Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day 2012

A hen coming to the surface while a buck tries to sweet talk her. 
How you doing?

On April 22, 1970, a group of tree hugging hippies got together and started Earth Day. This day and anniversary is considered the day that the modern environmental movement was created. Today this day has since taken off and is used by environmentalists throughout the country in a wide variety of different arenas. This year I chose to celebrate this weekend by joining a group from the Native Fish Society, consisting of both gear and fly fishermen doing stream surveys. We were looking and counting steelhead spawning beds and fish in the tributaries of one of the local drainage's.

Steelhead redds

Steelhead spawning beds or redds can generally be easy to distinguish, because they create a noticeable pit and tail spill in the gravel bottom. At times they are associated with tailouts where sweeping gravel can also be bare and confuse those looking for them. Due to this, it is important for anglers to stay off of all of them this time of year to avoid a catastrophe.

Two bucks dancing in a tailout, looking for a partner.

A  buck chillin on a bed, waiting for a partner. 

The life cycle of steelhead and all anadramous fish start and end here in the gravel. It is imperative that all anglers and outdoorman alike understand the importance of these spawning beds. By doing hands on field research, much of which is done on a volunteer basis we can gather needed information about both the escapement for each river drainage. It also allows us to better understanding how each watershed is affected by environmental stressors such as logging and warm water runoff. Groups like The Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Native Fish Society, Wild Steelhead Coalition and Trout Unlimited work together with each individual state's Department of Fish and Wildlife to establish the data needed for escapement numbers. By doing so throughout the late winter, spring and early summer, we are able to make sure there are numbers allowing for recreational fishing. Most importantly we are able to make sure this prized possession in the Pacific Northwest is allowed to live and thrive despite the obstacles of over population and harvest.

Selective tree harvesting in the drainage.

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