Walleye; The least sporty gamefish in North America, stunted and overpopulated in Lake Roosevelt and the Upper Columbia, usurper of native salmonids. Take a moment to protect native redbands in the Upper Columbia by commenting on WDFW’s Rule Proposal #15 to raise or eliminate the limit on walleye.
Archive for the 'Fish Local' Category
The takeout was a dirt ramp. We had permission but I’m not sure why. Up above there was a collection of single-wides, derelict RV’s, rusted farm implements, and a Glastron ski boat on blocks.
When there came a godawful squealing we thought the winch on the trailer had seized up. We stopped cranking and listened and the sound was coming from up the hill. Just then a man came down the ramp with wild hair and bib overalls and half of his uppers.
“How’d y’all do?”
“Bass or catfish?”
“White’uns or them regulars?”
He tugged at his asscrack and pondered that and then he went on about he and his boy and a mess of yella cats they’d caught awhile back. When the squealing started again we turned and looked up the hill, and then back at him.
“What’s all that racket?”
“Yeah. We got up on a hog.”
Spring is still several months away in a North Cascade stream valley; the evergreen tree’s limbs are sagging under a load of snow and the forest floor and stream gravel bars have a “virginal” white blank of snow. Several miles of this ice rimmed stream flows through a relatively flat valley located more than 2,000 feet above sea level and more than 100 river miles from Puget Sound. In gravel below the frigid stream water life is beginning to stir. The cleanest and most stable gravels coupled with water temperatures just barely above freezing is providing a near ideal environment for the eggs of one of the Pacific Northwest’s enigmatic species. The next generation of native char of the region are preparing to hatch.
Bull Trout Biography written by a real fishologist.
Courtesy of Life is Fly.
“On the lower end, two fair-sized streams drained the interior. One rose from a series of springs that poured forth from hillocks around today’s 20th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Saponickan band living there called it Ishpetenga. It flowed southwest into the Hudson near the mouth of another trout stream. This one had its origins in a deep, fair-sized pond where Worth and Centre streets now cross. It flowed northwesterly, almost in a straight line, and became the course for today’s Canal Street. The pond was known as The Collect. The Dutch name for this trout pond was derived from one of its beaches, which they which they called Kalk Hoek – Chalk Point or Chalk Hook. It was given the name because the early Dutch settlers came here to collect the shells of freshwater mussels, which were ground and added to the mortar used to build their homes. When the English took over management of Manhattan in 1664 they assumed many of the Dutch words already in use for geographic features. Their inelegant pronunciation of Dutch turned the monosyllabic word “Kalk” (or “Chalk”) into the dissylable “Kal-leck”- hence, “Collect.” The pond’s name had nothing to do with collecting water in the area, as some writers have suggested, although it did have two small feeder streams. For decades, in the 1600s and 1700s, it was the source of drinking water for all of lower Manhattan’s residents. The Collect and its associated streams contained brook trout as late as 1740.”
- from Brook Trout by Nick Karas
What you’re not seeing on the teevee machine: much of New York’s Schoharie Valley and the headwaters of the East Branch, smashed into a muddy paste.
A picture from the end of a seventy rod portage after a three mile paddle in a sixteen foot canoe over a lake in the BWCA that is not shy of throwing whitecaps at you (the son of a bitch did, too). Every bit of what you imagined after reading that last sentence is true. It was a lot of work getting to this lake. Worth it, however.
Minnesota is built and managed for these fish. There are approximately four million of them for each person that resides in this state. So we go out and fish for them. If you have fished for steelhead then you know how a walleye fishes. Skittery, picky, gotta be there at the right time.
Roll a fillet in a beaten egg and then in smashed saltine crackers and pan fry it. Dip a bite in a blend of mayonaisse and minced kosher pickles and you’d do some work for them, too. A few fish on the stringer were hauled in by the DA (my wife). She’s four months into our third child.
Yours truly isn’t smiling for nothing.
And props to StickerJunkie.com, that BWTF one-off ‘s survived 3 Oswego County winters like a goddam champ. You try standing in front of a snow gun for 3 years, look as good you will not, hmm?
This, believe it or not, is the headwaters of the Everglades.
