Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Out of the Darkness

The fog slowly lifts and the only sound is the murmur of the big river against the hull and the occasional quiet splash of an oar blade. This place is both mysterious and full of possibility.

Wandering these waters and being in this stillness embodies an emptiness of expectation and anticipation of good things unknown. A feeling of being physically and mentally lost. It’s clear, though no one speaks, we are searching for something.

This is big fish water. A river lost in time, overlooked by the hatcheries, but still degraded by extraction and greed. Nothing is safe. It seems that nothing is sacred anymore. But the power of the place is still palpable.

If you listen closely, every river within hundreds of miles tells a story of something that was once full of promise and amazement but has been subject to degradation.

We are steelheaders of the new breed. We fish for crumbs, but we have all been touched by these incredible seagoing trout. We return to the river in hopes of experiencing first hand the fish that fuels our other passion. Working to protect what we have and restore at least some of what we’ve lost.

Through activism, outspoken awareness, and everyday choices, we all hope to make a difference for the better. Some of us even have chosen jobs that focus on restoring health to our watersheds. There are big wins and tough losses. There are days when it seems like our efforts are futile. But there are days when hope and faith are renewed. Yesterday was one of those days.

Take Care and Fish On,


PS – It's a double post this week. Here on Steel, where my friend Mike has graciously invited me to share some of my thoughts and words, and also over at the usual spot on Sexyloops.com. Most importantly, many thanks to Anna and Mel for your powerful words that inspired and built the FP this week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Awakening the Skeena" Movie Wed. January 26th in Portland

For those of you that are interested in seeing "Awakening the Skeena," in the Portland Metro area, the Native Fish Society is sponsoring this viewing at the Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center - Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center, 721 NW 9th Ave on January 26th. There is also a viewing in Seattle on the 24th at The Guild 45th Theater - 2115 North 45th. Check it out if you get a chance and read about the The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. They are doing great things in order to maintain this precious watershed.

Awakening the Skeena Titles & Graphics from mikeseehagel on Vimeo.

Awakening the Skeena Closing Sequence from mikeseehagel on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sandy River Debacle

A hatchery kelt caught in the spring. What are the odds it spawned with a native fish?

The Sandy River is one of the closest and best bets for locals in the Portland Metro area to find some water to swing flies in year round. It holds native fall chinook, spring chinook, coho, bull trout and winter steelhead. All of which are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act, and chum salmon have gone extinct. Currently these fish are at 3-10% of their historic numbers. Though over $75 million has been donated towards Sandy River habitat restoration, the biggest factor influencing the decline of these native fish has been the failed hatchery projects on this river.

Today the hatchery wild steelhead broodstock program are not only killing natives to produce offspring for table fare, but also reducing the overall ability of our native fish to spawn in the wild. Research done by Oregon State University done in the neighboring Hood River drainage has shown that these broodstock hatchery fish show almost no ability to spawn naturally in the wild. It is estimated that there is a stray rate of nearly 45% for hatchery fish spawning in this basin, thus leading to our hatchery fish spawning with our native fish. Also research done over the last three decades have shown that hatchery production for both steelhead and salmon have never been shown to help improve native runs of fish and have been linked to their demise. Read more about the native hatchery broodstock program courtesy of the Osprey Steelhead News.

As fishermen, conservationists, lovers of mother nature and gods creations, we must all take a serious look at this and act on it. The Native Fish Society is now making a stand in this fight to save the Sandy River Basin so that our children may be able to see salmon and steelhead. At the current rate of things we are going to see extinctions of the remaining species in this river. Habitat restoration is a wonderful thing, but alone will not save our native fish, especially when hatchery fish are competing with them. Please read, sign and add if you like to the Native Fish Society Petition to help restore the native fish in the Sandy River by removing these deadly hatchery programs. Also read more about this problem from our friend and Sandy River Steward Spencer Miles at Whitefish Can't Jump.

Call on ODFW to restore Sandy River salmon and steelhead.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Skagit Master 2

I took a round about drive home this morning from an eye appointment and stopped by Northwest Fly Fishing Outfitters in Portland to pick up a copy of Skagit Master Volume 2 with Scott Howell. I watched it and it is worth the price not to mention supporting a local fly shop. One of my long term fishing buddies watched it with me and it was interesting talking though some of the strategies and techniques Scott goes through with him. The dry fly footage and river scenery was awesome, but the Sage, Sage, Sage, Sage and Sage advertising was lame.

Just for Fun - Big Bibbles

just for fun. from Detonation Studios on Vimeo.

Some great work from my buddy Ian Majszak from Detonation Studios in Bozeman, Montana. I can't wait until next Fall.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things Learned on the Water in 2010

January Spring Chinook can be caught on the swing and even on bamboo.

Some guys have all the luck.

Bamboo Spey rods are awesome!

You can be handicapped to swing flies for steelhead. Landing steelhead while handicapped tends to be difficult though.

Alaskan Spring Steelhead are amazing creatures.

Alaskans are ridiculous when it comes to nymphing.

Welding polyurethane and polyethelene is fun and easy. PVC sucks!

There really are rivers and creeks out there that have steelhead in them that people do not know about.

I am not the only one that believes that DIO Rocks. Rest in peace Ronnie, you will be missed.

Stalking carp on flats is one of the best ways to spend time on the water when its too warm to fish for steelhead. It’s one hell of a lot of fun too.

Large steelhead will rise to a skater and there are times that fish will only move to a skater.

Despite being low holed over and over again on the Olympic Peninsula, you can still swing fish in other people’s pocket.

Trey Combs is one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet.

Missoula apparently sucks.

Pulling crab everyday for a week is a great workout.

The Airflo Speydicator really turned into an all purpose line.

Bonk the damn hatchery fish when you land it and don’t just try to gill it. Stupid!!!!

Puget Sound fishing is kinda cool.

Don’t eat steak and drink beer the night before going on an off shore tuna boat.

There really is a use for 12 weights.

Just because its winter doesn’t mean that summer tactics don’t work.

The Metolius River really is one of the most beautiful places on this Earth.

Sometimes kicking back, taking pictures and sharing a few drinks with friends on the river is just as good as fishing.

The Guideline LeCie really is the best Scandi rod out there.

Don’t put your iPod and phone in your fishing jacket.

Tightlines everyone!