The Thrill of the Hunt

The past few weeks have seen a major shift in my usual sporting priorities. This season I decided to get serious about hunting, and therein I put the fly rod down and stopped fishing. 

Every day I have been dedicating a few hours to shooting well, as it is my worst fear to wound an animal. The backyard range came in handy, and I really focused on 20-50 yards.
 
Holding with the “aim small miss small” philosophy, I shot as much as I could and honed my skill and instinct.

 
The scouting was a blast, but also very challenging at times. It took us a while to find the animals, and many of the visuals were just glimpses. There is truly something special about walking in the woods and cutting sign.

  
    


    


After scouting around for quite a while, I found my spot and got my stand set up. I sat for 8 hours, and nothing came in. I was pretty surprised as we had animals coming in as we were getting setup a few days prior. I had an opportunity at a small black bear, but being it that it was opening day and it was small, I passed.

  
Me and my friends regrouped and talked our evening plan. There was a ridge line hike that I wanted to check out, so I broke off from the group and hit some high country. The ridge was covered in sign as well as fresh beds, but no one was home. There were about 50 big mountain quail around that we will meet again soon. 

  
I finished my hike and popped out at the spot I was going to be picked up at, found a nice spot to sit a waited for the truck. After 2 hours, I found myself a bit bummed as I was hoping to sit for a few hours in the stand before dark, and my guys were nowhere to be seen. 

A father and daughter roll through the area, and head on up the road out. Not 20 seconds later, I hear crashing in the brush up ahead, so I stand up and grab my bow, arrow already nocked. The buck comes out of the brush at about 35 yards, turns broadside and stops. I am ready and fully drawn, and I let fly. The arrow passed through the buck and flew another 15 or 20 feet, he runs less than 100 feet and falls over. A clean kill, this animal did not suffer. As I realize I just killed my first buck, and with a bow, a wave of emotion and reverence passes over me.

   

  

The father a daughter group walk over to the deer with me, and he offers to help me drag it to the road. I say thanks, but no, I need to do this on my own. Not 10 minutes after I have the deer down and am preparing my blade, here comes the truck with my partners. We field dress the buck, and head home to finish up. 

  

 

It was about 9:30 by the time we were done, and being that we live in a sportmans paradise, of course the local processor Siskiyou Distributing is open.

Now, it’s time to enjoy the harvest. Nothing like fresh tenderloin after a 24hr soak in some secret sauce.

 
I still have two more tags to fill, a C zone buck, and a bear tag. Here’s to two more months of hunting season!

In our group, first buck down gets a bottle of Pendleton. Man is that good stuff!

 

Good luck to  all the hunters out there!

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Siskiyou scrambling….

The last few months have really gone by in a blur. We have been living in Montague approaching two months, and are loving it so far. Being very close to so many interesting places has been a blast for us.

With fall approaching, my calendar has begun to fill and I very much look forward to the grind. 

I’ve gotten to explore the North Umpqua a bit, which was an incredible experience. Landing my first summer out of that water was something special.

  
Another place I have become enamored with is pit #3, a dead drifters dream. Hooked and lost one of the biggest trout of my life, and landed a few good ones.  

 
The last week or so my focus has shifted away from fishing, and towards putting meet in the freezer, in terms of blacktail deer and black bear. The season opens just over a month from now, and I am readying myself for the adventure. 

Been doing some whitewater trips on the middle klamath, a ton of fun and I get to look at the river in a totally different manner. Big whitewater is intimidating but a blast! 

Open dates as of now:
Nov 2-5, Dec 11-20 (pretty much all booked up)

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Fall 2015 And summer trout fishing 

Hey Guys,

I am filling pretty early this season, but still have some prime days open.

September: many openings

October: 17/18, 23-35. 

November: 2,30

December: 7-9, 13-23

Throughout September I will be fishing down river, targeting fish that are very fresh and we are swing only down there. These are trips where we wake up early and fish till high sun, and then take a long lunch and let the sun drop over the canyon walls. 

