Is it Time??? - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 08-08-2003, 12:30 PM
OC OC is offline
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Post Is it Time???

"When is water too warm" post by Jeff is a great post. Thanks Jeff.
It's kind of funny but here on this board, NW Steelhead we all or almost all know each other through fishing, conservation meetings and the sorts. I'll even bet we all know when everyone is fishing, catching and where they are fishing. We all know the grape vine thing goes on. Sparky, Sinktip, Jeff, Juro, Fred Kerry, Leiland. Russ, Smalama, Mjc, Moonlight, MMM, Doublespey our friends from the north and certainly more from the NW. All good fly fishing, conservation minded steelheaders and I think we have a lot of respect for each and every regular here.

This is a group of thinkers who practice what they preach and not a group of ya ya fly fishing geeks we see so often in this day and age of fly fishing is cool. This is a group that goes about their love of steelhead fishing in a fairly quiet and controlled manor and for the right reasons.

My question to all of you out there. Have we gone flat in the way we approach fly fishing for steelhead. What I mean by that, are we flat at looking at our philosophies on steelhead conservation and how it relates to us the fly fisherman.. It seems there has been no real changes in many years when it comes to philosophy of fly fishing for a wonderful but disapearing spiecies of fish.

If there was ever a group of steelheaders who could develope a new thought train, a newer dirrection than the current path we are on it is this group. I ask all of you to look inside your self and ask the important questions whatever they maybe for you and share them here and elsewhere if it's not too personal for you.

Does anyone else think we are in a bit of a serious rut on how we go about thinking about steelhead and our fishing?

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Old 08-08-2003, 03:43 PM
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Thanks OC - I've really enjoyed your last series of posts ('specially about the nubile deckhands on your sailboat )

I think we are evolving in our thinking, whether we like it or not. It used to be viewed as a "Right" to harvest fish, now it's seen (at least in the case of Wild Steelhead) by most flyfishers as abuse of a dwindling resource.

Hell, just the chance to fish for steelhead is something I'm very grateful for.

Many of us voluntarily impose more limitations on our fishing practices than the law requires. Not handling fish unnecessarily, using barbless hooks, not fishing over spawners, using small barbless hooks (or hooks to large to be swallowed) when smolt are present in large #s are just some examples. Many of these weren't even issues 20-30years ago.

At least for me, I don't feel i'm in a rut because I feel very close to the rivers and the Steelhead that return to them. Because it has been threatened in so many ways, the health of the rivers and their steelhead has become more important to me than my own fishing.

It's not just me. I see this in all my Steelheading friends as well - a heightened concern for our rivers and their anadromous tenants that overshadows their own need to put the next steelhead on the bank.

The WSC (and other organizations like it) is a manifestation of this concern. Most of us weren't politically involved and just accepted what the WDFW did at face value. Then, with the continued closures, I think many of us realized that we had to take responsibility for the protection of our our rivers and fish lest they be managed into extinction.

This is not to say that there isn't more that can be done, and I'm sure there will be some great suggestions. I just wanted to lead off by suggesting that this process was already happening.

My .02,

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Old 08-09-2003, 02:04 AM
Nailknot Nailknot is offline
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Complex yet simple

OC- great post. I'm not a card carrying member of this small fraternity of friends here, but I think the next step is pretty obvious: stop fishing for native steelhead. It's a shame the resource has been left in such shambles by past generations. The good times are gone (at least in the PNW). If we all sacrifice fishing wild steelhead today, we may have hope for my kids and grandkids to enjoy again. I'm not sure this "tradition of steelheaders" in the PNW has had a positive effect on the future of the fish, though it has certainly created some fine stories and unique individual perspectives. I'm ready to hang it up for the spring native run, I've already quit the N Puget Sound summer runs (are there any wild summer runs left?). Abstinence is the next logical step.
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Old 08-09-2003, 02:21 AM
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NrthFrk16 NrthFrk16 is offline
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Great thread OC...and finally a thread were I dont have to be jealous of you and your sailboat and your small little group of girls that you need to introduce me to.

I will provide my thoughts first chance I get to really sit down and put them together...
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special
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Old 08-09-2003, 08:04 PM
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while it might not totally pertain I am currently reading "one River More" by W. D. Wetherell and I post an interesting quote:

"What we need - what we need constantly - is to remember why fly fishing is worth doing in the first place. The difficulties and pleasures of mastering a demanding craft; the reinforcement, the enhancement, provided by a long and proud tradition; the solace of its locales, the inspiration these offer; the healing power of water; the miraculous living beauty of the trout we seek. All these things, and with them a quality that is harder to define - an anti-establishment kind of pleasure; the different drummer aspect that makes its practitioners favor the lonely places, doing their thing away from the crowd, independently... the quality about fly fishing that has always appealed to the dissident part of us, that stubborn nonconformist raffish heretical freelance something that even our materialistic culture can never quite snuff out.

