Take Action for Little Fish

ForageFishKingSalmon

Maybe you have seen this going around about the Little Fish our big fish eat?  Pew has been pushing this around for a while, and you know what, they are spot on.  As fishermen, sport and commercial, we fight over allocation, we fight over hatchery releases, and we all are overwhelmed with the issues of habitat.  All this has to do with what is going down on land.  There is something we can do that is pretty simple and gets us ahead of the curve on a major issue in our oceans.  The increase harvest of Forage fish.

Forage fish are the herring, anchovies, sardines, dace, smelt, squid etc. that eat phytoplankton turning it into protein for the big stuff, like seals, salmon, steelhead and birds.  This increase in harvest in a volatile ocean, see the sardine issue, turns commercial fishermen to seek out new species to target for harvest often to feed fish farms.  Of all these little fish, only anchovies, market squid, Pacific herring, and sardines are regulated on the West Coast in the L48.  What Pew is suggesting, along with Trout Unlimited, Association of Northwest Steelheaders, Wild Steelhead Coalition and a slew of others, is they actually manage for the majority of species on an eco-system level.  This is the proposal from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council that fish folks are supporting.

These fish feed Steelhead and salmon, making them strong so they can swim to places as near to the ocean as Siletz, Oregon or as far as Salmon, Idaho, healthy fish are strong spawners and fight hard as well.  The other thing these little fish do is create massive bait balls at the mouths of some of our biggest rivers, like the Columbia. This provides incredible cover for outgoing smolt who run a gauntlet of birds, seals, and predator fish as they enter the ocean.

So take a minute and Take Action – Tell the Pacific Fisheries Management Council the time is now to protect unmanaged Forage Fish – Deadline for Comments is March 30th.

Head over to http://www.tu.org/take-action and find the link titled “West Coast TU Members: Urge Fishery Managers to Protect Our Forage Fish”

The Buckaroo of the Great Basin

IMG_0536[1]It was a heavy mist morning south out of Corvallis.  The Willamette Valley smelled like low tide, a storm was building as I stepped out of the car at Eugene International.  Mendo Brown met me a few texts past  security for coffee.  We walked slowly to be those guys who wait till the last minute to get on the plane, until I realized I forgot my rod at the coffee shop, and then I was the guy running to the plane.  We were headed to Reno for the Western TU meeting and a little fishing.

 IMG_0525[1]

We were staying at the Atlantis casino, a neon pink, butane lighter palace by the airport.  Even in that establishment of compulsive nicotine laced Americana, the Sierra Nevada and high desert glowed in a piscatorial light.  The cartoon glass elevator showed snow fields and canyons, leading into cottonwoods, all said fishy, even if it was Nevada. But this was Reno and the Truckee River Valley.  These dudes were cool, hell they had their own fish, Senor Lahonton, The Buckaroo of the Great Basin.

Reno Life

Quarter-ton native Lahontan.

The Lahonton is as much a mystery as a tragedy in fish conservation.  Pyramid Lake is now filled with hatchery fish, a remnant of the great fish that used to spawn up a once wild Truckee River.  Like the salmon runs on the Columbia, settlers filled wagons of Lahonton cutthroat for food and fertilizer, also like the Columbia, the Truckee began getting dammed and diverted eventually bringing a once prolific fish to near extinction. What is so cool about Lahonton is they are a closed basin trout one of 5 cutthroat trout in the Great Basin.   There used be 6 but Oregon’s Alvord cutt is now extinct. photo 2

What is also cool about Reno, beyond the fish is the side without casino’s – See Brewers Cabinet or St James for brews or Michael’s Deli for best sandwiches around.IMG_0532[1]

One our flight back into the Willamette Valley, we had missed a deluge of rain.  Descending into Eugene The Big Willy was out of its banks, showing old bends and sloughs of the Calapooia and Santiams in grass fields and pastures.  It was a stark contrast to the high dry closed basin fishing of Nevada.  We arrived just in time for descending rivers and steelhead.photo 3