning grounds and spawn with a wild fish thus diluting the wild salomnid genes. You've done a huge disservice to the wild fish by releasing a hatchery fish that you should have kept.
Remember this much. That hatchery fish is yours to utilize in whatever way you see fit. Give it away or plant it in your flower bed or use for crab bait or put it on the BBQ grill and have uncle Vern over for dinner.The important thing is to KILL ALL HATCHERY SALMON, TROUT AND STEELHEAD!!!!