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2011 is gonna be good!

Posted by Mark Wednesday, December 29, 2010 2 comments

 A few shots of winter fish from the past few years. We swing flies for these guys and it's a hoot! Weather and water level/conditions are always a factor but if you keep an eye on things and have an open schedule you can have some good chances at fish like this. If you fish the NU in summer it is a whole new ballgame in winter. Higher water, even sketchier wading and fish holding in different types of water. Knowing where,when and why these fish hold where they do at the various water levels is not an easy game but it is a fun one, and one I have become good at. 

I will start booking trips in January.  The months of February, March and April are generally the best times with more fish around,but we can see some fish in January as well.

 Perfection
 Uncle Buck

 Chubby Bunny

 Chunky Monkey

 Very Nice!



 A staggeringly large North Umpqua buck!


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Sunday Funnies

Posted by Mark Sunday, December 26, 2010 0 comments

I know this has made the rounds but it still kills me every time I see it.....enjoy!



Switch and Spey Fly Fishing Rods -- Red Truck Fly Fishing from Leland Fly Fish on Vimeo.

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Snow,Wild Steel & Double Rainbows

Posted by Mark Wednesday, December 22, 2010 1 comments

A bunch of snow hit the Deschutes river(8 inches or so) and it was pretty cool to fish in the winter wonderland it created.





I had the chance to fish with a friend a little yesterday after work. We landed 3 on the swing in short order.We are still finding some bright fish that are larger than average and willing to move aggressively to the fly. A good mix of big wild ones in there too.

This wild hen my buddy found was worth a picture.



The best kind of stocking stuffers


Some killer double rainbow shots from before the snow




Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

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Santa gettin it done with a two hander!

Posted by Mark Monday, December 20, 2010 2 comments

He is pretty quick on the uptake for a portly fellow!


The Fly Fishing Santa from Third Coast Fly on Vimeo.

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Managing Shooting Line

Posted by Mark Sunday, December 19, 2010 0 comments

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Red Shed Fly Shop

Posted by Mark Saturday, December 18, 2010 1 comments

 I know many of you may be familiar with Poppy, I just can't say enough about how well he treats all his customers. Best customer service I have experienced anywhere. If you need something, anything in the spey world, Poppy can get it done. He will send you rods and lines etc to test cast....he goes above and beyond in serving his customers. He's one cool cat!   Go here to check out the bounty of stuff Red Shed

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Catfish John

Posted by Mark Wednesday, December 15, 2010 0 comments

I think we all know a Catfish John or two.

Mama said don't go near that river...........

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Steamboat Falls fish ladder

Posted by Mark Thursday, December 9, 2010 1 comments

From the North Umpqua Foundation Website: Written by Lee Spencer


Aspects of the Fifty Two Year History of the Steamboat Falls Ladder

At around 11:00 on the morning of July 14th—a Wednesday—this season, as Maggie and I returned from our downcreek walk, I saw an ODFW rig parked at the pool and three people were standing around it.  They were Larry Cooper, Tim Walters, and Laura Jackson—all ODFW people.  Introductions were made and we had a reasonably convivial visit that lasted about twenty minutes.  Under light discussion were the flows they had experienced inside the ladder that day and the future modifications to the ladder to solve the regular early-season blockage problems.  I mentioned that steelhead showed up in the pool here only after I noticed strong flows exiting the bottom of the ladder for the first time late in the day on 7/1 and I carefully emphasized that the ladder had been blocked five out of the last five years.
This was a pleasant visit with no hint of the uniformly stilted and always somewhat adversarial encounters of the past between the local ODFW and myself.
Because of this visit, I have rewritten and changed the tone of this piece. 
Historically and prehistorically, the wild steelhead populations native to the middle and upper reaches of Steamboat Creek successfully jumped the major falls located about six miles above the confluence of Steamboat Creek and the North Umpqua River, an eight to ten-foot leap according to a one-foot contour map made before construction on the ladder began in 1957.  These wild fish spawned upstream of these falls.  This innate ability to leap past Steamboat Falls is natural to wild steelhead populations which have the highest burst speed of any of the species in the Pacific salmon genus. 
A little thoughtless help from us humans made this capacity for making great and sufficient leaps at Steamboat Falls irrelevant.  Steelhead were stopped from being able to surmount these falls by the disappearance of the major plunge pool they used to do so . . . by filling it in with concrete and rebar as an adjunct to constructing a ladder there.  Why build this ladder?  To make it easier on the steelhead, I guess, and thereby testing the old truck adage that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
The ladder was built by the state game management agency in 1958 and rebuilt in 1966 to deal with blockage from winter debris—especially the 1964 flood—and modified again in 1985 in another attempt to deal with a blockage problem from the accumulation of debris during the higher flows of winter.  Note that it is the statutory responsibility of the local ODFW office to clear blockages and also to maintain the ladder in working order.
Since I began to pay attention to this ladder as a barrier to fish passage  in 2006—quite late in its history—it has been unambiguously blocked five out of the last five seasons when I arrived at the pool in the middle of May [during my first seven years here at Big Bend Pool I had—I guess—naturally assumed a fish ladder doesn’t form a barrier to fish migration].  When this blockage five out of the last five seasons is considered with the rebuilding and modification of the ladder in an attempt to eliminate this blockage problem, it is clear that for the last fifty-two years, blockage has been the rule in at least the early part of the wild summer steelhead migration into and up through their home-stream system.

