Contact George Lang at

Icicle Conservation Banquet

Sept. 27, 2014

Old News 2009

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This page was last updated on 05/08/14.




Old News 2009 and Before...

Old News 2010


News from Senator Linda Evans Parlette

Parlette receives award from state fisheries group

OLYMPIA… Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, has received an “award for meritorious service” from the Washington Council of Trout Unlimited. The award was given “in recognition of a lifelong commitment to the protection, conservation and restoration of Washington’s watersheds that support coldwater fisheries in their ecosystems.”

Parlette has long been a champion of selective fisheries, including the Beebe Springs project in her district, which has expanded spawning grounds for steelhead and salmon.

“Recreational fishing contributes more than a billion dollars a year to Washington’s economy,” said Parlette. “A big part of keeping that going is maintaining our selective fisheries.”

Cuts to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife budget last year threatened to close some of the state’s fisheries.

“A local fishing group came to me last year with an idea for a way to continue funding these fisheries. I was happy to help – and pleased that we were able to find a way to keep them open.”

Parlette’s 2009 legislation, Senate Bill 5421, created the Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Pilot Stamp Program. Under the measure, people over the age of 15 who wish to fish for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries must purchase a Salmon and Steelhead stamp. Stamp revenues go into a dedicated account used to maintain selected fisheries on the Columbia River (below Chief Joseph Dam to 10 miles above the mouth of the Columbia River) and its tributaries. Passage of SB 5421 offset budget cuts to the selective fisheries program and also allowed four hatcheries to remain open.

The Trout Unlimited group gave Parlette the award at the organization’s annual meeting on Jan. 9 in Olympia. Congressman Norm Dicks was also honored at the event.


President's Report 2009

What a year we have had and it is all because of the dedicated hard working members of our chapter. We have been very successful in every project/event that we held or participated in. We have been able to accomplish our mission in educating our youth, the enhancement and preservation of our local rivers, streams and their fisheries. I believe that this has been the best year yet and it is because of you, the membership. Always remember that your participation in the different projects/events is vital to the success of our chapter. I want to thank you for making my first year as President successful. I look forward to next year knowing that with your support we can make it even better. I have provided you a commentary of this year’s successes below.

We had 4 fund raising events this year, Family Fishing Derby, Ale-Fest, Wenatchee River Salmon Festival and our Annual Conservation Banquet. The Salmon Festival and our Banquet were exceptional this year. We surpassed last year’s totals which is the reward for all the hard work done by Chapter members. The Family Fishing Derby and Ale-Fest weren’t as successful as we had hoped and we may want to re-evaluate doing them next year.

The chapter’s acclimation/kids fishing pond was a major project and very successful this year. 51,000 steelhead smolt were raised and released and after the release cutthroat were planted for kids fishing. The Chapter held a fishing derby to inaugurate the pond. Members also assisted the Chelan County Natural Resources Department (CCNRD) in planting 500 trees and bushes around the pond.

Chapter members participated in the Wenatchee River Clean-Up Project; they floated a portion of the river picking up debris in and along the river. We assisted the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery in spawning out salmon over a three week period. We assisted the CCNRD in riparian work at the Leavenworth Golf Course. Members volunteered their time to assist the Cove Resort in conducting a fishing day for mentally challenged people. The event is a very rewarding, if you have the time next year be sure to volunteer. The Chapter cleaned all the trout caught during the Kids Fishing Day (CASTS) at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and members cleaned the fish for the Seniors Fishing Day. The Chapter continues to assist the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery with the Salmon in the Classroom; the program has expanded to include the Cashmere School District. We are looking at including the Entiat School District in the near future. We have members that participate in local and state committees watching out for our best interest. The Chapter hosted the State Presidents meeting in April. The Chapter still has smoked salmon for sale; contact George Lang (548-5522) if you would like some. We will be having our annual Christmas Party the second Wednesday of December, please plan to attend. I will be sending out more information on the party at a later date. Don’t forget that our membership meetings are held every second Wednesday at Kristall’s Restaurant beginning at 6:30 pm. Hope to see you at the next meeting.

The Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour Newsletter!

We hope you all had an enjoyable fly fishing season this past year. The fall of 2009 will go down in the history books in many parts of the country. The biggest news so far for 2010 is that tickets are now on sale for the 4th annual Drake Magazine Fly Fishing Film Tour.  New cities have been added to the schedule this season and we can’t wait to hit the road with this years program.

Tickets are on Sale Now!

Purchase your tickets online at www.flyfishingfilmtour.com. The best way to be sure you have a seat at the show is to get your tickets in advance.  Many shows sell out weeks before we roll into town so if you don’t want to be the person outside the door with your cardboard sign that says “Need Tix!” as you watch all your buddies walk into the theater you may want to think about getting your tickets as soon as possible, like today. Discount tickets are also available at many local fly shops across the country. Check with your local fly fishing retailer for details or click on our schedule page to see what shops have tickets.

Local Offers

This year we have partnered with many local fly fishing retailers. A value added element for this years tour is that everyone attending is eligible for local offers and discounts. It could be for a discount off your fly fishing purchase, or a free premium line with a rod combo. Only those with a valid Fly Fishing Film Tour ticket will be able to take advantage of these offers.

Exclusive Content

We work hard to bring you the best show possible, but it is the filmmakers who work the hardest. This years show features new films by some of the best film makers in the business. Most of these films are not available elsewhere. This means they aren’t on YouTube, Vimeo or any other website or video server. Be one of the first to see these films by coming to the show.


Our November regular meeting will feature the WDFW enforcement presentation featuring an ex-Kodiak, Daniel Klump, who is the new WDFW enforcement officer in this area. The banquet was no doubt the most successful banquet in the history of our chapter.  Over 180 people attended our banquet that was held for the first time at the FestHalle in Leavenworth. The venue was great and the food was fantastic. We will be holding at the same place next year on Sept. 25. We have been involved in multiple projects with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.  The latest was a fish derby for Senior citizens on Wednesday, Oct. 21. We cleaned fish and the senior citizens had a great time. For some of them it was the first fish they had ever caught. They acted just like little kids jumping up or down or rocking in their wheel chair. We will be involved with a project on the Leavenworth Golf Course where we along with other outdoor groups will be planting vegetation along the Wenatchee River. We seined the steelhead/kids fishing pond and found no fish. The kids did a great job of catching all the fish. Our salmon dinner at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival was very successful under the leadership of Dennis McMahan and Tony Torkelson. Election of officers is coming up in November and our Executive board will remain the same for 2010. The announcement on the Christmas Party will be determined at our next board meeting.


Hatchery fish are strikingly different from their wild kin

October 18, 2009

By Eric Barker of the Lewiston, Idaho Tribune

Study by OSU scientist indicates something about hatchery changes fish's natural selection

A recent study from Oregon State University has added to the evidence hatchery steelhead that spawn in the wild can produce offspring less evolutionarily fit than wild steelhead.

Michael Blouin, a genetic expert and professor of zoology at OSU, followed three generations of steelhead in Oregon's Hood River. He started in 1991 with wild fish that were taken into a hatchery and bred. Their offspring were tagged and released. When they returned as adults they were allowed to spawn in the wild. Blouin then tracked their offspring through adulthood.

He found when those fish that were born in the wild and the descendents of first-generation hatchery fish spawned, they produced fewer offspring that survived through adulthood than wild fish did. 

"The basic result, if you are wild born, when you come back and mate and reproduce, if your parents were hatchery fish you produce fewer surviving adult offspring than if your parents were wild," he said. "Clearly something goes on in the hatchery such that fish that come out of the hatchery are different than wild fish." 

Blouin also found the more hatchery fish that could be traced into a particular fish's family tree, the less productive it was likely to be. In his research, fish that had one parent with hatchery lineage were 87 percent as fit as the offspring of two wild fish. Fish that had both parents with hatchery blood were just 37 percent as fit as the offspring of wild fish.

He believes something in the hatchery process affects natural selection in such a way that it produces fish that do not perform as well in the wild. He said it could be at the adult or juvenile stage. For example, it could be that adults with hatchery genes don't do as well at selecting mates or spawning sites. But he thinks the more likely answer is some sort of natural selection that occurs at the juvenile stage.

