Jay’s Salmon Fisher’s Journal.
May 8, 2010 –
Too much time at the computer. Conference calls. Meetings. Endless repetition of the obvious. Time to go fishing, yes?
I head for the coast. It is early in the season, but time to get on the water. One guide caught 6 spring Chinook on the South Santiam two days ago – but he won’t go back – Not worth the drive for six lousy fish. He’s going to the Willamette (shush) where one can catch 10 – 14 fish by 10 AM.
So where am I going? Not the Santiam. Not for 6 lousy fish. Not to the Willamette. Nope, I’m going to the coast. Smart, that’s what I am. Cagey. Sneaky Pete, one friend calls me. I head for the place where no one else fishes springers, because they don’t live there.
At the boat ramp early.
Fish and fish.
Dear Simms Product Development Engineers: I love my Headwaters Sling Pack. Really do. That said, I respectfully suggest that you consider offering an entry-level tackle container, pictured above. This is simple yet functional. Put gear in the top, and remove when needed. This tackle container stands ready on the boat seat for instant access. All you would need to do is slap a Simms sticker on the side and this gem is ready to stock at every fly shop in the world. You wouldn’t even need to manufacture these. Just go to any recycling center in Oregon and retrieve all shapes and sizes of these handy containers. You could offer said containers with lids for winter use and without lids for summer use. Bet there would be a tidy profit margin in this product. You’re welcome.
Also, while we are talking about your fine sling pack, I have another suggestion. It has come to my attention that this pack is just a little less than satisfactory as a platform for Safeway take-out Chinese entrée specials. True, the pack worked just fine to provide access to my lunch tray when placed on a level surface. However, I found that the tray kept slipping off when I tried to actually wear the sling pack and keep my lunch handy atop the pack, thusly facilitating eating while casting and swinging my fly through the fishless waters.
Perhaps the addition of geometrically dispersed suction cups atop the sling pack might solve this problem and enhance the functionality of the product greatly. I was able to easily access leaders, ear-hair trimmer, and rotenone from the two front pockets while eating and casting, but the tray was constantly threatening to slip off the top of the pack, and this slowed me down just a tad.
An elastic drink holder on the side of the pack would also be nice. I suggest design to accommodate the medium drink, not the 64 oz cup.
Happy to offer constructive suggestions. In the meantime, I remain a loyal customer, hoping to help in some small way, as you steadfastly work to develop even cuttinger edgier products as each day dawns.
I fished and fished, in the location pictured above, as I aforely mentioned. This is the location where a spring Chinook was reportedly caught seventeen years ago. Local anglers troll by and smile. We get checked for life jackets and fishing licenses. I can hear them over the hum of outboards. Poor fellow, they lament. Can’t even afford a real boat, or some decent bait.
My friend and I tell stories. Fish tales. Springers will be on the grab any minute now. Great swinging water. Lots of baby salmon in the water this year. Cormorants chasing smolts. hope for three good run years, like the late 80s and early 2000s, just one more time in our lifetime.
And our women. They surely must love us, although we wonder why. They tolerate us, most of the time. Not all the time, though. We lower our heads; conversation screeches to halt. We gaze at the water in silence. Not all the time, we say, again.
We shake our heads and cast again.
Me? No grabs. While delirious gazing into sun with a 35 knot wind howling in from the ocean, I thought I saw a springer roll. Probably not.
Oh yeah, almost forgot – – – – –
A full century of practical experience, supported by a growing body of carefully phrased “new” or “emerging” science is speaking to us.
Steadfastly, we fail to listen.
Hatcheries – alone – cannot sustain humankind’s relationship with salmon, and hatchery salmon are poor substitutes for wild rivers and wild salmon.
Hatcheries – contrary to social expectations, legislative mandates, stakeholder demands, agency goals, scientific research, and adaptive management – have not made the world “right.”
And hatcheries, bless them all, can only accomplish a little of what humans and salmon deserve.
We – every nation that shares a salmon heritage, and every human soul who loves salmon – need to change the game. We need to move wild salmon – and the interests of wild salmon – to the head of the line. First in our heart, first in our intellect, and first in our management decisions.
Before I draw the tough roadmap, I want to share a thought.
We should agree that our commitment to honor mitigation promises with hatchery salmon is legitimate and will continue – coupled with efforts to restore natural salmon runs in places where such hope is viable.
One example. A dam was constructed on the Middle fork of the Willamette. This dam exterminated a run of wild spring Chinook that spawned above the dam for thousands of years. Society owes salmon to the Middle Fork, even if they will always be hatchery salmon, even if they are very expensive to produce.
A second example: Spring Chinook and Coho salmon, at least, were exterminated in the Umatilla River by water withdrawals. Efforts are underway to reestablish natural runs of salmon in the Umatilla. The tribes, the river, and our children deserve our best efforts to restore runs of salmon here – and in many other places.
Now, the roadmap.
I ask you to thoughtfully consider the following actions.
I ask you to consider each of these actions and then answer: “Why not?”
- First: stop building new hatcheries.
- Second: reduce the impacts of existing hatcheries on wild salmon runs.
- Third: establish wild fish protection zones.
- Finally: identify and protect a network of salmon strongholds – distributed around the Pacific Rim – from the adverse effects of habitat degradation, over-fishing, and hatchery fish.
Our collective failure to act decisively – to do more than timidly re-frame what we are already doing – will drive salmon deeper into decline – to a level at which salmon will likely become ecologically and culturally irrelevant.