“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.
Clean Up The Lake made its first big splash in the Tahoe area with its 2020 summer project on Donner Lake. Their team circumnavigated the entire lake, removing trash and marking larger objects for extraction on a later date. Their persistent efforts yielded quite the bounty of litter; 5,151.5 pounds to be exact!
2020 was a banner year for the organization, but their 2021 summer plans are astounding: Clean Up The Lake will be completing a scuba circumnavigation of our prized Gem of the Sierras, Lake Tahoe.
In Tahoe, restoration season is short for the organization. Come winter, the basin doesn’t receive the help it gets in the summer. Clean Up The Lake works tirelessly through the summer with volunteers and staff to ensure their short season still makes a long lasting difference.
Clean Up The Lake got a small jumpstart on their Lake Tahoe mission late last summer by cleaning up six miles of Tahoe’s shoreline and depths around Incline Village. Their efforts once again yielded heaping amounts of single-use products and trash, which weighed in at just over 3,000 pounds!
CUTL’s founder Colin West is going a big step beyond just picking up trash by working with micro plastics research terms from Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the Desert Research Institute. With help from the research teams, Clean Up The Lake can learn about what we can do to address the issue of the plastics we can’t just pick up.
Clean Up The Lake is doing amazing work, and for that, I, as well as many other Tahoe locals are appreciative. A big thank you to Clean Up The Lake and all the volunteers, donors, and supporters.
The Wild Salmon Center (WSC) has been doing work all over the globe on tracking and studying wild salmonids, especially salmon and steelhead. From the healthy populations of salmon in eastern Russia to the hard-pulling kings of the Pacific Northwest, they’ve conducted research to further examine some of the gamefish we love the most.
On Washington’s Hoh river, a long-standing population recording effort is revealing negative signs about the future of adult steelhead.
The Hoh is one of Washington’s best chances for the full population recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, but more needs to be done to achieve this. A recent graph released by the WSC reveals a terrible outcome in the last 45 years for adult steelhead.
Although this news is heartbreaking for us, there are always ways to help. People who do fish for Hoh River steelhead can practice using barbless hooks and releasing the larger, wild fish. Consider donating to Wild Salmon Center here.
The Hoh River is an amazing place with some spectacular fish. Avoiding the overfishing of these fish is a challenge, but it can be done. Keeping fighting time minimal, practicing healthy fish handling ethics(see our blog post here for more on this), and not harvesting unreasonably all fit into this equation.
The Hoh still can make a recovery, we just need to start helping it get there!
RepYourWater has been a leading business in the effort to give back to the outdoor places we enjoy so much, donating 3% of all profits directly to conservation efforts.
The Colorado-based brand just made another big step towards eco-friendliness with the the help of Emerger Strategies, a company that helps businesses achieve zero waste and carbon neutrality. RepYourWater is officially carbon-neutral for the year 2019!
How does this work? In simple terms, businesses can achieve carbon neutrality by calculating their carbon footprint, then purchasing carbon offsets, the amount determined by your carbon footprint.
Carbon offsets are usually projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such projects could be forest restoration or landfill gas captures. Companies like Tentree have carbon offsets in the form of planting trees, where one can select the size of their household, family, or business then donate to plant a predetermined amount of trees.
After collaborating with Emerger Strategies to calculate an accurate carbon footprint, RepYourWater purchased carbon offsets to balance out their carbon usage for the year 2019. They have already achieved zero waste to landfill and are currently working on their 2020 sustainability report.
As the first carbon-neutral fly fishing apparel company, RepYourWater is leading the way in addressing the climate crisis! For the sake of our future and our fisheries, we need more companies to take action in the way that Garrison and Corinne of RepYourWater have. Well done!
Learn more about the brand’s path to carbon neutrality here.
Is winter gone already?! We sure hope not! This week, daytime temperatures are reaching into the mid 50s, with nights still in the low 20s or teens. Do your snow dances! The next chance for precipitation is forecasted to be after this week.
Tahoe City to Truckee: 74
Truckee to Boca: 117
Boca to Farad: 296
Farad to Stateline: 314
The California side of the Truckee is flowing at almost exactly the same rate as the past couple weeks, and until we get more snow we shouldn’t see major changes.
Water temps have been in the mid 40s, maybe reaching the low 50s in the afternoon. This is a bit warmer than the last month, so fish may be more willing to move for a fly. Still, it is winter fishing! Slow down and pick apart each run or hole that you fish. You never know which cast will reward you!
Our guides have been getting fish using indicator nymphing techniques, mostly on the typical winter flies including midges and baetis, though baetis hatches have slowed down considerably due to lack of cloudy weather. Midges have been productive in a variety of sizes, from 16 to 22. Stonefly patterns and streamers are also producing, so bigger flies are still on the menu!