"The most plausible stage in the life cycle where you could have such rapid response is probably in juvenile survival. What makes a good hatchery fish might make you a lousy stream fish and vice versa. A concrete pond crowded with a bunch of cohorts and ample food and warm water temperatures is a very different environment than a stream. Whatever traits make you survive well in that environment might make you perform poorly in the wild." 

The results of the study add to the debate over how many hatchery fish should be released in areas with wild fish and whether hatchery fish should be used to supplement wild populations. 

If researchers can find out what the selection mechanism is they might be able to make adjustments. "It would be great if we could figure it out and modify the hatchery environment to reduce that selection and maybe make fish that are not so genetically different." 

He was surprised the selection happens so fast. But if it happens quickly in one direction, it should happen just as quickly in reverse. 

"In my opinion, if the habitat is acceptable, natural selection will quickly mold and adapt a population," he said. "It should work in the opposite direction, too. Fix the habitat and leave them alone and Mother Nature will take care of it." 

But he said the key is removing hatchery fish from the mix. 

If you keep adding hatchery fish, you keep dragging them off that fitness optimum." 

"Many agencies, especially tribal fisheries departments, are trying to use hatcheries to jump-start flagging wild populations. Blouin said his research indicates the practice, known as supplementation, should only be used as a last resort.

"Basically, you are constantly adding maladapted genes to the population, which natural selection has to weed out each generation," he said. "Unless a natural population is really circling the drain, there is not many good reasons to do supplementation." 

The Nez Perce Tribe is an advocate of using hatcheries to boost small wild populations. Becky Johnson, deputy director of the tribe's fisheries production division, said the tribe considers the strength of a particular population before deciding if hatchery fish are an appropriate tool to help wild fish. If there are a small number of wild fish, she said the tribe favors adding hatchery fish to the mix to guard against extinction.

"At high numbers of natural fish coming back, we limit the number of hatchery fish that spawn naturally. We are trying to balance what might be a genetic risk."

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hatchery review team, in some cases, is advising hatchery managers to take more wild fish into the hatcheries. The idea is to mold the hatchery brood stock over time so it more closely resembles wild fish. If that is done, they figure it will be less damaging if excess hatchery fish elude anglers and end up spawning in the wild. But Blouin thinks it might be worse. He said hatchery fish that have come from a long line of other hatchery fish, may be so altered by the hatchery environment that they don't spawn successfully. He reasons if hatchery fish were more genetically similar to wild fish, they would be more successful when they do spawn in the wild.

"It's a real pickle," he said. "You can make fish as like wild fish as you can, but then they spawn (more successfully) with wild fish. The genetic effect is not so bad but there is a whole lot more gene flow."

´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸ ><(((((º>

Dear Washington TU members: 

I wanted to let you in on some exciting news: Trout Unlimited is starting a major new program in Washington that will help us carry out our mission of protecting and restoring healthy trout and salmon habitat. 

Next week, Trout Unlimited will announce that Washington Rivers Conservancy, a nonprofit conservation group based in Wenatchee, will become part of TU's Western Water Project, which works to restore and protect in-stream flows in six Western states: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California, Utah and Idaho-and now Washington.

TU's WWP and Washington Rivers Conservancy share similar values and goals, working in the often arcane field of Western water law to improve in-stream flows for trout and salmon habitat. Both groups recently saw an opportunity to combine forces to more efficiently and effectively carry out river and stream protection in our state. 

Under the agreement, WRC will become the Washington office of TU's Western Water Project and be known as TU's Washington Water Project. 

Let me share a statement from Lisa Pelly, director of Washington Rivers Conservancy: 

"We are excited to become part of an organization that shares our values, mission and goals. Like our group, TU is committed to working with diverse stakeholders to find balanced, pragmatic solutions to complex water issues in the West. This is a good fit for us, and having the support of thousands of TU members who live in the communities in which we work will increase our clout and expand our reach." 

Melinda Kassen, director of TU's Western Water Project, agreed. "Washington Rivers Conservancy has an impressive track record of promoting win-win, collaborative solutions that benefit both wildlife habitat and ranch and farm operations-an approach that aligns closely with TU's philosophy and goals. Bringing them onto our team will allow TU to hit the ground running on streamflow protection in Washington." 

As you know, this is a crucial time for Washington's water future: We face huge pressures, from population growth to climate change, that will challenge the state's ability to ensure sufficient water for a variety of purposes, from agriculture to fisheries to power generation. 

The expertise that WWP brings to the table will make our Washington TU organization even stronger and more effective in addressing these challenges. I foresee opportunities for the state council and WWP to share ideas, resources and experience. And in other states, TU chapters often work hand-in-hand with WWP on stream restoration projects. 

We're on the same team. 

So on behalf of Washington TU, I'd like to welcome Lisa, her staff and Melinda to the work of TU in Washington. We look forward to working together to protect our state's vital water and fisheries resources. 

In coming months, I'll keep you updated about the WWP program as it gets under way. Please pass this on to your chapter members and contact me if you have any questions. 

Bill Abrahamse, Council President
Washington Trout Unlimited



Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

September 16, 2009                                         

Contact: Fish Program (360) 902-2700

Public meetings scheduled to discuss rule proposals for 2010-12 sportfishing season

OLYMPIA – Seven public meetings have been scheduled to discuss rule proposals for the 2010-12 sportfishing season in Washington.

The proposed rules, which would affect various freshwater and saltwater recreational fisheries around the state, are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/rule_proposals/index.htm. Printed copies of the proposals are available by contacting WDFW’s Fish Program at (360) 902-2700.

Members of the public with an interest in the sportfishing season are advised to submit their comments this fall for regulations that will be in effect for two years, said Craig Burley, WDFW’s fish division manager.

“For cost-saving measures, the department is adopting recreational sportfishing rules on a two-year cycle rather than on a yearly basis, which means the next opportunity to change these rules will be for the 2012-14 season,” Burley said.

Annual regulation-setting processes will continue for salmon, halibut and coastal groundfish.

The public meetings will begin at 6 p.m. at all locations except Port Angeles, where the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are scheduled for:


Sept. 28 – WDFW’s Ephrata Office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata


Sept. 29 – WDFW’s Spokane Office, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley


Sept. 30 – Carpenter’s Hall, 507 Third St., Yakima


Oct. 6 – WDFW’s Mill Creek Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek


Oct. 7 – Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Room J47, Port Angeles


Oct. 8 – WDFW’s Vancouver Office, 2108 Grand Blvd., Vancouver


Oct. 13 – WDFW Headquarters, Natural Resources Building, Room 172, 1111 Washington St. S.E., Olympia

During the meetings, the public will have an opportunity to discuss the proposals with WDFW staff and submit written comments. Comments also can be submitted by mail to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at preuslmp@dfw.wa.gov or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501. All written comments must be received by Nov. 7.

The public also will have an opportunity to provide testimony and written comments on the proposed rule changes during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Nov. 6-7 meeting in Olympia. Check the commission’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/com/comintro.htm for the specific day and time.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during its February 2010 meeting.

Sportfishing rules currently under consideration include:


Requiring the use of single-point, barbless hooks for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River from the mouth of the river to McNary Dam.


Coordinating the season and slot limit for divers and anglers harvesting lingcod.


Protecting streams that act as nurseries for juvenile anadromous fish.


Prohibiting the harvest of all species of unclassified marine fish and invertebrates.


Reducing the daily limit of Dungeness crab in all areas of Puget Sound to four and changing the harvest schedule to Fridays through Mondays in marine areas 
6, 7, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12.


Developing a set of protective measures for rockfish.


Changing the definition of the anti-snagging rule.


General Notes

The Blackbird Acclimation/kids fishing pond project has been been ruled a success by our project manager Dan Davies. We completed the project and WDFW put in over 53,000 steelhead for acclimation back in March. We acclimated them to Wenatchee River water until the middle of May and removed the outlet screen for release into the Wenatchee River. At first they went out rather slow but over a period of time they started to smolt and exit in larger numbers. In June we went in and electro-shocked the pond and found very few residual fish left. 

We closed the screens in late June and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife planted cutthroat for the kids to catch. On July 18 we had our first fish derby in our new facility. Der Sportsmann, along with Pepsi and Macks Lures, sponsored the grand opening event. Apple Valley Pumping Service provided sanitary facilities and the City of Leavenworth helped with cleanup. Our co-chairmans are Dave Graybill and Jim Malles.

