Public Service Announcements (UAPSA)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that Pacific wild steelhead are facing troubled times: Loss of habitat, over-harvest and fisheries mismanagement are all contributing factors to the decline of this West coast icon.
In order to stop the decline and save these fish from the brink of extinction, we need to understand the issues. Information is powerful medicine.
Wild Reverence “The Plight of the American Wild Steelhead” chronicles one of the most sought after fish on the planet and the severe decline of wild populations with hope and solutions for a wild future.
I was fortunate to see a sneak preview of the film a few months ago at a gathering hosted by the Wild Steelhead Coalition, and I cannot overstate the importance of this film, by Shane Anderson of North Fork Studios.
Watch the trailer HERE.
And then check the schedule for a showing near you:
Bring yourself and a friend. Bring your family. Bring your kids. Perhaps most importantly, bring people who may not be fishermen or have any hint of what’s really happening to our wild fish. Information is power.
Keep the wild, wild.
Wild fish recovery depends on many factors. One of those factors involves hatchery fish, or more specifically, less of them.
A group of anglers, not affiliated with any conservation organization, has pulled together to raise funding to let the folks at the Native Fish Society know that they’ve got support in the face of other groups who oppose the Native Fish Society’s stand on the matter of reducing hatchery fish.
The Adipose Pledge can be your way of sending a message of support for wild fish. Consider taking the pledge, HERE.
And thank you for your time.
I didn’t even know there was a 60 Minutes of the sporting world until I heard of an upcoming episode featuring April Vokey.
I promise you I am not posting this for the sole purpose of boosting my Google Stats. I honestly feel that this episode of 60 Minutes Sports is something the readers of the Unaccomplished Angler may enjoy seeing. If you’re like me, however, you won’t get to see it because you don’t subscribe to Showtime. If anyone out there does get Showtime, could you please record it on your VHS and send me a copy of the tape? I’d appreciate it. But please, no Betamax—that technology is so 1975.
Episode airs November 6th at 10PM Eastern/Pacific
As a friendly gesture you can Tip your Hat (a good thing).
As a show of appreciation you can Tip your Waiter (provided they’re deserving of it).
You can also Tip your Boat (generally not a good thing).
Now you can Tip the Big Hole River, and that’s a very good thing.
A fundraiser is being hosted to benefit the Big Hole Watershed Committee.
My buddy Joe Willauer who resides over Evolution Anglers writes:
Introducing the first annual Big Hole Watershed Committee “Tip the Big Hole” fundraising event, June 22nd at the Sunrise Fly Shop in Melrose, MT. For the event every guide on the Big Hole that signs up to participate will be donating their tip from the day to the Big Hole Watershed Committee. These funds will be used to aid in the upkeep and maintenance of the in-stream flow monitoring gages. These gages are routinely used by the fishing and guiding community, and are essential to the river management. Reps from the biggest companies in the industry will have booths set up including Simms, Scott, Winston, Rising Tools as well as Montana FWP and many others. Dinner will be provided to all participating guides and for purchase to anybody who stops by. Donations from everyone on the river that day is encouraged, all you have to do is stop by the Big Hole Watershed Committee booth. All participating guides will also get a gift bag, event t-shirt, free beer and entered into a raffle. If you are in the Melrose area, make sure to come by and see what’s going on, grab a mule at the hitching post, and help give back to the Big Hole River and the Big Hole Watershed Committee.Keep checking back here and the Facebook event page for more info as the date gets closer.
WHEN: June 22, 3-7p.m.
WHERE: Sunrise Fly Shop. Melrose, MT
WHO: Guides will be donating their tips, but everybody is invited to show up, meet some great people and enjoy the BBQ and festivities and help contribute to the Big Hole River.
WHY: To raise money for the Big Hole Watershed Committee to support the USGS river gages
MORE INFO: http://bhwc.org/events/tip-the-big-hole/ or email me: joe (at) evoanglers (dot) com
The Skagit River in my home state of Washington probably needs little introduction. After all, even if you live on the other side of the world you’ve probably heard of Skagit casting and Skagit lines for Spey and switch rods. In the event that you’re still not familiar with the Skagit our good friends at Wikipedia offer a thorough description HERE.
The Skagit is a vast river system historically held in high acclaim among anglers as a destination fishery for wild steelhead. It wasn’t many decades ago that steelhead runs were plentiful throughout all rivers in this damp corner of the United States, but unfortunately the cumulative effects from overharvest, habitat loss and other environmental factors have not been kind to these fish. Wild Pacific Northwest steelhead have since been listed under the Endangered Species Act because their populations are either endangered or threatened.
