This will be a yearly thing where I bring this post to the top. I feel it's just that important for the well being of wild steelhead. Those of you that already curtails your upriver fishing, I applaud you!
Those of you who insist on harassing fish on their redds then maybe you should pay attention. There are still fresh steelhead in the lower portions of the river so why not stay down there and leave the upriver areas alone....ya think?
This subject is something I strongly believe in and adhere to so since this is my blog you dear readers will just have to indulge me.
As most of you know I spend a lot of time fishing the rivers near Tillamook, Oregon. I fish for steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout on those rivers and know some of them very well. I know the fish and where they frequent, although you would never guess that by my angling success or lack thereof on the Wilson. This time of year I will stay out of the upper parts of those rivers because I know there are many wild steelhead using the upper rivers and tributaries to spawn.
How did I arrive at this decision? In 2001 I was fishing in the upper portion of a Tillamook area stream and hooked a very large wild female steelhead. I played her out and landed her carefully to avoid any harm coming to her when I saw that she was dropping her eggs. I had probably taken her right off a spawning bed and I felt disgusted with myself for even being in that section of the river.
I vowed from that day on to never fish the upper river in late spring until at least the end of May. I've tried to convince others to do likewise and have managed to convince some but others steadfastly refuse.
The ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) closes the nearby Miami river completely for that two month period and the upper Nestucca river is closed in order to limit access to spawning areas but why not the Wilson or the Trask?
I have seen too many pictures of grinning fishermen holding a wild buck steelhead out of the water for their hero shot while that male fish is dumping it's milt all over the fisherman's waders.
Some might say that why stop at the upper rivers why not close the whole river during that time? Wouldn't bother me in the least but some of those are big revenue rivers for both the ODFW and Tillamook county so with heavy lobbying from a few "good old boys" Tillamook area fishing groups they stays open.
I urge everyone who reads my blog to consider what they can do to further the cause of wild fish in this state and any state. If we don't do it then who will!
The picture below gives you an idea of what to look for.
PLEASE LEAVE SPAWNING or GUARDING FISH ALONE
Friday, April 07, 2017
Why is this and what is this? The why is the paranoia that these conservation groups are working to have hatcheries closed. The what is just plain old fear mongering by those that are apparently too dumb to understand and by those with a personal agenda who will go to any length and spread any lie to achieve their goals of over loading rivers with harmful hatchery plants.
They also have bought into the lie that these conservation groups want to make all streams fly fishing only! Again not true but this is perhaps the most popular lie.
I am a lifetime member of Trout Unlimited. I am also a member of Native Fish Society, Wild Steelhead Coalition and Federation of Fly Fishers. None of these groups want to make our Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead rivers fly fishing only! Got that? None!!!
Then there is the the disdain for proven science. Fish biologists have almost unanimously agreed that hatchery salmonids are harmful to wild salmonids.Even Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has published papers, BY THEIR OWN BIOLOGISTS, stating the harmful effects of hatchery fish! Clearly the preponderance of evidence is there! Yet in this day and age of disdaining anything scientific this evidence is dismissed.Instead the opinion of arm chair fishery biologists,gear guides and half-baked, self proclaimed fishing experts who have little practical training if any in complex fishery science is listened to by the ignorant masses. Does this scenario sound familiar? The opinion of some north coast guides is listened to instead of those with doctoral degrees. Go figure huh?
Anytime that conservation groups are compared to Nazism and the holocaust then the debate has gone into a dangerous and dark direction. There is no accountability for the fear mongering and these lies and that is too bad.You can bombard the lies with facts and peer proven science but to no avail.
We are nearing the end of a resource that was once abundant. Because of ignorance,greed and short-sightedness we are looking at the proverbial bottom of the barrel.
I am not a fish biologist so anything I state that comes off as personal opinion can be taken with a grain of salt. I try to avoid getting on a soap box but I will definitely link scientific data about the dangers of things like broodstock programs and inter-action between hatchery fish and wild fish. There is a ton of unbiased studies out there.
Conservation groups get accused of "cherry picking" the science and that is something that is totally untrue! There are a lot of thoughtful, intelligent people in groups like Native Fish Society who know that to publish false information would be ruinous to the organization so they just do not do it.
The old "you want to close the hatcheries" argument is something right out of the alt-right playbook. You feed people lies and misinformation long enough you might actually get a few of the more gullible to believe you! FOX News is a prime example of using lies and fear mongering to sway votes.
If you want to debate me then you can bet that I will politely listen to your points but if you start spouting off bullshit then I will come back at you with science. It's the only way right?
I first wrote this entry back 4 years ago and have updated and expanded it.
The fact remains that there is still mistrust and outright hate towards the very people who are trying to save a few wild fish for future generation.It's maddening and frustrating beyond words.
All of us that care about the cold water fisheries here in the Pacific Northwest know that this is imperative! Follow the science!
A few years ago I picked up a helpful pamphlet by the late Lenox Dick about fly fishing for the elderly. I'm almost 63 but don't put me in the grave yet and I do appreciate those senior discounts. Since I have a bad back and it sometimes makes me feel like I'm 103 I thought that the information by Mr. Dick was useful.
I did, however, notice that the author left out a few tips that would be of use for us veteran anglers so here goes....
1. Never fish with someone a lot younger than you. Exceptions of course would be your own children or grandchildren who wouldn't dare keep you out too long in fear of having to carry you back to the car. Anyway, these young guys tend to be obsessed and you may never, ever get off the river especially if the two of you are in his vehicle. This rule also applies to fishing with someone who is new to the sport! They just don't understand that your old body just ain't up to those marathon fishing trips anymore.
2. Never eat spicy or high fiber food the day before a fishing trip on a remote location - Trust me on this guys! Avoid those coconut macaroon cookies at all cost.
3. Do not forget to take toilet paper - You will have to cannibalize your favorite fishing shirt if you forget the TP!
4. When nature calls be sure to get your waders out of the way - They don't make Depends for fly fishermen yet!
5. Try to not make your disdain for bait fishermen too obvious - Remember this is the group from whence you came and may still dabble in occasionally in the winter. Remember there may be a day after you've hung up the fly gear when you cannot do anything but plunk Powerbait at the boat dock.
6.Try to avoid phrases like "Well in my day we did it this way" - Remember how much you used to hate it when someone said it to you when you were young? My day was before graphite, cell phones and the Internet so it's a wonder I ever caught anything.
7.Always tell someone where you are going if you are fishing by yourself - They will need to know where to start their search for the body after all.
8.Invest in a pair of waders with a zipper in them and don't forget to zip them back up before you wade back out.
9.The pants you wear under your waders should have a zipper as well. Button up Levis are a hassle when you gotta go.
Face it Gramps you are not the world class caster you mistakenly thought you once were! Just be satisfied that you at least didn't miss any guides when you threaded your fly rod...you didn't miss any guides did you?
So there you go pops! You can enter your golden years of fly fishing fully prepared and hey at least you are getting out of the house.