In June the chapter and the Chelan County Department of Natural Resources planted over 350 plants and trees around the pond. We had 14 club members there and they did a fantastic job. The plants were part of an agreement between ICTU and Chelan County on replacement of vegetation around the facility. Many thanks to Chelan County Department of Natural Resources for their investment of time and money on this project.

On May 30 we held our annual Fish Derby on Fish Lake. It was highly successful despite the fact that participation was down. The economy, I am sure, had something to do with that. We had a great breakfast and raised enough money to offer another scholarship this next year to a graduating senior. Our sponsors this year were: The Cove Resort, Der Sportsmann, Hooked on Toys, Bluebird, and Wilbur Ellis. First Place went to Jay Gallaggar of Lynwood, WA, with a 5lb. 3oz. fish. Second went to Shawn Kunasar of Snohomish, WA, with a 3lb. 6 oz. fish. Third Place went to Ron Askew of Bothell, WA, with a fish that weighed 3/4 of a pound. 

The fishing season on the Icicle was highly successful this year with over 300 fish caught by sports fishermen.

We are getting ready for multiple events this fall. First will be the Wentchee River Salmon Festival, September 17-20. ICTU will be BBQing salmon and serving dinners on Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20.

The annual Conservation Banquet will be held this year on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Festhalle in Leavenworth. The order of events for the evening are 5:00 p.m. raffle and auction preview, 6:30 p.m.- prime rib dinner (chicken available) buffet style (live auction and raffle to follow). $45.00 per person. Two new items this year will be a BBQ for 20 or more (great for wedding parties or a special occasion) and the 50th anniversary 5 weight fly fishing rod. These two items, along with wines from throughout the Northwest, fishing trips with guides, tickets to sporting events, multiple fishing rods and reels, and many other items, will make this banquet very special. Tickets can be purchased by calling (509) 548-7662 or (509) 548-5522.

Art Viola will be our guest speaker for the August 12 regular meeting. He will update issues on what is happening in North Central Washington in fishing and a summary of the Spring fishery on the Icicle River.

There is a strong possibility of a sockeye fishery on Lake Wenatchee. We will know more about the possibility by the end of July. If it happens, it will be one of the few times in the sockeye history on Lake Wenatchee that we have had a season on two consecutive years. Cross your fingers and watch the WDFW Web site for the announcement.

The article on the Whitney West senior project will be in the fall issue of Trout Magazine.  Whitney has received national attention for her award winning project which won the WCTU State Youth Conservation Award. Congratulations to Whitney for a great project.  Whitney, along with Davey Rayfied, will be receiving special grant awards during our Conservation Banquet on September 26th.


Trout Unlimited's 50th Anniversary Celebration

We're going to be celebrating all year long and you're invited to join us.

This year marks Trout Unlimited's 50th anniversary. To help spread the word and engage members, volunteers and others in the celebration, we’ve created a website devoted exclusively to the 50th. Check it out at www.tu50.org.

TU was formed in 1959 by 16 Michigan fishermen who wanted to protect their local river. Thanks to the hard work and generous support of caring people like you, we’ve grown to 140,000 members in 400 local chapters. We're now the largest and oldest force for protecting trout and salmon from Alaska to Maine and we’ve succeeded in restoring more than 10,000 miles of rivers and streams around the country.

We think that's something worth celebrating. We hope you agree.

Please join in the celebration. Visit us at www.tu50.org today.


Bryan Moore 
Vice President for Volunteer Operations/Watershed Programs 


Lots of interesting info:

It was estimated that 50 children or more attended the first fish derby in the acclimation/kids fishing pond on July 18. The smiles on the faces of the kids, their families, and the folks from TU attest to the great time had by all. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this day special. A very special thank you to Der Sportsmann and Mack Lures for their sponsorship. Their support is greatly appreciated. See photos here.

Note from the Secretary Click Here!

It is my pleasure to announce that SSB 5421, The Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Stamp Program, has been signed into law today, May 8, 2009.

In a ceremony this morning, Governor Christine Gregoire signed the measure with myself and representatives from The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Chelan County PUD present as witnesses. Congratulations to the Icicle Valley Chapter and the Washington State Council for their hard work on this successful effort.

Ric Abbett

Great work Trout Unlimited!! Thanks!

Those of us who love to fly fish in Montana have been keeping a close eye on a piece of legislation going thru the Montana legislature.

Montana law allows anglers to access streams where bridges cross a river and fish along the stream as long as they stay below the high water mark.  But, some cattlemen have extended their fence lines and tied them directly to bridge abutments preventing angler access (saying it was necessary to keep their cattle out of the roadway.)

After several unsuccessful legislative attempts to solve the problem separately by both sides….cattlemen & anglers….the legislature asked that a group be formed consisting of both sides of the issue to hammer out a solution. 

They came up with a great solution….fences can go to the bridge abutment, but access via gate, turnstile, ladder, etc. must be provided for angler access.

Trout Unlimited and others supported the legislation and it pass unanimously!  Terrific!!

See the information at:  http://fwp.mt.gov/mtoutdoors/HTML/director/MJ09.htmI for one really appreciate the efforts by all involved in maintaining access to some of the greatest trout streams in North America. Way to go Trout Unlimited!

But……now that we anglers again have the access to all Montana rivers….make sure you’re a good steward and leave nothing but foot-prints and take nothing but pictures!

Andy Batcho

SSB 5421, The Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Stamp Program, signed into law May 8, 2009, was sponsored by Senator Linda Evans Parlette. It was the culmination of over a year's worth of work by the Icicle Valley Chapter in building community support for a novel approach to providing fishing opportunity in their local area of the Upper Columbia River. The idea was embraced by state fisheries managers and expanded to include the lower reaches all the way to Astoria. The goal of the pilot project is to continue and, if possible, expand selective recreational fishing opportunities on the Columbia River and its tributaries. The improvement of fishing opportunities will de done by supplementing resources available to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for scientific monitoring, data collection, permitting, enforcement, and other activities necessary to accomplish the pilot project's goals. The non-appropriated Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Stamp Program Account) was created as a source of funding for the WDFW to administer the pilot project. The Account is primarily funded through an additional fee of $7.50 that must be made by any person over the age of 15 that is participating in a recreational salmon or steelhead fishery on the Columbia River or one of its tributaries. The affected fisheries are those located on the Columbia River from the Chief Joseph Dam to a line in the river drawn from Washington's Rocky Point to Oregon's Tongue Point. By September 1, 2009, WDFW must develop a list of tributaries to the Columbia where a stamp is required to fish recreationally and must determine whether it will issue stamps or endorsements. The WDFW must consult with an advisory board comprised of recreational salmon and steelhead anglers in regards to the administration of the pilot project. The WDFW must name between six and ten people to the advisory board and must give consideration to nominees from recognized recreational fishing organizations located near the Columbia River and seek to create equitable geographic representation. The Director of the WDFW must seek to reach consensus with the advisory board on all expenditures from the Account and provide advisory board members with written explanations of each expenditure from the Account that is divergent from the advisory board's recommendations, enforcement, and other activities necessary to accomplish the pilot project's goals.

HB 1778, Modifying various provisions of Title 77 RCW, began with a proposal for two poles on lowland lakes for a fee. Senator Dan Swecker met with WCTU, tribes and state officials, resulting in a proposal creating a $20 fee for most anglers and a $5 fee for state residents over the age of 69, to allow for an additional rod to fund hatchery production to eliminate cuts and some closures of facilities. HB 1778 became an omnibus bill in the Senate and eventually the vehicle for an amendment to create a surcharge for licenses. There is no additional surcharge fee on the Columbia River stamp. "The 10 percent surcharge on hunting and fishing licenses and an endorsement stamp for anglers in the Columbia River Basin will bring in about $10 million" said Phil Anderson, acting Fish and Wildlife director.

In the culmination of another effort by WCTU with the Ballast Water Work Group, a provision was included on aquatic invasive species so that the WDFW enforcement division may provide aquatic invasive species instruction training to other local law enforcement. Also, a person entering Washington while transporting watercraft must have in their possession documentation that the watercraft has been inspected and found free of aquatic invasive species. The cost of impounding, transporting, cleaning, and decontaminating watercraft that is contaminated with aquatic invasive species will be paid by the person in possession of the watercraft when it is inspected.

Ric Abbett
Washington Council of Trout Unlimited

Check out the March 2009 edition of "Northwest Sportsmen" for an article on the Blackbird Island project .