Keep in mind that if your flies aren’t producing, it may be the tippet that’s the issue. Downsizing to 5x or 6x makes a big difference! Winter fishing also means that fish feed throughout the entire day. The “early bird gets the worm” mindset isn’t as accurate this time of year, as fish are consistently caught well into midday and the afternoon.
Conservation tip: Leave no trace and pick up your trash! If you don’t have a micro trash container (see here), dedicate a jacket or wader pocket for pieces of tippet or any waste you might create or find throughout the day. This will help keep trash out of the rivers and let us all enjoy the outdoors without being reminded of any litter issues.
Anyone who has been fortunate enough to hook a permit on fly or spinning gear will tell you, they’re the Queen of the Flats. The Florida Keys are home to the continental United States’ healthiest permit fishery, and a shortened off-season at Western Dry Rocks is putting the troubled fish population in danger.
Permit from all over the Middle and Lower Keys return each spring to Western Dry Rocks to participate in the annual spawn. Like most freshwater and saltwater species, spawning time is especially dangerous for them.
The well-known Bonefish and Tarpon Trust has provided substantial evidence to show that a seasonal four-month fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks is necessary in order for the Keys fishery to thrive. This proposed fishing closure in the spring of each year has made its way all the way up to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who made a potentially lethal edit to the original plan: Cut the off-season in half.
A two-month fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks would be an improvement from no off-season for permit, but it isn’t enough. The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust offers valuable insight as to why.
For example, permit aren’t the only springtime spawners at Western Dry Rocks. Mutton, snapper and grouper also occupy the shoal around the same time. To ensure a quality long-term saltwater fishery in the Florida Keys, they need to have their space while creating the next generations of fish.
Some studies even reported that nearly 40% of all fish hooked at Western Dry Rocks were eaten by sharks while on the line, making catch and release practices nearly redundant.
Granted, a four-month fishing closure is a long time, but Western Dry Rocks is less than 2 square miles. A simple request to protect the spawning grounds of Florida’s saltwater sportfish’s spawning grounds while they reproduce is necessary, and the offered two months is half of what they need. Half is not enough.
For the sake of the Florida Keys permit, you are encouraged to voice your support for a longer closure by writing to the FWC here. Every comment counts!
Learn about how you can support the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust here.
People hold fish in different ways, some good and some bad. This article will go over the worst ways to hold a fish, and explain the best way.
The Lip Grip: This one’s most common for bass fishing. The angler grabs the lower lip of the fish and lifts it up. While bass have more durable jaws and spines and are able to withstand that kind of grab, our trout are delicate and cannot. Even bass of a larger size need support with a hand lifting the tail end of the fish.
Trout and salmon are built different than bass. They have weaker spines and jaws, and the lip grip harms them. Injuries range from dislocated jaw to broken spinal cord, neither of which help them out. A broken jaw will keep it from feeding and swimming correctly, most commonly killing the fish within a few days of the injury.
Gill Grab: This is one grip that, across all fish species, should almost never be used. All fish use their gills to take oxygen out of the water around them. For them, it’s basically breathing.
When anglers put their fingers under a fish’s gill plate, they mess with the fish’s breathing. Gills are extremely delicate and just touching them can damage them so that fish can’t breathe well enough to survive.
The Right Way: The right way to hold a trout or salmon(or any fish for that matter) if you intend to later release the fish, is what we teach at MHFF. You wet your hands first, then grab the fish by the meat of its tail. This you can squeeze gently without harming any organs or body components. Place your other hand behind the fish’s head and cradle it, then lift the fish out of the water.
This grip protects the fish’s major features and gives the angler a strong grip on the fish without hurting it. An added bonus is that it’s the best way to show off your catch for a photo.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about how to handle fish, but hopefully you can steer clear of poor fish handling ethics.
Fly fishing and bass tournaments have historically been two things that are thought to be better kept apart. To many, the idea of having a fast-paced fishing tournament on jet boats combined with calm-tempered anglers who spend too much time practicing false-casting just doesn’t fit.
Well, let’s take a minute and forget that fly fishing stereotype, then look at Ryan Williams. Earlier this month, Williams and his partner Logan McDaniel participated in the Wild West Bass Trail tournament on Lake Shasta and won!
…With a fly rod.
Although his partner fished conventional gear, Williams stuck it out for the entire tournament, and the team took home first place for heaviest bag and heaviest fish. “The fly rod legitimately contributed 50/50 to our bag”, Williams says in an interview.
Not only did he show it was possible to fly fish competitively in a bass tournament, but Williams proved fly fishing can be more effective than conventional tackle! Quite the accomplishment and successful merging of two different cultures, well done Ryan!