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Yosemite Range of Light

Take a couple minutes from your day to watch this outstanding piece (do it in full screen). Any stress you are dealing with in your will be knocked down a notch or two after this.

Dynamite Anyone?

Just found this piece from the Seattle Times through The Drake website. It's a subject dear to my heart as a former Grande Ronde guide and angler as well as Save Our Wild Salmon volunteer for over a decade. I hope the documentary will make waves. It's great to finally hear someone with real government influence advocate removal of the four lower Snake River dams.

Judge Redden is arguably the most well versed person in the world on this subject. He presided over the enormous case of the fight for removal of the dams, their violation of the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, failed scientific plans of both Bush and Obama and he heard arguments for all sides for over a decade.

It's actually a shame now that he is not in charge of the case, but again it's good to hear someone with his knowledge of the issues say the dams need to come down. It needs to happen and soon! All anglers should educate themselves on this issue, it's as big and important as the Pebble Mine, sacred headwaters mines and public access rights. This is the present and future our our fisheries.

Brett

Snake River dams should go, says judge now off the case

The Snake River dams, the subject of litigation between salmon advocates and hydropower supporters, ought to be removed, says the federal judge who until recently presided over the case.

By Craig Welch

Times environment reporter

The federal judge who presided over a court battle that pitted Columbia River salmon advocates against hydropower supporters told a television interviewer that four controversial lower Snake River dams should be removed.

In his first interview since stepping down from the case last fall, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden told Aaron Kunz, of Idaho Public Television in Boise, "I think we need to take those dams down."

During the interview for a documentary to air later this summer, the Portland-based judge, who presided over the Columbia River case for more than a decade, said the government and the Bonneville Power Administration had made vast improvements for salmon by increasing the flow of water through the Columbia's hydropower system.

They have "done things with the dams, spent a lot of money on all the dams, the Columbia and the Snake River — the spills, which they do not like — that has been very helpful," Redden said. But "I think we need to take those dams down."

Redden seemed to imply that removing the Snake River dams could make a significant difference in the health of threatened and endangered salmon runs on the Columbia system. "Those four Snake River dams don't really get a lot of — it's not that needed," Redden said.

The judge's comments, released this week by the station as part of a collaboration with Northwest public-radio stations, seemed to suggest he agreed with environmentalists and salmon supporters who have argued for years that salmon declines won't be reversed unless the dams are removed. The statements prompted immediate praise and criticism.

"It's certainly a welcome announcement to see that's what he believes after basically studying this issue for 10 years," said Nicole Cordan, policy director for Save Our Wild Salmon. "It's reaffirming to have this very smart man who came to this issue unbiased and over the years has looked at the law and the scientific and policy choices and come to this conclusion. It feels good."

But Terry Flores, with Northwest RiverPartners, a group representing farmers, electric utilities, ports and others opposed to dam removal, said she was taken aback by his words.

"All of us who have been putting years, literally, into working together and looking critically at the science and frankly seeing these huge investments being made to change dam operations — we've been scratching our heads over why the judge seemed to struggle with endorsing the plan," Flores said. "But his remarks explain that he apparently had a certain mindset. He clearly harbored strong feelings about dam removal."

Chompers!

My buddy Chuck, actually my protege who took over my position at Creekside Angling Co. in Seattle when I moved down here, sent me this fly and I have to say my heart skipped a beat as soon as it fell out of the package. I got a little light headed at the thought of getting a sharp tug in the midst of crashing waves on the CA coast. Makes me shudder now, writing about it.

He actually grew up in the Bay Area and is very familiar with the striper game. And I'm amped to strap this sucker on and not get it stuck in my scalp as I try to launch it with a 10 weight (I hope it won't fold the rod like a cheap suitcase). After all stripers like big meals and I'd like to oblige them. Chomp!

Brett

Truckee River Part Deux

Ok, second posting attempt...

In keeping with the Truckee theme, I fished it and the Little Truckee the last two days. The weather was perfect and fishing was good. Saw some small, dark stones, caddis and BWO's but everything was under a bobber with a load of lead.

The water was in great shape (about 500cfs at Boca Bridge) though with the weather now the graphs are on a sharp incline. The dam released water on the Little Truckee yesterday morning while I was on the water. It got dirty and fishing was no bueno after that. Good thing the main river was still in good shape. Though I didn't land either of the two jumbo pigs I hooked I popped some really nice fish. It was a great time. Here's some Sierra love.

Brett

PS-Ignore the blurry spot on some of the photos. My camera is trying to die. So much for water/shock proof.





Fly fishing footage from Truckee and Pyramid Lake from Gotta Stay Fly Productions

Now is the time to hit Pyramid. The weather is getting more predictable and slightly warmer.

My Book Report

Remember in elementary school when you had to do book reports? Man those were awful. "My book report is on Superfudge by Judy Blume." Looking back though we realize the value of learning to critically read, write and analyze. At least some of us do.

