Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WSC Event

The Wild Steelhead Coalition is putting on a great program about hatchery impacts in the Skagit basin.  Should be an interesting presentation. 

The details are below:

Three organizations, WDFW, Skagit River System Cooperative (Skagit Tribes) and Seattle City Light formed a partnership study to better understand how hatchery steelhead maybe effecting wild steelhead populations in the Skagit River watershed. By answering questions regarding genetic impacts of interbreeding wild/hatchery stocks, habitat competition while juveniles, and wild steelhead juvenile predations by hatchery smolts, hatchery steelhead programs can be adjusted to reduce these impacts, which should result in increased abundance of the natural steelhead stocks.

The second component of the study involves collection of basic genetic information needed to determine whether steelhead in the Skagit watershed are composed of a single homogeneous stock or if individual stocks of steelhead exist. The outcome of this genetic work may have profound effects on how federally listed steelhead from the Skagit are managed and hopefully recovered in the future. The third part of the study focuses on the collection of basic migratory behavior data from adult steelhead gained from acoustically tagging and monitoring the movement of steelhead prior to, during after spawning.

For additional information, an article highlighting this study, titled “Wild Steelhead Research on the Sauk and Skagit Rivers” was featured in on pages 5-6 of the November 2010 issue of The Adipose.

And we'll be drawing the winner for a Sage 12'6" 7-wt Spey rod. To enter, become a member or make a donation to the Wild Steelhead Coalition and  you will automatically be entered. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nature is all around

As I ran along the dirt fire road I spooked numerous deer and had to slow down to let a turkey get out of the way.  The hills were green with spring growth and the oak trees glowed with the new leaf growth that one only sees this time of year.  Below me, the reservoir sparkled in the morning sun.  It felt like I was a million miles away from civilization.

Of course, if I listened closely I could hear the subway train pass by down at the bottom of an adjacent valley.  If I looked to the distance I could see houses on the hills and in the valleys.  I was actually surrounded by millions of people in the San Francisco area.  I couldn't help but smile thinking about how close I was to so many people yet feeling so far away.

I also couldn't help but thank the foresighted individuals who decided long ago to set aside land for the public.  We often celebrate the Wilderness Areas and National Parks but I think we forget about the smaller parks that allow so many people to get a glimpse of nature.  I think of parks like Point Defiance, Cougar Mountain Regional Park, Forest Park, or the East Bay Regional Park System and think about how important these little blocks of forests can rejuvenate and inspire millions of people.  Not everyone can spend time in deep wilderness but almost anyone is close enough to enjoy a walk through the woods and feel refreshed.

Thanks to those foresighted individuals for allowing me the opportunity to clear my head in a time of stress.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Washington's Sandy River

There's been quite a bit of buzz over the work being done on behalf of the Sandy River's wild fish.  Here are some links to learn about what's happening on the Sandy.

Oregon Guides Fight for wild fish on the Sandy
Possible Lawsuit over Sandy River hatcheries

After reading this and seeing the focus on display at the Native Fish Society auction a little over a week ago I wondered if Washington State had a Sandy River.  Of course, in the Pacific Northwest almost every river faces issues much like the Sandy River but I think one Washington State river stands out. 

My vote for Washington's Sandy is the Elwha River.  Pouring out of pristine wilderness, its salmon runs have been blocked by two dams, the lowest one just five miles from saltwater.  These two dams will be removed over the next three years at a cost of approximately 325 million  of taxpayer dollars.  The tribes, Olympic National Park, and WDFW have agreed to a five year fishing moratorium during and after the dam removal.  It is an exciting time to be living in the area and the excitement over the dams coming down is real.  There are celebrations scheduled throughout this summer.

There is a "but" to all of the celebrations of the Elwha and the fish restoration.  The problem is the current hatchery plans during the restoration, specifically the Elwha Tribe planting non-native, out of basin Chambers Creek winter steelhead during the fishing moratorium.  There is a heavy reliance on hatchery production in the Elwha restoration that is not based on the best available science.