Rates for 2015 are $445 for a day, all inclusive. I have top of the line Spey rods from Gary Anderson and rio lines to match and love to spey cast. 

I picked up a new ride for this fall, a Clackcraft Superfly. Best boat to fish I have ever been in, come check it out at the Expo!

Throughout the summer starting in July I will be on the McCloud, upper sac and various other rivers.

Prime days available for summer fishing July-September 

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Keeping it Local! V.1/2015

Lately the Yuba River has been rewarding to fish. Flows have been hovering around 700 for a few weeks, and the condition of the river is great! The last storm a few weeks back bumped flows enough to clear some of the algae that can make wading tough. 



The amount of bug life has been consistently staggering. We have been seeing March Browns, gray drakes, golden stones, skwalas, bwo’s, pmd’s and many other bugs.



There has been a ton of anglers on the river, more than myself and many other guides have ever seen. This has made some of our fish quite educated, perfect drifts with the right bugs are key. 



I am fishing a good bit of dropper rigs, either putting a bead head nymph, or an emerger behind a larger fly.



Head hunting greatly increases your odds of success, and picking fish out to catch with a dry fly is what it’s all about.



Throw your cast, get your drift, and you may be rewarded with a rise.



See you around the bend,

TW

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Setting up for Small Water Success

Fly fishing small water for wild trout is my most favorite pursuit within the realm of fly fishing. I have been fortunate in my short span as a fly angler to be able to fish all over the world, and catch many species. Even with that, the allure of solitude and aggressive wild rainbows in the canyons holds my attention.

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So what is small water, and why is it more fun? Small water is not only defined by the size of the river system its self, but also by the size of fish, the ecological productivity of the water, as well as the biodiversity. I have focused my fishing time on the water of the Upper American, primarily the Middle and South Fork, and their tributaries.  One of the reasons small water is so much fun, is that it allows you to work with the utmost efficiency. You can dissect the water with your fly as a surgeon does with a scalpel, leaving no seam unfished. You can cast nearly anywhere you want to, and generally a roll cast will reach the distance. Another reason I love fishing small water, is the pure simplicity it lends itself to. So often in fly fishing we get way too complicated with our fishing. Keep it simple and it is so much more fun!

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This is not a “where to how to” type of thing. A large amount of the fun to fishing small water, is the adventure that goes along with finding your new fishing hole. Most of my days on the water are spent with one question in my mind, and that is “whats around the next bend?” I crave the sense of adventure and the satisfaction of discovery that fishing small waters provides. If you want to find some small water, just go out with some hiking boots and a fly rod, and adventure. Just in the area that I grew up fishing, there are more small waters than you could fish in a lifetime.

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Equipment related questions are something I hear very often, and the best advice I could lend again, would be to keep your fishing simple. I carry two rods when creekin, and a small double sided Umpqua Feather Merchants fly box with dries on one side, and various wets on the other side. I like a chest pack, mainly for the convenience of a camelback, and the room to store a light jacket, lunch, my first aid kit, and my Spot Emergency Beacon.

Setups:

1. Sage TXL-F 1wt, paired with any small reel, and a 1wt Rio DT line. This rod is the “workhorse” of my quiver while fishing small water. Even being a 1wt, this rod has enough pop to even turn over a small indicator and a few split shot. For the most part this rod acts as a dry dropper tool where I generally run a large foam fly, generally in the style of a chubby or something like that. Under this fly I will run two smaller tungsten bead head nymphs, simple flies like a flashback pheasant tail, birds nest or hairs ear. This setup is what is used for the “cleanup” after thoroughly fishing a run with a single dry fly and the best presentation possible. This rig will often pull another handful of fish out of a run you may have considered fished out. As for the terminal tackle, any 7′ tapered leader to 4 or 5x will do. Under my foam fly I prefer fluorocarbon.

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2. Echo Glass 2wt, with any small reel, and a 3wt Rio DT line. This is my single dry fly rod. Even though a weight heavier than the sage, the rod is quite a bit softer, and really lends its self well to casting single dries. It does not enjoy the dry dropper nor and indicator. Same as the other stick, I generally use a 7′ leader down to no smaller than 6x.