YEAR
Date I First Called the ODFW About Jumping Steelhead
Date Ladder Unblocked by ODFW
High Daily Creek Temperature at Steamboat Falls Ladder
Date Steelhead First Appeared In Pool
2006
6/28
7/3rd
72°
7/5th
2007
—*
6/20th
68°
6/22nd
2008
6/22
7/1st
64°-65°
7/2nd
2009
5/28
6/18th
64°
6/23rd
2010
6/21
6/30th –7/1st
[60° on 7/1]
7/2nd
—* in 2007 my good friend Peter Tronquet called the local ODFW office about steelhead jumping at the falls sometime after June 4th
ODFW/Foundation work crew
Ladder cleaning crew on June 20th, 2007.  Beginning second from the left are Pat McRae, Peter Tronquet, and Rich Zellman.  Pat and Peter are board members of The North Umpqua Foundation and Rich is a fly fishing guide on the North Umpqua River.  The rest of these good people are ODFW staff.
Winter flow debris in the form of wood and gravel through boulders-size rock is what blocks the ladder.  This blockage happens sometime during the high flows of late autumn, winter, and early spring and this means that potentially important portions of whatever wild populations of winter steelhead are left in the Steamboat Creek Basin are often/usually/always stopped from making it to their spawning gravels.
Altogether, the ladder at Steamboat Falls has been, thus, a serious problem for the wild steelhead of Steamboat Creek.  This problem is now finally being addressed therapeutically with engineered solutions paid for by The North Umpqua Foundation.
This season, as I drove by Steamboat Falls on my way up to Big Bend Pool for the first time on May 16th, a quick look showed that there was no current coming out of the bottom of the ladder:  clear and again unambiguous evidence that there was no water making its way through and that the ladder was again blocked.  A few steelhead fresh from the ocean were jumping at Steamboat Falls in late May, but a tremendous June 2nd creek rise of six feet or more put a stop to that.  Steelhead were jumping there again on the solstice—June 21st—at which time I documented twenty-five steelhead leaps during a five minute period.  I then went on down to the Steamboat Inn in the late afternoon to phone the local ODFW office in Roseburg and other interested people to report on the activity by the wild summer steelhead at the falls.
The people at the ODFW office reacted and contacted various people, including me c/o Frank Moore’s computer, to report that the ladder didn’t look blocked to them.  However, ten days later on July 1st, there was a conspicuously strong current exiting the bottom of the ladder clearly showing that the blockage in the ladder had been cleared either that day or on the one previous to it .
Big Bend Creek enters Steamboat Creek about a hundred yards above Big Bend Pool where I sit to deter poachers.  Big Bend Creek is the much colder of the two creeks during the hot time of the year, sometimes measuring 15º to 16º cooler in the late afternoon.  It also flows at twice the rate of Steamboat Creek at this time.  An idiosyncrasy of Steamboat Creek is that, once Big Bend Creek water has entered Steamboat Creek, it takes this plume of cooler water approximately four miles to warm up again to the temperature Steamboat Creek was just above its confluence with Big Bend Creek.  Steamboat Falls is approximately four miles below the pool and I have verified that the water temperature of Steamboat Creek above Big Bend Creek is effectively the same as at Steamboat Falls. 
During a time when Steamboat Creek temperatures in the area of Steamboat Falls and Big Bend Pool were varying around 9º during a given day in 2008, Steamboat Creek above the pool was documented as reaching 57º in the late afternoon on June 22nd.  On the 23rd around noon, no steelhead were jumping over a five-minute observation period at Steamboat Falls.  At around 5:00 in that same afternoon, upwards of fifteen steelhead jumped during a five-minute period (I was talking with a human couple at the time of this visit to the falls and wasn’t able to give the attention I wanted to counting the jumping fish).
The next day, June 24th, Steamboat Creek temperatures above the pool—above its confluence with Big Bend Creek—and at the falls around 9:45 in the morning were 50º, the campground at the falls was empty, and no steelhead jumped during a five-minute observation period.  That afternoon around 4:00, the temperature above the pool and at the falls was 59º and forty-two steelhead were counted as they jumped during a five-minute period at the falls.  This jumping stopped about a minute after my dog Sis stepped into the creek—only as deep as her ankles, for no more than forty-five seconds, and about a hundred yards above the falls.  Since 2008, I have verified that, if steelhead are present, they will be jumping once the water reaches 57° and I have also confirmed that swimmers or dogs in the water just above Steamboat Falls will put a stop to the jumping by steelhead, jumping that is landing these sea-run rainbows on concrete and the exposed ends of rebar—and the discarded bit of a rock drill (?)—projecting from the ladder and hidden in the turmoil of water going over the falls during the early season.

Date and Time
Temperature in Steamboat Creek above Big Bend Creek
Temperature in Steamboat Creek at  Steamboat Falls
No. of jumping steelhead over a five-minute period
JUNE 22, 2008
           4:12 PM
57º
JUNE 23, 2008
        11:43 AM
0 steelhead
JUNE 23, 2008
          5:15 PM
15+ steelhead
JUNE 24, 2008
9:45-10:03 AM
50º
50º
0 steelhead
JUNE 24, 2008
       4:02-42 PM
59º
59º
42 steelhead
= not measured or counted
Why are the wild steelhead that are holding in the very deep hole below the ladder at Steamboat Falls driven to jump when creek temperature reach the neighborhood of 57° and not so when the creek temperatures are lower?  Is this only true for the steelhead that have been trapped below the ladder for awhile ?  The easy answer is that they want to leave water that has warmed up to a level that is warm enough to trigger upstream migration in search of cooler water.
Finally, here are a list of reasons why the local ODFW office should be paying more attention to clearing the ladder and allowing the timely passage of steelhead above Steamboat Falls.
The wild steelhead populations native to the creek begin their jumps at the falls in late May on your average year.  This jumping in May usually represents a small number of steelhead, perhaps less than ten, but these fish are using up finite reserves of energy that could better be used finding their summer and fall holding pools, maturing their gametes, carrying out sexual selection behaviors in early winter, digging their redds, and spawning successfully.  All these same things are true for the initial major influx of wild summer steelhead sometime in June.  All fish jumping at the falls damage themselves at the ladder which has been allowed to fall into a degraded state that was reached long ago.
Beginning sometime in June on the hot days and particularly on hot weekend days, Steamboat Falls becomes a very popular swimming hole.  People are wading and swimming and washing in the water above the falls and they are diving and jumping into the pool below the falls from twenty-feet above on the edges of the bedrock formations that rim the pool.  Undoubtedly, this activity is stressful to the wild summer steelhead holding in that pool.
Something else to be considered is the susceptibility of the steelhead below the falls to poaching.  On June 27th, 2006, an average-size wild steelhead was found in shallow water within 100 yards below Steamboat Falls.  It had been gutted and filleted (see photo).  The fish in the pool below the falls are not protected like they are once they have reached Big Bend Pool.
Another reason to clear the ladder sooner than later is the temperature of the water at the falls.  High water temperature is in and of itself stressful to steelhead without having to consider jumping at a falls that, by the construction of a ladder, has been made impassible during the early season.  As an example of what can happen, in 2006 the Steamboat Falls ladder was cleared on July 3rd when the high daily temperature at the falls was 72°.  Seventy degrees (70°) is a critical temperature for steelhead.  In 70° water, there is a metabolic cost to simply holding in place in slow currents and breathing for a steelhead, let alone jumping and landing on a slab of concrete and sliding into rebar . . . again and again and again.

Lee Spencer
July 22, 2010

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The Hunt

Posted by Mark Thursday, December 2, 2010 1 comments

It's all about the hunt.An absolutely perfect wild fish, I am always stunned by their beauty.......what more can I say.





The Red Truck Diesel rod gets another wild one.



Tommy E. just kills this song called The Hunt


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Some sweet guitar By Karl Deeter.

Pete Huttlinger originally did this song for a fly fishing show.Nice!To see more of Pete's stuff and the CD Catch and Release click here



Fly of my Dreams song:


Fly of My Dreams from Marc Crapo on Vimeo.

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The last single hander

Posted by Mark Thursday, November 25, 2010 73 comments

I found this to be hilarious....and somewhat true. I still fish the SH rods a lot.....but not a lot of single handers out there anymore boys.

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Umpqua History and Wild Steelhead Recovery Plan

Posted by Mark Friday, November 19, 2010 5 comments

The information and thoughts below were compiled and generously shared by Bill McMillan. Thanks Bill!

Thanks also goes to my buddy Todd H. for his ongoing talks with Bill and in getting this information to me.