Perhaps this is why so many fly fishers feel uncomfortable with the current boom: fly fishing simply cannot afford to become too fashionable and still possess this alternative kind of allure. Let's remember that ours is a quiet and simple pursuit in an age that is noisy and complex; one that rewards patience and prudence in a jittery, impatient world; a sport that reuqires thinking and creativity in a culture that often punishes both; a pastime that seeks to conserve the places our money grubbing joyless economy seeks to destroy; a smoothing antidote to everything in the world that so bitterly goes dowwn."
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Old 08-09-2003, 10:14 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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I have not used a weighted fly for steelhead in 11 years, nor do I ever place any weight on my leader. I also find myself using waking dries far more often during the summer and fall than a few years ago. In fact, I have taken to using a skated dry as my first fly of the day. This may be replaced with a low-water featherwing fished greased line as the sun gets up higher in the sky from about 10 in the morning until about 5 or 6 in the evening. And I do not use sink tips after the water drops to summer levels in June or July. And I have nor will I use a strike indicator for steelhead, no matter how effective it is.

These things all make it more difficult to hook a fish; however, they all increase my enjoyment astream and also I find it far more satisfying to fish like this.

I will not fish when river temps are elevated because it stresses the fish too much to be hooked and played in water that is 63 degrees or higher.

I take time to help someone I see who is fishing in water types that do not normally hold steelhead, who is having trouble casting, is using the wrong fly type for the time of year, or using the wrong type of line for the water conditions. I have found I derive great pleasure from helping someone I meet on the stream and his/her name is not important to me to enjoy doing this. I simply enjoy giving to someone else sto they can enjoy their experience more.

I love to catch steelhead and trout; however, that is not what motivates me to go to the river and fish. I simply like being on the stream, feeling the rythm of the cast, observing widlife around the stream, etc. Getting astream leaves the modern day pressures of time, work, and getting things done behind. Fishing provides a reprieve and welcome relief from everything except spending time in God's creation and the beauty found therein.

Last edited by flytyer; 08-09-2003 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:06 PM
OC OC is offline
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A good start fellow steelhead lovers.

I'll be honest, I'm in sometype of transition period as far as my obsession with the pursuit of steelhead and not sure where I'm going. Being into steelhead fishing all fly fishing only for 21 years now, 39 years fly fishing I'm just a newbie when I look at the years of a lot of you.

Like most of you that have been doing this a long enough period of your life you come to realize that you have become a far deadlier steelhead fisherman than you were when steelhead were more abundent and yet you hook far less fish than the 1970's, 80's even the 90's. Not that we are not learning every time out some little thing, some observation but on the whole we got it down pretty good. For me over the last 5 years on our Puget Sound rivers the act of knowing that I'm casting over good water that maybe for days at a time have not held a fish did not bother me at all. I still looked at the total day on the river be it fishing alone or with good friends as a reward in its self. But the last year or so I see in my mind or heart a beautifully tied fly swinging over tired water, lonely water, even when there is fish to take such a fly everything seems tired. My last big fish C&Red brought little exuberence in my heart I felt for the fish and it's journey up river. What was once a celebration of the on going creation of life as fish moved up rivers with excitment side by side now must be a lonely journey. This fish was released still strong and healthy yet I had an unconfortable feeling the drive to make it up river to do the thing without the excitment of a healthy and full river would be an added challengeto a fish just hooked.

Nailknot has made his choice from what he posted and his change in how he looks upon the river and it's fish must have been a hard one to make. It must have taken a period of time with much thought to make such a choice as to give up fishing for wild fish. For me my philosphy has come to the point where I must leave the river alone more often than not. It no longer means I can Justify C&R as I once did though I will continue to C&R when I do fish. And I must fish for Steelhead, I must still pay my respects to the fish and it's river. Ffrom now on though there will no longer be those 2 and 3 days a week on the river before work and weekends all day. For me our rivers are tired the fish lonely, they have asked me to still care for them but to give them some room, some space and I will.
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:27 PM
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Well I am not on the list but I guess I am not supposed to know anything about steelhead anyway...

I for one am not ready to give up steelhead fishing if it is known there are natives in the water. Still not convinced it is best for the fish is everyone abandons the water. We need people like us on the rivers to remind others of the great resource we have here in the PNW. If everyone leaves the water I think we will lose our say in helping decide the steelhead's fate.

That is not to say I have not changed my practices. I have been practicing limited C'n'R though for the past year. Basically it is one native and I am done for the day. It does not matter if it is on the first cast of the day. One and done. It really bothers me when I hear reports of 5 natives C'n'Rd today on such and such a river. Just seems a little excessive to me.

I think it is important to keep in mind that a certain percentage of the fish we c'n'r each year do die. I say lets keep the numbers of fish we do catch low as to help minimize the impact and still enjoy time on the water. I mean do we really need to catch 5 fish in a day???? I know just one makes me feel pretty damn good.

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Old 08-11-2003, 04:58 PM
OC OC is offline
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Sorry Sean for leaving you out. The list was just to get people to respond. They are folks I know from meetings or fishing with over time, everyone at this site has my respect for the way they care about our fish and encourage all to participate with any new thoughts on the subject.

