Lately it seems like we have entered a strange world where ideas to fix problems are not worthy of doing if they don't solve the problem entirely. We live in an imperfect world and our solutions are going to be imperfect.
While listening to testimony at the WDFW Commission Meeting last Friday I was struck that this argument was being used against doing anything to stop the declining steelhead numbers. Basically, we have reduced harvest from thirty a year to one a year, have created catch and release areas and numbers have still gone down or have not rebounded so this of course means that any other rule changes should wait because we cannot guarantee a magic bullet.
I refuse to believe that doing nothing is any kind of solution. Experimenting with catch and release, no fishing from boats, bait bans, protecting resident rainbows, and wild steelhead management zones is the only way to go. We have to keep trying new things as the science gets better and new problems crop up. Twenty years ago there was no side-drifting, massive numbers of out of state guides, internet bulletin boards, or Puget Sound river closures.
Of course, we also need to look at ourselves when it comes to effective advocacy for wild fish. This last rule change cycle in Washington State should be a wake-up call with the embarrassing amount of angler apathy here. Here are some numbers.
22,000+ members on a popular Washington State fly fishing internet forum
10,200 members on a popular Olympic Peninsula internet fishing forum
102 comments on North Coast steelhead rule proposals
44 comments on making all rivers selective gear (no bait) from 2/1-4/30
9 comments on opening up the Quilcene River to sea-run cutthroat and resident trout harvest
These numbers and this amount of apathy are a wake-up call to me. What about you?