Some excellent information and thoughts on historical Umpqua runs and their demise. Also, some great ideas for recovery by one of the greatest wild fish advocates alive today. Bill's knowledge and longtime study of wild steelhead behavior and the perils they face is second to none. Bill's plan/idea of fading out the hatchery fish is the best thing I have heard on the subject. It makes total sense and is very workable.Obviously,there are other plans out there but to see this one in writing was really cool. You never can get a straight scoop on what the State or Feds are thinking



I am interested in keeping the wild fish topic at the forefront of what I do here.As we saw with the whole guide interview thing that went viral,the hatchery/wild fish issue is a touchy and complex one and it is not an easy overnight fix. My hope here is to keep some conversation and open dialogue going to try and continue to make the best decisions for the river and fish in the future. Hopefully, articles like this will help stir some emotion in people and get them to become involved in the process of getting even a small percent of our historic numbers back.

Thanks for reading and get out there and support a wild fish cause that interests you.  Native Fish Society is a good place to start.


Fascinating and mind boggling to think of the numbers of fish that use to enter the Umpqua drainage!  Check this article by Bill out:


Umpqua River Wild Steelhead – Examining their History and a Graduated Action Plan for their Recovery

Historical overview:

Fishery managers in Oregon frequently site the beginning of available history for Umpqua River steelhead as the mid 1940s with Winchester Dam counts.  However, commercial catch data go back at least to 1923.  To ignore earlier data, especially that of a well documented source from the State of Oregon itself, leads to a prevalent fishery management condition called “the shifting baseline syndrome” by Daniel Pauly in 1995.  Pauly indicates it is a worldwide fishery management phenomenon that has led to continuously declining fisheries on a global scale.    

Listed below (on the next page) are the Umpqua historic steelhead commercial catch data going back to 1923 from Cleaver 1951 (Fisheries Statistics of Oregon).  The peak catch was 1928 with 185,455 lbs, if divided by 8 lbs it equals 23,182 steelhead.  This includes both summer and winter run steelhead for the Umpqua, and although 8.6 lbs was the average size of winter-run steelhead commercially caught at Tillamook Bay in 1942 (Sumner 1945), it was indicated summer-run steelhead are typically somewhat smaller.  Between 1923 and 1928, winter-run steelhead outnumbered summer-run steelhead.  By that relatively late date of historical settlement in Oregon, it can be assumed considerable habitat degradation had previously occurred on the Umpqua by then as well as agricultural and subsistence use of steelhead earlier in the 1800s.  Even in Zane Grey's time it was noted that dynamiting of steelhead occurred.  It certainly is not out of consideration that the Umpqua may have had 100,000 steelhead or more in the latter 1800s.  A run-size of 50,000-60,000 steelhead seems an appropriate ballpark estimate for 1928 considering a sport fishery had to be added to it by then and what were apparently sometimes devastating poaching activities.  1923, 1925, and 1926 were not much lower in commercial steelhead catch.  1928 was the last year that included Jan, Feb, & Mar harvest of the following year until 1947 (the notes at bottom of the data indicate those months were included in the previous year fishery -- so Jan, Feb, Mar of 1929 were included in the 1928 catch data, and so forth).  


CLICK ON TABLE ABOVE TO SEE ENLARGED VERSION
 
By 1940 the commercial catch was down to 9,395 lbs, or 1,174 steelhead commercially caught at 8 lbs per steelhead (not counting the sport fishery), although it did not include the once large winter month catches of Jan, Feb, and Mar.  It indicates in notes below the table that the salmon fishery was closed in 1946 and the steelhead catch began to go up again thereafter until the data ends in early 1948 with more winter steelhead again included in the catch (but not again approaching the abundance of the 1920’s). Apparently after closure of the salmon fishery, another year or two was provided to commercially increase catch of steelhead to make up the lost commercial opportunity?

Regarding Umpqua commercial steelhead catch, I completely forgot that several years ago I copied off the data from an even earlier source than the 1928 catch of 23,000 provided in Cleaver 1951.  Cobb (1921) provided the 1919 catch as packed in cases at the local cannery there at the time.  I had to compute cases packed into lbs, adjust the weight for the amount of waste that occurs in canning (typically considered about 50% for chinook, but sometimes considered more for smaller fish like sockeye and steelhead with Jim Myers of NOAA Fisheries suggesting it could be as high as 70% waste via personal communication with him at the time), and then divide that by the average weight of steelhead caught (I used a range of 7-9 lbs at the time not knowing if summer or winter run fish, but I now know it was both from the more recent data so 8 lbs would likely be the best weight).  Anyway, I have attached the information as I initially computed it several years back.  As might be anticipated, the further one goes back in time the greater the numbers typically are.  In 1919, the range of numbers was from 29,000 to 62,000 steelhead caught in the commercial fishery.  This does not include sport catch or poaching ... or Indian subsistence catch and settler subsistence catch that may have still occurred at that earlier date.  If catch was 50% of the run-size, then the run-size was 58,000-124,000 steelhead that year.  If one takes into account sport, poaching, and subsistence fisheries that may have also occurred it could mean a run-size of as much as 200,000 steelhead.  Predictably, if one had data back into the mid to latter 1800s, it would undoubtedly have shown an even greater number of steelhead.  The Umpqua had quite astonishing steelhead productivity, that is for sure.


From Cobb (1921), regarding the number of cases of steelhead packed in 1919 on the Umpqua River (a case = 48 1-pound cans [and assumed 48 half-pound cans]):

½-pound flat ………. 3,586 cases  =  86,064 lbs
1-pound flat ……….. 116 cases     =  5,568 lbs
1-pound tall ……….. 791 cases     =  37,968 lbs

Total …………………………..    =  129,600 lbs

If canning waste = 50%, a total of 259,200 lbs of steelhead were caught prior to canning.  If each Umpqua steelhead weighed 7 lbs (mixed summer- and winter-run), it would mean that 37,029 steelhead were caught in 1919 during the commercial fishery.  If it was only a winter-run catch the average may have been 9 lbs per steelhead meaning that 28,800 steelhead were caught in 1919.

If canning waste = 70%, a total of 432,000 lbs of steelhead were caught prior to canning.  If each Umpqua steelhead weighed 7 lbs, it would mean that 61,714 steelhead were caught in 1919 during the commercial fishery.  If each steelhead averaged 9 lbs, it would mean that 48,000 steelhead were caught in the 1919 commercial fishery.

These figures do not include sport catch and subsistence catch.

If commercial harvest was 50% of the run-size in 1919, then 74,058-123,428 mixed summer and winter steelhead were destined for the Umpqua River that year.  If the catch was all in winter/spring, then 57,600-98,000 winter-run steelhead were destined for the Umpqua that year.

If commercial harvest was 30% of the run-size in 1919 to account for the sport fishery and subsistence fisheries, then 123,430-205,713 mixed summer and winter steelhead were destined for the Umpqua River.  If the catch was all in winter/spring, then 96,000-160,000 winter-run steelhead were destined for the Umpqua that year.

Reference:

Cobb, J.N. 1921. Pacific Salmon Fisheries. Third Edition. Appendix I to the report of the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries for 1921. Bureau of Fisheries Document No. 902. Washington, DC. 268 pp.



