Drake Magazine 2020 Winter

Photo by Corey Kruitbosch

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

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)

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?…

IT’S AN EARLY MAY MORNING IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA AND I WAKE TO THE SOUND OF SOMETHING EATING CRACKERS.

Two Sides of Southeast Alaska

Rolling over from my plywood perch on the top bunk, I peer down to see all three of my cabinmates asleep. So I rule them out. Slipping the headlamp from beneath my pillow and turning on the light reveals not one but two Alaska-sized mice sitting on top of a cooler, munching saltines. I stare…

The Greatest Steelhead State that Never Was

The State Of Jefferson

STATE OF ARMS AS WOULD ANY GUY SPAWNED FROM THE gravels of Oregon, I had deep reservations about driving the backroads of my home state in a rig blasphemed by California plates. It was a red Tacoma with a watertight canopy and a rod rack permanently bolted to its hood, an otherwise brilliant fishing truck,…

One man’s battle to free the Klamath

Flowing Ambition

[The Obama administration and California officials are set to announce an agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River, sidestepping Congress to restore its salmon and steelhead fisheries. The move would result in the largest river restoration in U.S. history. A news conference trumpeting the deal will take place today at the Yurok Reservation in…

Drone Zone

IN THE SHOWTIME SERIES HOMELAND, Carrie Mathison, played by actress Claire Danes, leads drone strikes against terrorists from the comfort of her CIA station. But the same technology that makes drones—also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs—convenient military weapons, has also helped advance the careers of real-world civilians, including a growing list of flyfishing…

When natural flows return, so do the steelhead

Undammed Rivers Revival

Across the continent, 2012 was a bad year to be a climate- change skeptic, but a much worse year to be a fish. Before you bid a tepid au revoir to this torrid 12 months, consider: According to 350.org founder and climate raconteur Bill McKibben, June broke 2,132 high-temperature records across the country. May was…