It’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. – Mark Twain
For the second time in as many columns, Gary Lewis demonstrated that he has not read Mark Twain. Mr. Lewis is great at describing trips where guides take him fishing but he has an inexplicable need to comment on issues he does not understand. His latest column has this statement about steelhead fishing:
There are not as many good summer run rivers in Oregon as there used to be, as hatchery managers have ratcheted back on the good times we enjoyed in the 1980s and ‘90s. Did we have too much fun then and now we have to work harder for our fish? Guess so.
Seriously? The problem with steelhead returns is hatchery managers who want to take away good times? I am simply dumbfounded. What about dams blocking fish passage to spawning grounds, lack of rearing habitat, pollution, over fishing, a warming planet that is making both rivers and the ocean inhospitable to cold water water species, etc.? What rock is he living under?
Hatcheries continue to pump out huge numbers of fish, but if those fish can’t survive in the ocean due to high temperatures, acidification, and lack of food, then they won’t grow up to come back. If Mr. Lewis were paying attention, he would know that the ocean conditions have recently improved, at least temporarily, and steelhead returns have been much better this summer than anticipated.
There is no doubt that hatcheries in the State of Oregon continue to operate at high production. In spite of this, adult anadromous fish returns continue to trend down, although this year has seen a slight improvement over recent years. Even a cursory review of the facts would have informed Mr. Lewis of this.