A much earlier Umpqua steelhead historical account regarding abundance and size of steelhead during mid-autumn was provided by David Douglas, naturalist the Douglas fir is named after.  Between October 17-23, 1826, Douglas indicated that the Indians on the
Umpqua brought his party a number of fine "salmon-trout of 15-25 pounds”(Douglas
1914). On October 21st of that same year he described a large catch of Umpqua "salmon-trout" that an Indian chief and his son provided.  These fish were two and a half feet to three feet in length and ten to twenty-five inches round (presumably girth) – in other words, 30"-36" long.  If a 36" fish had a girth of 25" it would indeed be a 25 pound range steelhead.  The interesting timing of this run was October, either a late summer-run or early winter-run, with steelhead apparently abundant at that time in 1826.  Historically the Washougal River of the lower Columbia basin had a similar October run of large wild steelhead that remained until the mid 1970s -- a river not otherwise noted for large wild steelhead as documented in my own fishing records.  Also in Puget Sound in the mid-1800s there are descriptions of steelhead building up at the river mouths in mid-autumn (Suckley 1860), rivers not known to have large summer-runs of steelhead today, nor early winter-runs.

Considerations regarding an action plan for Umpqua wild steelhead recovery:

Given the present emphasis by ODFW on continuing hatchery steelhead programs in the Umpqua basin, one approach could be to have a phased plan to achieve wild steelhead recovery through a more immediate short-term plan that would initiate reduced levels of hatchery releases contained below designated “wild steelhead reserves.” This could be en route to a longer term goal of increasing diminishment of hatchery steelhead releases with eventual basin-wide hatchery elimination and entire watershed designation as a “wild salmon and steelhead reserve.”  

1) Set a long-term goal to sequentially reduce the numbers of both salmon and steelhead planted with eventual hatchery elimination and an eventual Umpqua basin designation as a “wild salmon & steelhead reserve.”

Regarding the North Umpqua:  as fly fishing water, most fly fishers at least mouth the belief that wild fish are their primary interest.  If so, why plant hatchery steelhead into water where fly fishermen typically express most interest in wild fish?   

Related to the above, the North Umpqua is the ideal place to set up the concept of a more immediate "wild steelhead recovery area."  Although there may have been hatchery introgression due to the previous summer-run planting history, there are areas with long histories of hatchery releases where wild populations still retain distinctively different DNA.  It is a mixed bag.  I am not aware what the North Umpqua summer-run genetics show.  Nevertheless, there is only one way to recover traits that can increasingly adapt to the wild (if the genetics have been altered) and that is to quit continually introducing the hatchery traits for domestication with resulting low survival in the wild.  Continuous releases of hatchery fish never allow effective traits for survival in the wild to evolve due to the continuous interaction of hatchery with wild fish that never ceases -- year after year of overlaying domesticated genetics on wild genetics, and/or competition between wild and hatchery fish at virtually all life history stages.  

When the ice sheet that covered Puget Sound receded after the last Ice Age, it was only stray steelhead and salmon from elsewhere that came to effectively recolonize it.  Recolonization depends on allowing natural adaptation to work.  Stray entering fish have a broad mix of genetic characteristics, and like hatchery fish many will be ill adapted, but out of the straying genetic mix the prevalent conditions of an area will eventually select for those traits that are best adapted.  (If you put gravel on screens of differing coarseness, what comes out the bottom will be composed of different average size material than what was placed on top -- essentially demonstrating how straying, adaptation, and evolution work with habitat being the selective screen.)  This has been shown to occur much more rapidly than folks in the past have considered.  It apparently takes from 5-25 years for salmon/steelhead recolonization to occur to self-sustaining population numbers (if continuous hatchery releases do not confuse the issue), with some species doing it faster than others.  Once the right genetics find the right habitat, an adapted population of fish begins to develop with higher survival than the rest.  As their productivity increases, they rapidly outnumber the strays with ill adapted traits.  But in the case of hatcheries, the ill adapted traits straying into the wild are so high in numbers that they continue to overwhelm the adapted traits year after year ... that is, until the large annual numbers of hatchery fish co-mingling with the wild ceases to occur, or is minimized down to the natural straying rate of about 5%. 

The recolonization of pink salmon that were eliminated from the upper Fraser River by the Hells Gate slide in 1913-14 era came to recolonize once the slide area was provided effective passage for pink salmon in the latter 1940s to early 1950s (sockeye salmon were not entirely eliminated due to having longer life histories than pinks and because the slide became passable for them as stronger upriver migrators than pinks within 3 years after the slide).  It took about 20-25 years for pink salmon to reestablish sustained populations in the upper Fraser with about 2 million pinks now occurring there.  Although still not as broadly dispersed as before Hells Gate, in time it is thought they will eventually do so when the strays with the right mix of life history characteristics eventually reach those areas. 

Nature is a continual process of selecting for those life history characteristics that work for a particular habitat niche. 

2) In the short-term, be continuously critical of hatchery programs and argue for their elimination, but there needs to be the necessary patience and tenacity that it can sometimes take decades to see progress (realizing we are now more rapidly running out of decades as a result of global warming with the pressing need for wild fish to make effective adaptations). 

As a result, consistently argue that at a minimum limit hatchery releases to those areas of a basin where they will do the least harm -- essentially meaning as low in the basin as possible and still provide some minimal terminal area for harvest opportunity hatcheries are meant to provide.  Over and over again we have done just the opposite by putting hatchery programs in upper basin areas and spreading harvest for them out over broad basin areas rather than in confined terminal areas. 

To achieve the above, advocate for immediate reduction in the numbers of hatchery fish released to minimize their interactions with wild fish, and to only release them below the forks with designation of both the North Umpqua and South Umpqua as wild recovery reserves.  Incorporated into that should be weirs that can be used to effectively monitor wild escapement and to eliminate hatchery fish from entry to the reserves.  

One good example of where this has occurred is Asotin Creek in Washington where a wild steelhead reserve has been designated since the 1990s with weir use beginning in 2005 that denies hatchery entry beyond it.  The Elwha River weir is now also operating (biggest river thus far on the West Coast of the Lower 48 with a weir) and is providing before dam data:  http://the-fish-files.blogspot.com/  It will eventually provide a means to monitor the rate of salmon/steelhead recolonization to the upper basin.  It also provides the opportunity to select out hatchery fish from entry to Olympic National Park if that decision comes to be made (as would be anticipated from National Park consistency of management elsewhere).

It is apparent that the Umpqua basin once provided large numbers of wild steelhead.  Much of the basin can still do so -- but only if wild steelhead productivity is not continuously compromised by a steady flow of hatchery genetics for domestication that drags wild fish down with them during spawning interactions and perpetually reduced survival.  And beyond genetics there is the continual competitive presence of hatchery fish at all life history levels in both fresh and saltwater environments. 

It makes absolutely no sense to invest large sums of money into habitat recovery projects and habitat purchases only to continue to allow hatchery fish entry that denies the ability for that habitat to work with high natural productivity.  We spend millions on one hand to create or preserve productive habitat, and we spend millions on the other hand on hatcheries that insure the former will not effectively function due to hatchery fish entry.  End progress -- zero -- and at great cost to the public. 

                                                                                    Bill McMillan, Nov. 17, 2010

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Catch and Release

Posted by Mark Wednesday, November 17, 2010 1 comments
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Skeena Steel

Posted by Mark Thursday, November 11, 2010 0 comments

I need to get up and fish this system soon. I have fished the Dean for years but have never made it to the big ditch yet. Big water, big fish equal big fun!