Congratulations to Norm Warford on winning a $400 fishing rod at our last meeting. If you missed it you missed a great program. Our next one will be even better. The raffle is back!

A note from the grateful folks at NSIA:

“Salmon have the right to water, the right to migrate, the right to spawn and finally, they have the right to an attorney. Maddy Sheehan, salmon champion, has been appointed for them.”


By Maddy Sheehan, Esq.

1/29/2009 - This morning Judge Mossman once more ruled in favor of salmon -- denying a motion by the Humane Society of the U.S. to delay lethal control of California Sea Lions at Bonneville Dam until the 9th Circuit Appeals Court has a chance to hear their appeal of Judge Mossman's earlier ruling (in which he supported lethal control as proposed by the state agencies).

In addition to repeating their past arguments (irreparable harm to any sea lion killed, arbitrary for agencies to say sea lions cause significant harm to listed species when the larger take by the humans is not considered significant harm) HSUS also argued that the prediction of a large run of spring chinook this year makes sea lion predation insignificant.

Judge Mossman noted that run predictions have been shown to be wildly inaccurate (e.g. 2008) -- and thus offer no basis for a decision to grant a "stay." He also was impressed by an argument offered by WDFW that sea lions don't prey proportionally on salmon from all tributaries -- and runs in some upstream tributaries (e.g. Methow R.) are so depressed that sea lion predation on those runs could result in a Ballard Locks type disaster (virtual extinction).

HSUS will appeal this ruling to the 9th Circuit. Meanwhile, lethal control may begin as early as March 1.

Honors go to Blackbird Pond project
Water hole serves as a kids’ fishing spot
and as a rearing pool for steelhead

Article in The Wenatchee World - January 23, 2009

The Icicle Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited 
comes home with three state awards in 2008

THE SILVER TROUT AWARD: Outstanding Chapter Project for the year

Based on activities and/or results during the current year: participation by chapter members: visibility to and/or involvement of citizens of the community and State and promotion of the goals and objectives of the WCTU an Trout Unlimited. Project title: Blackbird Acclimation/Kids Fishing Facility in Leavenworth, Washington.

THE JERRY PAVLETICH AWARD: Outstanding Overall Chapter in the State of Washington


Year around active schedule of meetings and/or activities


Membership maintenance (renewals) and growth both in number of new members and percentage increase during the prior months.


Work parties for resource enhancement of related projects


Civic involvement with local or state legislation, resource management related public hearings and/or participation in panels or committees


Council participation and support through fund raising efforts, committee work, members serving as officers and assistance with Council sponsored or supported events.

MEMBERSHIP AWARD Based on TU National chapter rosters

The chapter with the greatest percentage increase in membership in the State of Washington.

Also WHITNEY WEST received the FIRST ever YOUTH CONSERVATION AWARD for her senior project: "Fishing Fun For Everyone" which was a fishing experience for mentally challenged youth on Fish Lake in Chelan County.

2008 Icicle River Spring Chinook Recreational Fishery

Columbia River Compact/Joint State Sport Hearing
December 18, 2008

Fishing Pond

There is an excellent article in The Leavenworth Echo Nov. 26th issue on the fishing pond. We are under construction with Rayfield Brothers. Weather permitting, and it looks good, we will finish the inlet and outlet construction this week. We have bought the equipment (pumps, etc.) for installation in the spring of 2009. We will be putting in 53,000 fish in March of 2009. Our current plans are to acclimate the fish from March through May, open the 15 inch outlet crank on the pumps and push the fish out into the Wenatchee River in May. Once the fish are all out, we will close the screens and plant fish for the kids during the summer of 2009, shut down the pond during the winter and restart the whole process the following year. This project was made possible by partnerships with multiple agencies: Chelan County PUD, National Marine Fisheries, NOAA, City of Leavenworth, Yakima Confederated Tribe, Colville Confederated Tribe, Department of Ecology and Chelan County Department of Natural Resources. Our Project Manager is Dan Davies, former Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Manager. We will be updating you on information as it develops.

The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee is predicting 298,900
upriver spring Chinook to the Columbia River in 2009

General News

The Icicle Valley Chapter has signed a Fish Rearing Facility Agreement with Public Utility District No. 1 of Chelan County. The purpose of the agreement is to clarify the responsibilities of the Parties associated with the improvements to the Blackbird Island Pond located in Leavenworth, Washington. In short, the Blackbird Pond agreement has been finalized and we will begin the construction phase soon. It will consist of an intake and outlet pipe (screened) with a non consumptive water right. It will also include a pump system to move water into and out of the pond. This will allow water circulation to raise 53,000 steelhead from April through May to be imprinted on Wenatchee River water. The imprinting process will allow the fish time to be accustom to Wenatchee River water and return to the river in greater numbers. Currently the fish being raised at the east bank of the Columbia River located above Rocky Reach Dam and are straying from the Wenatchee system in alarming numbers, making it impossible to have a fishery on hatchery stock in the Wenatchee River. This historic agreement was made possible through extensive work with multiple agencies private, public, federal, City of Leavenworth and the Colville and Yakima Tribes. This will also allow us to have a kids fishing pond throughout the summer from June through October.

Our club has worked tirelessly for three years to make this agreement possible. With cooperation of other agencies, we are finally seeing our proposal come true, The winners will be the fish, the habitat and the fishermen. It is an example of what Trout Unlimited is all about.

Our Christmas party will be held at Kristall's Restaurant on Dec. 10 with cocktail hour beginning at 6:00 P.M. and dinner at 6:30. This years menu will consist of Prime Rib and King Crab, mashed potatoes and gravy veggies, salad, dinner, roll, desert, beverage (coffee, tea, milk, soft drink. Tax and gratuity included. The cost is $28.50 per person. You need to make reservations through our Sec-Treasurer Carolyn Lang (509-509-5522) by December 6. We will also welcome our new officers for 2009-2010. President Dennis McMahon; Vice President Don Thomas; Secretary Jack Squires; Treasurer Carolyn Lang; Past President Norm Warford; 3 year board members: Jim Mallias, Dave Ganas, George Lang. 2 year members: Jeff Phippen, Steve Craig, Dan Davies, Tony Torkelson. 1 year members: Jan Carpenter, Rollie Schmitten, Bob Stroup. Web Page Coordinator Janet Wadlington.

Our schedule for meetings this next year will begin with Chelan County Commissioner Keith Goehner in January. Mr. Goehner will address issues in Chelan County dealing with Growth Management and the environment.

Our chapter also will be taking some winter chapter outings beginning with a trip to the net pens at Rufus Woods after Thanksgiving. Some other outings will include steelhead fishing on the Columbia and Methow Rivers along with some winter fishing on Fish Lake.

The club is also working with WDFW and other agencies on multiple conservation projects throughout North Central Washington.

Bob Stroup has be elected as the NLC representative for the state of Washington. George Lang has been elected to Membership Vice President for WCTU.


2008 Christmas Party

Our Christmas party was a success with 27 people in attendance. The Prime Rib and King Crab were fantastic and the service was second to none. Two awards were handed out. The Presidents Award which goes to an individual who helped the president when ever called upon and was a real positive influence in TU decision making in 2008 went to Jack Squires. The Chuck Davis Award for sportsmanship in fishing which goes to the individual who represents the finest in sportsmanship not only on the water but within our organization for 2008 went to Jeff Phippen. Everybody had a great time and we celebrated a wonderful year of accomplishment and growth in our goal to enhance and protect the cold water fishery.

State of Washington

Fish Program - Region 2 - Wenatchee District Office
3860 Chelan Highway Wenatchee WA 98801 - (509) 665-3337

Date:                August 22, 2008
TO:                  Jeff Korth
FROM:            Art Viola

SUBJECT: 2008 Lake Wenatchee Sockeye creel survey summary.

The 2008 sockeye season on Lake Wenatchee began August 6 and continued until August 15.   During the creel survey we checked 1,215 salmon, which represents 23.7 % of the estimated total catch.  In total 4,608 anglers fished for 20,231 hours and caught 5,129 sockeye. Of these fish 4,849 sockeye were kept, 208 fish caught were tagged requiring their release Table 1.  Average fish caught per angler was 1.11.  Overall catch per unit effort was 0.25 fish per hour.  It is interesting that the 4,608 anglers that fished for 20,231 hours in the 10 day 2008 season is statistically equal to the 4,748 anglers that fished 20,087 hours during the much longer 5 week 2004 season. 

