New angling regulations for winter steelhead. Please help to Support Angling Opportunity
I'd like to clear up some of the common misconceptions about our local winter steelhead. I'll explain why it is unfair to compare them to other populations, and why it makes sense for anglers to maintain the privilege for catch and release and/or harvest as a personal choice.
ODFW research supports the opinion that wild winter steelhead in ALL of these streams are at a low/ very low viability risk. NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service concur with these findings. This post season data is based on one fish per day/five per year catch limits. Recreational angling has little to no effect on the viability risk of these fish. Habitat and ocean conditions are the primary limiting factors.
The South Coast streams that will have new regulations are the Rogue, Elk, Pistol, Chetco and Winchuck Rivers, and Euchre and Hunter Creeks. Due to the complexities of the Rogue River as a whole, this discussion will focus on the other south coast streams.
These streams are lightly fished and provide plenty of escapement. Due to the rugged topography and roadless wilderness with little accessibility, less than 15 percent of this habitat is accessible or open to anglers. In addition, anglers are only able to fish about 20 percent of the time due to daylight constraints and high-water events.
We have about 80 miles of coastline that include many Non-Defined Ocean Tributaries (NDOTs). Many of these streams support winter steelhead, salmon and/or cut-throat trout, and they are all closed to angling. Plus, we DO have several catch and release streams. These streams have little angler effort.
When a stream is closed, it displaces angler pressure onto the remaining streams.
Not many people care nor pay attention to the streams that do not allow angling. "When people stop fishing, people stop caring about fish."
It is unfair to compare these fish populations with others in different areas. The differences include:
1. We do not have much angler opportunity due to lack of access.
2. We do not have commercial ocean or commercial in-river fisheries for these fish.
3. We do not have dams.
4. We do not have any major habitat issues.
5. We do not have Tribal Fisheries.
The South Coast area is unique in that we have been able to provide a sustainable harvest of wild winter steelhead for anglers. Because of this, we have not had to fill our basins with hatchery programs due to the abundance of wild winter steelhead. If we were asked to give up the privilege of wild winter steelhead harvest, then the public has asked that harvest be replaced with hatchery fish.
The public wants and deserves to maintain harvest, and it's vital for our local economy. A number of local businesses are experiencing a steep decline. It would be wrong to enact unwarranted hardships through regulation changes on the remainder of businesses based on a perceived crisis.
If we are going from a culture of consumptive fisheries harvest to a culture of non-consumptive users, then we need to put that discussion on the table. License holders, business owners, ODFW staff, and volunteers need to know.
Anti-fishing organizations that are profit driven have campaigned relentlessly to eliminate harvest in the remaining small handful of streams.
The ODFW draft plan and harvest recommendation to our Commission is scheduled to go out soon. It is time for us to stand up and give the Commission a different perspective. It is time for them to hear the truth.
Let them know that you do not support crafting regulations due to a perceived crisis by anti-fishing organizations.
Let them know that the public supports a sustainable harvest of wild winter steelhead for ALL of the few remaining streams that are left.
Let them know we deserve regulations that are crafted based on biology, not socio-political campaigns.
Let them know that local businesses and much our economy depend on us maintaining harvest.
Let them know that if they choose to reduce or eliminate harvest, that the expectation by the public is to replace it with hatchery programs to offset the loss of harvest.
Please act to preserve and protect angler opportunity by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
President, Oregon Anglers Alliance