I was wandering around various angling conservation websites and came across “How does catch and release affect steelhead?” on the Wild Steelhead Coalition website. It was a summary of a study done on the Bulkley River in British Columbia. The primary takeaways for me are that I will continue to avoid steelheading on the Deschutes for now and I need to start using a net. Like many fly anglers, I land a steelhead by bringing it close enough to grab by the tail before removing the hook. The study showed that “tailed” fish had higher levels of stress than netted fish.Read More »
The following is a guest column I submitted to the Bend Bulletin a while back but which has not been published. It is a summary of some recent blog posts that I believe are worth further exposure in a timely manner.
Last year was one of the poorest on record for steelhead in the Deschutes. After some initial optimism for a modest rebound, the forecast for returns this season has been lowered to be even worse. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has now closed the entire Columbia River and lower John Day River to steelhead retention. ODFW went further and asked anglers to avoid steelhead fishing altogether for the remainder of the year. Wild steelhead are currently on a path to extinction in the Deschutes and entire Columbia Basin.Read More »
After 10 years of effort it is clear that the current approach to reintroducing anadromous fish into the upper Deschutes Basin above the Pelton Round Butte project is not producing acceptable results. Fisheries managers acknowledge this but often state that it will take more time. They reply that it has been over 50 years since these fish were cut off from their traditional spawning grounds and reintroduction is a complex problem. This is true, but I believe the current dire state of steelhead returns to the Deschutes River should provide impetus to take bolder action. This is a long post, but worth reading if you care about the future of steelhead in the Deschutes River.Read More »
Long time fisheries activist Jim Myron, now working with The Conservation Angler, wrote to inform me of an Oregon state law that is relevant to my most recent post about the immorality of fishing for steelhead on the Deschutes at this point in time.
ORS 496.012 requires the state to “prevent serious depletion of any indigenous species…” This has gone way beyond serious depletion and we are looking at extinction on the horizon.
As local anglers know, the 2017/2018 steelhead season was bleak, adult returns were one of the lowest on record. After some initial optimism for at least a modest rebound, this season now looks to be even worse. A few days ago Oregon and Washington lowered their forecast for returns and closed the Columbia River and parts of some tributaries to steelhead fishing for the rest of the year. We anglers are now faced with a moral issue: even if most of the Deschutes remains open, can we afford to further stress and potentially kill the small numbers of wild fish that do return? See below to make your own informed decision.Read More »
I got back from my latest fishing excursion (that’s a measured 27” wild, native rainbow trout) and saw The Bulletin published an editorial last Friday about the Deschutes River Alliance’s lawsuit being dismissed. What bothered me in their editorial was the use of the DRA’s tagline of cooler, cleaner water for the Deschutes. The facts on this topic are well established. The quantity of water in Lake Billy Chinook is not sufficient to keep the lower Deschutes “cooler” for the entire summer and “cleaner” is largely a function of agricultural and urban water runoff. Read More »
The Deschutes River Alliance has argued for years that PGE/CTWS’s attempt to reintroduce anadromous fish into the upper Deschutes Basin has harmed the Deschutes River below the Pelton Round Butte complex of dams. As part of their advocacy the DRA brought a lawsuit against PGE/CTWS claiming that the project violated the Clean Water Act. On Monday the suit was dismissed for lacking “material fact”. Read More »