Salmon Conservation Glossary, March 14, 2011

Salmon Conservation Terms to know and love……..

Nicholas’ Fly Fishing Glossary, March 14, 2011

Introduction:  Lots of band-width lately on the topic of wild fish conservation. “There must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief, there’s too much confusion, can’t get no relief” ——- so what the hey, my brain feels like I’m gonna explode.  How can anyone make sense of all the trash talk.  Yes, trash talk.  Factoids and figureoids and statistical relavancies and hyperbolic stock rectuitment relationships and no one to sort out which Boomer is the real Boomer and is Starbuck really the angel of destruction?

Never fear.  Here is Nicholas’  official salmon conservationist’s conservation glossary.  These terms are defined by me, personally, based on the truth, the best available rumor, and pure speculation.  Any disagreement with the views expressed here will be a relief.  Any agreement will be retrospected severely and such agreeable persons shall be sent to Triangle Lake to fish for Bluegill with K-7 Kwikfish.


Alleged surplus: the fish management (in Oregon, naturally, this means ODFW) agency knows darn well that there will not be enough salmon, steelhead, or carp to allow any fishery whatsoever, so it issues inflated run size predictions to justify said fishery.  This is  transparent naughtiness that creates declining baseboards and leads rather quickly to failed Iraq exit strategies.

Backroom deals:  all management decisions by state and federal fish agencies are sweetheart, good-old-boy horse-trades.  They (the management decisions) also smell bad.

Best available sciencemy science.

Collusion: insider trading, a common practice for all bureaucrats employed by state and federal fish agencies.

Credible information: a) believable, truthful, immaculate certainty; and b)  any information that supports a specific stakeholder or user group’s self interest and value system.

Crimes against the planet:  any fish management decisions/policies contrary to one’s value/belief systems.  See also best available science.  Note here that salmon, steelhead, trout, and carp management decisions by state and federal agencies constitute more egregious misdeeds than child slavery, starvation,  torture, and genocide around the world.  Worse than hanging chads too.  What would the world look like today if Big Al had been elected Prez?

Denials: all press releases, reports, and interviews issued by government fish managers are essentially denials of stuff that anyone knows to be true, and is not based on the best available science.

Declining baseline:  This occurs when one hires an inept carpenter to install carpet, wood, or such floor covering and is unable to get the baseboard parallel to the ceiling. Which should be easy to do but is not achieved, thusly creating the appearance that one has had too much to drink or is ready for the funny farm.

Ohhhhhhh.  Sorry, you meant baseline not baseboard.  A declining baseline is created by slyly adjusting downward any salmon escapement goal or estimate of salmon production potential.  This practice has resulted in state and federal fish agencies asserting that a run of 26.5 chinook salmon to the Columbia River basin would create a dangerous “over-escapement” and depress survival because of density-dependent mortality as predicted by a Reagan Stock Exchange Equation.

Desperate attempt: this describes practically any policy or action by a fish management agency to do anything.  These bureaucrats are so inept that they commonly resort to “desperate” attempts to complete such ordinary things as putting on shoes, making coffee, walking, answering the phone, or explaining why they have plotted the extinction of native wild salmon and steelhead populations throughout the region.

Documented evidence:  we know there is a clever conspiracy behind the vast majority of state and federal fish agency’s decisions; fortunately, there is documented evidence of this.

Dubious escapement goal: whatever the goal, it is obviously wrong, the books were cooked  to come up with this goal, which is either too high or too low, depending on your point of view.

ESA: Especially Suspicious Act.  This is a federal law that was established to a) steal property, wealth and suchsoever from private property owners; b) create the false impression that salmon, steelhead, tweety birds, salamanders and jock rash are likely to exceed the ocean’s productive capacity; c) keep fish biologists, lawyers,  and trust fund hippies employed; d) increase federal funding for NOAA; e) justify spending zillions of dollars on hatcheries; f) encourage offshore oil leases.  Sorry, I thought this was a multiple choice exam.

Escapement predictions:  the likelihood that any policy or management decision by a state or federal fish agency will escape moral criticism: specifically,   zero.

Extinction:  no more salmon, steelhead, trout, carp or whatever.  Extinction as planned by fish management agencies will be achieved in the immediate future, eventually, and might be actual or virtual extinction.