 

Fly Nation TV: Skeena Steelhead Trailer from Nick Pujic on Vimeo.

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I was fortunate enough to meet up and spend some time last weekend with some cats that had a pile of the new Red Truck rods from Lelands. Keith(photographer) and Andy(Eduction and Development) both work for Lelands in SF and were up doing some personal fishing with friends on the property I work on on the lower D. Funny thing is when I posted the funny little Red Truck video early on Saturday morning, I had no idea that the guys I would fish with the next two days were going to have some rods with them. A total coincidence. So I get there to show them around and they say "Hey, we have Red Truck Diesel 7136's,7110 switch's,7100 single handers etc. I started drooling immediately. As soon as I had the 7136 in my hand I knew I would be adding several  to my quiver. VERY light in the hand, faster action with very nice reel seat , neat wraps and nice and clean overall on the cosmetics.Not overly fancy but very clean and a very nice looking. Kind of a duller non sanded, non painted blank like the old Scott rods. I personally like that non flashy look. The 7136 is the rod I fished most and I was hucking the 540 Airflo Compact. Once I found the button it was easily throwing tight loops out to 80-90 ft with heavy flies and 12-14 ft of T-11 and T-14. A light and powerful rod that would be a great all around rod for both sinking and floating line work. I was highly impressed with this rod and need to do more research, Ha Ha.

Unfortunately, last weekend the fishing was slow. The Red Truck 7136 did manage to hook a couple fish though.


 The ever handy beer opener in the tube top





 Not knowing I was going to be testing a bunch of rods I did not bring every line that I would have liked to for testing but all I can say is I am impressed with these rods.I fished the 7136 with a 540 airflow compact and a 7 wt windcutter 2. Both were butter. This is a great shorter floating head rod. Floating heads in that 48-55 range will excel on this rod.I think a regular Delta and the SA shorthead would be money on that rod as well.Any of the compact scandi lines would rock on the rod as it was designed leaning towards scandi but throws skagits up to around 550 grains with equal smoothness and authority.Like I said I would have loved to have thrown few more lines on it but I had it in my hands long enough to know it's SWEET. Dialing lines will not be hard. I know I will be developing a close relationship with this rod and it will find a use full place in my tool belt.On the 7110 wt switch rod I threw a 7-8 AFS overhead and it sailed fine and far. I also cast a 7wt Sharkskin floater that zipped out like a hot knife through butter.

I cast the 7100 with a 300 grain rio sinking line and I could throw it a country mile with a quick roll and haul or a single back cast and haul. I also cast it with a 7wt Sharkskin Steelhead line and it was smooth and easy.Again a very light and capable single hand rod that will probably be on the rod rack of my truck as a skater rod for summer fish.

Be on the lookout for the Red Truck Diesel Premium rods as well. Currently sold out I believe.Same blank and action but they are a hundred bucks more and have a much nicer finish and components/jewelry on them.


PS I am not affiliated with Leland Outfitters or Red Truck in any way, just thought I would pass along some info on some sweet rods at a sweet price point.


Check out the pictures and specs for the 7136 click here-Rod specs for Red Truck 7136


Below is a great review for this rod off of the speypages site:

Red Truck Diesel 7wt 13'6" Rod Review(by Mark Schmidt) This mirrors my experience with the rod.

Few months back I was fortunate enough to try a couple prototype rods at the GGACC from Leland's in San Francisco. The rods are put out by Red Truck which is a division of Leland's. They go by the name "Diesel". A very odd, but cool name I suppose. The prototypes were not much to look at but my buddy Will Widdicombe and I put em through the paces and we were both clearly blown away by the performance of the 7 weight 13' 6" rod. It excelled with most casting styles and line types so, I ordered one. I was informed that Leland's technical staff spent 1 1/2 years designing the rod through a well known manufacturer based in Asia. Alot of tweaking and trial and error. The first shipment steamed in yesterday (after a long wait) and we met again at the ponds. The word spread quick about this stick....those that heard about it had bought one and were all out casting like kids at Xmas.

The final delivered rod looks like an older Scott with a completely unsanded and uncolored blank; even rougher than Scott's lightly sanded blanks. Although some may be put off by this raw look it is functional...good idea to leave it au natural for strength. The stripping guides appear to be titanium oxide and the wraps are neat with no slop. No fancy wrapping or inlayed feathers and handwritten script. This rod is all business with no BS, it is a professional grade tool and, like any other, form must follow function. The handle has solid ergonomics and resulting sexy curves with very clear cork. There are no rubberized cork rings or ornamental rings used on this handle as you find on so many other offerings these days. The reel seat is spartan; just clear anodized aluminum, uplocking and gnurled, no insert, but it is smooth, solid and funtional. The ferrules are regular, non-spigot type. The ferrules on my rod stuck tight though and I had to call upon a second set of hands to free them. My buddy suggested using paraffin but maybe it would be best to let the graphite wear out a bit.

The rod tube is just plain extruded aluminum with no paint or finish coat. Also a very raw look but it beats PVC and nylon. I was surprised to find the rod tube cap has a freakin' bottle opener built into it on the back side. The quality of this particlur installation was very nicely executed. It is the only extraneous accutrement; and duly so as drinking is arguably of far greater import to the chronically afflicted steelheader than inlayed jungle cock feathers. This could set a new trend. Impress your friends at the tailgate when you pull the tube out and pop open a cold one at 5am. Maybe you could just store your bottles inside the tube for smuggling? The rod sock has a screen printed name "spare tire" in the upper corner at the tip pocket but I have no idea why or what that means. I thought that maybe there was a spare tip included in that pocket but there is not. I have not heard of Leland selling a blank but if they did I would stand in line like a teenage girl waiting to see Lady Gaga.

The action is fast and more progressive than regressive but with well placed flexing in the right spots at upper and lower quarters. The rod recovers very quickly. It likes to be tip cast with Scandi lines but will load well into the butt with heavier skagit lines. It is a true 7 weight and likes to cast within a 480-550 window. The thin tip would not do well with heavier lines. The rod has good butt strength and I think it could lick a helluva big steelhead but....anything over 15lb would probably end in hand to hand combat.

This is a lighter feeling rod, but I dont know what the actual weight is. I hope to put it on a scale soon. I do not know exactly what the graphite modulus is but I was told it is mixed and around 50+ million. Does higher modulus make a better rod? I don't know. I was however told that it is a lower modulus than the TCX rods. That aside, I would still compare the action to the Sage TCX rods however; there is no TCX rod in 7136 for direct comparison. It casts similar to the Burkie 13'4" 6/7/8 4 peice but....I won't compare it directly to that rod either.

As far as lines go, we cast an Airflo 540g compact skagit which it really liked. This ability was somewhat surprising since it seems to be specifically designed with true Scandi in mind. It is not really a friendly first timer Skagit rod though since the action is so fast you dont have time to feel the rod anchor and load like a highly regressive taper rod. It made long tight skagit casts (100'+) with little effort and 10' of T14... I am not as excited about Skagit anymore though so I cast the new Vector Ballistic 7/8 (a CND Lee Davidson brain child) and it was a true pleasure at all reasonable fishing distances. It was very relaxing to cast and there was no over exertion needed. The rod would be well suited to those who do not want to toil all day with a heavier rig but still want some length, mending control and power to shoot through a breeze. Lightning fast line speed and lazor tight loops are the norm with the Ballistic line, even with a steady breeze.

