Suit Filed to Block Elwha River Hatchery Program in Washington State

The pristine Elwha River

Conservation groups filed suit this week, against Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and representatives of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, for violating the Endangered Species Act.  The Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition are charging federal agencies and representatives of the Lower Elwha Klallum Tribe with ignoring the best available scientific data and threatening the recovery of Chinook salmon and native steelhead by funding and operating fish hatchery programs on the Elwha.

Dam removal on the Elwha

The federal government is spending nearly $325 million for the dam removal project on the Elwha, which will open up ninety miles of pristine river habitat in the Olympic National Park.  Rather than allowing wild salmonids to naturally repopulate, federal agencies and the Elwha Tribe are proceeding with a plan to release approximately four million juvenile hatchery salmonids annually.  The hatchery releases will be conducted by a new fish hatchery built with $16.4 million of Stimulus Act funds.

Olympic National Park, Elwha River

State and federal agency scientists point out, that the current plan gives no measureable goals for wild fish recovery, provides no timetable for ceasing hatchery production, and that ultimately, wild fish recovery will be hampered by the hatchery program.  Scientific data confirms that hatchery fish compete with wild salmonid populations for food, spawning grounds and detrimentally effect the wild fish gene pool.  A five year sport fishing moratorium has been placed on the Elwha, giving hatchery produced salmonids plenty of time to effect the recovery of wild fish.  A review released this week by the independent Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG), which was organized and funded by Congress, has echoed these concerns.

“While the Tribe played an essential role in removing the dams,” said Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy, “their intent to now plant millions of hatchery fish in disregard of the scientific evidence undermines salmon recovery in the Northwest and the goals of the ESA.   However you look at it, it’s a horrible precedent if left to stand.”

To read the entire article, go to:  http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/2012/02/suit-filed-to-block-elwha-hatchery-programs/

Posted in Conservation, Dam Removal, Fly Fishing, Salmon, Spey Fishing, Steelhead, Steelhead Fishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City Boy Lost on the North Coast

I dragged my good friend and cameraman, Ed Blair, out of the city and up to the North Coast last week to shoot the first winter segment for the movie.  The fishing was tough to say the least.  The Steelhead were just not moving to the fly, despite doing two passes through many of the best runs and fishing a variety of fly sizes and color combinations.

Ed was a fish out of water, having spent little time out of the bustling city.  Check out this video and if you run into us on the river, try not to be too hard on him.  Enjoy!

Posted in Fly Fishing, General, Northcoast Rivers, Photography, Spey Fishing, Steelhead, Steelhead Fishing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emerald Water, Alders & Steelhead

The low-flow closures have been lifted and the Northcoast rivers are slowly coming into shape.  The storm that pounded Northern California last week has passed, and in its wake,  a smaller storm front is bringing additional rain to the area.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of a moderately wet winter on the coast, with plenty of open windows for swinging flies for Steelhead.

Top of Buckridge Pool, Garcia River

To celebrate, we thought we’d introduce you to a friend of ours, photographer, author, graphic designer and fly fishing travel host, Jeff Bright.  Jeff’s photography and writing have been featured in Catch Magazine, American Angler, Southwest Fly Fishing, California Fly Fisher and many other magazines.  In 2002, Jeff’s book, Found In a River:  Steelhead & Other Revelations was published by Frank Amato Publications.  The book is filled with stunning photography and sparse prose chronicling his passion for fly fishing for steelhead.

Jed Smith Park, Smith River

Alder and White Water, Smith River

Jeff, who is eternally committed to the celebration, pursuit & conservation of sea-run Rainbow Trout, does design work for the following conservation groups: California Trout, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Friends of the Trinity River & the Smith River Alliance.  Visit www.jeffbright.com to see more of his amazing work.

Alder and Pool, Garcia River

All photographs by Jeff Bright.

Posted in Conservation, Fly Fishing, Northcoast Rivers, Photography, Salmon, Spey Fishing, Steelhead, Steelhead Fishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rain is Almost Here!

We’ve got rain on the way and it’s about time.  It’s been a very dry Autumn and early Winter this year, especially in contrast with last Winter’s record rain and snow fall. We’re currently prepping for the first North Coast shoot.  Edgar Blair of Elysium Films is on hold to shoot this sequence.  Ed has an incredible eye and we’re very lucky to have him with us.

