Great Grab, October 6, 2010.
Chinook Salmon Binge, November 2010:
The truth, the whole truth, and nuthin’ but…..
Do you ever get tired looking at nothing but hero photos? How about telling the real story about fly fishing for Chinook salmon here in Oregon? Well, here goes.
Here are a couple of weeks down the drain, seriously.
South to Port Orford in the rain.
Juicy stuff, for all you fish science and salmon management geeks out there.
Oregon coastal Chinook are categorized by ODFW into two Species Management Units,the Coastal and Rogue SMU>
These SMUs are further divided into roughly 28 populations of fall run fish, and only nine historical populations of spring run fish (at least two are currently thought to be extinct).
Spring chinook salmon are far less widely distributed than fall run fish, but are not nearly as rare as native runs of summer steelhead in Oregon coastal rivers.
Anyone wonder why spring chinook might be more common than summer steelhead?
Do we fish too much? Is it possible to fish too much?
Nah, you are probably thinking, but have you ever given serious thought to this possibility?
I, for one, know that I do not fish too much, but I wonder if some of my friends have “problems” with fishing. So I decided to develop a questionnaire to help ferret out the few people who might be fishing extremists.
I challenge you all to take the quiz. Don’t be too harsh on yourselves. A few yes answers are perfectly normal. Just how many yes answers might indicate that you have a fishing problem is your decision. Just how many times I answered yes to these questions is none of your dang business.
Here goes, be honest with your therapist.
Do you ever fish alone?
Do you ever fish with others?
Do you take vacation time to go fishing?
Have you ever taken a sick day to go fishing – ever?
Have you ever become irritable when you haven’t been fishing for a few days?
Do you consider 4-wheel drive vehicles, prams, jet sleds, drift boats, and Lowrance Fish Finders as “essential” fishing tackle
Do you ever fantasize about fishing during meetings at your workplace?
Do you fantasize about fishing when drifting off to sleep?
Do you mentally re-enact the day’s events after fishing?
Do you tell fishing stories in normal social settings?
Are your non-fishing days commonly interrupted by phone calls from friends who are a) on the river; b) asking for a fishing report before going on the river; c) reporting the conditions encountered on a recent fishing trip: or d) asking to borrow your boat/truck/spey rod/a dozen flies/Type-3 shooting heads?
Is your Christmas wish-list dominated by fishing items?
Have you ever forgotten an important birthday, anniversary, etc because you were thinking about fishing?
Do you believe that Thanksgiving, Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Martin Luther King Day, are intended to provide fishing opportunities?
Do you feel more at ease in social settings when conversing with other anglers than you do when discussing politics or unemployment rates with normal people?
Do you believe fishing more will make you a better salmon/steelhead angler?
Are names like Lee Wulff, Lefty Kreh, and Jim Teeney familiar?
Does the phrase “Clouser Deep Minnow” and/or “Green Butt Skunk” make you smile?
Do you own tippet nippers? Waders?
Do you think Polaroid sunglasses were originally invented to make it easier to see salmon/steelhead?
Have you read, or heard about, or intend to read The River Y?
Do you want to fish the day after you have had a successful fishing experience?
Do you want to fish the day after you have had an unsuccessful fishing experience?
Have you ever postponed an opportunity for physical intimacy with a partner in order to prepare for a fishing trip?
Have you ever overheard a friend/partner/work associate refer to you as a fishing freak show?
Would you prefer to hang out in a fishing retail store than Home Depot?
Have you ever taken physical risks while fishing (using a graphite fly rod during a thunder storm; fishing from a pram during tornado warnings; negotiating Class V rapids by straddling a log in order to get to a great fishing hole; paddling 30 miles offshore in a float tube, and so on)?
Have you ever wondered if fishing creates disharmony in your personal or professional life?
Do you believe that it is possible to catch a steelhead/salmon during every month of the year?
Have you ever felt moody because you believed that you should have gone fishing last weekend instead of whatever it was that you did?
Have you ever had difficulty concentrating on normal activities the day after/before a fishing trip?
Have you ever continued to fish when injured or ill, because “this could be the day”?