I come back from Florida and people sound incredulous about it. You fished for what? Not tarpon? But I am, after all, a working man, and the bass is that fish.
I’ve fished out of Clewiston on rocket boats from Mr. Martin’s marina, but there’s more to it than the great lake. The largemouth bass in Florida are like Led Zeppelin on the radio, always on somewhere.
The canal by the hotel, the pond by the cell phone waiting area at the airport, the creek that starts the freshwater flow south to Florida Bay. Something will be forthcoming, with big fat slobbery paydirt.
Each year, right about this time, the serious fish arrive. They slip in with no warning, no fanfare. They are here on business. They travel under cover of darkness, cloaked by the high tide, aided by snowmelt. They come in, make their appointments, and leave. They do not often reveal themselves to the casual observer, and when they do, the vision is fleeting. They come from far-off currents and seamounts, and find shelter in the wildest water. The serious fish do not seek attention.
With the onset of spring, the snowfields begin their diel cycle of melt-freeze-melt, the Morse code of which can be read in the river. The flows rise and fall with these pulses of fresh blood, and where the sweetwater slides over brine, they do not go unnoticed. The serious fish feel the pulse, and go looking for the source. The rising tide lifts them over the bar, and the night shepherds them through the meadow and into the flow, proper. They rendezvous under logjams and in backeddies, resting and regrouping. The serious fish do not dally.
The annual spring freakout has arrived, and not a moment too soon. The Game has begun. It is now time to seek out the serious fish, to hold brief meetings with them in beautiful, clandestine places. It is time to not feel bad about lying to your best friends while looking them straight in the eye. Now is the time to stock up on granola bars, red bull, 2-cycle oil, AvGas, and PBR. Hot flies become currency, and first water is the holy grail to you and your ragtag collection of knights-errant. If your affairs are not in order it is too late, for The Game has begun.
Over the next 19 days, Game-plans will be drawn up during hours of darkness, and courses of action undertaken in the still hours before first light. There will be many miles flown, boated and walked, and there will be many meetings both planned and actualized. There are many metrics with which to measure The Game, but there is only one that is relevant.
473 hours left in The Game.
Towanda Creek is a small Susquehanna trib in northern PA. It’s a put & take trout stream at its upper end, and becomes more of a smallmouth thing later on. There’s a thousand streams just like it, maybe you know one or two.
It already suffered from low summer flows before the hydrofrackers moved in and started drawing water off to mix with sand and salt and proprietary chemical brewskis to make fracking fluid to be injected into their gas wells. Thousands of gallons of water are used for this, and it’s gotta come from somewhere, and in July you can just hope they leave enough for the fish.
Fish find ways to survive low flows. Well, some of them do anyway, at least for a while, we hope. But now there’s been an accident at a gas well near the headwaters, and words like “uncontrolled” and “blowout” and “emergency” are being used to describe the spill of fracking fluid that swamped the well site and dumped into poor Towanda Creek. Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, named after the bay to which their vomitous oopsie will ultimately flow, are up 3%. Way to go, pricks.
The Hudson bass have an edge to them, seeing as they survived 30 plus years of General Electric trying to kill the river with polychlorinated biphenyl. When they start rolling in the early season into the tidal creeks and mud flats, the hibernation is over.
The Chesapeake bass had it in a bad way this winter, with 10 tons worth strangled in the poaching incident we know about, but the Hudson bass keep coming. As John Waldman wrote in his book Heartbeats in the Muck, “The population was conserved through the inadvisability of its consumption.”
I’ve seen people keep city fish. I bet they don’t realize the extra zing in the meat comes courtesy of the people who made their toaster oven.
This is a bridge and tunnel crowd. One of the guys here took the subway then the bus and walked the last stretch along the street in his boots and waders. It’s spring, time for everybody to do what they do.
“It won’t be long now. The robins are back, the jays are back, hell, even the little tweetybirds are flyin’ around my place. The snow is gonna melt soon, then it’s game on…”
The waiting game is never easy to play, but when it drags on for nearly 6 months like it does here in Northern SouthEast, it gets downright unbearable. As it turns out, there IS a limit to the number of flies a fella can tie in anticipation for an upcoming season.