Consistent 90-110' (measured) casts are easy for an experienced caster. It can be overpowered though if you are attempting anything longer which will crash this line into a pile if you force it. If you really want to shoot it through the wind with a stable ending we found scandi heads do the trick if you don;t mind all the stripping. Would like to try an even longer line (CND mid spey?).

The rod currenlty goes for $300 which is surprising since it performs like rod costing much more. Cost though is becoming less relevant to graphite rod performance.

Overall this rod gets a 9 out of 10 rating in my book.

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Red Truck - Cribs

Posted by Mark Saturday, November 6, 2010 0 comments

I found this quite amusing and remember when I was in similar accommodations. Check out the rods,cool videos and other stuff here @ Red Truck

I have read good things about the 7136 spey, a great review on speypages for it if you search.


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Central Oregon Steelhead Restoration

Posted by Mark Tuesday, November 2, 2010 1 comments

Speaking of habitat restoration.........


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Interview with a North Umpqua Guide

Posted by Mark Saturday, October 30, 2010 16 comments

Reposted from the Buster Wants To Fish blog

Hatchery Stocking in the North Umpqua Flywater: A Q & A with A North Umpqua Guide

We print this for your consideration and then, considerate comment, Buster readers.
In a brief nutshell, recent summer steelhead returns (or lackthereof) on the fabled and highly regulated North Umpqua apparently churned up the idea machine down in Douglas County, Oregon and a few folks are fixing to fix things.

Talk from a number of folks—some of which are high-profile guides, others are anglers with much history on the river—has proposed moving the stocking of hatchery fish up into the flywater to both maximize the economic output of the present hatchery effort (currently below the flywater) and to relieve pressure on the wild fish. Given scientific findings behind hatchery fish genetic introgression into the wild fish life history, this idea is strongly opposed by others. Trust me when I say I’ve attempted to write this last paragraph as objectively as possible.

Whether you’re a proponent of hatchery salmonids or an ardent supporter of wild, native fish, I urge you to read and re-read this. Many interesting points made, a few lines that can be read between and at the end, a calm, thoughtful discussion of opinions. Props to the interviewer for calling the interviewee out on his stance, and at the same time, respect to the interviewee for nutting up and answering the tough questions.
That’s a great example of discussion between opposing parties, folks, and we need a lot more of it if we’re going to get anywhere worth going.

Notes:
-No, not I, nor any of the handsome bastards at Buster were involved with any of this interview. I simply received a copy.
-I’ve removed the names of both the interviewer and the interviewee, as it’s not the people that matter. Its the ideals, motivations and potential for common ground.
Comments on this interview absolutely welcomed and encouraged below. 

Q & A with A North Umpqua Guide:

Q: I heard through the grapevine that you are advocating bringing hatchery summers back to the fly water. Is that true, and if so, what is your reasoning?
A: Well, I don’t know how much you know about the North Umpqua, but it’s just the last few years that we’ve stopped seeing hatchery summers in the fly water. The hatchery fish that were up there weren’t a problem, since they were mainstem spawners. I grew up on the Umpqua, and I can tell you that 99% of Umpqua summer steelhead are creek spawners. The hatchery fish spawned in the mainstem, where they were acclimated. Back then you might have seen one or two hatchery fish up at Lee’s pool.
My real issue is I don’t think the wild run can handle all the pressure. I mean, we have more guys coming up here every year. But we only have a couple thousand wild steelhead. Without the hatchery fish, guys are figuring out where the natives hang out and they are pounding on them every single day. Meanwhile, ODFW is planting hatchery summers in places where nobody fishes. I’d say 2/3 of the Umpqua’s hatchery fish aren’t even getting fished for. A third of them are planted below the I-5 bridge. Another third is planted at Whistler’s Bend, and the last third at Rock Creek. But nobody fishes below I-5 bridge. Look at Whistler’s Bend. I drive by there every day, and if you see one guy fishing there it’s a rarity. Two guys I know run down there in the fall. The fly water is the only good summer water, and without some hatchery fish up there, the wild fish take the brunt of the pressure.
Q: So you think that by adding a hatchery program above Rock Creek you’ll be decreasing pressure on the wild fish? I don’t think you could find any examples of that correlation. Hatchery programs result in an increase in angling pressure on wild fish. That’s according to Oregon’s leading biologists and decades of research.
A: I think people are over thinking this whole thing. I mean, do we have a true “wild” run in the Umpqua? With all the hatchery influences over the last century, are these fish really wild?
Q: Umpqua steelhead are wild as they come. Has nobody shared with you the DNA analysis on wild steelhead in Oregon? I can send you the graphs that show the distinct genetic groupings of hatchery and wild fish.
A: Well I haven’t seen what you are talking about, but you just said yourself that the wild fish weren’t harmed by all those decades of hatchery mixing, right? So what’s the problem? Your own data says the wild fish are fine. We had hatchery fish all over up here. All the way up to the dam.
Q: What I’m saying is that there has been very little, if any, genetic introgression from interbreeding. But we know the presence of hatchery adults on the spawning grounds reduces overall numbers of wild fish. So you’re going to have a hard time convincing wild-fish advocates that there is an acceptable risk, at any level.
A: I just don’t see it that way. I don’t think there was much, if any mixing. And if the wild fish are as pure as you say they are, that proves it, right? All I’m saying is if you’re going to have hatchery fish in the Umpqua, put them in the places where people fish! Or get rid of all the hatchery fish, and take the money and use it to repair lost spawning and rearing habitat. One or the other. But it doesn’t make sense to spend all this money and resources on a program that nobody can benefit from.
I’m all for wild fish. But right now we aren’t getting the numbers of wild steelhead we used to see. We’re under 5,000 fish. We need 7,000 to 9,000 fish to handle all the pressure on the fly water. The only way we’re going to get that is if they either let us have some hatchery fish or reclaim the lost habitat. Like Canton Creek. There used to be over a thousand wild fish in there. But it was wiped out when they built that road. It’s never recovered. So if ODFW took all the money from hatcheries and used it to bring back wild fish, I could get behind that.
Now our winter steelhead in the Umpqua really need protection. In the winter we get 10,000 to 14,000 wild fish. And ODFW wants to institute a hatchery program and a kill fishery! All of us guides are against it. ODFW makes no sense. You can’t kill wild fish!
Q: But,  you just said you’re against killing wild fish, but hatchery programs kill wild fish. Isn’t that an inconsistency?
A: I hear what you’re saying, and I could get behind a wild-only Umpqua. But it’s got to be one or the other. The way things are going now, I can’t make any money. I’m not ashamed to say it’s a money thing for me. If we’re going to have hatchery fish, let’s acclimate a third of them from Wright Creek down and offer people a little more opportunity in the summer. We don’t even need to increase the numbers. Just put them where they can be used. Or get rid of them altogether.
Q: Do you think you would feel the same way about this if you weren’t guiding?
A: I don’t know. The summer hatchery program, the way they’re running it now, just doesn’t make good economic sense. So I think I would be frustrated even if I wasn’t guiding. I’d still be up here in the canyon. It’s the only part of the river you can consistently get fish on dries throughout the summer.