While many Pacific Northwest rivers have greatly diminished runs of wild steelhead, the Skagit runs remain comparatively strong. That’s not to say that Skagit fish numbers aren’t down from historical peaks, but on its own the Skagit probably would not have been listed under the ESA.
Until 2010 a catch-and-release (C&R) season used to run through the end of April on the Skagit system. What used to be a wonderful time of year for anglers on the Skagit and it’s most notable tributary, the Sauk, is a thing of the past due to closures by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The Osprey Steelhead News does a very good job of detailing this whole matter.
After reviewing the evidence used by WDFW to justify the closure it is the belief of the grassroots Occupy Skagit movement that the evidence is flawed; that a well-managed, catch-and-release (C&R) season on the Skagit would not be inconsistent with the recovery of its wild winter steelhead.
Rather than reguritate (poorly, I might add) the information, I am posting here a piece written by an Occupy Skagit member to answer the many questions posed by fellow steelhead anglers on a Northwest online bulletin board.
It’s pretty clear to those of us who fish that no fish ever benefited by being hooked and caught by an angler. Complete preservation, of fish and their habitat, is the perfect solution from a fish’s point of view. But Occupy Skagit (OS) is not about the fish’s point of view.
OS is about steelheaders who would rather fish than see their favorite river closed to fishing forevermore. Realistically, that is the present outlook simply because there is no plan to ever open the Skagit to fishing for wild steelhead again. OS is about developing such a plan, as soon as possible, so that anglers may fish the Skagit again in their lifetimes.
The concept that we must let the fish recover before we can fish for them again is a discussion based on false assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Wild Skagit steelhead are a population in no particular need of recovery. “What?” you say, “It’s consistently produced run sizes lower than the escapement goal.” But that’s not the whole story.
Wild Skagit steelhead are the most abundant in Puget Sound. Since 1978, the run size has averaged 7,822 fish, ranging from a low of around 2,600 to a high of 16,000. The spawning escapement has averaged 6,857 steelhead after harvest, both incidental and directed. As far as anyone can know for certain, this variation in population size is completely normal. There are good years, and there are bad years. Freshwater floods and droughts limit the out-migrating smolt population from year to year. The freshwater habitat has not really changed much in the last 30 years. Some parts have degraded further, and some parts have improved. On balance, it would be hard to quantify any significant change. And marine survival factors limit the percentage of smolts that survive to adulthood and return from the ocean each year. Given what we know about run sizes and escapement over a more than 30-year period, there is no logical reason to believe that wild Skagit steelhead runs will ever consistently average above the present spawning escapement floor value.
The escapement goal is an artifact of uncertainty. The aggregate model that escapement goals were developed from in the 1980s calculated a Skagit spawning escapement goal far above 20,000. Since that seemed impractable and unrealistic, biologists rather arbitrarily picked 10,000 as an escapement guideline. In the 1980s, when marine survival was higher than it is now, that value appeared realistic. As more data were collected and analyzed, it was apparent that the Maximum Sustained Yield / Maximum Sustained Harvest escapement goal would be much lower, slightly less than 4,000. That seems low for such a large river basin, so the co-managers settled on 6,000 as a buffered escapement floor for some interim period. The take-home message in this paragraph is that no relationship exists between the Skagit wild steelhead spawning escapement goal and the actual productivity and capacity of the Skagit River basin to produce steelhead. Please re-read the last sentence and be certain that you understand it.
The last paragraph means that the Skagit wild steelhead spawning escapement goal is arbitrary, and possibly capricious. It’s meaning is primarily make-believe then. This leads me to the question of for what purpose are Skagit steelhead managed? Is it strictly species preservation, like a petting zoo, except you can’t actually pet the animals? Or is the purpose to conserve the population for the mutual long-term benefit of the species as well as human social and economic benefits. If the purpose is the former, then the present course is the one to stay on. If the latter, then a change is required.
A reinstatement of the previous C&R season will require a petition from WDFW to the National Marine Fisheries Service for a permit that establishes basin-specific allowable impacts (as is currently being done with Puget Sound Chinook).
To bring attention to this matter Occupy Skagit is calling for as many anglers as possible to turn out on April 6th and cast hookless chunks of yarn into the waters of the Skagit and Sauk rivers. The plan is to meet at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, WA at 9 AM. For more information visit the Occupy Skagit Facebook Page:
Sometimes you have to dump a little tea into the harbor…