Wednesday, December 30, 2015

When Winter Did Not Matter

Remember that old Janis Ian song "In the Winter" ?
One of the lines is  "and in the winter extra blankets for the cold, fix the heater getting old"  That song is playing in my head these days.
Although it's not quite winter yet here in Oregon it certainly feels like it outside. Night time temperatures are down in the higher 20's and the day time temperature doesn't get much above freezing. So as I wait out this cold and rainless weather my lack of piscatorial activity give me a lot of time to reflect on my angling life.
When I was in my 20's this weather was little more than a minor inconvenience. Yes I had to deal with iced up guides on my rod and maybe wear an extra layer of clothing but so what? Dude this was winter steelhead season we are talking about and there's is no way a little cold was going to stop me.
Back in the day before breathable waders we wore whatever cheap chest high waders were on sale. There was almost no flexibility in those old Red Ball rubber shrouds but I was about 75 pounds lighter and 35 years younger and, like I said before, it just didn't matter. Cleated soles for traction? How about felt soles? Nope! It was rubber to rock and you hoped for the best. I lost a brand new fly rod on the Washougal river one year after falling in the river one winter and my friend that was with me that day in 1976 still reminds of it every time he sees me. Those old rubber chest highs fill with water pretty fast let me tell you. It's because of that "spill" that I am a super cautious wader today.I will even pass up to the promising looking water because I am not comfortable with the wade I needed to make to get to that water.
Back then I never even used a rain coat, most of the time, while winter steelheading and also got drenched, most of the time, coming home looking like I went swimming instead of fishing. It was fun though and I have a wealth of memories from the days when winter didn't matter.
Today...well it's a whole different story. These old bones need some warmth and although I have a rain coat at the ready I still rather not deal with any rainfall that is little more than a mist.
The desire to get up at 4:30 AM with a chance of marginal water conditions (no internet back then remember) is long gone because I finally realized that in the winter the steelhead are just as apt to bite at 10am as they are at 6am.
Since it's no longer necessary to be the first one on the river in order to get the choice spot I get a few hours more sleep these days.
I feel I enjoy my fishing more these days without the need to be hard core about it.
Although I take a more laid back approach to my fishing I still feel nostalgic for those old days of trips to the Grays river in Washington or the walk up to the pipeline hole on the Sandy to fish along side of my 50 closest exaggeration either!
It was fun laughing in winter's face back then but in the end winter won as it always will inevitably.
The drive back over the coastal range is always enjoyable for me. I have seen more elk this fall and winter than in prior years. The smell of rotting salmon carcasses greet my nose along the river bank and while it is not exactly Chanel No.5 it is a good sign that these noble fish reached their spawning grounds and accomplished their purpose, insuring the future of the species.
I do not enjoy the winter season like I once did but I try to make the best of it remembering that there can be no spring without winter and in my 62 years spring has never failed to arrive.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Internet Makes Many Mighty...

From the blog Chucking Line and Chasing Tail

No Bait.  No Barbs.  No Kill

And a little bit of in river refuge for the fish.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, based on the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council recommendations,  adopted 4 common sense rule changes for the rivers on the Olympic Peninsula 

These changes had to happen.  Years and years of missed escapement on the majority of the rivers on the North Washington Coast and having to deal with co-managers who are netting the runs to death, anglers had to take a leadership position to lessen impact on the ever dwindling resource.

To some, you would thought the sky had fallen.  Fish recovery is such a political quagmire, but the devolution of discourse on the internet....especially on the side of the street that oppose these changes is down right nuts.  NUTS.

The examples of internet tough guy syndrome came in hard and fast

"All the catch and release guy's kill a ton of fish. I'm still going to kill every "wild steelhead" I can. Leave our hatchery fish alone"

"Even with a ton of opposition the commission does whatever the fly fags tell them too because they are getting the golden handshake somewhere along the line and the only way the commission is ever going to listen to the common man or average sport fisherman is for all of is to stop buying licenses and fish elsewhere just for one year......if 300,000 of did not buy a license in 2016 because of the arrogant , elitist rules they are adopting I fucking guarantee you we would get a few spots at the table and this shit would be over turned.......lets band together and just say no to buying a license in 2016 until they quit fucking us and give is spot at the table........fuck Miranda Wecker and the rest of her elitist posse.."

"Screw the wild fish and make a lot of hatchery fish for us to kill. Most of the wild fish comes from stray hatchery fish and are interbred. The tribes don't care either so why should we. Everybody is afraid of endangered species. Last time I checked there was lots of species extinct and guess what, the world did not end! Get overy it!"

Then you have this article.  Lots of LOLz in that one.
Reminds me a lot of a South Park episode, except change jobs to fish.
Lets think about it a second.   
You make no changes, stay the status quo.  Runs continue to decrease and  it stays the ONLY place in the state of Washington, and about the only place in the damn world you can keep a wild fish.  
100% of a run are caught at least once.  ZERO inter river refuge for the fish.  
Folks, the Endangered Species act is knocking at the door.  Once that comes in, we as a state and as sportsmen have NO control.  
Yes, the 800 LB gorilla in this situation is the relentless netting by the tribes that have rights on these rivers.  The Bolt Decision means we have to co-manage the fishery.    Big changes are needed in their approach to the fish runs because they wont sustain in the future with bank to bank gill nets.
Also, a few popular myths to dispel.
There is no fly fishing vs gear fishing agenda.  Absolute red herring
These rules are meant to take opportunity away from gear fisherman.  
The "agenda" is pushed by some secret illuminati of rich, old white fly fishing only men and women.  Nope, the proposals where submitted by the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Council which was made up of guides, sports, fly and gear fisherman.

As a matter of fact....when WDFW held public comments in Olympia back in November, people who spoke in favor of these changes were there in mass, out numbering the nay's 4-1
Control what you can control.  Make the changes necessary to enhance the resource and lets do what we can to bring the co-managing tribes to the bargaining table.
And when you feel like bitching on the internet.  Go ahead, it does nothing to help.  Get involved, now.