Failed management: any action that fails to do what it was supposed to do.  This is a tricky concept, because every fish management agency intends to act in collusion, fail to use the best available science, and achieve at least virtual extinction.  Get it?  if the goal is to do something bad but the agency fails to achieve badness, does it follow that it achieves goodness, uses best available science (if only by ineptitude), or so on?  Dude, is this like  a double negative?

Gross negligence:  any action by any state or federal fish management agency; a deliberate boo-boo.

Management failure: see Policy failure:  more stupidity and ineptitude going on here.

Misguided regulations:  these regulations will cause a calamity and the opposite result from the stated outcome.  Misguided regulations elicit less serious consequences than unthinkable alternatives or extinction, usually.

Mismanagement:  really really stupid actions, plus quite possibly some obfuscation to save face.

NOAA:  Acronym for a federal agency that is Not Ordinarily Accountable for actually recovering depleted and estranged Pacific salmon species.  The principal function of NOAA is to produce brochures and convene scientific woodworking panels and solicit public comment on the global climate initiative.

ODFW:  Oregon Department of Fish And Wildlife.  This state agency, modeled after the even worse WDFW, is charged with the responsibility to mismanage salmon, steelhead, and wildlife, so help me, until they are all gone bye-bye and we have only hatchery propagated anchovies to fly fish for.  Personally, I am tying anchovy flies this week, just to be ready.

Premeditated:  planned in advance.  State and federal fish management agencies are committed to premeditated implementation of failed management, collusion, gross negligence, and installing declining baseboards.  Government minions gather at their offices, feed from the public hog-trough, and make detailed plans regarding how to mess with someone’s heart, soul, and livelihood.  Every day, folks, it’s just how it is: premeditated.

Policy failure:  The agency messed up and made a stupid choice, sold out to the Legislature/Congress, or tried to save its ass.

Prudent management: action that supports one’s personal value/belief system.

Run size predictions:  A government assertion regarding the number of salmon, steelhead, trout, or carp that is expected to return from the ocean in a given year.  This number is predictably (ha ha) falsely represented as far higher or far lower than any sensible person knows to be the truth, depending (of course) on one’s value/belief systems.  For example, sometimes the government grossly overstates the number of salmon that will return from the sea, simply so as to permit fishers to drive the species, run, and so on, to extinction (see for example, immediate extinction).  Otherwise, the government will grossly understate the actual number of salmon that it knows darn-well that will return from the sea, for the diabolical purpose of bankrupting the good people who depend on fishing for their livelihoods, thus increasing incidents of domestic violence, alcoholism, drug use, hatchery budgets, and general societal despair.

Sacrifice river:  a river where one’s value systems are not being implemented fully.

The greatest management blunder in modern historySee crimes against the planet.

Unthinkable alternative: this will lead to the end of the world as we know it.  Cover the children’s eyes.  Head for the bomb shelter.  Kiss yer ass bye-bye.


Post Script

Sorry, dear friends; I just couldn’t help myself.   No intention of trivializing the genuine conservation challenges wild Pacific salmon face.  Just sick to the heart of seeing people eye-poking and overdramatizing.  If everything is the biggest-baddest crisis, where do we start to right the wrongs?

In a world where there is injustice and pain and suffering that far exceeds society’s willingness to “right,” how should we treat our rivers, our fish, our air, our recreation, and our human relationships?

War and mortal combat, has been the norm in many parts of the world, extending back decades, generations, millennia.  Time to leave the past in the past, and fix what we can of what we have left today.  If we can’t do it with our squabbles over fish management, wild salmon, hatchery salmon, protecting our rivers – – – what hope is there for us as we move forward in a world on the razor’s edge.

Pink Floyd said something like this:  “And I opened my door to my enemy, and I asked could we wash the slate clean.  But he told me to please  go and frack myself.  No we just can’t win.”

May we have the grace to find peace with our enemy, especially it he is us.

Jay Nicholas. March 14, 2011.

Product Loyalty, March 12, 2011

“Jay is a __________  Guy, you know.”


I overheard this comment a few months ago, uttered by a fly fishing industry rep.  The implication was that, hummmmm, actually, I don’t know exactly what the implication of that remark was.