“S’posed to rain next week – that’ll get ‘em moving…yeah, I know it isn’t May yet, but there’s bound to be a few fish off of Lucky Creek, just waitin’ for a bump.”
The lies we tell ourselves as we wait get more and more complex as the season of the cold drags on, forming a web of self-deceit in which we cloak ourselves against the ugly truth – we won’t be fishing anytime soon unless we go someplace warmer. This happens occasionally, but is a costly relief valve. The relief and soul-feeding comes at a high monetary price, but by mid-February it is worth every single penny.
“Last high water did some interesting stuff to the upper section of that flow. You see the new tree? Hope breakup doesn’t wash that one away…”
Anticipation is equal parts pleasure and anxiety, according to pointy-headed folks that describe these things for a living. The pleasure side of the equation has always been easy to see. The anxiety side is slow to reveal itself, but as the season draws closer, a fella begins to understand the mixture of elation, dread, fear, and hope that make up the darker side of anticipation.
“Had my eye on that flow for a looong time. All the classic signs are there, and with the southern exposure, there is gonna be water sooner than the other one – we need to hit that one this year.”
The truth of the matter is we wait in the cold and dark for a season that lasts roughly 3 weeks, a month if we are lucky. We spend 24 crazy days, driving and flying and boating all over the landscape in search of our spring dance partners, then we spend 340 days waiting for it to happen again. The more seasons you do this, the more you realize the source of your anxiety – the closer the season is, then the sooner it will be over.
“Gonna be a good one. Good ocean temps for a few years, favorable offshore winds, good parent year…all signs point to go for this one, man.”
And so we plan and scheme, hash and rehash. As the season gets closer and the anticipation builds, a sense of serene calm overtakes you. You understand completely the fact that once the dance starts, you have a window of approximately 600 hours to get your freak on with the favored fish. When the dust settles and the final accounting of the season begins, you will have another 340 days to replay you and your buddies’ successes as well as your failures, but for now, you have 24 days to look forward to.
T-minus 44 days. Can’t wait, fisha.
I’ve seen what oilfield transportation corridors do to the economy and community of a region. It is a hurly-burly low-wage twenty-four hours/seven days a week service industry that does not build community. - Rick Bass, Author
The first big beneficiaries of this hijacking will be a Korean steel company hired at the expense of Canadian steel workers, and Exxon—the richest corporation in the world: the losers will be the American people, starting with us. - David James Duncan, Author
America continues its apparent national quest to despoil every square inch of the continent with the plan to truck large tar sand “modules” down HWY 200 in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana. The modules are about 3o feet tall, 24 feet wide and the length of a football field. Apparently the most direct route from their construction in Korea is from port at Lewiston, ID, through Montana and on up to Canada. Due to the width of the modules, both lanes of HWY 200 will be one direction and both sides of the road will be cleared for the additional 8 feet of clearance needed.
Not surprisingly, residents of the valley, which is the location of Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It”, are pissed. They formed the grassroots org All Against the Haul to coordinate opposition to the project, which would severely alter the character of the valley and negatively impact the natural resources there.
As always, when oil and money combine, you get the politicians coming out of the woodwork to defend poor, helpless Exxon Mobile,; Politicians such as Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Here are some choice quotes from the good Governor in a NYT article along with some commentary:
“Chlorine, insecticides and fertilizers go down these roads in trucks every day,” he said. “If they spill, they would kill fish for 50 to 100 miles.”
Yes they do, but chlorine, insecticides and fertilizers are also packaged as HAZMAT, and are limited by CFR 49 to certain amounts per transportation method, all with the goal of not spilling. Yes accidents happen, but there is a world of difference between an 18 wheeler and the transporters moving these modules.
But the large loads, he said, “are inert, like big shoe boxes made of steel. If one fell in the river, they could be cut in half or taken out whole.” Until they were removed, he argued, “fish could spawn under them.”
Well fuck, I guess that makes it all better; Although the effort to remove the giant shoebox would probably destroy a fairly large swath of habitat.
Many residents worry that the loads will block emergency vehicles, but the governor said helicopters could provide transport.