Table 1.  2008 Lake Wenatchee Sockeye fishery results













Sample periods






All PMs
August 6-15






Week Day AM
August 6-8 and 11-15






Weekend Am
August 9 and 10












We estimate that in 2008 75-bulltrout were caught and released. Using a 7% hooking mortality I estimate 5 fish were killed. Considering that recent sockeye fishery events occurred four years apart and considering the abundance of bull trout in Lake Wenatchee. I regard the resulting bull trout mortality as insignificant and not a substantial threat to bull trout population. No one knows how abundant bull trout are in Lake Wenatchee. However, as an example if only 2,000 bull trout inhabit Lake Wenatchee, a mortality of 5 bull trout represents only a 0.25% of a 2,000 fish population. Most likely many more that 2,000 bull trout inhabit Lake Wenatchee.

State of the Steelhead
The Canary Ain't Singing Anymore, But The Fat Lady's Just Warming Up

By Dylan Tomine

Four feet deep. Rocks the size of bowling balls. Choppy on top. The big purple marabou settles into emerald-green water, comes tight and starts swinging through the seam. I hold my breath and make a small inside mend. The fly slows briefly, swims crosscurrent into the soft water and suddenly stops. The rod bends. The line pulls. And the surface explodes.

As my reel handle blurs, we hear the hiss of flyline shearing water and watch in amazement as the biggest steelhead we've ever seen shatters the surface and cartwheels away three, four, five times. When I come to my senses, there's only one thing to do: start running.

Twenty minutes later, heart pounding and sweaty, I'm holding the tiring fish on a tight line as he slips downstream into a chute of fast water. Unable to follow any further, I clamp down on the spool and my fishing buddy leaps in chest deep, plunges his arms into the icy water and heroically comes up with an enormous slab of chrome. At 40.5 by 23 inches, it's quite probably the largest steelhead I will ever land, and one of five we've hooked this morning in the same run.

The Dean? Russia? Some other exotic destination? Or maybe a complete steelhead fantasy? Hell no. This was the suburban Skykomish River, forty minutes from downtown Seattle on March 14th, 1997. That year, in the March/April catch and release season, I averaged 1.7 steelhead per trip. On flies. Fishing mostly in short, three or four hour sessions before or after work. And I'm not even very good. Unbelievable fishing, and even more unbelievable, it was just eleven years ago. Ah, the good old days.

Today, the fabulous March and April fishery on my beloved Sky is gone. The wild steelhead population is in such a downward spiral that even the low-impact catch and release season was completely shut down after the 2000 season. Heartbreaking? I can't even find words for how I feel about it. I moved to Seattle in 1993 to be closer to the fabled steelhead waters of Puget Sound. A city where I could work, and a great river with big fish, less than an hour away - it seemed too good to be true. Of course, it was. I had planned on a lifetime of learning and fishing the Skykomish. Instead, I arrived just in time to witness the beginning of the end.

Who Cares?

Okay, so that's one river among hundreds of steelhead watersheds on the West Coast, right? What's the big deal? There are still plenty of fish to catch in other places, aren't there? And hey, if you aren't a steelheader, why should you get worked up about some river closing way out in Washington? Good questions all.

I would start with the fish themselves. Perfectly evolved to thrive in both marine and freshwater environments, wild steelhead carry the ocean's bounty inland as they migrate toward the places of their birth. And, as each watershed provides a different set of spawning and rearing conditions, it creates a unique race of steelhead. In the wild realm, there is no generic steelhead, only a range of fish with characteristics adapted to their specific rivers.

As anglers, we find ourselves seeking the small, free-rising "A-Run" steelhead of the high-desert Columbia Basin rivers; the "half-pounders" of Northern California and Southern Oregon; the heavy bodied Olympic
Peninsula rainforest and coastal Oregon winter fish; the mind-blowingly powerful August steelhead above the falls on the Dean; the legendary Skeena giants; the high-latitude chromers of Kamchatka and the Aleutians....

These fish range from 14 inches to 30 pounds, from two to nine or more years old, from heavily spotted to nearly unmarked. And yet, they share several distinctive traits: A willingness to come to the swung fly. The speed and strength normally associated with saltwater fish. An individual beauty that haunts those who fish for them. And unfortunately, a future as cloudy as a glacial river after five days of warm rain.

Why should we care? If you're a steelheader, the reasons are obvious. If you are not, the depleted state of wild steelhead populations coast wide serves as a powerful example of a valuable resource squandered and a lesson for anglers and fish managers everywhere. On a bigger scale, steelhead are an indicator species, the proverbial canary in the coalmine of population growth and human consumption. In other words, the health of wild steelhead is a direct reflection of the health of both our watersheds and marine environments. Steelhead can clearly survive without us - the question is, can we survive without them?

The Crumbs of Puget Sound

The very idea that steelhead are difficult to catch - the fish of a thousand casts - is a myth. Steelhead are actually very easy to catch. They aggressively take a variety of baits, lures and flies. The problem is, there just aren't very many of them. Back on the Skykomish, the eight years I fished it regularly, from 1993 to 2000, the average run size for the entire Snohomish system (Skykomish/Snoqualmie/Pilchuck Rivers and their tributaries) was around 8,000 fish. Spread out over several hundred miles of streams, that's not many. (Compare that to the 6,000 trout per mile on the Madison, and it's amazing we caught anything at all.) But it was enough to provide challenging yet rewarding fishing, and, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, enough to constitute a sustainable population. A look at some historical numbers, however, shows that this number did not, in fact, sustain itself, and furthermore, we were fishing for crumbs.

It is estimated that Puget Sound wild winter steelhead are now at somewhere between 1.6 and 4 percent of historic run size. Just to the north of the Skykomish lies the famed Stillaguamish River, immortalized by Roderick Haig-Brown and considered by many to be the birthplace of modern steelhead fly fishing. In 1895, the run of steelhead to this small, delicate stream was between 60,000 and 90,000 fish. The most recent five-year average? 593 wild steelhead. Since the closure of the Skykomish in 2001, the average return of spawning adult wild steelhead in the entire Snohomish system has been hovering around 3,000. As I said, we've been fishing for crumbs.

How did this happen? The easiest, and most correct answer is people. It's impossible to place the blame on any one specific factor, but there are plenty: poor logging practices resulting in heavy siltation (most of the famous pools on the Stillaguamish, once boulder strewn and heavily cobbled, now lie beneath a featureless bottom of sand and mud); exponential population growth and the resulting pavement, lawn chemicals and septic waste; the industrialization of Puget Sound; sport and tribal fishing harvest managed by a philosophy of Maximum Sustainable Harvest (MSH) which fails to account for variations in ocean and stream rearing conditions; the mistaken belief that increased hatchery production could mitigate the loss of wild fish. The list goes on and on, but one fact remains the same: We were fishing for crumbs ten years ago, and now even the crumbs are nearly gone.

"Federal policy in both the U.S. and Canada is to extirpate steelhead - entirely because they are a pain in the ass. They get in the way of fish farming, electricity production, commercial fishing, logging, development and other resource extraction industries." - Yvon Chouinard, Founder, Patagonia

That our governments are consciously trying to relieve themselves of the steelhead burden may ring of conspiracy theory, but the record speaks for itself. From the Bush administration's ridiculously off-base attempts (recently rejected in court) to have hatchery-produced steelhead count as part of the overall wild steelhead populations to the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Ocean's (DFO) refusal to reduce commercial gillnet fisheries in light of a disastrously low early return of Skeena steelhead, we have witnessed repeated actions that lend credence to the theory.

Skeena 2007: The Song Remains The Same

The Skeena in the summer of 2007 is a prime example. The crown jewel of modern steelhead rivers, the Skeena is the mother river to legendary tributaries including the Kispiox, Babine, Bulkley, Morice, Sustut, Copper and more. In recent times, by July 23rd, there was an average of 4,368 wild summer steelhead in the Skeena system. In 2007, the count was 642. On August 16th, the historical date for highest steelhead numbers in the Tyee test fishery, exactly zero were counted.

As early as mid-July, the alarmingly low numbers created a groundswell of concern from area anglers, guides and lodges. Acting together and separately, these individuals mounted a campaign urging the DFO to alter or cut back on the scheduled commercial salmon gillnet fisheries. This, following a year (2006) when, despite warnings from their own biologists and the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment regarding extremely low returns of steelhead, DFO allowed an intensive salmon net fishery and the resulting by-catch of depressed early steelhead stocks. DFO's response in 2007? No action taken whatsoever.

