Wild salmon are found at the center of Alaskan life, supplementing dinner, providing work, and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. For over a decade, this way of life has been under threat in Bristol Bay with the looming danger of the Pebble Mine.
Though it was temporarily put down under the Obama administration in 2010, Pebble wasn’t completely defeated. In 2020, the Army Corps of Engineers finally rejected Pebble’s plan, ruling that it was in violation of the Clean Water Act, and was not in the interest of the public.
The conservation industry was hoping that Pebble was gone for good, until the Pebble Limited Partnership appealed the Army Corps’ decision. The most worrying part is that Alaskan Governor Michael Dunleavy is continuing to voice his support for the mine.
Save Bristol Bay found that 62% of Alaskans were against the proposed Pebble Mine. Though more than half the population, one might wonder why more people aren’t against Pebble. Mining and drilling operations in Alaska have been successful largely due to the rewards they offer locals.
Want to drill on indigenous land? Try buying out locals by offering annual checks to residents so that you can be allowed to drill. Many Alaskans are receiving money from oil and mining companies in exchange for land access.
The Pebble Mine is an existential threat to the Alaskan way of life, and to 85% of the world’s wild sockeye salmon. The Bristol Bay fishing industry generates an estimated $1.5 billion annually and provides over 14,000 people with work. Compared to Pebble’s planned 2,000 workers and $1 billion over twenty years, it’s easy to see the clear choice. It’s time for Pebble to get off the agenda.
If possible, I encourage you to give Governor Dunleavy a call. Reach him at (907) 465-3500 and remind him that he speaks for Alaskans. Say whatever you like(respectfully), but get the message across that Pebble does not belong in Bristol Bay. Not now, not ever.
The fly fishing industry would like to see permanent protections for Bristol Bay to keep ideas like Pebble from happening in the future. For now, let’s get Pebble off of Dunleavy’s agenda and remind him what he stands for.
The Snake River in Washington, once a freestone rampant with thousands of salmon and steelhead, is now surviving under a different reality.
In the 1960s and ’70s, four dams were constructed on the Lower Snake in southeast Washington. For humans, they provided power and recreation. For salmon, they blocked over a hundred miles of water and spawning habitat.
The conservation and angling community in Washington and all over the U.S. has been fighting and advocating for the removal of these four lower Snake dams. Last weekend, Congressman Mike Simpson proposed a new plan for the dams that bodes well for salmon and steelhead: removal.
The GOP representative advocated for clean, modern energy at the risk of serious criticism by his party. Representative Aaron Von Ehlinger lashed out publicly saying “Mike Simpson has shown his true colors as a traitor.”
Regardless of political beliefs, one thing is for certain: Snake River salmon and steelhead need those dams gone, and if they can be traded for clean, more efficient, and cheaper energy, that isn’t a bad thing.
Although Simpson’s plan is only a proposal for now, he is sticking with it and the fly fishing and conservation industry is voicing support!
Any significant updates will likely be posted in a future blog post, but check out the Wild Steelhead Coalition (@wildsteelheadcoalition) on Instagram for updates and to see what’s happening for steelhead and salmon of the Pacific Northwest.
The Tahoe Basin has received a hefty dusting of snow in the last week, and the colder temperatures and cloudy weather brought in by the storm are excellent conditions for baetis hatches. The rest of this week and the foreseeable future is anticipated to be mostly sunny with a chance of snow on Thursday. Daytime highs are forecasted in the low-40s, and lows in the teens to mid-20s.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 76.1
Truckee to Boca: 139
Boca to Farad: 248
Farad to Stateline: 275
The California side is keeping some pretty steady flows as of the last month or so. From Farad downstream to Stateline we are seeing reduced flows from two weeks ago, though still pretty typical for winter.
Our guides have been finding fish consistently on staple winter bugs. Baetis in size 18-22 and midges in 16-20 have been deadly. Classic nymphs like the Pheasant Tail are producing so long as they’re in a smaller size suited for winter.