And how many air ambulance helicopters does the area around Missoula have? A quick check indicates 2 and the cost for a 56 mile flight ranges from $12K to almost $17K. Medicaid and the insurance companies are going to love this.
But Mr. Schweitzer argues that the roads are a federally financed transportation corridor. “Montana can’t up and change the rules because we don’t like somebody,”
Umm, didn’t Montana tell the BATFE to take a flying leap with the Montana Firearms Freedom Act? Oh yeah, it did:
The bill was introduced January 13, 2009 by Joel Boniek, Gerald Bennett, Edward Butcher, Aubyn Curtiss, Lee Randall and Wendy Warburton. It was signed in to law by Governor Brian Schweitzer on April 15, 2009 and became effective on October 1, 2009.
So, the good Governor is perfectly content to tell the Feds to STFU when it comes to guns, but meekly accepts the rules when it comes to limiting damage to the Blackfoot Valley. Uh-huh
I first read Michael Gracie’s post regarding a new way of managing the “Dream Stream” when it was first published last week. I’m usually skeptical of anything titled or modified with a “modest proposal” usually because that is a siginifier that the ideas contained within are anything but. Before I comment, I’m posting the MG’s proposal in its entirety for two reasons; the first being that I think they entire idea should be heard out, and secondly I don’t want to misconstrue or misrepresent his idea.
Modesty and Twelve Gauges
Let’s turn the Dream Stream into a permit-only water. Draw for days, just like elk hunting season. And pay dearly just the same. No poaching, no guiding, and no cheating. Guns drawn and off to jail with you if you disobey.
Think of the fees it could generate for protecting those fish. Imagine how those fish might behave with significantly less pressure on their poor souls. $50 per day to park in the lot between May 1st and August 31st. And then, say, a $150 per person rod fee during the spawns – February 1st through April 31st and September 1st through October 31st – would allow those fin finned friends to breed without undue harassment. I suspect the populations would explode, and the need for stocking would be significantly reduced too.
Catching wild fish on an extraordinary stretch of water. One now named after a luminary lost. What would Charlie think about this?
By the way, the same could be said for the Taylor, Frying Pan, and probably a few other sections of water too. Raking the reds with a three fly nymph rig for a digital hero shot? I think you should pay out-the-ass for such guilty pleasures.
When I first skimmed over it, early in the morning and definitely pre-caffinated, my first reaction was “WTF- another let’s ‘privatize the resource’ and make a shit ton of cash in the process and call it conservation”. Later, I went back and actually reread the idea. I won’t make any specific comments on the rivers in particular, but the idea is worth chewing on. I think it is a valid idea and not at all like my first, coffee deprived, impression. There may be some other ways to accomplish the same ends.
Here are some half formed ideas:
- I think a smarter approach would be to close the season, or those sections of known spawning streams / rivers to all angling. We already have good mortality data on C&R and can project the impact on the population even in C&R only waters. Closing those rivers down during the spawn removes that stress from population, although this will be as popular as a fart in church to the headhunters.
- Perhaps an education campaign about the negative impact targeting spawning fish will have. It didn’t take long, especially in cultural terms, for C&R to go mainstream and although there are still a fair number of bank apes out there, conservation is more in the fore than the old subjugate the wilderness mentality.
- If the route of extra fees and lottery draws are decided upon, there should be some no shit scientific study of how many “tags” should be issued, etc. Big game management is usually executed well in that the lotteries and tags available usually track to the amount of hunting that a particular population can sustain. There would be a similar need for management of fish stocks which raises all sorts of questions- can it be done for a reasonable cost for instance. If it can’t, and the tags are issued based on throwing darts in a dark room, then maybe alternate management methods should be considered.
Again, I’m an amatuer at this and I think MG raises an interesting question that is worth thinking about. Over to you in the comments.
“Who needs carp when you can have these things ignore your fly all day?”
Got a better one?*
*-My fairy godfather (or is it hairy goat father?) Wookie sez that you chumps will expect stickers and other schwag just for chiming in with your little witticisms since I gave a few away last time, so here’s the deal…you make me laugh, you get a sticker. You don’t, well…talk to the hairy one about the consequences.