Hence my post today about a book I just finished but should've read seven or eight years ago, David Mongomery's King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of Salmon. For all fly fisermen, gear fishermen and anyone interested in conservation this is required reading. But really this book is almost more important for those not familiar with salmon and rivers and the fact we are both directly and indirectly trying to extinguish them from the planet. Plainly written, you do not need to be a salmon scholar or scientist to understand this work. Montgomery beautifully and logically lays out the history of salmon, human interaction and the disastrous consequences that resulted.

From Atlantic salmon in Europe in medieval times to the East Coast in colonial and modern time up to the present on the West Coast and the salmon crisis we are currently in he deftly shows the entirely human caused destruction of salmon everywhere. It shows the big picture. Montgomery identifies the key factors in the decline of salmon and even lays out a simple (yet in our pathetic political system a plan that seems almost an impossibility) for salmon recovery. It's a startling book even for those, like myself, that have been involved in and understand the environmental and political salmon wars in the Northwest. One of the most amazing this to me was as far back as medieval England people realized the importance of healthy salmon runs, laws were passed for their protection and laws continued to be passed in the New World as well yet they were simply ignored in large part and salmon runs continued to dwindle. The vast scale of wonton overfishing (or netting as it's really called) described in this book served only to reinforce my own view of the shame of buying commercially caught (or grown) salmon and supporting the maximum sustainable harvest mentality that has utterly failed.

Read this book and you will understand the fall of salmon. But you will also understand the actions needed to begin the return and rise of the salmon and maybe with enough people and grassroots action we can reverse the current status quo and bring salmon back to sustainable levels. People and salmon can coexist, Montgomery shows us how, but we have to be willing to make sacrifices now for our benefit in the future.

Brett

New Drake Mag

Yo yo, check out the latest issue of The Drake, Spring '12. It just hit your local fly shop this week. Editor Tom Bie and friends put out the best fly fishing magazine in the business. Hands down.

I even have a short piece in this one involving vampires and steelhead.

Keep it real. Go angle.

Brett

One In Winter - fly fishing film by Ryan Peterson

Here is a great short film about targeting California Coastal Steelhead made by Ryan Petersen from The Fly Shop. Make sure to read his thought provoking words below as well.

One in Winter from ryan peterson on Vimeo.

We understand mere fragments –

of most things really, but especially of a fish called steelhead. Its nominal definition goes that it’s a rainbow trout that migrates from river to ocean and back again to spawn, like a salmon. But like most living things, after you dedicate time to deep observation, their essential superpowers transcend human understanding. Just ask a grooved-out steelhead fly fisher.

In doing so you might hear how, for instance, steelhead have been tagged in Oregonian rivers and recaptured years later off the coast of Japan. You will then be entreated to confirm that that’s crazy, right?!

You might also be regaled by the legend that high-seas commercial fishermen rarely intercept steelhead as bycatch in their nets, suggesting a steelhead’s epic peregrinations are committed to solo, without friends in schools. They’re lone wolves out there, mysterious and supremely noble in the icy gray – the ultimate, fitting match for someone unimpressed by the listlessness of day-to-day society.

At that, you’ll be encouraged to exclaim something to the effect of, “What?!” or “Whoa!”

Then ask the steelhead angler about the special ones that run into rivers in the dead of winter and watch as their frantic code-red tone trails off. They fall silent, look you in the eye, and quietly, carefully size up whether you really care, or whether you’re just humoring them. Because now you’re talking about very serious stuff.

In general, the drama and excitement of fly fishing takes place almost entirely in your head. No matter what kind of fish you’re trying to trick, there’s always more time spent standing stone-still in a river, thinking about it, than there is with a fish actually on the line. The sub-discipline of winter steelheading stretches this to its threadbare extreme: The gap is immense. Sometimes it goes on for a whole winter. It’s all mind, for virtually no matter.

Sounds boring, I know, but there are no other “sports” in which the crucial defining moments revolve around a literal connection to another form of life. This is interesting to me. We often forget, ignore, or underestimate that humans are for better or (more often) for worse, the planet’s top predator. And even when we confront this fact, it’s usually only in the abstract. We are so far up the food chain these days we can get our food with money.

But fly fishing is not abstract. To catch a fish you must to step into an ecosystem, consider where you are, where your quarry came from, where it is going, why it might be hanging out in an eddy rather than in traffic, and why you are catching more or fewer of them this year compared to last. To catch a fish, the old saying goes, you must think like one. It’s so true.

If you watch a fly fisher trying for winter steelhead, you will not see any great feats of athleticism, and you certainly will not see any death-defying shockers. Ninety nine point nine percent of the time what you will see is exquisite patience and contemplation.

But if you watch a seriously steezy river-man like Rich Zellman long enough, you might, with luck, after days and days, catch a fragment.

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