Safety:

In many of these places, you are a long ways from an easy rescue. These are the type of places that could make you pay for a broken ankle or bumped head with your life. I never recommend others fish alone, though i often do. Since I fish alone often, the Spot Emergency Beacon, and a solid first aid kid always come with me. To prevent incidents, ensure your ankles have support, wear long pants, and bring lots of snacks and water.

Get out there and look, because you just might find something.

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H M.

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New Ride, and Lower Yuba Fishing

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We recently picked up the new 2015 Clackacraft WF Superfly. While the Eddy is the best rowing drift boat I have ever had, the low sides got me into trouble a time or two. This new WF has all the same features that make the Eddy so nice to fish out of, with higher sides and a safer ride.

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The Lower Yuba is very low right now. With its flows sitting around 570-590, it makes the fishing a bit more demanding. Good drifts in the right places are key, as is stealth. If you make a poor presentation, chances are that fish won’t eat for a while. Even still, persistence can pay off. It’s a ton of fun to pick a fish and go at him for a while.

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My favorite bugs while dead drifting right now are small mayfly nymphs, no larger than 16, more often 18-20. Any of hogans various slim may’s will work. I’ve been running long and light rigs, 5-9 feet from my indo to the weight. 4/5/6x are my main tippet materials, but I will at times use 7x.

The Skwalla’s are up, and it seems like the bows are really starting to key in on them, but a lot of fish are keying in on the often day long BWO hatch that is popping.

Hope to see you out there!

–TW

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Dam Removal as an Agent of Salmonid Recovery

 

Abstract

Wild salmon have a myriad of obstacles to overcome in order to spawn and facilitate their survival. One of the largest problems wild salmon are required to content with is that of dams and the conditions that dams create. This report examines dam removal and its effect on the recovery process of wild salmon. The role of dams, their importance, and the effect that they have on salmon is observed. New studies are examined, and discussed for further clarification on how dam removal affects habitat, the river and the salmon.

Introduction to Dams – Positive/Negative

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has 75,000 dams in the National Inventory of Dams (NID) and the Pacific states of California (1594), Oregon (964) and Washington (798) contain many dams within their borders. Dams have many uses including flood control, the production of cheap energy and irrigation. With all of the functions that they provide, they are very important and an integral part of the infrastructure of the United States. Collectively the many dams create a total 6.4% of the electricity that powers the country (EIA 2012). Between 2005 and 2012, the U.S. alone generated 4.80 x 1030 kilowatt hours of electricity (EIA 2012). One of the most important reasons that dams are present is water storage for use in times of water shortage, an example being the drought California is currently experiencing. Dams provide the storage volume in order to have water available in times such as this. As a result, there are very few rivers left that flow to the ocean without a dam at some point within their course. One such river would be the Smith river in Northern California, which is the largest river in California in terms of its overall flow that runs from its headwaters to the ocean without a barrier (NSBP). In the Columbia and Snake River systems, dams have also been a way to facilitate easy and cheap transportation. Through the lock and dam system present, large barges can move a huge amount of product up and down the course of the river. This provides for cheap transportation, and is one of the only functions that the dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers provide besides hydropower. Some dams also act as barriers to fish passage. In many cases these dams have completely removed wild salmon from their natural habitat. This has happened due to the elimination of accessibility to spawning areas, the creation of warm water temperatures, habitat degredation and competition from hatchery fish; this combination of conditions can be lethal to a substantial amount of fish. Another issue that has been created by dams is the elimination of the downstream migration of sediment which is trapped behind a dam. Many dams were built with no regard to fish passage, and in that blocked the river off from any fish that would have made their way past previously.One large project was that of the Grand Coulee Dam, which has no fish passage. Due to the fact that there was no consideration given to fish passage, over 1,100 miles of the Columbia River was not only lost to wild salmon and steelhead, but to all migratory fish species (Ortolano, et al. 2000) Examples of local dams that do not allow for fish passage include Irongate Dam on the Klamath River, Folsom and Nimbus Dam on the American River, and Oroville Dam on the Feather River. Each of these dams have completely eliminated any migration upriver, and there are many others like them. The recovery of the salmon and steelhead that return to these rivers is the main focus of this project. The overall goal is to examine and evaluate dam and barrier removal and its ability to assist in salmonid recovery.