Have you ever spent money on fishing tackle that you should have invested in food, mortgage payment, retirement fund, or repaying a student loan?
Nicholas’ Salmon Fisher’s Journal: Beyond Catch Statistics
It is pretty normal for people who fly fish for Chinook salmon (or steelhead, trout, bass, carp, pogie, tuna bonefish, swordfish, jellyfish, or whatever) to enumerate their catch. They like to be able to tell anyone who cares to listen, just exactly how many fish of this or that sort they caught, and how many they lost on a given day, or over a week, a season, and so on.
Here is how it can sound. “Went 17 for 37 on the Siletz.” “Got six over 30-pounds last week.” “Eight summers by 9 AM; laid around camp all day and then went zero for 13 the same evening. ” And one of my favorites: “Packed 157 pounds of fillets home from Alaska last summer.”
Only a week ago, anchored in a great pool on the River Styx, I listened to a fellow salmon angler as he recounted, and recounted, and recounted – again – days on this same river when he had caught twenty-five kings, or twelve kings, or two forty-pounders on two consecutive casts, or days when it was a salmon on every cast. Every cast.
Sometimes we miss the point entirely when we do this.
I have a friend who invested eleven days into his first chinook on a fly.
He had seen many salmon over those eleven days. He fished and fished, cast and cast, tried and tried. Different pools. Different rivers. Changed flies. Went home and tied new flies. Sunrises on the water. Sunsets. Giant Maple leaves drifting to the river’s surface. Great blue Heron squawking. Kingfishers chattering. Sea run cutthroat romping on his Comets. Silvers following all the way to the rod-tip or just rolling to let him know there were sharing he river.
He experienced eleven days of genuine soul-time on the water, and finally, he caught a king salmon too, a fish he will remember forever.
One day this season, I was alone on the river at daybreak. Kings were waking into the pool below me. They cruised over the shallows into the bucket where I cast my fly.
My heart raced. I had just the right anchor point, just the right fly line, to show my fly to many chrome salmon that morning. Chinook stormed toward me in groups of three, six, and over a dozen or so; some settled into the pool under my fly. Some turned to glide across the shallows and continue upriver.
The day brightened slowly, monochromatic grey of dawn blossoming into a scene splashed with greens and yellows and red and browns; the hull of a sunken blue boat radiant in the morning sun.
Eventually, the salmon calmed, refusing to show themselves.
My day on the river ended without a grab. I had no catch to count on that day; only a precious memory of excitement, anticipation, and an image of salmon all around, preparing to complete their circle of life.
May we all learn to hold these “fishless” days precious as those when we have a catch to count.
The summer steelhead pictured here, just prior to its release, is a hatchery fish that was stocked and caught on the Middle Fork of the Willamette.
The Middle Fork hatchery steelhead program is remarkable from the standpoint that it supports a robust recreational fishery during the spring, summer, and autumn, within minutes of zillions of people who live in the Eugene & Springfield area.
Winter steelhead are not native to the Middle fork, and the naive run of wild spring chinook has been all but erased by the salmon problems associated with Dexter Dam, Lookout Point Dam, and Hills Creek Dam.
This is a preamble to a question: do you ever wonder how many populations of summer and winter steelhead the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife categorizes on the Oregon Coast? The majority of anglers I have met spend most of their time trying to figure out how to catch a steelhead, or how to catch more steelhead, than pondering population classifications and steelhead management policy.
Just to keep the science of steelhead management on the table for anyone who cares to discuss such matters, I assembled the following table that summarizes, as closely as I could, ODFW’s list of native, coastal steelhead populations.
Among the key concepts that this table displays, is that there are two Species Management Units on the Oregon coast,Coastal and Rogue SMUs; but only three native summer steelhead populations, compared to roughly 31 winter steelhead populations.
One could ask whether or not classification of these population units could be informed by more or newer data, but it is clear that native populations of summer steelhead are rare in Oregon coastal rivers, even more rare than the populations of spring-run Chinook classified by ODFW.
FYI, this information was compiled from the ODFW Native Fish Status Report.
Hope you find this interesting.