Why is this happening again in "Steelhead Paradise" of all places? It's the direct result of a "surplus" crop of two to three million sockeye salmon created in the artificial, government-built spawning channels of Babine Lake. These fish, produced purely for the small (400 boats) commercial fleet's benefit, just happen to return to the Skeena at the same time as steelhead, coho and other depressed Skeena stocks. The result? Lots of dead steelhead found in lethal gillnets. All this for a fishery that brings in a mere 90 cents a pound for sockeyes and about five cents a pound for pink salmon.

"Why are we subsidizing the broken part of this fishery, the commercial gillnetting, to the detriment of the only part of this fishery, the recreational side, that makes economic sense?" - Bruce Hill, Headwaters Initiative

Will Somebody Please Do The Math? Anybody?

A recent study shows the Skeena River sport fishing industry brings more than $30 million a year into the local economy. On the other hand, the average gross income of a British Columbia North Coast gillnetter in 2005 was $8,000 - about the value of two or three sport-caught and released wild steelhead. Exactly how many steelhead perished as by-catch to earn that $8,000 we'll never know for sure, but it's a significantly high enough number that on the rare occasion when the nets are out of the water, steelhead escapement skyrockets. And this doesn't even take into account Skeena steelhead killed in the B.C. and Alaskan salmon seine fisheries - many observers believe the number is as high or even higher than those caught in gillnets. So, let's see, in this commercial fishery, we have a low-income, high negative-impact industry that kills thousands of steelhead and depressed salmon stocks, while the sport fishing sector provides large amounts of income with very little impact. And yet, our decision makers can't seem to do the math.

Think that's a Canadian problem? Think again. It isn't any better in the United States. On the Columbia River, a tiny fleet of gillnetters is allowed to target hatchery spring Chinook in the lower river. Unfortunately, as on the Skeena, other fish have the great misfortune to return in the same timeframe. A recent year saw more endangered winter steelhead taken as bycatch than the target species.

Even more maddening, is the cost to taxpayers to produce those hatchery spring Chinook. According to the Independent Economic Analysis Board of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, a harvested adult spring Chinook from the Upper Columbia Basin's Entiat hatchery cost citizens $68,031 to produce. Yes, you read that correctly: $68,031 dollars for a single fish. (No fuzzy math or cooked stats here: The IEAB simply took the average annual operating and maintenance cost of this hatchery and divided by the average number of harvested adult fish produced there. Amazingly, this ridiculous number doesn't even take into account the cost of lost electrical production as generation is reduced to assist downstream juvenile migration or the expense of trapping, barging and trucking the juveniles around the dams.) If a typical, hatchery-produced Columbia River spring Chinook weighs 12 pounds, that fish cost taxpayers nearly $5,700 a pound, the gillnetter probably made $7 or $8 a pound at the dock, and then you were offered the opportunity to pay $17 a pound for it again at the supermarket. And at the same time, large numbers of endangered wild winter steelhead perished in the process. Great deal, huh?

California, We Hardly Knew Ye

But I digress. To keep our eyes on the ball so to speak, let's get back to the subject at hand. Farther south and not so very long ago, California was a steelhead Mecca of fish-filled streams and unimaginably productive fishing. The home of early steelhead fly fishing pioneers such as Bill Schaadt and Jim Pray, coastal California was the place to be in the 1950s and `60s. Movie stars came to catch steelhead, national magazines devoted cover stories to this phenomenal fishery and the annual records were dominated by fly caught California steelhead. If you're a true glutton for punishment, read Russell Chatham's beautiful book The Angler's Coast and see what the good old days were really like. Keep a box of tissues nearby.

In the 1960s, the Russian River averaged 50,000 wild steelhead per year. Today, a good year sees 7,000. As agriculture, development, industrialization and other human factors have come to dominate the California landscape, the steelhead have predictably responded by disappearing. The numbers are staggering. The Carmel River, a small central coast watershed, once hosted 20,000 steelhead each year. The most recent count? Sixteen fish. In 1961, the mighty Sacramento River had 40,000 spawning steelhead. Today, the annual fish count at the Red Bluff Diversion Dam averages 1,400.

California obviously has the most intense population issues on the coast, and has seen the most catastrophic losses of wild steelhead. But "management" of these precious fish would be absolutely hilarious if the results weren't so sad. Even the mass-produced hatchery fish of the American River are hardly coming back. Despite enormous numbers of juveniles released each year (which used to result in a run of up to 19,000 fish in the 1970s), returns are now less than a thousand fish. The Ventura River, which once had a run of 4,000, now gets a return of 50 fish. As concerned locals petitioned to have the remnants of this run listed under the Endangered Species Act, the feds showed up claiming a need to obtain DNA samples to determine that Ventura River steelhead were in fact a distinct species. How many do you need, they were asked. "Fifty," was the reply. The situation deteriorated into a standoff between armed State Fish and Game officers protecting the fish from federal employees who needed to "take" fish in order to protect them. Did Mel Brooks write this script?

Oregon: Biological Warfare

In Oregon, where population and development have only recently become factors, the primary problem affecting wild steelhead seems to be genetic pollution from the massive coastal hatchery program. There are certainly logging practice issues and the resulting spawning habitat loss, as well as a long history of high sport harvest rates, but according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hatcheries are the major reason 18 of the 21 distinct Oregon Coast wild steelhead stocks are now listed as either depressed or of special concern.

Meanwhile, Back In The North Country...

So what about the "healthy" runs of the far north, where wilderness rivers attract anglers from around the world to fish over larger numbers of wild steelhead? Well, the Situk River in Southeast Alaska, a small drainage famous for it's incredibly productive steelhead fishery certainly qualifies. Compared to other, more accessible rivers, today's average run of 12,300 fish makes it a veritable bonanza for traveling anglers. However, a quick check of historical numbers shows that once again, we are fishing for crumbs. In 1952, the Situk had a typical run of between 25,000 and 30,000 wild winter steelhead. So today's "bonanza" is really less than half of what it was 60 years ago.

On the Skeena, beyond the intensive and unsustainable gillnet by-catch and indifference (or worse) from the DFO outlined above, there's currently a vast array of potentially disastrous threats to wild steelhead circling this watershed. Despite the recent ban on North Coast open water net pens, industrial fish farm corporations, with their proven track record of waste and chemical pollution, and deadly sea-lice infestations (which easily spread to migrating wild fish, thereby decimating natural runs) are still fighting to place facilities near the mouth of the Skeena. (As a side note, it's a well-documented fact that salmon farms dramatically damage wild fish runs, but has anyone noticed what a self-fulfilling market strategy this is? As wild runs decline, the value of farmed fish will certainly rise.) Royal Dutch Shell is pushing to exploit coal-bed methane reserves in the sacred headwaters, while other corporations seek to extract molybdenum, copper and other precious metals, all of which would prove disastrous for the watershed. A pipeline carrying millions of gallons of toxic petroleum products is planned to run through the avalanche- and slide-prone Skeena corridor. Rail cars loaded with Indonesian petroleum by-products to be used as solvents rumble perilously upriver bound for the tar-sand oil fields of Alberta. Timber companies have their sights on vast tracks of forest protecting critical spawning habitat....

That such damaging (yet profitable) industries are even on the table for what may be the most valuable steelhead watershed in the world is mind-boggling. It also demonstrates the power of the almighty dollar and what people fighting to preserve this fishery are up against. Not surprisingly, very few believe government, if left to its own devices, will make any decisions here to benefit salmon or steelhead.

"In our fathers' generation, they witnessed the complete collapse of the California steelhead fishery. In our generation, it was the famed rivers of Puget Sound. What's next? We're currently standing on the edge of  the cliff and time is running out. If we're going to do anything to save wild steelhead, we have to do it now." - Dr. Nathan Mantua, Research Professor, University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences

Management By Extinction?