The flows on California’s North Coast rivers are very low and most rivers are currently closed to fishing.  These rivers will rise dramatically once the heavy rainfall begins and will begin to clear when the storm passes.  Knowing which rivers clear first, at what rate, and at which level they fish best, is the key to timing this trip.

So what do we do when we’re anxiously watching the weather and the flows?  We tie flies and thank our friends at Idylwilde for developing the best Steelhead patterns around!

Hartwick's Hoser - If you haven't joined the Hoser Nation then get on board!

If you haven’t seen a fly produced by Idylwilde, then you don’t fly fish much.  The raw talent this institution has, developing patterns for Steelhead and every other game fish on the planet, is amazing:  Hartwick, Hickman, Silvey, Morrish, Fox, Marts, Morejohn and of course, the legendary Bob Quigley, to name just a  few.  Check out their link (at the Things We Dig BIG! column) and marinate yourself in awesomeness!

Morrish's Medusa - I fish this fly with a lot of confidence (and not just for Steelhead).

Pictures courtesy of Idylwilde Flies.

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Saving Salmon One Log at a Time

The Nature Conservancy has been doing some interesting work in the last three years on the Garcia River, in Mendocino County.  They’ve been cutting down trees and strategically placing them in the river, to create log jams.  These log jams grow naturally, as woody debris is flushed down stream by high winter flows and then trapped.  Log jams create cover, deep pools, clean gravel, and shelter from high flows, which are all extremely important for Salmon survival.

Check out this quick video to see more.

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Rain, Wind & Marinade!

The storm that hammered the most Northern Corner of the state passed quickly, leaving us with another dry spell in it’s wake.  The Smith River settled into shape and quickly receded back to the low and ultra clear state that it was before the storm.  It’s amazing how quickly that river can drop from a raging 55,000 cfs to a meager 1,800.  It shouldn’t be surprising though, since it’s California’s only major river that remains undammed.

The rest of the coastal rivers got a small shot of rain and were open to fishing for several days, but have since been closed by the DFG’s North Coast Low Flow Closure system.  Our window of opportunity is gone and we must wait for another low pressure system to bring us some water.  It’s been extremely dry in Southern California due to the Santa Ana winds that have been roaring in from the desert.  Hopefully, this is not the sign of a prolonged, dry winter.  What we need is rain, water and chrome.

So what do we do when conditions aren’t right?  We tie flies and plug our friends at Idylwilde!

Hartwick's Hoser - If you haven't joined the Hoser Nation, then...

If you haven’t seen a fly produced by Idylwilde, then you don’t fly fish much.  The raw talent this institution has, developing patterns for Steelhead and every other game fish on the planet, is amazing:  Hartwick, Hickman, Silvey, Morrish, Fox, Marts, Morejohn and of course, the legendary Bob Quigley, to name just a  few.  Check out their link (at the Things We Dig BIG! column) and marinate yourself in some awesomeness!

Morrish's Medusa - I fish this fly with a lot of confidence (and not just for Steelhead).

Pictures courtesy of Idylwilde Flies.

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Happy New Year!

I’d like to wish my friends, family and everyone involved with THE GRAB a very happy New Year.  2011 was a fantastic year for my family and I, as I hope it was for you.  Here’s to 2012 and all the great moments ahead!

Right now, we’re planning and organizing our first trip to the coastal rivers in search of chrome bright Steelhead!  There’s been some decent rain in the most northern region of the state and some of the rivers are coming into shape.  I look forward to winter steelheading like a five year old looks forward to Christmas.  Huge flies, emerald green water, giant Redwoods and fresh from the Pacific Steel.

Did I mention HUGE flies?  Happy New Year everyone!

pictured above: in the tying room, whipping up some winter flies – Paul Miller’s Predator

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Condit Dam Removal – White Salmon River, WA

Here’s a very interesting video of the beginning of the removal of the Condit Dam on Washington State’s, White Salmon River.  Before blasting a large hole at the base of the dam, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transported seven hundred spawning Chinook Salmon upstream.  These fish were able to spawn in a section of the river that Salmonids have been cut off from for almost a century.  I believe that efforts like these, which can open up a hundred miles or more of prime spawning habitat, are the answer to bringing anadromous fish runs back to the levels, that we all want to see them at.

