Tuesday, May 17, 2011

End of the Road

Well it's been a while now since I've update the blog. The dearth of updates is the product of a variety of factors, but mostly lots of other things going on and lack of inspiration to write interesting pieces. Seeing as I can't honestly say that the situation will be any different in the near future I think its best to bring this chapter to an end rather than letting the blog die a slow death from indifference and neglect. Suffice it to say its been really fun writing this, hopefully some of you have enjoyed reading, and maybe gained something deeper, a connection to the fish, the sport and the people that love them both. I will leave you with this thought, themes which have appeared often over the last year plus...

I honestly believe there is a future for wild salmon and steelhead in the Northwest, and a future for our sport. That future however is one which we actively shape every day, wild fish need our voice but perhaps more importantly we need them. Without wild salmon and steelhead our sport will wither and die, unable to be sustained in any recognizable form by the hatchery counterfits and the types of fisheries they support. As anglers it is incumbent upon us to never lose sight of that fact, to demand more of our resource managers, our fellow anglers and most importantly ourselves. The river is our temple, let us not desecrate it with disrespect. Let us cherish it, protect it and always seek to understand it. Through that understanding we gain a view into something greater than ourselves, something that has always been and, god willing always will be. The river is the pulse of the land, the vitality which is drawn from the age old rocks and mountains, the ancient trees and the water which has forever run to the sea. The salmon and especially the steelhead give us and a momentary glimpse into that world. A bastion of natures wild perfection in our chaotic and mechanized world. Their beauty, power and stamina are a reminder of why we love them and of their fragility. The future is in our hands, long live the wild fish.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Curse of the Banana

Steelheaders are understandably a superstitious bunch. Trying to provoke a grab one of the most ghostlike mysterious freshwater fish on the planet with a fly, when they aren't even actively feeding will do that. and when most of us catch only a handful of fish in a given season, we're looking for any little bit of luck we can get. Matt Klara's column for sexy loops this week on fishing superstitions got me thinking about my own superstitions surrounding fishing. I have a few but perhaps the most important is, never bring bananas fishing. I wont even touch them for 24 hours before a trip, wouldn't want to carry any bad mojo with me on the road. So a couple weeks back when my friend Jon Moore showed up for a day of fishing with a banana I was concerned. Apparently he was unaware of the fact that bringing a bananas is a surefire way to ensure that you have a fishless day on the river. The damage was done though and after a good natured ribbing we strung up the rods and started fishing. It wasn't 10 minutes before Jon had hooked and lost a fish on his first day EVER speycating. Needless to say I was feeling a little sheepish.

Flash forward two weeks. Yesterday back on the same river, his 4th day of fishing the two-hander. After a quiet morning I went back tot he truck while he went down river to fish another run. Grabbing sandwiches from his bag I reached in and, gasp another banana. For a superstitious steelhead bum like myself this is when the horror movie sound track starts. Oh god, this day might as well be over. He brought a banana again AND now I'd touched it. Anyways, trying to get over the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I tossed the sandwiches in my backpack and headed back to the river to meet Jon. In the next run, a sweet, long piece of water with two foot chunks of grantie interspersed throuhout I set Jon in the bottom half and started at the top. Ten minutes later it was deja vu all over again, him with a hot fish jumping on the end of the line, me feeling incredulous that my banana superstition didn't seem to apply to him.

The thing is, the fish ended up coming unpinned and I didn't touch anything either of the two days. So perhaps the curse of the banana is real after all. The only way to truly establish the credibility of the ancient and feared banana curse is to put it to the test by swinging a fish while dangling a banana in the water from your wading belt. Of course to do such a thing is to risk death or worse, bad steelhead karma...Klara are you game?

Monday, April 25, 2011

This is it

Last week of April and we're nearing the end of steelhead season. Depending on the weather we may occasionally get a week or two of May before runoff starts full force but that of course remains to be seen. What is true though is that we've had one of the coldest springs that anyone can remember, keeping the snow largely locked in the mountains up to now. Normally by this time run off has started, slowly at first but enough to keep the river flush with water and that beautiful green color of spring steelhead water. There's been some fish around, we'll have to see what we can find tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back From the Hinterlands

With a few photos from last weeks trip north. should be a great summer, more soon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Luck

I had the pleasure of fishing yesterday with Jon Moore, new faculty in our biology department. Jon is a salmon enthusiast who like myself, spent several years at UW fisheries. He also happens to be an avid steelheader. Having just moved to BC, he's been in the market for a two handed rod for sometime, so yesterday, finally having his new T&T 1307 in hand, lined up and ready for the river we decided to get out for a day of fishing, casting and bullshitting. Starting the day at a nice long run that fishes from river left we spent the first 15 minutes practicing the snap-t and before long Jon was making casts in the 50 foot range and fishing well. Seeing that he'd gotten comfortable enough casting to be left to his own devices I started to wander off upriver but before I could go more than 30 yards he let out a whoop. I turned around just in time to see his rod doubled over, pulsing with the weight of a fish. Then as quickly as it had happened, the fish was gone, unseen but memorable none the less. Hooking a winter fish on your first day of spey casting is certainly not the norm, but there's nothing like a little taste of luck to plant the seed of addiction.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BC Government DFO Gone Awry

As the Cohen commission has progressed its been a bit like watching a sad train wreck. The BC government and DFO have long been boosters for the aquaculture industry, most of which is foreign owned, but their behavior of late has crossed a line in attempts to shield the industry from scrutiny from the public. No longer are they simply ignoring the effects that salmon farming is having on wild fish throughout the Georgia Basin, now they're covering it up.

A major publication by a DFO researcher and a group of collaborators recently revealed that a viral pathogen, likely salmon leukemia, is having devastating effects on Fraser Sockeye with as much as 95% of some components of the run dying before they reach the spawning grounds. Since the publication she has not been allowed to speak to the media and so far DFO refuses to test salmon farms( a likely vector and breeding ground for any disease) for salmon leukemia.

Recently, when asked to furnish disease records for the Cohen commissions inquiry into the Fraser Sockeye collapse the government declined, saying the records, do not include information about the location of the sampling and are there for irrelevant. First of all, I don't buy it. No one has seen the records save for a few attorneys and the BC government, but who honestly collects data without noting their location? If someone who is trained as a scientist did collect information in such a fashion they certainly did it for a reason. And guess who the province trotted out to announce they wouldn't be releasing court ordered disease records? Gary Marty, the esteemed veterinary scientist who recently found it within his area of expertise to publish a paper using proprietary industry sea lice data which dubiously claimed that population collapses of Broughton Archipelago pink salmon were not caused by lice. Not only that, but rather than face the very obvious conflict of interest head on he chose to publish the paper through a faculty posting he has at UC Davis, oh but by the way he's a fish pathologist with the BC ministry of agrniculture when it comes to shielding fish farming companies from public scrutiny. I suppose that's out of UC Davis' mandate.

All of this stinks it is becoming increasingly apparent that the BC government and DFO and really just bullshit machines intent on allowing open net pen salmon farming to continue unchecked in the provinces waters. We've already seen collapses of multiple species throughout the Georgia Basin concurrent with the expansion of the fishfarming industry, doesn't that alone warrant good hard scientific look at the impact of fish farms? And the sad fact is the industry could very easily be making money in closed containment, on land, they just dont want to. So instead foreign owned fish farming companies (mostly Norwegian) are happy to place BC's public resources at risk, biding their time until one day, hopefully in the near future, they cut and run. Lets just hope the devastation isn't as bad as what they've left in Chile, Norway, Ireland and basically everywhere else they're gone.