Probably, it implied that I would actively promote __________ fly lines over __________, __________ or some other manufacturer’s fly line.  Maybe it implied that I should be shunned by someone who is a “__________ Guy” (or gal) and certainly by an “__________ guy” (or gal).

Let’s call BS on this, folks.

Here is what it true: I’m on the “Conservation Staff” for __________ Sports and __________, and __________.  I have a bunch of friends at __________.  I actively promote __________, feel almost like family there and would probably die if __________ closed their doors.  I support __________  __________ and make a lot of tutorial videos for the __________.

Now let’s see how those relationships affect my fishing and my views regarding other Oregon Independent fly shops.

The fly lines I fish certainly don’t exhibit a pattern of brand exclusivity.  I fish __________ Skagit Compact and Scandi Compact fly lines.  I am fishing the latest models of __________ Skagit Flight and Skagit Short fly lines.  I have fished the new __________ Skagit Extreme Multi Tip fly line.

Without exception, I have found Spey fly lines from __________, __________, and __________ that I am able to cast well and enjoy fishing.  Keep in mind that I am not one of the rare guys or gals who are actual, verifiable expert Spey casters; casting Wizards who can make any line work.  I am basically a “hack” Spey caster, I love it, I am learning and getting better all the time, but still probably represent a very average skill level in the two-hand world.  Ask Rob, Nate, or Jeff; they will agree, they have seen me cast.

This background is important because it means that an average Spey fisher can expect a Spey fly line made by __________, __________, and __________ will perform for him or her; it means that I am able to recommend any of these three fly line manufacturers and be frank about my recommendation.  I pay attention to the rod – line weight match more than to the manufacturer.  If a person is product-loyal to __________, or ________, or __________ , that’s fine with me, and I can recommend a fly line based on weight for any rod in any of these brands.

My Chinook fly lines include the full spectrum of __________, __________, and __________ lines.  Traditional Shooting heads by, and are loaded on an arsenal of fly reels stashed in my jet sled.  The __________ shooting heads are dinosaurs in that they don’t have factory loops, but they hold a dear place in my heart.  The __________  __________ series of integrated shooting heads are perfectly suited to hassle-free tidewater Chinook fishing, as are the __________ fly lines, and both are loaded on my fly reels and spools when I head out to fish for spring and fall Chinook. Running lines from __________ and __________ back up my traditional and Spey head fly lines.  How’s that for product loyalty?

What about fly rods? I fish __________, __________, __________, __________, and __________ fly rods.  Each of these fly rods is fun and is an excellent fly fishing tool.  My beat-up old __________ 10 wt. generates a lot of fond memories associated with king salmon.  My  __________ single-hand salmon rod has a growing collection of happy memories and this fly rod makes me smile too.  The same is true with my fly rods by __________, __________, and __________.  Do I have favorites?  Sure, but I have many personal quirks too.  If I had to choose one fly rod for salmon; one rod for steelhead Skagit Spey fishing; one rod for Steelhead dry line Spey fishing; one rod to Spey fish king salmon; one rod to fish sea run cutthroat –get the idea.  I could do it if forced. The rod would be excellent and I would have fun if limited to only one fly rod for each species, season, and tactical situation.  But why not have fun and mess around.

Why would anyone limit himself or herself to only fishing one brand fly rod?  Why not experiment and fish different rods now and then?  Why not have fun with our fly rods and lines.  Why not try to learn and expand one’s experience base.

We live in a time where many really good casting and fishing rods are available to us fly fishing fanatics.  Let’s enjoy ourselves, OK?

Same goes with settling on a list of favorite flies for our salmon, steelhead, and sea run cutthroat fishing.  Sure I have favorite fly patterns when I fish for sea-run cutthroat, Chinook, or steelhead.  Sure I tend to go back to these year after year, day after day.  Some of my favorite summer steelhead flies have evolved only a little over three decades.   Some of my fly patterns are still in the early stages of evolution, and these change from season to season, mostly.  Each session at the fly bench could as easily produce a handful of experimental flies as it could produce a set of “tried and true” favorites.

What about loyalty to people who work for different fly line and rod manufacturers?

