Wednesday 26th November, 2008
Yesterday I learned through a friend that a truly incredible steelhead was landed on fly gear this past weekend. I'm not talking about your run of the mill amazing, 18 pounder, or even a solid 20 pounder - the holy grail of steelhead fly fishing. This fish taped out at 42" length x 25" girth and was a wild/native specimine. It was also released unharmed. Based on it's full body profile and the usual formulas the fish falls into the realm of the imaginary. A legitimate 30 pound steelhead. What is even more amazing is that this fish wasn't taken on the hallowed rivers of BC known for massive steelhead. It came from a river right here in the Pacific Northwest, USA. As for more details than that, you all know the name of the river... Mystery River X.
I was a bit surprised at my reaction to seeing photos and hearing about this fish. I had no feelings of jealousy or anything like that. Instead, the photos gave me hope and also made me think about what it really means to be a steelheader in 2008 AD.
I was a bit surprised at my reaction to seeing photos and hearing about This was truly a special fish. I wonder if I will ever catch or even hear of another fish like it in this time when we are left fishing for the crumbs - the dregs of once prolific runs. It's all we have left after decades of decline - the result of our greed and lack of foresight.
What I know for sure is that it's an honor and privilege to be able to wade and fish rivers with healthy runs of wild, native fish.
Hopefully this fish story motivates everyone to fight hard for wild/native fish conservation and recovery and inspires us all to act to preserve every bit of incredible genetic diversity that is left, even if it means giving up a few days fishing to attend public meetings, fish and game department hearings, or to write letters and emails to your representatives, chip in on a stream restoration project, create a petition to raise support for your cause, or just pass the word on to people you know. No matter what your native species are, they are worth fighting for.
When you think about it, the same processes create a 4 pound native steelhead and this 30 pound monster. Each fish is perfectly evolved to meet the requirements of survival in its world, and the rigors of spawning in its native stream. Natural selection is wonderful and mysterious, and it's impossible to know and understand every factor that comes together to make something great and unique. It just proves that humility and conservative judgment are better than playing god when it comes to management - at least if you like having special fish around.
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