If you haven’t seen the movie “Perfect Storm”, I recommend you rent it, stream it, etc. It’s a good flick about some commercial fisherman on the eastern seaboard that get caught out at sea when two major storm systems collide. But this isn’t about the movie. The storm I’m talking about is coming our way in the form of the current drought and the forming of an El Nino in the Pacific.
This link to NOAA Fisheries site has some great information about El Nino conditions that I won’t detail here. Let’s just suffice to say that it’s bad news for Pacific Salmon and Steelhead. El Ninos occur pretty regularly. Warmer water than normal moves up the coasts of South, Central and North America and impact all inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean – from the bottom of the food chain to the top. The El Nino forming now is expected to be very strong – one of the warmest in the past 50 years. For Salmon and Steelhead, it means less forage fish (food) and a condensed environment. Generally salmon and steelhead experience reduced growth and increase mortality during an El Nino.
This is the rotten cherry on top of a crappy ice cream sundae.
We burned a few gallons of gas and left some rubber on the road to go see The Breach last night in Portland. An awesome film! A fellow movie goer remarked during the Q&A session afterwards – ” I’m overwhelmed, how do I, as an individual, do anything to help?”
Lori and I had a great discussion on the way home about how we can justify taking a stand on the issues when we as a family are a major contributor to so many of the problems. We added to the population explosion by having 8 kids between us. We live in a home made of 95% wood, we heat our home with firewood and electricity. A home which is protected from flood by two dams just upstream. We have a septic tank and drain field within 50 feet of the river and we aren’t all that careful about the chemicals we use within our home. Part of our household income is derived from my fishing guide service. The bulk of my working career has been in the telecommunications industry – a huge consumer of copper. Yup, we’re consumers of the “4 Hs” that are slowly driving nails into the coffin for wild fish species – Hydro, Habitat, Harvest and Hatchery.
“Steelhead Green” is a term used by NW anglers to describe a river that is dropping and clearing after a winter storm. When that happens, the river takes on a greenish look. It’s generally when fishing gets good for steelhead. The fish are on the move and in a mood to bite. Here in the Willamette Valley, we haven’t seen those conditions very often this year.
We finally have some rain in Oregon! After an extremely dry winter, we’re getting some good old liquid sunshine here in Pacific Northwest. The Little North Santiam, a river with a good run of Wild Winter Steelhead, has begun to rise.
For over a month, the Little North Santiam (aka North Fork) has been low and clear, running at under 200 cfs, reaching a low of 152 cfs earlier this week. Those are summer time levels. Normally we see flows between 800 – 2500 cfs this time of year with the 83 year average right at 1,200 cfs. When the flow is under 200 cfs, the gravel beds are dry and only the deep pools and troughs have water. The water temperature has also been impacted by the unusually dry weather. Temps spiked on the Little North Santiam to 53 degrees this week, where the norm this time of year is in the low 40’s. The same situation exists all over the Willamette Valley. As luck would have it, we’re having a pretty decent run of fish this year with nearly 2,800 winter steelhead over Willamette Falls so far. Continue reading
Being called a “tree hugger” makes a guy stop and think. At least it made me stop and think. It was said in jest and I got a laugh out of it for sure. I know where it came from too. Lately, I’ve been a little more vocal about something I care about – Wild fish species of the Pacific Northwest.