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Tugs not Drugs

Posted by Mark Saturday, October 16, 2010 3 comments


Just got back from another fabulous trip to the North Umpqua. I did a little guiding and a lot of fishing.Crowds were light Wednesday through today(Saturday) Pretty much had my pick and I think only one time during the time I was down there was someone in a run I wanted to fish. Started off the tour with a great evening session with my good buddy Brian and we each picked up a fish Wednesday night.


                                           
                                                            Doesn't that look tasty?
                                           
                                                            Brian watching his line go outbound

                                                               Brian with a nice skater fish

                                                                  

                                                                   Nervous Water                                                      

Thursday I guided and both my dudes rose fish and one briefly hooked a fish after multiple rises. Heart pounding action. The hardest part of skater fishing is relaying to the client, if a fish raises to the fly"DON'T DO ANYTHING UNTIL YOU FEEL THE WEIGHT OF THE FISH!" Very hard to do if you are not familiar with a 10+ lb fish boiling and slashing at the fly.I had found a few fish for them and they wanted to play. So,both my guys rose different fish multiple times in the same run. Both also had the opportunity to watch the other fish and both got great views from above of the other raising fish. They were stoked and so was I. Sometimes you just can't seal the deal but they didn't care. It was a good introduction into the world of the surface presentation for steel.


Friday morning I went into a favorite run and was feeling pretty good about things. The water has been pretty chilly in the AM(45-46 ish) and the skater fishing seems to be a little better when the water warms a couple of degrees later in the day. Anyway I opted for a tip and a leech for the run. I started swinging through and it was one of those runs where you just know something is gonna happen. About where the usual up close 1st fish sits YANK! A large fish hammers the fly and about jerked the rod out of my hand.That deeply sunk grab can be oh so violent. A few head shakes spinning reel and a brief battle and he throws the hook on a tail walking dance across the run. One of those fish where it is hard to keep tight on them because they are going berserk.Maybe 30 seconds of pure pandemonium. That kind of stuff still makes me shake. So, I haven't even covered the run so I check knots and retie my fly and start back in again. I shortened up a little before re-starting and am again getting down into the sweet spot just below where I hooked the first fish. SLAMBO! Another fish climbs on and were off to the races again. This fish is not near as large but what he doesn't have in lbs he makes up for in spunk. Big jumps clearing 3 and 4 feet out of the water. He rips around and I land him after a couple minute tussle, a hatchery buck of around 26 inches. So I say to myself, could there be another in there? I still haven't covered the tail and the lower sweet spot so I keep on going. Way down in the tail almost spilling over the edge I get another hard pull that doesn't stick and that was all. I wind up my line and stand there looking at an area smaller than a two car garage where three fish came to my fly.A pretty cool 20 minutes or so.
                               
                                                            Fall sun on another beautiful run

                                                                 Local fishing Expert

                                                                     This Glass is half full

Last night I got one to go on a skater in another favorite run. It's hard to fish anything but a surface fly when the October Caddis are spanking the water all around you. Confidence goes way up when you are competing with the naturals. This fish did a head and tail roll and killed the fly. I never get tired of that first site of a fish pouncing on the fly. Too cool!


Its sort of normal October fishing. If you actually go out and make good pool selections and pound some water you usually get rewarded. Not easy fishing by any means but persistence and being in the right place at the right time helps. Another month or so of good fishing out there.


Many more tugs to come!




                                                                    New In Town

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Skater time indeed

Posted by Mark Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3 comments


Had a good session after work on the Deschutes today above Warm Springs. Hooked two fish in about 20 minutes on a skater. The first fish climbed on way out on the edge of the fast water at mid river. The second fish I rose three times before he decided to hang himself. There are some fish up high now and I am seeing more every day.I have been spotting and hooking some very large fish up high already. Not your average Deschutes fish to be sure. 34+ inches and lower teens. Bruisers!!

A little guiding session coming up on the North Umpqua and they should be surface happy too. Now is when we start to see the Nostril fish,which are a bigger fresher fall fish that can be identified by their unique body lines and enlarged nostrils.I love this time of year! So many options.

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The Beauty of the Switch Rod

Posted by Mark Thursday, September 30, 2010 1 comments

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Sunburst Spey

Posted by Mark Sunday, September 19, 2010 0 comments

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A step in the right direction

Posted by Mark Sunday, September 12, 2010 5 comments

Pretty cool way of releasing wild fish. A seine net is used instead of a gill net.Good to see some things are changing in favor of wild fish on the big C.


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Skagit Minnow by Mike Kinney

Posted by Mark Thursday, September 9, 2010 1 comments

Time to start thinking a little about getting DOWN for steel. Yeah, they are still active on the surface that's true, but I always like to be prepared for a little mid water presentation. These marabou flies by MK are very effective in many colors and fish seem to like them just fine.Play around some with the bou.....it has great movement and is easy to sink.


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Extreme rod rack.....SUMO!

Posted by Mark Wednesday, September 1, 2010 5 comments

A good rod rack is a must for the drive up and down 138 on the North Umpqua. This video shows a little more extreme approach to testing the rack for road worthiness. I still run with the old Yakima ski rack but I see these things selling well.


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I thought this was worth putting out there for those that haven't seen it.Get involved and join the Native Fish Society.

I was involved with a little discussion on another blog about the North Umpqua and the hatchery program there. In the discussion, people were talking about how the NU is a great river because there are no hatchery fish.Well it IS a great river but there are hatchery fish and they are in the fly water.I made the point that as long as they(ODFW)insist on putting fish in the river, why not raise them in the river? Eggs from wild fish fertilized and hatched in the river will not carry the disease of tank raised smolts and be a much healthier and stronger fish....essentially a wild fish. It is time for a change like Bill says.....I just don't think the state is willing to change very fast. Until they get rid of the hatcheries all together, we need to think about how we can help our wild fish in the presence of hatcheries. Letting wild eggs hatch in the river in real world conditions might be a way to ease out of the hatchery program. My 2 cents. Maybe not the best case scenario(which would be no hatcheries)but it is a step in the right direction and better than pond raised pellet heads. The hatchery program is not going to go away over night people. Any other thoughts?

I would love to hear your comments.

Here is the article:

Reducing Salmon to a Mere Commodity


Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 9:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 11:33 AM

By Bill Bakke

For 150 years, fish managers have assumed that hatchery fish can rebuild declining runs of wild salmon and steelhead. Little thought has been given to wild fish conservation, and hatchery fish spawning naturally in the same streams with wild fish has been considered a plus.

There are two recognized impacts from this thinking. A major concern is the genetic impact that hatchery fish will have on wild fish when they spawn together naturally. Scientific research has shown that this spawning mix results in reduced fitness and reduced reproductive success of the wild spawners. Genetic introgression can change wild fish so that they are poorly adapted to their spawning and rearing streams. Another impact that's emerging is related to the ecological effect of hatchery fish spawning naturally in streams. Hatchery fish compete with wild fish for a finite food supply and rearing space. Hatchery fish also are predators on wild fish and attract other predators, and they can introduce diseases.

