Senate tries end-around EPA protection for Bristol Bay

Via TU’s Save Bristol Bay website:

Alaskans expressed extreme disappointment with Senator Lisa Murkowski’s co-sponsorship of the Regulatory Fairness Act, a bill designed to severely curtail the EPA’s authority to protect Bristol Bay from the Pebble Mine. The legislation, which was recently introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and David Vitter (LA), would severely limit the EPA’s Clean Water Act authority to restrict a project whenever it would have an “unacceptable adverse effect” on surrounding wetlands and waterways.

This follows the EPA’s decision in February to begin a Clean Water Act process to block the proposed Pebble Mine, and an announcement by Pebble investor Rio Tinto on Monday that it was dumping its 19 percent stake in the mine.

Thompson River Action Alert

The Native Fish Society is partnering with the Steelhead Society of British Columbia to raise awareness of a plan to loosen the rules in place surrounding the salmon net fisheries, which currently limit the bycatch of Thompson steelhead.

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is suggesting a change to current regulations that protect steelhead in their new Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for 2014-2015.

Read more and sign the NFS petition here.

Take Action for Little Fish

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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”

Handle wild fish with care

When you bring a wild steelhead to hand, it’s up to you to take care of that fish until it’s rested and ready to continue on its long journey. There are dos and don’ts to make sure fish are treated properly.

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Don’t:

  • Haul the fish into your boat with a net and set it down in the bottom of the boat. Fish flopping against hard surfaces beat themselves up just like they do on land.
  • Beach a wild fish for the same reason you don’t lay it in the boat. A flailing fish is in trouble.
  • Stick your fingers in its gills. Don’t lip steelhead; they’re not bass.

Do:

  • Get into knee-deep water and tail the fish when it comes near. It may take a couple of tries and you don’t need a glove, which removes protective slime from the fish’s skin.
  • Support a fish’s body (not in its gills) and hold the tail while you rest it before releasing. If you’re taking a photo, keep the fish in the water and only lift for a few seconds if you must.
  • Handle them carefully and let them go when they show signs that they’ve regained their strength.

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For more detail on what to do with beautiful wild steelhead once you’ve brought them close, check out our post on landing big 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.

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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.

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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

Tips for fly tying organization and storage

Anyone who ties even a few flies has an immediate problem: What do I do with all this stuff? Get it organized to tie better and more efficiently.

Storage

If you are like me, you tie a ton of flies. I think I have almost hit the 1,000-fly mark, so I need to put them somewhere. Those bead storage boxes that they sell at craft stores (Michael’s, Joann’s, etc) are a cost effective and practical solution.

I have a few boxes that are for my smaller nymphs and dry flies, plus a few more that have longer compartments for my streamers and deer hair bugs. This lets you find the flies you need for each trip and lets you stockpile and replenish on-the-water boxes so you always have enough flies.

You don’t have to be a fly tier to use this, if you buy flies this also works great.

Dubbing Rings

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This relates to a previous post where I recommended that you cut the corners off your dubbing bags: ring them up.

I used zip ties for at least 2 years before I finally found binder rings which are 1000 times better. They are metal and open and close so you can add new packs or take off empty packs. I divide up my synthetics and naturals then subdivide them even further: rabbit, squirrel, muskrat, fox, ice, trilobal, senyo, and all the others.

I just hang them on my desk or throw them in a box by my desk. It has been the easiest and best storage trick I use.

Pencil cups, not for pencils. For feathers

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This is the number one way to keep all your long-stemmed feathers like pheasant, lady amherst, ostrich, and peacock feathers in one place. Most of the time the different bird feathers are different length so you can find them fairly easily.

I used to pop them in a drawer or keep them in a bag, but this keeps them straight and fluffy and  looks awesome on your bench.

Separate everything

Separate everything into its own category drawer: hair, feathers, fur, rabbit, synthetic body, natural, bucktail, arctic fox, saddle hackles, marabou, etc. It works great because I can find what I’m looking for in no time, plus I don’t lose materials. This helps figure out what you need or don’t so you don’t buy extra or don’t buy enough.

Tool Caddy

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The Renzetti Tool Caddy is the best. For a while I used a pencil case that worked just fine until I spilled an entire bottle of head cement in it, ruining a bunch of my tools. Now with the tool caddy I don’t ever worry about any of my liquids spilling or losing my tools.

I have six bobbins, four pairs of scissors, three brushes, three hair packers, and so much more in there, so it was well worth it.

Hang your tails

This doesn’t just apply to tails, but to any big obnoxious material. I hang up my two fox tails, raccoon tail, and my saddle dry fly hackles. Buy those Command hooks and use medium copper wire scraps to hang them. It works well to reduce clutter and save space in drawers and on your desk. It also looks pretty cool just like the feather cup.

As a side note, buy a tail and you’ll never need to buy another again no matter how many flies you tie. I have barely put a dent into my tails. It would almost be worth it to split a tail with someone.

Space

I like having a clear space to tie. It helps me tie better, stay organized, use my scraps, and just tie higher quality flies. Having plenty of space also keeps everything together: tools, flies, and materials.

Good luck with storage and if you have any questions come into the shop or call. In the meantime, happy tying.

-GL