Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dam Removal, Trout and Hope For Wild Steelhead

White Salmon River
A few weeks ago I found myself on a unique piece of water that I have not fished in years, the White Salmon. In that time of absence one thing stands out more than anything, there is no longer a dam present. On October 26, 2011 Condit dam was breached opening up thirty plus miles of spawning habitat for steelhead, chinook salmon and lamprey.

For almost one hundred years Condit dam blocked migration of anadromous fish to their spawning tributaries, and now with it gone, I could not help but to think of what’s next in the process of healing. The few native fish that find their way home are fighting the odds of not only nets, fishing, warm water and Bonneville Dam,  but also repopulating a section of river that their lineage have not seen in a century.

Though doubtful of swinging a fish that day, I continued to have hope for a grab. After a few hours of fishing, that hope lead me to a fish, a rainbow trout. Throughout the morning I encountered several more and then something dawned on me. The hope for wild steelhead in this watershed does not only reside in the few returning adult steelhead, but also these resident trout that had been living behind the dam over the last century. Though I do not know if there were plants of hatchery trout above the dam previously, a native population of trout can and will hold the genetic heritage of the fish that returned to the river over a century ago.

Resident White Salmon Rainbow Trout

Studies have shown that adult resident male trout will spawn at times with steelhead. Read more via the Wild Steelhead Coalition. By the end of the afternoon I could not help but smile with the realization that there is indeed hope for these native fish.  A few days later I randomly met a fisheries biologist from the Yakama Nation. With a big smile on his face he informed me about how many spring chinook that he had recently tagged in the upper watershed.

There is indeed hope for the White Salmon River. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Geobass: Botswana

Not the same as the smallmouth in the pond down by the house.