Does anyone believe that planting non-native stocks of fish is a good way to restore fish populations after dam removals.  The Elwha currently has wild winter steelhead returning and these fish along with the large numbers of native resident rainbows above the dams can be the building blocks for real restoration of native fish.  The current plan will allow Chambers Creek steelhead to be the first steelhead colonizing habitat above the dam.  This is a travesty!

How can we be serious about restoring wild fish when we continue down the path that has led to the destruction of our wild fish stocks in the past?  The rivers of the Olympic Peninsula once had large early timed runs of winter steelhead.  Chambers Creek plants along with the associated harvest pressure has destroyed almost all of the early timed fish.  Planting Chambers Creek steelhead means we are giving up on restoring the true diversity of the Elwha River.

Sacrificing a large component of a wild fish run on the largest fish restoration project in our Nation's history is bad for the fish.  Science should be guiding the way on the Elwha restoration and unfortunately in the case of winter steelhead science is being ignored.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Kudos to Oregon Guides

Oregon guides speak out:

Wild Fish Editorial

This is refreshing to see.  Too often those who spend the most time on the water making their living guiding are silent when it comes to conservation issues.  Kudos to these Oregon guides and I know that if I need a guide in Oregon I will be calling one of these conservationist guides.

Hopefully guides in Washington State will see this and realize that speaking up for wild fish is a good thing.  There are very few guides in Washington who stand up for wild fish, especially silent are many of the best known guides.

I will never forget the only fisheries meeting on wild fish that I've seen a large number of guides attend.  That was the meeting on the Snyder Creek broodstock hatchery last year and not one guide spoke out against mining wild fish to create a welfare program for harvest oriented guides.  Not one!

Speaking up for wild fish will not cost you clients. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gillnetters go Faux News

Newspaper Article

"...the gillnet is recognized as one of the most selective methods of harvest in commercial fishing today."

When the truth doesn't support your point of view, the answer is to lie.  The thought is that if you state the lie enough, people will start believing it.

Gillnets are selective like Obama was born in Kenya and Shirley Sherrod is racist.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Felt like doing something a little different over the weekend.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm a Believer

Beading is the revolution in fly fishing.  We are seeing a total shift in how we should be fly fishing.  It is the next step in the progression of winter steelhead fly fishing.   The best guides now favor these techniques because they put numbers in the boat and that is what matters.

The artisans are using amazing techniques to paint and lacquer plastic beads that rival anything done with feathers, floss, and tinsel by the old masters of fly tying.  The next Syd Glasso will be doing Picasso like work on plastic beads.  I am no longer going to hold on to ancient, unproductive techniques that are just holding my fishing back.  The "tug is the drug" is such nonsense when you can visually see a bobber get buried when a steelhead engulfs your bead.  It's like popper fishing for saltwater species on the river.

I can now dress lighter since I will now spend the majority of my time in a boat drifting instead of standing in the cold water.  Cast, swing, and step is like taking a sleeping pill while drifting beads is like playing an outdoor video game.  More action means less time staring at the scenery trying to make it seem like seeing wildlife and nature is as good as ripping some lips.

While traditionalists moan and groan about low fish numbers and supposed declining runs, the bead bro's came up with solutions.  They don't waste time going to meetings about wild steelhead and the problems they face.  Why deal with that unpleasantness when the simple truth is that traditionalists wouldn't be crying about declining run sizes if they just learned how to fish more effectively, and that's with beads.  The guides I talk to say they catch more fish than 20 years ago, so the idea that there are fewer fish is some enviro-nazi propaganda meant to keep us away from fish killing freedoms enshrined in the US Constitution.  Good fishing means there is no problem and beads equal good fishing.

Of course, the best part is that instead of spending time tying flies and dealing with conservation I can drink more beer and masturbate.