Remember that when water temps are low, so is the movement of the trout. Don’t expect them to come and swing for the fences at your bugs. Fish your spot thoroughly and really pick it apart. Every cast is a new opportunity at a fish!
If you’re in the salmon or fishing industry there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Klamath River of Southern Oregon and Northern California.
There are many things that make the river special, from the salmon that inhabit it to the largest dam removal effort in history that is scheduled to take place in 2023. The river tells of a flawless example of coexistence between humans and salmon.
The Klamath used to be home to the 3rd greatest salmon run on the west coast. Now, tribal members and fishing guides struggle to find the once-abundant king salmon that inhabit the river.
American Rivers is an organization dedicated to defending rivers all over the U.S. For nearly fifty years, the group has worked to restore damaged rivers and protect threatened rivers so that the future of the river includes clean water.
The organization partnered with Swiftwater Films to release “Guardians of the River” a short film that focuses on the Yurok tribe of the Klamath and their communal efforts to help Klamath salmon, remove the four lower Klamath dams, and bring their people together through salmon.
At only fourteen minutes long, the film is an excellent opportunity for those who are new to the Klamath history to learn more, and heartwarming and motivating for all in the fight to restore the Klamath. Watch the full film here.
Shortly over a year ago, the Woodwell Climate Research Center joined forces with well renown company Fishpond to create an organization with a mission to better understand the effects that climate change has on rivers.
They started in Telluride, Colorado with a small handful of rivers. These rivers were sites used to monitor the health of the river using water samples. How do they do it?
By taking water samples and analyzing them, a river’s well-being reveals itself in the form of herbicides, chemicals, and things like fertilizer, oil, or wastewater. The amounts of each of these materials in the river offers clues to its health, which, if monitored over time will provide scientists and anglers alike with current conditions for rivers.
While the project started small, it quickly gained momentum and now has volunteers taking water samples at over 200 sites. These volunteers send their data back to the Science on the Fly lab to be analyzed and recorded.
Volunteers have never been in shortage, because of their target volunteers: the fly fishing community. It makes perfect sense, as this is a group of people who are passionate about the places they play in. The research is working out well and is contributing to the speedy growth of the organization.
In time, Science on the Fly will have detailed monitoring of rivers all over the world. Their science will be able to track health trends of hundreds of rivers and predict how they may change on a local and widespread level. This research will give us a greater understanding of our fishery and help us protect them.
Work being done by Science on the Fly does take funding, and they’ve made it easy as ever to help out! With the purchase of a Science on the Fly t-shirt or hat, you help fund river research in the United States and beyond.
Learn more about Science on the Fly here, or check out this Flylords article for some behind-the-scenes information. Keep an eye out for more news from Science on the Fly as they continue to grow!
The snow is back! Last week, the Tahoe Basin received it’s biggest storm of the season, bringing 4-6 feet of snow to various elevations.
Fishing on the Truckee remains constant, with a few changes. River access is significantly reduced. Expect some of your favorite spots to be potentially inaccessible. Maybe even check out some runs on the Nevada side, as most of the California side may be too snowy to walk along the river.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 75.0
Truckee to Boca: 136.0
Boca to Farad: 309.0
Farad to Stateline: 330.0
Flows are slightly bumped up from our last report, so anglers may notice small changing of some pieces of water.
Water temps have been cold! We’ve been seeing the river reach 35 degrees at lunchtime, significantly reduced from the 40-45 degree average. For our fish, these reduced water temps are going to make them want to move even less than usual.
For anglers, focusing efforts on slow, deep runs and pools and staying there until the spot is fished completely is highly encouraged. These fish won’t be moving far for your flies, so make those casts count and bring the flies to them!
Our guides have been getting fish mostly on indicator nymphing techniques. 4x and 5x tippet is encouraged for nymphs, while 5x to 6x is being used for dries.
Any dry fly action will typically be those smaller bugs (baetis and midges). We’ve been seeing the same small nymphs with a few winter stoneflies mixed in. With cloudy days in the forecast for this week, dry fly fishing is a possibility. Be prepared for it and pick up some bugs from our friends at Trout Creek Outfitters!