The sad part about a perception that a person is an __________ guy or gal, __________ guy or gal, __________ guy or gal, __________ guy or gal, is that it can create the effect of hindering friendships.  I have several friends, and I consider them good friends, who rep for various fly fishing manufacturers, own businesses, or work for retailers.  Industry competitiveness exists and this tension affects people’s relationships.  Yes it does.

So let’s knock it off folks. I recommend fly fishers and fly tyers shop at the __________.  I also recognize a network of most excellent, independent Fly Shops owned by several other people I consider friends.  Haven forbid that someone might buy a bag of dubbing from __________ when they could buy it from __________; buy a __________ fly line instead of an __________; buy a __________ fly rod instead of an __________ or __________; and a __________ bag instead of a __________.

Our world just might come to a screeching halt.

For goodness sake, people, enough with the silliness.

At day’s end,though, I’m a __________ ball cap person.  Sorry, it’s just how it is.

Jay Nicholas, March 12, 2011

Today and Every Day – Choices we Make

Mornin’ folks.

Look out, I’ve been feeling reflective lately.  No fishing stories.  No tales of adventure or tackle or feathers.

The signs are all around. Time is short.  Options are limited and are becoming fewer each day.  I have so much here to live for.  Family.  Friends.  Wild salmon.  Become a better man.  Resisting the push of water against my thighs. A chance, perhaps, to swim  with Wild Salmon.

Every moment counts, every choice matters.  I will make choices today.  So will you. May we be blessed to know who we are, create a small measure of kindness, seek ways to make each day better than if we were not here, and consider that justice and rightness are elusive.

By the way. I am not done here.  Not quite yet.

Jay Nicholas, March 9, 2011

Great Grabs: November 4, 2010

One of the places where I would like my family and friends to leave a pinch of my ashes.  Not too soon though.  May this be a place where salmon gather each year, long after you and I have passed on.

Great Grabs: November 4, 2010

Jay Nicholas, March 5, 2011

Test Fishing Idylwilde Flies, January 21, 2011

Chris Connaty at Idylwilde contacted me recently and asked if I could help test some of their signature fly patterns.  Chris is director of Product Development.  Wow.

Chris and I had been looking for an opportunity to get together, swap stories about fish, flies, the fly tying industry, and our zany ideas about the future of same.  Our phone conversations about mutual friends, fishing obsessions, quirks in flies and fly tying materials were great, but nothing like we could experience during a day on the river.

To prepare for the trip ( I do my homework), I drove to the coast, where I last remembered seeing my drift boat, and found it upside down in a Tillamook pasture.  A trip through my favorite car wash ‘cross the street from  Tillamook Sporting Goods and the boat was as good as new, with drain plugs, oars, and all that good stuff.

We met at the appointed hour and found our intended destination a little crowded, but hey, the fishing was obviously good, right?

Chris showed me one of the prototype steelhead flies he wanted himself, personally, to test, pictured above.

With finesse surpassed only by my own finely honed Spey casting skill, Chris proceeded to chuck the fly, pictured in-flight above, clocked at Mach 3.79, into a likely steelhead holding run.

Sure enough, he promptly hooked a bigie;  a freshly-delivered-from-the-ocean, chrome dipped, mercury and PCB-free, most fly-discriminating fish.

After a nail-biter of a fight, which included several Hardy screeching runs, Chris is shown above reaching to tail the monster.

The Steelhead, or whatever it was, looked something like this fish, except it was larger, more chromer, and considerably more imaginary.

Me? Chris put me in some great rapids to fish.  He even supplied me with a handful of Idylwilde’s finest #14 Adams Parachutes and one Hickman’s Mr Hankey, only charged me twenty bucks, and wished me luck.

Thanks Chris. And thanks for not blabbing about how I got drug by the boat down hill and across the rocks.  I’m gonna see if Simms will warranty the shredded knees. Hummmm. And  thanks for not mentioning the Burkheimer rod tip I smushed into a rock after you warned me of the impending disaster.  Kerry, I don’t understand what could have gone wrong, it just snapped off while I was casting and you wouldn’t really charge me for a new tip would you?

Short story: Chris and I had a great day.  No fish, 3 pulls, beautiful water, and time to let down and share ideas about fish conservation.  We spent way more time talking about our dreams for the future of our rivers and their steelhead and salmon than about flies, or fishing tackle, or even great winter steelhead we almost caught.

Jay Nicholas, January 26, 2011