Yes, we are fishing for crumbs. Have been for some time. But while these paltry numbers may provide "acceptable" fishing, the fact is, even the crumbs of our wild steelhead runs are fast disappearing. On Washington's remote Olympic Peninsula, a region generally considered to be one of the last strongholds of healthy wild steelhead runs in the U.S., the Quinault, Clearwater, Sol Duc and Bogachiel rivers each receive less than 50 wild summer steelhead in a given season. In biological terms, these fish are "functionally extinct." The Hoh River, mostly flowing through a National Park's pristine rainforest environment, is inexplicably still managed as a catch and kill sport fishery for wild winter steelhead, with an escapement goal of 2,400 fish. I use the term "managed" loosely here. In the 2002/03 season, when a total run of 3,583 steelhead returned, the tribal and state "managers" allowed a combined sport/tribal harvest of 1,967 steelhead. In other words, more than half the run was harvested, resulting in an escapement of only 1,616 spawners - almost 800 fish short of the minimum goal. Maybe the feds don't have the corner on that conspiracy theory.

When fish managers talk about Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) or Maximum Sustainable Harvest (MSH), what we have witnessed on the Hoh is pretty much par for the course. This obviously flawed management philosophy assumes a natural surplus of fish, and places belief in the idea that an agency can calculate the total number of fish, the minimum number required to sustain the run and by subtracting the two, discover how many fish are available for harvest. That might work in statistics class, but here's the problem: Nature doesn't operate according to computer models or statistics. This strategy, sadly still in place here in Washington, doesn't account for variable ocean conditions, flooding, drought or loss of habitat in rearing streams, and is frequently based on flawed escapement goals to begin with. How does anyone know it only takes 2,400 spawning steelhead to sustain the Hoh River run? They told us the 6,500 fish escapement goal on the Snohomish was sustainable and now we have less than half that number. And for that matter, does "sustain" mean at historic numbers or crumbs?

In its national assessment of wild steelhead runs, NOAA divided the remaining West Coast steelhead populations into 15 Evolutionary Significant Units, or ESUs. Guess what? 11 of those 15 ESUs are currently either listed under the Endangered Species Act or under review for ESA listing. In Washington State alone, every one of the seven ESUs is either ESA listed, chronically under-escaped or experiencing recent and rapid population declines. And yet, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, sport harvest of wild steelhead is perfectly acceptable on the handful of Olympic Peninsula rivers still deemed "healthy." God forbid we should let any "surplus" fish survive to spawn anywhere. In Canada, as we've touched on above, things are hardly better.

The fact is, steelhead are under attack at every level. From federal policies favoring commercial, non-sustainable fisheries, mining and forest harvest practices to bungled state management operating under a philosophy of MSH, to local municipalities sanctioning development and commercialization. Suburban sprawl engulfs our river valleys. Forestland is cut to build houses and make toilet paper. Modern agriculture requires increasing amounts of water, while dam operators fight to generate more electricity - all at the expense of natural, fish-producing stream flow. All this, and we haven't even started to see the effects of global warming, with its changing weather patterns, shrinking glaciers, catastrophic flood events and higher summertime stream temperatures. Is it any wonder our fish are in trouble?

It's Time

To quote Bill Murray in Stripes, "and then...depression set in." I know, the numbers are staggering. The causes, seemingly insurmountable. The outlook, bleak. But there are reasons for hope, first and foremost of which is that wild steelhead are incredibly tough, resilient fish. As the glaciers retreated thousands of years ago, steelhead spread out, adapted and colonized a wide range of disparate environments from high-desert sage country to coastal rain forest, from winding tundra streams to broad valley rivers. When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, sending a boiling mass of superheated ash down the Toutle River, for all intents and purposes, the river as we knew it ceased to exist. To see it shortly after this catastrophic event was to witness a thin trickle of water winding through a wasteland of broken stumps and volcanic mud. And yet, within a few short years, the steelhead were back, re-colonizing and adapting to their harsh new environment. As Dr. Nathan Mantua says, if we just give them half a chance, the fish will respond.

So how do we give them that half a chance? Just as the threats to wild steelhead survival exist on every level, so to do the possible solutions. On a broad scale, since our governments seem to respond best to money, we need to remind the people we've entrusted with the management of our fish about the financial benefits of healthy runs and the resulting tourist and sport fishing dollars. We need to fight hidden subsidies and government sanctioning of resource extraction industries. We need to vote, petition and write letters. Does it work? Absolutely. Just look at the ban on open water salmon farms for the North Coast of British Columbia mentioned above. After years of hard work by a local, grassroots coalition, the BC government finally agreed with their citizens and implemented the new policy in 2008.

When possible, we need to provide alternatives to the status quo. If we look, there are some surprisingly simple solutions to a number of the challenges we face. For example, in places like the Columbia, Fraser and Skeena Rivers, where commercial salmon gillnet fisheries intercept a high number of steelhead, live capture fish traps or a selective tangle-net fishery would allow safe release of fish from depressed stocks, while simultaneously increasing the quality (and thereby the value) of the targeted fish. Everybody wins.

We can also boycott farmed salmon and explain to restaurants and markets that serve or sell it why this product is so damaging to wild salmon and steelhead runs. Turns out, most people have no idea about the harm, and when shown the facts, will happily stop buying or selling farmed salmon.

We should encourage - no, demand - that outdoor gear manufacturers actively "give back" to preserve the resources they depend on, and support those that do with our dollars. We can eat local, organic food. Stop watering and fertilizing our lawns. Walk, pedal or paddle whenever possible. Hey, even not flushing when you pee helps.

The most valuable thing we can do, though, is to get directly involved. Of course, I understand most of us don't have the time or resources to understand all the issues or wage a personal political campaign. That's where the organizations listed in the sidebar come into play. These groups are hard at work doing everything from political lobbying and publicizing the important issues to scientific research, stream restoration and funding steelhead-related projects. They provide the regular angler with the voice and clout of a larger organization, and distribute information to their members about issues requiring action. As distasteful as politics and joining organizations may be to many anglers, it is now past the time where we can just go out and fish without worrying about the resource. That's pretty much what we've been doing, and look where it's gotten us.

If you fish for steelhead or dream of someday fishing for them, if the numbers and issues in this story concern you, if you'd like to believe that we'll have fishable numbers of steelhead for the rest of our lives and our children's, the answer is simple: get involved. For that matter, if you're passionate about trout or stripers or bass or salmon or tarpon, I urge you to learn from what's happened to our steelhead and get involved with the preservation of your fishery. As steelheaders know all too well, when it goes, it goes fast.

On my office wall is a photo of that huge Skykomish steelhead. The picture isn't old or faded - it was only taken a few years ago. But it seems like a lifetime since I last fished a spring season on the Sky. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss it. My hope is that we can work together as concerned anglers and citizens and someday set the stage for these magnificent fish to return in truly healthy numbers. I plan to be there when they do.

Author's note: The facts, figures and numbers cited in this story are from a number of various sources. Historic and current escapement numbers for the Situk River, Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula Rivers are from a collaborative publication by Bill McMillan and Nick Gayeski at www.wildsalmoncenter.org. Information on the Skeena River was provided by Bruce Hill and Gerald Amos of The Headwaters Initiative, as well as Keith Douglas and Jeff Vermillion. California and Coastal Oregon statistics are from the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Steelhead Review. Upper Columbia Basin hatchery Chinook cost estimates are from the Independent Economic Analysis Board of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. A special thanks to the Wild Steelhead Coalition and the Wild Salmon Center for additional help, resources and information. I would also like to thank Dr. Nathan Mantua, Bruce Hill, Rich Simms and Yvon Chouinard for guidance and lessons on how to stay sane while dealing with the current steelhead situation.

Conservation Banquet

The Conservation Banquet was held at the Enzian Motor in on Saturday, August 2. Over 120 people attended and had a very enjoyable dinner and auction. The money raised go toward ICTY projects, which include: Salmon in the Classroom, Kids in the Creek, acclimation/kids fishing pond development, and multiple other projects relating to the mission to "Conserve, Protect and Restore" cold water fisheries, their watersheds and ecosystems, as a means of maintaining our quality of life. We also gave a grant for continuing education to Cascade High School Senior Christy Burshek, who will be attending Seattle Pacific University this next fall. This year's banquet also featured the Whitney West Senior Project, "Fishing Fun for Everyone." The auctioneer conducted a game in which we raised over $500 for the project which was matched by the Dryden Gun Club. The money for her project made her project possible with no "out of pocket" expenses. The banquet was a total success and everyone enjoyed the evening.