Timeline of Decline/Dam Construction

In the early 1900’s, dams were being constructed all over the United States. In 1905, one of the first major reclamation projects involving a dam was began in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The dam was to aid in reclaiming the Klamath River Basin to create a large amount of productive farmland. While a successful project, it was completed at the expense of one of the most prolific salmon runs on the West Coast. The next big push of dam construction, started in 1933 during The Great Depression. People needed jobs and the construction of dams created an industry that provided many. The public works projects such as those of the Columbia River Basin were built even though the effects on the wild salmon were known. Grand Coulee effectively blocked one quarter of the Columbia Basin to migratory fish. Over 1,100 miles of the Columbia river was forever removed from the reach of wild salmon due to the construction of a single dam. The onset of World War II was another blow to many populations of wild salmon, the war effort created a need for more power for the production of weaponry. The creation of more dams to produce that power was a result. The various turbines used to produce electricity were run at full capacity, and salmon were sent through the turbines and killed in high numbers. In this case, the needs of the war effort outweighed the lives of salmon. One of the last steps toward the decline of wild salmon was in 1948, which was a year that brought widespread flooding. These floods were extremely destructive, and with that politicians spurred the construction of dams to protect human lives and property. In this case, human interests won out over those of fish. Many dams were constructed throughout the Western United States as a result of this. Many of these dams were created with no regard given to fish passage . The creation of the air conditioner in 1960 is another factor that contributed to the push to build additional dams. This created a larger demand for energy on its own, as well as facilitating the construction of homes in areas that were previously undesirable due to climate. This increased the demand for energy produced by hydropower further. (Lackey, 2008) All of these factors contributed to create many dams that would damage the wild salmon. A solution was needed in order to maintain the dwindling runs of fish, and that for many years was to build a hatchery below the lowermost dam.

Hatcheries as a Band-aid

For migratory fish the ability to access their spawning habitat is crucial. In some dammed river systems, many miles of main stem river and tributaries are cut off from access by wild salmon. In the Columbia River system, dams have blocked more than 40 percent of what was once salmon-bearing a habitat. In these dammed rivers with no existing fish passage, the removal of the dam or addition of a fish passage system is the only option in order to recover the resident populations. Historically, once a dam was built and upstream fish passage was eliminated the mitigation process was simple. This process was to construct a fish hatchery in order to rear fish that would compensate for the loss of the fish that would have been spawning upstream of the dam site. Hatchery fish are simply not the same as wild fish. According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the many years of raising generations of fish in hatcheries where they are not exposed to the normal stresses of being wild, there have been adaptations to the fish raised in those hatcheries. The rigors wild fish must undergo to survive during their early life stages makes it so that the wild fish are more often able to spawn. Of all the fish released from a hatchery, between 1% and 2% will survive to return and spawn. (Bradford 1995) Using hatchery fish as a band-aid to the issue of the decline does not solve the problem. It is a temporary and ineffective method that hides the issue, rather than healing it. The issue of “hatchery vs. wild” is one that in the last decade has been a topic of much discussion, and has even ended up in the court system. In June of 2009, Oregon State University released a study regarding the fitness of wild steelhead as compared to hatchery steelhead, and their overall findings were that more offspring from wild steelhead survived to adulthood as compared to those coming from a hatchery (OSU,2009). All that hatchery fish accomplish within a river is to hide the overall problem of the decline of wild fish, which is largely created by the presence of dams and the lack of fish passage. While this is a slight digression from the direct topic of this report, it is important to discuss because hatcheries have long been the main option to maintain numbers of fish in rivers. (Rand et al. 2013)

Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission Decline Factors

A list was compiled by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) of various factors that have contributed to the decline of salmon. Included in the list is the loss of streamside vegetation and functions, stream straightening and channelizing, habitat loss, decreased amount of large woody debris, abnormal temperatures, lack of screening over diversions, reduced numbers of adults reaching their spawning grounds and barriers to migration. The loss of the riparian zone and its functions is extremely damaging to a river’s system. The cause of a large amount of riparian zone degradation is from the alteration of natural flow regimes below a dam, and the rise of water levels behind dams. One of the only effective ways to restore a riparian zone when it has been degraded is to reestablish the natural flow regime (Goodwin et al.1997). The most effective way to accomplish this would be the complete removal of the dam causing the problem. While dam removal is the best option for this restoration, it is not always the easiest process to acheive. The solution when dam removal is not practical, has been the creation of what is called a pulse flow, which is designed to simulate the natural flood cycle of a river. The loss of habitat is a major contributing issue to the decline of wild salmon. Two factors that have had a large impact regarding habitat loss are that of stream straightening and channelizing, and habitat destruction. Straightening and channelizing a stream causes extreme habitat degradation. It is so destructive that in dredged areas of a river the observed biomass of fish was 80% less than in the un-dredged areas of the same river. This loss in biomass and diversity can be attributed to the loss of habitat (pools, riffles), greater variance in temperature and abnormal deposits of sediment. Channelizing and straightening has occurred in many dammed rivers that host wild salmon. Dredging is so damaging to the streambed that in some cases a river will not show even moderate recovery up to four decades after the dredging. (Brooker, 1985) Habitat loss can be broken into a few categories which are as follows: habitat destruction; habitat fragmentation; and, habitat degradation. Habitat destruction is a direct result of a dam’s presence. When a dam is built, there is massive destruction not only during the initial construction, but from then on as the dam operates. The destruction is caused by the flooding of the area upstream of the dam, altered flow regime, channelization, the creation of warmer water temperatures and many other factors. Damming a stream also results massive amount of habitat fragmentation. Each dam acts as an individual barrier, and therein “fragments” the habitat by breaking the river down into smaller individual sections. This directly affects salmon in that they can no longer reach their spawning areas. The Columbia River demonstrates this; its habitat has been fragmented to such an extent that over 40% of the river is no longer accessible to salmon and other migratory fish. Dams also directly degrade the habitat of the rivers that they regulate. Factors that contribute to habitat degradation include the creation of reservoirs that cause temperature fluctuations which native species cannot tolerate, channelization, over pumping, storm water, industrial and agricultural runoff, as well as the increase of pollutants in a river. (Ortolano et al. 2013) Juvenile salmon utilize large woody debris and deep pools as cover from predators, and refuge from current. Adult salmon also use this structure as a relief from the full power of the river. On Elk Creek in Oregon, a treatment was done on a degraded stream which included the placement of large logs in the channel. When this structure was added, summer salmon habitat increased five times over its previous level and winter habitat for salmon increased six times over its pre-treatment levels. In the area of the river that no treatment was done, summer habitat decreased by half, and there was no winter habitat present (Crispin et al. 1993). Dammed rivers have very altered flow regimes and largely different flood patterns. These cycles of very high water are what place the large woody debris in the streambed, and in areas that are dam regulated the natural cycles have been interrupted. Abnormal temperatures have become an issue in impoundments such as those of the Columbia River system. The large slow moving areas of the river backed up behind the many dams act as reservoirs and heat sinks along the river’s path. Over time these areas collect sediment and lose depth. The decrease in overall depth, along with the increased surface area of the reservoirs produces less than favorable temperatures for salmonids, and ideal conditions for non-native and invasive species. Many of these invasive species act as efficient predators of salmon creating another obstacle to salmonid survivability. (Caudill et al. 2013) The lack of screening on water diversions and canals has become a problem which leads to the death of many fish. Not only are juvenile fish sucked into water diversions, but eggs and fully grown adults are as well. The actual number of fish killed by unscreened diversions and canals is not known, but there are several studies currently underway to answer that question. Once taken into a diversion, the fish generally do not survive. Along with a total lack of screening on some diversions, existing screens that are inadequate also present problems to wild salmon. (Moyle & White, 2002) Due to dams and other barriers, it is much more difficult for fish to reach their spawning grounds. In the Columbia River fish have lost access to 40% of their habitat (Caudill et al. 2013). This loss of nearly half the overall spawning habitat on the river removes 40% of the salmon that were historically present. One of the most basic requirements for salmon to be able to proliferate is for them to be able to access the habitat in which they require to spawn. Fish ladders have been the preferred tool to assist upstream migration through dams, but they are not always the most effective solution. These barriers include dams, diversions, and weirs. Anything that physically blocks the upstream movement of salmon to their spawning grounds needs to be removed if recovery is a goal. Access to spawning grounds is imperative for wild salmon.

