Conservation

Drake Magazine 2020 Winter

Photo by Corey Kruitbosch

End-Times Steelhead. Group therapy on the Oregon Coast.

None of us guessed what was coming. Within hours of our leaving the river, the county would close all boat ramps and Oregon’s governor would implement stay-at-home guidelines. We were fishing on the last days of winter steelhead season 2020 and we didn’t even know it.

Photo Courtesy Rep. Simpson's Office. Idaho's 2nd District G.O.P. Rep. Mike Simpson, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Stanley-to-Redfish Lake Trail. 

The Bold Effort. An Idaho Congressman shares his thoughts.

In April 2019, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, gave a somewhat stunning keynote address at an environmental conference hosted by Boise State’s Andrus Center for Public Policy. His comments were thoughtful, educated, and encouraging. But mostly, they were surprising, particularly his thoughts about what might be necessary to save Idaho salmon. Rep. Simpson and I discussed the topic in mid-December, and his quotes below come from his keynote and our conversation. Can Idaho salmon truly be saved? No one knows. But the Congressman has been down a similarly daunting path. In 2015, Mr. Simpson’s 15-year effort to broker a seemingly impossible deal resulted in the creation of Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness. (Which Mark Menlove covered in his 2014 feature, “A Fisherman’s Monument.”) If wild salmon and steelhead can indeed be saved, then Rep. Simpson is providing these essential fish the best shot they’ve had in decades.

Photo by Kurt Budliger. The deeper colors of a seasoned grayling.

Ingrid. One woman leaves an oversized impression in Alaska.

I think that Ingrid would want you to know—as she stands in her waders, stands by her weir, looking down at a dark mass of grayling that were trapped in the night—that there was a time when no one would’ve thought fish would ever need to be counted. But she’d also want you to know that these don’t have to be the last wild days. She would want you to know that not everything has been lost, and that there is still the hope of unknown waters.

Photo by Josh Idol

Silver Lining Kings. Long walks on the beach in Southeast Florida.

My first tarpon on a fly was a stout, laid-up fish that ate my worm and broke me off an hour later. I was a teenager at the time, and fortunate to have a father who took me on an annual spring trip to the Keys. But as I grew older and started achieving some success on the bow, my focus shifted to permit. Like many permit anglers, my trips often ended with a long flight home, followed by a long-winded explanation to my wife about how I could spend three days fishing, catch nothing, yet still feel the trip was “a step in the right direction.” At the height of my addiction, I was focusing more on the seconds ticking away on my watch than I was on scanning the water. I’d lost the mental game before even stepping on the skiff.

Bobby Foster Chrome Winter OP

Commodities and Steelhead. An imperative shift on the Olympic Peninsula.

Wild Steelhead are not corn, wheat, or cattle. They are not oranges, apples, or anything that we can control with expected specific outcomes and pounds delivered to market. Put them in a box and they will swim right out of it.
Even among anadromous fish, steelhead are the least predictable of any salmonid swimming the North Pacific. They are never a species of multitude, like Kings, Coho, or even Pinks, that come home in a rush of biological delivery to the rivers spanning the West Coast. They cruise along the edges, arriving to their natal rivers in fits and spurts, with dozens of life histories across each watershed. In short, there were never that many steelhead to begin with.

Archie Creek Fire along the Umpqua Hwy (OR 138) Photo taken Sept. 12, 2020. INCIWEB/NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

Archie Creek Fire along the Umpqua Hwy (OR 138) Photo taken Sept. 12, 2020. INCIWEB/NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group)

Brianna Proctor

Proctor's Snake River Cutty from Wyoming's Hoback River.

Brianna Proctor. Finding new water, the hard way

For Brianna Proctor—a lead helicopter crewmember based in Swan Valley, Idaho—learning about and working near rivers all over the country has become a major benefit of her firefighting career. She’s been a wildland firefighter for 15 years, working primarily in the air attack and helicopter realm as a member of what’s called a “helitack” crew—a group that works alongside helicopters to facilitate water drops, fire recons, and the shuttling of crews into remote areas of the fire.

Drake Magazine Southeast Alaska Tongass

Photo by Jim Klug

The Roadless Rule in America’s Salmon Forest

“Judge Sharon Gleason, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Alaska, ruled last week that the Forest Service violated federal law by approving future logging in the 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest.”

I pay my bills here in Southeast Alaska, at least in part, by having short and intense conversations on airplanes. I help wedge wadered clients from all over the globe into DeHavilland Beavers, then drop in on some of the planet’s most spectacular temperate rainforest

Steelhead conservation in Oregon

Photo: Nate Koenigsknecht

Can’t We Let Them Live?