On September 20 and 21, the Icicle Chapter held its annual Salmon Barbecue during the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Our dinner featured the famous Icicle Spring Chinook Salmon along with coleslaw, pears, and a roll. Thanks to the great organization of chairman Dennis McMahon, and the able help of multiple TU members, the event was a great success. Our club also played a financial role by sponsoring "Kids in the Creek," which conducts in creek surveys of the critters or invertebrates in the water. This gives the student a better understanding of the water and its role in our survival.

An update of the acclimation/kids fishing pond. Currently we have completed everything leading up to construction. Water permits, Jarpa permits, access permits, construction drawings, and pump specifications are all in place and we are currently waiting on the Chelan County PUD to give the go ahead for construction. We have the contractor ready to roll when we are notified to begin. This project is sorely needed for it looks like again this year over 65% of the Wenatchee River steelhead are straying up and over Rocky Reach Dam. This means that it is very possible that we may not have a steelhead season this year. The WDFW will revisit this issue soon and at our October 10 meeting we will have officials who will address the issue.

On Sept 10-14, George Lang, NLC representative from the Washington Council, and Bob Stroup, recipient of the Winn Memorial Award for Sea-Run Fisheries, attended the National TU Convention in Salt Lake City at the Snowbird Resort. This event is attended by TU members from throughout the United States and every part of our country was represented. Multiple issues were addressed and discussion and action was taken on many fronts. Politics played a role in this year's convention but everything revolved around our mission to create a working agreement of win win win for everyone. We had a chance to observe and discuss many projects throughout our country and I can assure you that we looked at multiple issues. In our discussions it was agreed that Washington State is unique with its multiple issues with international treaties, tribes, dams, salmon, steelhead, trout, warm water fish, development, etc. It was decided that we need more representation at the national level. Trout Unlimited pledged to put a staff member1/2 time solely in charge of issues within our state. This was a huge move for our Washington Council and opens up better communication with national leadership on issues that we and only we face in our state. Next year's meeting will be in Michigan, the home of the first TU, and will be very special. Bob Stroup will be the new NLC representative, which means that Bob will have direct contact with national TU on multiple issues. George Lang will become VP in charge of membership.

Our next big event will be election of officers: If you are interested in becoming more involved in ICTU and becoming an officer, contact Norm Warford at 662-1338 or cell 668-8017 or e-mail Norm at sarge5807@nwi.net.


2008 Winn Memorial Award For Sea-Run Fisheries Conservation

TU is proud to present the Winn Memorial Award to Bob Stroup of the Icicle Valley Chapter in Washington state for his work to conserve, protect and restore Pacific sea-run fisheries.

Stroup has been a member of TU for over 25 years. His passion and dedication to the TU mission and vision are second to none. He has worked tirelessly to restore salmon and steelhead runs to the Wenatchee, Icicle and Entiat rivers. He has, along with his chapter, restored habitat, dramatically improved fish passage through Rocky Reach Dam, set up Salmon in the Classroom projects in area schools and currently works on a natural steelhead rearing pond that doubles as a youth fishing pond after the steelhead have moved on.

"To be around Bob is to be infected with optimism for the future and the fish," said Mark Taylor, president of the Washington Council of TU. "His passion for education and the world we leave for the next generation inspires us all."

Congrats again, Bob!


Bob Stroup received the Washington State Trout Unlimited Award for Conservationist of the Year (Member). He also receive 2007 Volunteer of the Year from the Fish and Wildlife Employees in the Wenatchee Valley. The plaque reads "In recognition for unselfish dedication to the support of Washington's Fisheries Resources in North Central Washington.

Congrats, Bob!

Tackling a big clog:
Trout Unlimited uses grant money to create kids’ fishing pond

By Dee Riggs
Wenatchee World staff writer

Posted October 15, 2008

Bob Stroup, a member of Trout Unlimited, ties a rope to a log in preparation for floating it and another log out of an old borrow pit that he and other club members hope to make into a fishing pond for kids and an acclimation pond for smolt steelhead. The pond is accessed from Leavenworth’s Enchantment Park. (World photo/Dee Riggs)

“For the kids.”

This is the phrase uttered most often when local members of Trout Unlimited are asked why they joined the group.

“We want to create an opportunity for generations to come to do things we did when we were growing up,” says Bob Stroup of Leavenworth. “We want them to have the opportunity to go fishing in rivers that are now closed, in places we enjoyed and took for granted.”

To that end, club members have held several work parties at the site of two former borrow pits off Leavenworth’s Enchantment Park. The pits, now filled with Wenatchee River water that seeped in from underground, were created many years ago when gravel was removed as part of the now defunct Lamb-Davis Lumber Co. operations.

In the late 1990s, the club used an $80,000 grant from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to connect the two pits and make a kidney-shaped fishing pond for kids. Fishing went well for about two years, Stroup says, then, because there was no flow either from or to the river, the pond clogged up with leaves and debris, and the fish died from lack of oxygen.

Now, operating under a water permit from the state Department of Ecology, the club is cleaning out the pond and plans to install pipes for water flow that will create an oxygen-filled body of water.

At a glance
Club: Icicle Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Purpose: To conserve, protect and restore cold-water fisheries, their watersheds, and ecosystems
Activities: Salmon education programs for fourth-grade students, habitat restoration on the Entiat River and Wenatchee River watersheds, a family fishing derby, scholarships for students at Cascade and Cashmere high schools, and an annual fundraising banquet
Began: 1982
Number of members: 82
Age range of members: 6 to 90
Dues: $35, $20 for those under 18 and those 62 and older, $50 family
Membership: Open to anyone
Meetings: 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month at Kristall’s Restaurant & Lounge in Leavenworth
Information contact: George Lang at 548-5522 or Bob Stroup at 548-7662 or online at icicletrout.org or www.tu.org

When the pipes are closed, from March through May, the area will be used as an acclimation pond for smolt steelhead, considered threatened by federal officials. Smolt is the stage where the fish are most likely to become imprinted with their surroundings, giving them the ability to return two or more years later.

In late May, the piping system will be opened and fish flushed out of the pond. Then the pond will be planted with sterile trout. Children can then fish there through October, when fishing season ends.

Stroup says he hopes the system will be in place later this year.

In early August, club members worked with city crews to haul out large logs floating in the pond. It was a mosquito-filled workday, but members seemed not to mind the insects or the muck they wallowed in along the shoreline.

“We’re all friends, and we joke around a lot,” says George Lang, a retired State Patrol trooper who joined Trout Unlimited in 1989.

Jeff Phippen, manager of Kristall’s Restaurant & Lounge in Leavenworth, says he joined a year ago because he liked how active the club is. “We all have common bonds. We do things that are great for conservation and fish.”

Dan Davies, retired fisheries biologist and former manager of the national fish hatchery near Leavenworth, joined in 1986. He says some of his fondest memories are of taking his kids, along with kids of other members, fishing at Lake Wenatchee in the early 1990s. He has also enjoyed working with club members on salmon derbies for kids.

Jack Squires, retired director of national accounts for the McCormick Spice Co., belonged to Trout Unlimited chapters in two other locations before moving to Leavenworth in 2007 from Scottsdale, Ariz.

He says he has been impressed with the good relationships the club has with other agencies in the area, such as the city, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Chelan County PUD. Because of that, he says, club members “are not only capable but actually get things done.”

Stroup says he is looking forward to seeing the club’s efforts culminate in a functioning fishing pond for families.

“It’s great to see dad or mom with a son or daughter and the excitement on their faces when they catch a fish; that brings a family together like bingo.”

Dee Riggs: 664-7147 deeriggs@wenworld.com

Club profile: This occasional series profiles local clubs and organizations that are open to the general public. Once a month or so, these articles will offer insights into club activities, why current members joined and what they enjoy about their club. People wanting their club profiled may contact reporter Dee Riggs at 664-7147 or deeriggs@wenworld.com


Results for 2008 Fishing Derby

The 11th annual Family Fish Derby was held on Fish Lake on Sat., May 31. More than 75 fishermen entered the derby. The winners were: Justin Dobrinic of Leavenworth won an electric motor valued at over $300 with a 3 lb. 8 oz. trout. Second prize went to Paul Watson of Lake Villa, Illinois, who won a 4600C4 Abu Garcia fishing reel. Jesse Cearley of Lynnwood placed 3rd and won a fish finder. Over $1,500 was raised for scholarships. Please come to the 2009 Derby on Saturday, May 30, 2009!



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