It's also recognized that non-selective fisheries targeted on hatchery fish have an impact on wild fish that are mixed in with hatchery fish, a typical situation. Even when there is a selective fishery and wild fish are released, there is a poorly quantified mortality impact on wild fish.

Taken together, these impacts affect the number of wild spawners that reach their home streams and lower their reproductive success. Consequently, hatchery programs are a known constraint on wild salmonid abundance. Wild salmonids are declining along the west coast of North America, and many populations are now protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. These impacts are not effectively regulated, and for that reason there is inadequate protection for wild populations of fish.

Fish management agencies are continuing to contribute to the decline and extinction of wild salmon and steelhead, and that contribution is even more serious than that of land and water management agencies in their determined degradation of salmonid habitat. It's more serious because the fish management agencies are charged with protecting fish, recovery of wild fish and preventing their decline.

Even though we know better, the agencies resist changing hatchery programs.

By ignoring their own research on the interactions of wild and hatchery fish, fish management agencies are failing to do their job by applying the best available scientific information. State and federal fish management agencies have transformed salmonids into a commodity that is produced and harvested. Rather than maintain and protect the productive capacity of these fish populations and the habitats that sustain them across the landscape, they have reduced fish management to a simple industrial model of stock and kill.

Consequently, stray hatchery fish are beside the point. Over-harvesting wild fish is beside the point. Delivering spawners needed to fully utilize the habitat in each watershed is beside the point. These issues and many more will remain beside the point forever unless fish management institutions are accountable for the impact of hatcheries and harvest on wild salmonids.

Fish managers do not consider it in their best interest to improve management for wild salmonids when it could threaten $123.1 million in public funding for hatcheries in the Columbia River.

We've lived with this erroneous institutional commitment for 150 years. It's time for change.

Bill Bakke is executive director of the Native Fish Society.

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Bob Clay on Bamboo

Posted by Mark Saturday, August 28, 2010 1 comments

Bob Clay talking about bamboo rods and some of the newer lines.I had a chance to meet and fish with Bob and his wife on the Dean a few years ago. He floated into camp and fished the camp water with us for a few hours.What a cool dude! He told us about a time when some big grizzlies scared them out of the Giants camp in the upper river. They ended up spending the night down stream in Eagle on a gravel bar. Bob said they left everything....maybe got like one sleeping bag. He fiddled through his coat or vest and found a few matches.They lit a big fire and had a semi sleepless night. They went back to get their stuff in the am and the bears were still there.One had a face full of pancake mix. They threw rocks and scared the bears out long enough to get their things and haul ass. I think they were a little short on food for the rest of the float.......

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Good Eats!

Posted by Mark Wednesday, August 18, 2010 1 comments

Here are some old school skater takes from the Babine.Some good eats for sure.Single handers and neoprene baby! Despite the less than clear water conditions these fish seem to go after the fly with gusto. Some pretty explosive takes and some where the fish just pokes a head  up and eats....cool! Love the triple miss that turns into a full slow mo eat. I get all jittery watching these.

I Love this video. Still some of THE toughest video footage to get. Takes time and patience...and a lot of burned up film.








video

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Live before you die

Posted by Mark Friday, August 13, 2010 0 comments

 I took the family down to the North Umpqua for a few days and it was a blast! We have been down there with them a few times now.The kids, while still a bit young(3 and 4) to put a rod in their hands, already love the river and all it has to offer.Thus the title of my post. If I waited to take them to all the places that Debi and I know and love, it would be to late. The time is now. Live before you die.We are gonna take them out and show them the things that are meaningful to us. Weather we are rich or poor( were poor now) we are going to live and go and explore and ramble around like my parents did with me. None of us know what tomorrow brings and I don't want regrets about not bringing them up in the outdoors.Or regrets about not doing all the things you wanted to when you were still able to do them.I want them to have the appreciation for the outdoors and to see some of the beautiful places that I have come to know.

 Best buddies


Future Anglers


 My wife has become quite the steelheader and loves to fish a skated fly...on a single hander no less. Right out of the box on Sunday night after we set up camp, Debi is in one of her favorite runs fishing a skater. She makes about 15 cast and gets a solid yank from a fish that would not come back to anything else. I don't know what it is but she is fishy as all get out. She hasn't fished much at all the last few years and she just has the stuff. I can't explain it. Her fish risen/hooked per hour spent on that river is off the chart.

With action right off the bat I think it may be a sign of things to come. The weather was cooler and cloud cover hung around most of the days we were there. We fished good water well and didn't get another sniff the rest of the night.


 Debi about to get yanked in the rainbow rays(loved the lens flare on this one)
 Debi putting in time( getting to the central structure)
 Monday I fished hard all morning taking my pick of whatever I wanted. Light fishing pressure and some lingering clouds extended the session a bit. After exhausting the pools I had planned for my morning routine, I decided to fish some different stuff. I decided to fish a run that is a very hard cast from a very weird position. You are up on a rock cliff about 15 ft in the air, with rock close behind and all around you. I left the single hander in the truck and opted for the 7130 in this instance. The fish hold out at 80+ft and it's a funky off shoulder cast into the frogwater before the current picks up the fly and moves it into the tail. After getting into the very bottom of the V tail out a fish hammers my surface fly and I'm hooked up. About 15 seconds later, the line slacks and he's gone......with my fly. I reel in and look at my tippet. A nice neat clinch knot still attached and the loop that goes around the eye of the hook had broken. I had heard the sound of my fly hitting a rock down below me on one of my lifts and thought"hum, I better check that" I never did and it cost me a nice fish. Operator error on my part but hey, you live and learn right.Not the first time and certainly not the last time I will loose a fish to some sort of failure in my equipment or a mental error or both. I just like to keep them spread out you know. Up until then I had not lost a fish this summer. I haven't hooked a ton but I was batting a thousand up till then.Oh well, that's fishing.

I rose one more fish before we left and it would not come back....one time Charlie we call them. Overall fishing was tough. We had some chances but couldn't capitalize.There just didn't seem to be a lot of fish around. I looked in some favorite spots as the sun was out and did not see the amount of fish I normally would see. There is a run that I have fished for years that hasn't had a fish holding since June. It always holds fish and it is unexplainable why they aren't there.



I always try and run by and see Lee at Bend pool and see what's up. Lee said even fish in Steamboat Creek are holding in weird places. The plunge pools below the Bend pool Lee watches had more fish in them than I have ever seen. A hundred plus in one and a bunch more in some others.300 or so in Bend pool, a hundred or so below that, probably another hundred scattered on the way up. There could be 500 or so up Steamboat Creek by now. Good to see. Also some amazing specimens. Many in the 15-18lb range, yes summer fish do get that large in the NU. Maybe even 1 or two pushing 20. Kind of makes you weak in the knees looking at them swim around in the crystal clear water. Truly a unique viewing opportunity for native fish not found anywhere else in the world. I have seen a few big fish in my years on the river but that is not a fish that you see on the end of the line very often. I want to pet an 18 or 20 lb NU summer run...just for a minute.



Plunge pool below Bend Pool( hard to see but easily a hundred fish in there)



Fish holding in front of the wall in Bend Pool



A hundred+ fish in the upper end of Bend Pool nosed into the cool water coming from Big Bend Creek



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