We’re also coming around the corner into the first signs of skwala time! Be ready for it, because it’s known to be phenomenal dry fly fishing, and our Truckee trout get all fired up!
Get out there and stay at it! Use light tippet, concentrate your efforts on slower runs, and make those casts count! You never know which one will change the day for the better.
*Location: The cutthroat tournament will be taking place at Pyramid Lake, NV, about 30 minutes north of Reno. Pyramid Lake, aka Land of the Giants and home to the world’s largest cutthroat with some fish exceeding 20lbs! The average fish is 3-10lbs. We’ve timed our trip perfectly this spring to try and take advantage of size and numbers.
Typical fishing techniques at Pyramid include stripping buggers and streamers, as well and nymph and midge rigs. Conditions permitting, indicator fishing can also be extremely effective.
* Dates: The event is going to be held on two seperate weekends in March – March 18-21 and 25-28. You can choose what weekend works the best for you. Darin Wood (CH board member) and I will be the ones hosting the first weekend. While Ryan and I will be the hosting the second weekend. You will check in on Thursday evening. Fish on Friday and Saturday. Then check out Sunday morning. It should be perfect timing to miss minimal work. But let’s be honest, who cares about work when you have a chance of landing a 25lb trout on a fly!
*Lodging: We will be staying at the Pyramid Lake Lodge (Pyramid Lake Lodge | Fishing, Camping, Cabins & Boating). The Lodge is conveniently located across the street from the lake and within walking distance of huge cutties. Lodge accommodations are clean and simple. Rooms are a combination of trailers and small cabins next to the restaurant and bar.
*Meals/Drinks: All meals and drinks are included in the price of entry. You will be served a delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day of the event. There is also unlimited beer and wine included.
*Cost: The cost of the event is going to be $2,500 per individual angler or $4,000 for a team of two. A great price with everything that comes included in the package.
*Charitable Donation – The last cherry on top is that you get to take a partial charitable donation to Cast Hope for your 2021 taxes. You get to go fishing and you save money on your taxes. Not a bad deal if you’re asking me.
*Prizes: There are going to be some awesome prizes for the winners this year. All of the prizes are going to be based around the thought of fly fishing for huge trout and will include rods, trips, and cold weather gear. In total there will be 5 different prizes given away to the top 3 anglers, top team, and Big Fish caught. In addition to the actual prizes each participant will be receiving a free swag bag.
Thanks for the consideration. Please let me know if you have any questions. Hope you and the family are well.
“Today, Washingtonians stand at a fork in the road with a clear choice: Continue with current practice and gradually lose salmon, orcas, and a way of life that has sustained the Pacific Northwest for eons. Or, change course and put Washington on a path to recovery that recognizes salmon and other natural resources as vital to the state’s economy, growth, and prosperity.”
The Washington government put together a State of Salmon program over 20 years ago, based out of their 30-year commitment to recover salmon. At the end of 2020, their executive summary reveals a crossroads.
There are 14 species of salmon and steelhead that are classified at-risk of extinction by the Endangered Species Act. Of those 14, some are showing signs of recovery. Others are not.
The Hood Canal summer chum salmon, and the fall chinook of the Snake River are two species that are nearing their ESA recovery goal. Others, like the Puget Sound steelhead and chinook, are classified as in crisis.
While the across the board ratings are largely discouraging, the Hood Canal summer chum and Snake River fall chinook are proving that one thing is certain: they can come back. It isn’t too late to reverse the population decline of so many salmon species. These two in particular are heading towards a healthy, sustainable population, which is a sign of hope for all salmon and those who fight for them.
We have a long way to go in order to recover our salmon, but Washington’s Salmon Recovery Office is leading the way in showing that recovery is possible. Albeit a small win, it is a colossal motivator to keep working towards salmon recovery.
Read the State of Salmon report here, and learn what you can do to help recover a keystone species.