This video was produced by Andy Maser.

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Action Alert: Remove Dams on the Klamath River Now!

As many of you know, the Klamath dams are tentatively scheduled for removal in 2020. None of this is certain though. I personally fear that waiting that long, gives everyone involved, time to build grounds and avoid their responsibility in removing them.Please read the article. EPIC urges us to include certain points in our comments, including minimum water flows until the dams are removed and restoration of the wetlands in the Klamath and Tule Lake basin. I  agree with setting minimum flows, but the restoration of wetlands seems a very delicate operation that I believe, Mother Nature is best left to handle once water is able to flow naturally. I’m reminded of some of the efforts that were done on the upper Trinity River recently and their questionable results in a more stable environment.
Salmonids are resilient creatures.  Give them the opportunity and space to thrive, and they will!

By 

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!

Tell the Secretary of the Interior to Remove Dams on the Klamath River Now

UPDATE! Comment Deadline Extended to December 30, 2011

Dams on the Klamath River must come down to restore Coho and Chinook salmon runs to their historic spawning grounds.  Right now, the federal government is considering a proposal to remove the dams beginning in 2020.  It is critical that government officials hear from you now to advance the restoration of the Klamath River.  Please take a moment to submit your comments before the new comment deadline of December 30, 2011.  We encourage you to be original, and consider EPIC’s key points to include in your comments.

EPIC encourages you to include the following points in your comments:

1.     I support the immediate removal of all dams on the Klamath River and its tributaries.

2.     I also support the restoration of all historic wetlands and marshes in the upper Klamath basin, including Lower Klamath Lake, Tule Lake and Upper Klamath Lake.

3.     The restoration activities must also improve conditions for salmon on the Scott and Shasta Rivers.

4.     In addition, I demand that an absolute minimum flow of 1,300 cubic feet per second at the Iron Gate gauge be established for the dry season.  The National Marine Fisheries Service has required a minimum flow at Iron Gate pursuant to biological opinions to comply with the Endangered Species Act, and therefore the Secretary should include a minimum flow for fish.

5.     Lastly, the Secretary of Interior should ensure that more water from the Trinity River stay within the watershed so that increased water flows in the dry season assist salmon migration in the Lower Klamath River.

For more details about the proposed Klamath Facilities Removal, check out:www.klamathrestoration.gov

You can submit comments online at:

http://klamathrestoration.gov/Draft-EIS-EIR/feedback

You may also submit comments by sending letters directly to the following officials:

Ms. Elizabeth Vasquez

Bureau of Reclamation

2800 Cottage Way

Sacramento, CA 95825,

or by fax to 916-978-5055 or email: KlamathSD@usbr.gov

Gordon Leppig

California Department of Fish & Game

619 Second Street

Eureka, CA 95501

Or by fax to (707) 441-2021 or email: KSDcomments@dfg.ca.gov

Posted in Conservation, Dam Removal, Klamath River, Salmon, Steelhead | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hood River Hatchery Findings by the National Academy of Sciences

As many fly fisherman and conservationists have suspected, hatchery programs have had an adverse effect on the numbers of wild anadromous fish.  They compete for forage, spawning areas, and travel in large pods, making steelhead descending their natal streams, easy targets for predators awaiting them at the mouth of the estuary.

New findings are concluding that when hatchery fish do mate with wild fish, their offspring contain traits that are “beneficial to them in captivity, but are severely maladaptive in the wild.”

Story by Scott Learn, The Oregonian

Genetic adaptation of hatchery steelhead starts hurting spawning success within just one generation, according to a study of Hood River fish that could lead to pinning down the causes of hatchery domestication.

Classic Darwinian evolution is clearly at work –and it’s working fast, the researchers concluded in their study, published today by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

“Now we know definitely that it’s adaptation to captivity and it happens in a single generation, which is amazing from an evolutionary standpoint,” Mark Christie said, an Oregon State University genetic researcher and the study’s lead author. 

To read the full article, click the link below:  http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2011/12/study_of_hood_river_steelhead.html

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