Bolgosphere Questions & Answers from the Netherworld May 2010 Part 1

Bolgosphere Questions & Answers from the Netherworld May 2010 Part 1

It is interesting, funny sometimes, to see the Google searches that bring people to my website.  Thought I’d try to answer the questions some of these folks seem to be asking.  This is part one of five. Have fun, and keep the questions coming.

Q: Bad hatchery fish

A:  I ain’t ever heard of a bad fish, only people who miss-use fish.  It’s sorta like guns – guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  Hatchery fish don’t hurt rivers, people hurt rivers.  Hatchery fish don’t force people to over-harvest wild salmon runs; people use hatchery fish as an excuse to over-harvest wild runs.  Hatchery fish can hurt wild fish, but it isn’t the fault of the hatchery fish, it is the fault of poorly conceived hatchery fish programs implemented by people.  Point is, fish are not bad or good, they are simply fish.  Even an exotic, invasive fish species is not to blame for its presence in a place where it may do some harm.  Fish are just trying to survive, be they wild or hatchery fish.  If there is room for improvement, to make a step on the path from relatively “bad” to relatively “less bad” it is in the hearts of people to take these steps.  Let’s try not to blame fish for human frailty.

Q:  Bad fish

A:  This is a fish or many such fish that has or have been left unattended in the back of a pickup, in a gunny sack under the boat seat, in the refrigerator, or even in the freezer about one nanosecond longer that good sense would have indicated.  This is indeed “bad” fish, because it will taste really FISHY, like plywood, like the barf-pile your cat hucked-up this morning, or worse.  Please, people, do not become one of those responsible for the creation and waste of “bad” fish.

Q: Bad fish

A:  Farmed salmon or steelhead are indeed bad fish.  Can you spell boycott?

Q:  Best places to catch shiner perch in san Francisco

A:  Dunno about the best places these days.  Just know that I caught shiner perch by the bucket-full near the Presidio in the late 1950s.  Visited the same places recently.  No one was fishing.  No one.  No kids.  No old guys.  Maybe it was a bad tide.  Hope so.

Q:  Big steelhead flies

A:  See also big-ass-steelhead flies. Sometimes bigger is better.  Size matters.  Sometimes, the big fly will trigger the savage take where a small fly would not.  Sometimes, though, the big fly will trigger only interest, a move, a look, or even a swipe, but will not be eaten by the salmon or steelhead.  In these cases, the smallish fly might be neatly inhaled by the very same fish that would not eat the biggie.  Go figure.  Names given to steelhead flies do not necessarily denote size of said fly.  for example, the Polar Shrimp is usually tied in sizes larger than 7/o.

Q:  Burkheimer steelhead rod

A:  Buy these right now.  Sell everything you have to do the deal.  Mortgage your home.  You can live out of the back of your truck. your family, who will surely disown you, will go live with relatives and friends who love them more than fly rods.  Kerry Burkheimer’s fly rods are marvelous works of art that do, in fact, fish like they sprang up from the river.  There are many, many good rods on the market these days.  Burkeimer fly rods are the best.  Note that I make this assertion knowing in my heart that I am an opinionated, non-techno-weenie-rod-spec-wizzard.  I do know that these fly rods are steeped in one man’s personal creativity and attention to detail.  Kerry Burkheimer’s fly rods are born to be loved, not simply fished.  Kerry has fiddled and labored over his designs.  He might have come into the shop and wrapped a different 3rd section to adjust the grain window of a rod for a customer in Norway, or Gold Beach, for that matter. He builds fly rods that are little tiny sweet 3 wts. for small stream trout – up to at least an 18’3″ spey rod destined for Norwegian monster Atlantic Salmon.  BTW, I saw Whitney’s rod at Kerry’s shop recently.  Very nice pink accents on the Handle.   I fish Burkheimer fly rods, including the 7134-4 in the photo above.  Burkheimer fly rods inspire me to be a better caster and a better fly fisher.  A better man?  No.  Silly head. Nothing we can buy can ever make us  better men or women.  For all the pleasure I feel when I fish one of Kerry’s creations, I know, at the end of the day, it is entirely up to me to have lived well, and that I could live as well with a 99.99 complete fishing outfit and a can of worms as with my Burkie.  That said, I will still fish my Burkheimer fly rods with great joy as long as I am fortunate enough not to have to burn them in the fireplace to roast mice for dinner to feed my family.

Q:  Can fish hatcheries be bad?

A:  Bad for wild fish? Yes they can.  So much depends on the interconnections of the hatcheries, the hatchery fish, the river ecology, and the fish management policies related to thinking that humans are smarter than Mother Nature.  Let’s turn this around; can fish hatcheries be good for wild fish?  Difficult.  Probably,  but only in specific situations.  Like in rivers where salmon and steelhead were virtually extinguished by human activities like dams, water withdrawals, habitat destruction, over fishing, or whatever.  When there is no salmon run left in the river, a hatchery program may be the only way, in our lifetime, to get these fish back into the water.  Can fish hatcheries be good for fishing?  Absolutely yes. In some cases, hatchery fish are the only salmon, steelhead or trout available to fish for.  This is especially the case where fish runs have been destroyed by dams, pollution, water withdrawals, and so on.  Rather than depend only on this short answer to a Google enquiry, kindly understand that the issue of fish hatcheries is complicated.  Except for fish farms. I am quite opinionated on this subject.  I have read a lot.  I am very much, completely, totally opposed to fish farms in the estuaries and oceans.  I am talking about salmon here.  Don’t know about tuna or whatever.  Salmon farms are a terrible insult to the environment and to the wild fish in nearby rivers, and to the consumer.  These things represent, I think, the worst of confined feeding food production.  I have friends who get sick when they accidentally eat farmed salmon.  Wild salmon have survived more or less, with all sorts of fish hatcheries around the Pacific Northwest for over a century.  These hatchery programs have been irrelevant, detrimental, or rarely, beneficial to wild salmon.  Fish farms, in contrast, embody the most foul and dangerous threat to wild salmon and steelhead in this part of the world.  Boycott farmed salmon, please.


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