Dam Removal

Dams without a doubt have had an impact on wild salmon, and this presents the question of; if dam removal actually aids in the recovery of wild salmon? Recently researchers at Oregon State University conducted a study regarding post dam removal recovery on two Oregon rivers. Their findings were very interesting being that they discovered rivers recover quickly after a dam is removed. The initial period after the disturbance of dam removal has always been a topic of much interest and debate. This pointed out some key features when examining if dam removal helps salmon and other anadromous fish. What this study demonstrated was the fact that shortly after the dams were removed, the ecological recovery of the rivers was very rapid. The initial disturbance from the removal of the dams was undetectable after two years from the beginning of the project. The quick recovery of the rivers involved in this study is a very important discovery because it may open up conversation further into the topic of dam removal, and in more places. Previous to the release of the study, an issue that was brought up with regularity in relation to dam removal was if a river can recover from a dam removal, and if so how quickly. This study answered that question and will be extremely useful for those looking into dam removal. When considering wild salmon recovery as a result of dam removal, one requires the other. Wild salmon need barriers removed in order to have an intact habitat. To recover any species, the habitat it requires must first be fixed, or in the case of dams, it must be freed. (Tullos et al. 2014)

American Rivers – Ecology of Dam Removal

American Rivers, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., released a report in 2002 that went in depth regarding the benefits and impacts to an ecosystem as a result of dam removal. The overall benefit of dam removal proved that it was an effective tool for river restoration. They evaluated this by monitoring water quality, sediment transport, and biological productivity. Some keys in the ecology of dam removal were identified, the reestablishment of a natural flow regime, transformation from reservoir to river system, change in river temperatures and oxygen levels, sediment release and transport, and migration of fish and other organisms. The natural flow regime of a river as compared to the artificial flow regime of a river created by a dam is very different. While a river’s flow depends on rainfall, snowpack, and temperature among other factors, releases from dams are very different. These releases, rather than following normal flow regimes as dictated by nature, are designed to cater to human needs, such as hydroelectricity, recreation, water supply and navigation. In many places this has caused species that would not normally thrive, to expand their population rapidly. Diversity has been reduced to the species that can live in the artificial flows. Research gave light to the fact that the restoration of natural flow and the density of native aquatic species was correlated. After completion of the dam removal, the species diversity rose from 34 to 61, nearly twice the diversity before the dam was removed. This example is not specifically connected to salmonids, but when examining the results of dam removals, it is extremely relevant. Directly related to wild salmon, coastal rivers show positive effects from dam removal. The natural flow regime of tidal surge and rivers rising in relation with precipitation aides salmon in traveling from estuaries and the ocean, into the spawning habitat upriver. The removal of dams on coastal rivers enhances spawning success for species that utilize tide and surges in flow from rivers. Once a river is dammed and converted into a reservoir, the natural course of a river is completely impeded. What was once a flowing river, is then a lake. These impoundments create many issues, including rising water temperatures, and habitat for species that normally would not fit in the ecosystem. The removal of a dam restores what was the natural run of the river, eliminates issues with water temperatures created by larger water surface area, and slower moving water as a result of sediment problems. Sedimentation is a large problem for dammed rivers. Dams act as a barrier to the downstream movement of sediment and over time the impoundment will fill in with the blocked sediment. The downstream migration of sediment is very important in a river’s system because it alters habitat. It can affect habitat in ways such as the exposure of substrate that was previously buried in mud or fine silts. This area can then be utilized by macro invertebrates, as well as fish during spawning. Just recently the Glines Canyon dam was removed. The removal of sediment migration down the course of the Elwha River has even caused beach erosion. The sediment that normally would have been concentrated on the shoreline, simply could no longer migrate down river. The removal of the dam, and consequent transport of sediment will likely aid in this issue. The overall findings of the study show that dam removal is a good option to restore a river system, but each and every dam removal is different, as no two rivers are exactly the same.

