Monday, November 14, 2016

Do Fishing Ethics Matter?

Yes! I think they do...
In a day and age of dwindling fish runs a simple thing like ethics can make a difference.
So what kind of ethics am I talking about? Well let me list them for all of you.

1. Killing a dark Chinook hen solely for the eggs. - One of the worst ethical violations

2. Trampling spawning redds - Fly anglers do this a lot unfortunately

3. Fishing on spawning redds when guarding fish are present - Refer to Field and Stream Article Below

4. Using Diver/Bait rigs when wild fish are present - Fish are prone to swallowing the bait deep and that would be fatal

5. Low holing another fisherman - Happens all the time and especially by guides

6. Taking a wild fish out of water for a hero shot - No matter how experienced you think you are in handling fish this can lead to death of the fish

7. Playing a wild fish too long - Because it will kill them! If you have a tendency of doing this go to heavier gear.

8. Fishing in warm water - Summer time is a deadly time for wild fish who get hooked unless you are fishing for warm water species

Nice article from Field and Stream about Fishing on Redds

In fly fishing for trout, there are certain truths that should be self-evident.
You don't fish with bait in a fly-only river. You don't low hole other anglers and cut them off on the river. You don't kill fish you aren't going to eat. You follow all the rules.
And you don't fish for trout when they're on a redd.
A redd, just to be clear is a spawning bed, and you can recognize them by the bright, clean gravel that's been turned over. If there's a big fish on that bright gravel (trout are most vulnerable and easy to harass when they are holding on a redd), please leave it alone. Because that big fish is in the process of making lots of little fish. You don't need to be a fisheries biology Ph.D. to figure out the benefits of that.
You might not technically be breaking any laws by fishing a redd, but you're going to anger a lot of others if you do. And yes, people fish for other species during the spawn all the time. But trout aren't bass. And there are a zillion ways to fish for trout and salmon that may be migrating to spawn. Just try to avoid smacking them in the head with flies and snagging them when they're doing their thing.
I bring all this up because there's been a lot of chatter on the Internet recently about certain people unashamedly fishing redds, and taking hero shots, etc. I've been asked about a hundred times in the past week how I feel about all of this. It's a no brainer. You shouldn't pound fish on redds, period. And when you're wading a river during the spawn, you don't step on the redds when you spot them.
Thing is, it's not just one guy, there are a lot of gurus, guides, and others who have cashed in by doing it the wrong way. No finger pointing from me. Just a point of view that will hopefully help some of you who wonder avoid conflicts on the river.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Please Leave Oregon Chum Salmon Alone

I don't know of a single conservation minded fly angler who actively throws flies at chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers in Oregon. Sure we all did years back when their numbers were abundant but now it is not ethical to harass these fish in those two Oregon rivers. You want to fly fish for chums? There are plenty of them up in Washington! Go up there to fish for them.

With the first significant falls rains the return of the runs of chum salmon on the Miami and Kilchis rivers will soon be upon us.
These salmon are arguably one of the best freshwater game fish that swims the waters of the Pacific Northwest. They come aggressively to a fly and fight with the strength to snap any 8 weight fly rod out there.
The chum salmon rival the steelhead in every way when hooked.
That being said we should leave them the alone and here is why. Their already depressed numbers have fallen to a dismal return in recent years. In the 80's they were so numerous that you could find them from the Columbia all the way down the coast and in huge numbers. While their flesh was inferior their roe and their fighting ability made them a desirable game fish.
They would seemingly all show up at once and you would actually see them ascending drainage ditches during higher water. It was amazing to watch them in tidewater as they would, by the hundreds, boil on the surface in some kind natural dance. It almost seemed like their movements were was beautiful to watch.
That was all over 25 years ago! Fast forward to the last few years and if you are familiar at all with the Miami and Kilchis you know how poorly the chum salmon have fared lately.
Still there are those who cannot resist tail hooking these chums and treating them with no more respect than that of a squaw fish.

It's disgusting how these salmon are treated and if ODFW were ever to do that right thing, and that is unlikely, they would not allow even a catch and release season on the chums.
In the name of angling opportunity there is a short season allowed with bait and treble hooks.
Even fly fishers will stomp through the redds and abuse these salmon in search of their "sport".
I quit fishing for them about 10 years ago and it was after seeing some uncaring gear fishermen cruelly kicking these noble fish back into after snagging them that I quit.
I never pursued them with a lot of interest in the first place. I got very angry when the editor of Salmon and Steelhead Journal magazine Pat Hoglund had a feature article on these fish with maps to the Miami and Kilchis included. He accused me of trying to protect a favored fishery and I informed him the only thing I wanted to protect was these dwindling runs of salmon.
I even chatted with him about it at the Sportsman's Show but he has to sell magazine so I guess anything is fair game.
It would be a pity to see yet another run of salmon disappear off of the northwest landscape so if any of you reading this are thinking about pursuing these chum salmon for sport then please think again and do the right thing okay?