Fish Love

I admit, I’ve been lacking. No excuses here, just sometimes a man’s life takes different courses. Like a river you haven’t scoped out–boulders and unexpected eddies pop up.

We are at the end of the 2010 Steelhead Survey conducted on the Salmonberry River, just one of a number of projects I’ve launched into over the last 8 months. Long 7-8 hour hikes in what seems like impossible conditions are the norm. We count and study redds, collect fish data (couples and singles), track changes in river habitat, take pictures and video, and set temperature monitoring equipment. I don’t do this as a steelhead angler–I’m a trout guy. I do this out of the respect I’ve acquired over the years for all the species I admire, water and air breathers alike.

You would think that people would jump at the chance to be involved in a project like this–the beauty of these backcountry fish in the throws of an age-old ritual in 42-degree, gin-clear water is almost spiritual. Yet we struggle to fill the coffers each week. There is always something else to do: kid’s soccer games, parents visiting, lawn and garage sales, the list goes on.

The fish don’t care. Each year they see themselves in the river, each year there are less brothers and sisters to look at. Each year we bonk more and more fish, and each year it becomes more and more apparent that there is a problem. I met a friend for a beer last evening. My legs ached after the game trail climb-out, and a good micro-brew always helps. “How did it go out there?” she asked. “We counted 52 redds, saw a number of fish (pairs and singles), scouted two large groups of Elk from a ridge, IDed piles of Bear scat, bugs were hatching all over… it was a great day.”

So, help clean a river, attend some meetings in you area, and make a stand to support fisheries management. Be a good steward of the places you visit, tell your friends and family how important these species are. We could use you. I not asking for you to go out and hug a tree, I wouldn’t do that. But a little fish love wouldn’t hurt.


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