Conclusion

Dam removal in areas with barriers to fish passage is the most effective way to aid in the recovery of wild salmon. To recover a species the habitat must be recovered first, and dam removal is the first step toward the recovery of a river. Until recently, dams were being built, now dams are being removed. The Rogue River, Sandy River, Elwha River, Cox Creek, Corral Creek are all waters within Oregon and Washington that are salmon-bearing waters. All of these waters have had a dam removal within the last five years. Currently, the Klamath River is slated to become free-flowing. This river once hosted one of the most prolific salmon and steelhead runs in the world. There are four dams to be removed by the year 2020. Once these dams are removed over 300 miles of what was once prime salmon spawning habitat will be reconnected. The process on the Klamath will be long and drawn out, but it will possibly fully open the door to more dam removals, and in that the recovery of wild salmon and their habitat.

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Summary of the Season

I haven’t touched this thing in a while. It is far too easy to forget to spend the time to write and reflect as other things may be in the forefront of your mind.

This fall was spectacular in the State of Jefferson. Fall started with a bang, not only in the fishing but in the weather as well. Where as last season we were wet wading into mid november, this year we had weather. Big rain and wind weren’t uncommon, and we even got blew out a few days this year.

The beauty of the Klamath is hard to explain in words. In this place I feel extremely connected to mother earth, as do many of the people who come visit. This is what you can call a “thin place”, in that the line separating this world, from somewhere else is fairly blurred. When you visit, you will feel it.

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We experienced exceptional fishing this fall. Presenting swung flies often yielded fish when done with confidence, and side drifting nymphs put a large number into the net at times.

 

 

 

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I had the pleasure to fish with J and G from Sacramento, and they were diehard anglers. If there was a method to catch steelhead using flies, we did it. If you limit the ways you fish, you limit the fish you catch.

 

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The respectable buck pictured above was one of a handful landed in a single run, which in my notebook is now known as Jim and Greg’s.

 

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The Holy Grail of Graphite

Working at a fly shop in the midst of restructuring can be an interesting process. From ripping out carpet and destroying old furniture, to organizing thread, reels, fly rods and tying materials, there is always something to be done. Every now and then you can find a “treasure” stashed in a spot that has obviously been in that place for some years. I found one recently, and as luck would have it, it was something I had been wanting to acquire for quite some time. This being the holy grail of graphite, an original scott g-series. While not the most sought after model, it is still one I am very excited to fish for many years to come. It is the two piece 9′ 5wt, the all around fly rod, especially for fishing in NorCal. According to the folks at Scott, it was built sometime in the early-mid 80’s, which is not the earliest series, but still one of the earliest “fast” rods ever built. Looks pretty darn good as well. Its the little things in life you have to take pleasure in. The perfection found in a well crafted fly rod is something that is hard to match in the eyes of any dedicated fly angler. I have fished it briefly since I acquired it, but will be putting it through its paces this upcoming week on one of my yearly pilgrimages to a special river.

Whose rod was it before it fell into my hands? What places has this rod seen? Who held it and caught some memories in past years?

That I will never know. But I am sure that the past owner would be happy to see it, alive and full of soul as only a fly rod could be described.

In time I will hide it somewhere in the place it was found, with a few more scratches than it currently has. Maybe after my passing, with a note that asks the new owner to enjoy it as I have, and not to put it on the mantle, but to share its memory of the flowing waters that it guided me through.

TW

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