As a lifetime Oregon resident, angler, and guide, I spend 40-60 days a year on the rivers of the Southern Oregon coast. I interact with anglers that use all types of methods, and every one of them I’ve talked to has noticed a significant decline in encounters with wild steelhead. How can this be explained?…

PHOTO BY MORGAN HEIM

Smoke on the Water

Marijuana cultivation’s impacts on our rivers Chris and James stand on the lawn behind Indian Creek Resort, stomping their feet against the cold while passing a joint back and forth. Recreational pot has been legal in California since January 2019, so the two aren’t breaking any laws. Tomorrow the three of us will be rafting…

A FLY ROD, NOT A GILLNET, IS HOW TO CHASE PERMIT

PHOTO BY COREY KRUITBOSCH

Hoping for a Net Loss

The push to ban gillnets in Belize At a Guatemalan fish-processing plant in spring of 2019, a team of journalists saw something that would make any flats angler cringe: several 80-gallon drums filled with salted permit. The journalists, from the Belizean newspaper The Reporter, were there to examine Guatemala’s shark-fishing trade, and the problems it…

A FAT BATCH OF NEWLY MINTED ELWHA CHROME.

PHOTO BY SHANE ANDERSON

Undeleted – Story of Elwha River

The return of the Elwha’s steelhead Give a rainbow trout a direct line to the ocean and you have a potential steelhead. Throw a dam in its path and watch anadromy hit a wall. Salmonids in Washington State’s Elwha River, on the northeastern edge of the rain-soaked Olympic Peninsula, found their long-lost gateway to the…

CHICKEE CHECK-IN TIME.

PHOTO BY JEREMY CLARK

Swamped

Revivalists and renegades in South Florida’s Everglades It begins as a subtle unzippering across the surface. Nothing more than shape and motion—forcing the brain to calculate distance to target, direction of movement, and speed of travel. These computations form the basis of what comes next: an attempt to drop a bottlecap-sized fly in the path…

Patagonia's Riverside Warehouse

Photo: Julie Brown

Patagonia’s Riverside Warehouse

The wader-repair department at Patagonia is a standalone, self-sustained operation in a hard-to-find corner of a 342,000-square-foot warehouse in Reno, Nevada, just steps from the rainbows, browns, and—as of last summer—native Lahontan cutthroat of the Truckee River. The department is little more than a series of temporary walls erected on the edge of the receiving…

Salmon in Pebble Bay Alaska

Stand for Salmon in Pebble Bay

Every year for the past decade the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay seems to die, only to rise again from its still-warm ashes. Despite lawsuits, a rigorous permitting process, and continued opposition by local organizations, Sam Snyder, campaign manager for the Wild Salmon Center, says the mega-mine isn’t just hanging on, it’s gaining momentum.…

Howler IndyFly Collaboration.

Howler IndyFly

Howler Bros. X IndiFly: Golden Frog Collection

Kaieteur Falls is a superlative 800-foot single-drop waterfall located in the heart of Guyana’s Kaieteur National Park. And although the falls are heavily photographed by gapers from around the globe, the area is also home to another famous inhabitant that is equally quirky, cool. The non-poisonous Golden Frog (Anomaloglossus beebei) is endemic to a 600-hectare…

Release - Finding Grace in the Rainforest

California’s Prop 68: Salmon & Steelhead Funding Decided at the Ballot

If you (or a good friend) enjoy the outdoors and live in California, this is a must-read. In 2017, the California state legislature passed Senate Bill 5, which will allow the issuance of bonds to finance drought-recovery, water, parks, climate and outdoor access programs. That bill, now known as Proposition 68, will appear on California voters’…

Pete Soverel works for Salmon Conservation

At the Helm- Salmon Conservation

The status of wild winter-steelhead populations can drive the most committed steelheaders to seek refuge near the fringes of Salmo Mykiss’ geographical range—fewer anglers can mean a few more fish. So, after 19 hours of driving, I pull my truck into the dark driveway descending to a rustic lakefront cabin. Towering cedars block what scant…

Yellowstone River is in trouble near Paradise Valley.

Yellowstoned – Paradise Valley Trouble

THE YELLOWSTONE RIVER’S pristine headwaters are tucked into some of the most remote land in the Lower 48, draining roughly 70,000 square miles across Wyoming and Montana. These wild waters serve as a stronghold for native Yellowstone cutthroat, and, combined with Yellowstone Lake, make up the largest inland population of cutthroat in the world.

Pebble Mine will effect the whole ecosystem.

Reignited – Pebble Mine Project

The proposed Pebble Mine, subject of 20 years of controversy, 2.2 million public comments, a dozen Congressional hearings, multiple documentary films, media campaigns, ballot initiatives, lawsuits, and the most ubiquitous sticker in all of fishingdom, is back on the table. Seemingly the result of one 30-minute meeting between two men: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and…