Your idea about one fish and done is outstanding. I also have given that much thought and practice it from time to time. Enjoyed watching friends continue to fish, enjoyed walking around exploring and just siting in the drift boat drinking a beer.

My objective in this post was to see if anyone is thinking beyond the norm. To me and those I know through fly fishing the norm is C&R, selective gear and the rest of the regulations we live by. It is not about those who C&K or use bait and the likes. For many C&R has been the norm for 25 years or more. And for me I have not thought about it much I just do it. Same with the conservation & political process the battles seem to be fought just the same as they were 25 years ago anyway in the therory of things. I feel those processes have become flat in many ways. We still do good deeds conservation wise and on the river the same, anyway we think we do. Folks we know work so hard at saving steelhead, the hours they put in are just incredible. But do you feel or anybody feel there needs to be a revival on how we think about the norms in the fly fishing community. If not a revival a reavaluation on our standard way of thinking. Just seems we have become complacent at looking at ideas and ourselves in how we look at what we love to do. I'm hoping some have and are willing to share those thoughts and why they think the way they do. Remember for most of us C&R is old school not saying it's wrong just saying can there be something better. Some of this group has to have new ideas, new philosopy, a new way of thinking about how and why they fish. I bet there are ideas out there that would blow most of us away and give us something to think about besides the norm.
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Old 08-11-2003, 09:33 PM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
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Hey OC...

In as much as we have had several "chats" about this subject you know a little of my slant on the process of angling evoloution. "If you don't evolve you die the anglers death". Sounds like its time for you to "Evolve", quitting the good life is not an option to be taken lightly. May I suggest a close quarter counciling session soon on a new river!
I'm off to Sitka again in the morning, spent today trying to polish up the old Airstream in the rain squalls here in Port Angeles (the Fir trees were singing old Irish Pub songs the whole time it was raining). I should be back in a week or less get in touch there is something to do that will intrest you!
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Old 08-12-2003, 02:47 PM
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OC, Good thread. I know the WSC is always looking for help and volunteers from it's membership for input and new ideas. And your efforts for stepping up with new ideas and help are very much appreciated. From my experience around the campfire is there seems to be alot of talk and philosophy, but what lacks is taking words into action and volunteering to work or lead an effort or new idea. Implementation and perseverance is where the rubber truly meets the road. Just my $.02

-Lost poor realitive of the Simms family fishing fortune
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Old 08-12-2003, 04:22 PM
KerryS KerryS is offline
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Old 08-12-2003, 10:00 PM
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Sounds like a good old case of burnout. Getting tired of the crowds, getting tired of the Puget Sound (home?) rivers continuing to slide towards the end.

(As for there being fewer fish around, look to the summer runs (and several winter fisheries too) of the Columbia, and southward, the situation has done nothing but get better since the mid to late 90's. There are more than enough fish to go around.)

Sounds like it is time to go and explore new waters, waters with healthier runs of fish. Fishing a ruined resource will put a big damper on your karma. Time to leave the old haunts and go find out how much is still out there, variety is the spice of life!

Sounds like time to change the rules up for oneself and go find the 'thrill of the hunt'. I will not fish tips again- for summer or winter fish. (Why you ask??? Catching fish on tips just plain sucks. Steelhead on a tip, and swung fly, gives me the same feeling as dead drift indi-nymphing for trout. Bland and lifeless. I guess it makes it seem too easy and can quickly lead one to burnout.) Read up on McMillan and go dive into a new world of winter fishing. Guaranteed to kick the doldrums through a whole new world of fly design and line control. Even the flyfisherman laugh at you for this one!!!

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Old 08-14-2003, 09:53 AM
OC OC is offline
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Thanks guys for your concern but I'm not dead, dying or depressed. Just hoping we can share some original thoughts on what most likely will be the end of what we once knew. Let's face it things are changing fast as they have for awhile now and the reality is there just aint much more rope to play with on our Puget Sound Rivers.
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Old 08-14-2003, 04:36 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
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I'm not depressed either. However, I agree with you that the Puget Sound Steelhead are not doing well right now. I used to fish 4 or 5 days/week during the summer and 2 or 3 during March/April.

There are not a lot of fish around the last few years, which means that as much as I like getting out on the rivers, I haven't been fishing more than 1 day/week or 1 day every 2 or even 3 weeks. And then when you add the hot weather with the low water levels, the river temps get too high for me to justify fishing for steelhead.

There are several very good steelhead flyfishermen that I know who fish very infrequently the last few years because of how few fish there are and the different ethic they see with many of the newcomers to steelhead from what they grew up with. It seems to me that we need to value each day we go astream for the total experience that it is and that we also need to at least try to tell, teach, and instill in newcomers the sportman's ethic we were taught. This would make days astream far more enjoyable and lead to comeraderie that many of the old-time steelhead fly fishers had with each other.
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