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Steelhead Conservation & Spey Clave


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Ronan's report

Wednesday 21st May, 2008

"...It is also very important that ODFW [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife] comes to terms with the fact that they simply don’t have the funds to do the research necessary to properly manage the Umpqua System. I truly believe that if ODFW had inexhaustible resources at their dispense, they would be able to better manage our resource. But, at a time when fish and wildlife funding is at an all time low, it is impossible for our regional office to get a solid handle on what exactly is going on with a system as extensive as the Umpqua. The drainage covers an area of nearly 4000 square miles and its forks and tributaries run thousands of miles. Assessing the health of such a system is no small feat to even ask of resource managers that are fully funded.

Some of the most troubling science that is at the backbone of their argument to continue the retention of wild winter steelhead, is the current creel survey that started in 2006. This study conducted by ODFW defines bad science. ODFW basically has two people several times a week go around to the different boat ramps on the river and take creel surveys. I am sure as a concerned angler you would find it troubling how little surveying is actually going on. In the last two years, I have never been checked or seen anyone get checked. The same holds true for several of the other guides I know who work on the river daily.

After a recent discussion with Laura Jackson the current regional biologist, I understand that some of the surveying was done by simply counting trailers at the boat ramps and calculating the number of fish killed from this data. Solid science? Is this the kind of science we want deciding the fate of arguably the greatest wild winter steelhead stocks on the planet? Good science or not, the numbers they came up with are troubling. From the survey, they calculated approximately 1200 wild fish were killed on the Umpqua last year. This is far below what many of us on the river each day predict they are. Realistically, it is more likely that this number is closer to 5000. Only an average of 42 fish a day have to be harvested throughout a 120-day season on this expansive system to reach this higher projection. This number becomes very believable when you consider I saw 42 trailers at a SINGLE boat ramp ONE DAY this winter. Most importantly, the point that should cause all of us to pause and take caution, is that Ms. Jackson herself admitted she would be troubled if current harvest numbers are at levels as high as many of us figure they are. It is imperative that until we have solid science to back our policies we should error our management on the side of conservation."

- Scott Howell in Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine

If you believe that wild & native steelhead are worth protecting, and that without solid science conservative fisheries management is the only answer, please, take a moment to sign the petition in support of the existing regulations that prohibit killing wild steelhead on Oregon's Umpqua River. Over 350 have already signed online and who knows how many more have signed the paper copies.

On a lighter note, the Sandy River Spey Clave was held last weekend, just up the road from here. As always it was a great event with fantastic turnout, first class presentations, endless demo gear, and lots and lots of terrific folks talking fish, casting, and just living the fishing life in general. We had a couple of surprises in the form of 90+ degree heat and a river that was running at about 4 times it's normal volume with snowmelt, but that didn't stop everyone from having a blast. It was great to finally meet a few Sexyloops regulars in person, and renew bonds with some old friends. Somehow, I missed Bubba, but his presentation reminded why we're lucky to have him moderating the DH Casting forum. Find out more about Spey Clave or share your experience overon this thread.

Next week, hopefully, tales of huge wild brown trout.


Pic Of Day

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