USGS Stream Data

Kenai Rvr @ CooperLndg

  • Water Temp: 36.5 ° F
  • Flow: 1510 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 7.24 ft
USGS

Middle Kenai @ Skilak

  • Flow: 1970 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 7.24 ft
USGS

Talkeetna Rvr

  • Water Temp: 32.18 ° F
  • Water Level: 5.05 ft
USGS

Situk Rvr

  • Water Temp: 37.58 ° F
  • Flow: 873 ft³/s
  • Water Level: 67.58 ft
USGS
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Posts Tagged ‘International Federation of Fly Fishers’

Salmon Fishing Ethics

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OK; I’ve slept on it, waited twenty-four hours to write; slept on it again, re-read my copy with a second cup of coffee today, did some research, and re-wrote entire sections. All in an attempt not to sound all ranty. I don’t want to rant; I want to educate. Or, at the very least, make a solid argument for my point of view.

Sunday night I checked into Facebook. Nothing major, just popping in to see what’s up. My header showed 5 recent notifications, three of which were from the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF), an international organization, based in the US, to which I’ve been a member of for most of my adult life. I had recently linked with their Facebook page to stay in touch with what was going on in their world in-between the quarterly magazine. Normally the feeds they send warrant a quick glance and then I’m off, but last night one caught my eye: “Fly fishing Alaska’s Kenai river system”. Cool, I thought, let’s see what’s up here. So I clicked into http://vimeo.com/55600424

Half through the video, I’m heated… three minutes into it and I’m boiling, and overflowing with words I want to say. These guys were doing things that make us locals want to pull out our can of bear spray and test the spray’s range and effectiveness. I knew exactly where they were fishing, almost to the rock. I can even closely estimate the time of year they were there, within a week, given water conditions and plant growth. This video was shot on one of our local, road accessible, highly used, stretches of water. I wanted to vent!

However, I work hard to be a reasonable person. And by that, I mean I try and see things from another’s point of view even when it’s drastically different than mine. So I slept on it; and spent an hour tossing and turning with my brain on overdrive before I finally relaxed enough to drift to off sleep.

It finally occurred to me that the guys in the video probably did not mean to be the idiots they initially stuck me as, but probably were unaware of how un-sportsman like their actions were, given their location. And, they’re young. Not to be mean, but I’ve been fishing over twice as long as they’ve been alive. Over the course of that time, I’ve taught myself to treat each fishery, and all fish, with respect. So Monday I backtracked into their Vimeo site and watched a couple of other videos they’ve posted: one on steelhead (with spinning rods), and another fly fishing cutthroats in a mountain lake. OK, so they’re not total idiots. They seem like average young guys that really enjoy fishing. Maybe even a little bit (or a lot) like myself a lifetime ago. I even saw one of them pick up some trash and throw it in the back of their truck. (Major points there in my book.) So I’m going to go with the ignorant defense here and not pick on these guys specifically.

Here are my points of contention; hopefully with some common thread that leads to my conclusion.

Sockeyes_Spawning* You can’t come to southcentral Alaska (more specifically, the confluence area of the Kenai/Russian River where these guys were fishing) in late July/early August and expect sockeye salmon; at least not fresh ones. The runs are over! Yes, there are fish in the water, lots of them. Big red ones with green heads – spawning colors. And yes, you can “lip hook” them (because trust me; they’re not on a bite). But every Alaskan knows that these fish are mere days away from their spawning beds where they produce offspring for our fishing four years down the road. Leave them alone! Don’t burn up their precious body reserves by practicing catch and release, just because you can. Catch & release fishing before fish are on their beds is not illegal, but molesting (harassing) spawning fish is, and it’s a thin line! Study the life cycle of salmon and you’ll realize that once they are past their prime and off on their mission to spawn, they should never be a targeted species.

Sockeye-wRod_5650If you want to fish for sockeyes (and they’re a blast), or any other species of salmon, do some research and come up when the runs are peaking and the fish are fresh.

* Please treat our fish with the same respect you treat yours. Of the four fish I saw landed in the video (with the intention of being released) all were pulled up onto the rocks. (I didn’t see that happening with the steelhead or cutthroats in the other videos.) Unfortunately, even we locals are guilty of this one; especially when we mis-hook one of them while fishing for rainbows and Dolly Varden during the egg and flesh hatch. (The males are really bad about being territorial.) My point being; you should be using a net when catching and releasing larger fish of any species. If you can’t pick them up with your rod and one hand, get a net!

* What really bothered me most is that, according to FB, just over 6400 people “liked” this video. That number simply astounded me! And, as it has come to light, is highly mis-leading. IFFF has just over 6400 people linked to its page, who receive any share item from the IFFF. It was this number that FB attributed to the video. Look past the FB hype and you see that Vimeo shows only 318 views (172 of which has happened since the Jan 12th sharing from IFFF) and only 4 likes. Even IFFF’s own FB numbers show only 1071 views and 36 likes, just over three percent; a number that softened my initial ire considerably. This sort of mis-information from social media sites can have the effect of conditioning young, inexperienced anglers, who are prime web users, into thinking that this type of fishing is an acceptable sportfishing ethic. I’ve seen plenty of local and national advertisements for fishing services showcasing big green headed males being held like they’re trophies. (And as a photographer, I know red sells.) But really, should we allow marketing and advertising to mis-lead anglers into thinking that fish ready to spawn are a viable target? I think not. And it’s not that I am against social media, it’s a great tool. Just take what it tells you with a grain of common sense.

 

In conclusion: Whether it’s my local fishery, or yours, you need to speak up and talk to anglers that are obviously unaware of what they are doing. (This saved me from a nasty swim in an Arkansas river several years ago.) I doubt the gentlemen in the video thought they were being un-sporting (they didn’t strike me as the sort that would), but no one evidently told them either. Don’t be nasty or arrogant; simply get your message across in as friendly a way as possible and hope that they’re receptive to what you say. And for heaven’s sake, try to lead by example.

 

I do welcome you to Alaska; “Mi casa es su casa”, or more appropriately in this case, “mi pescado es su pescado”. Bring a rod (or three), a camera, a good attitude, and have a great time. Don’t go fish crazy just because you’re here in the Great Land. And don’t always believe what you see and/or hear about fishing in Alaska. Remember, our fishing is a lot like your fishing; sometimes it’s great, but most of the time it’s somewhere between average to just plain tough. Come with reasonable expectations for your fishing experience and you’ll have a great adventure. As I tell people all the time: It costs me just as much to fish at a remote lodge, with no people and great fishing, as it does you. I just don’t have to fly to Anchorage.

KenaiRussian_HighBank_5742When the salmon are in, so are the people. Very few anglers on the river usually means few to no fish. That’s a fact of life here in southcentral. Lance and I work hard at getting away from the combat fishing in peak periods, but sometimes you just have to deal with it.

Lastly, fish our waters like you’d fish yours, because someday I might be fishing in your waters, and I’ll return the favor.

Thanks for listening.

Hope to see you on the river – Rich

On a personal note: The International Federation of Fly Fishers is a great organization. I would encourage you to become involved with your local and national organizations that are working to protect your fisheries. If you don’t, no one will.

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