Ok, so the summer steelhead run on the North Umpqua is not what it has been in the past. I get that. Everyone has not felt the love yet, I get that too, I've been there. Stepping into certain runs that you should see fish rolling in and not seeing any, is pretty disheartening, for sure. Going a week without a touch, been there too. That's the North, it's always been tough and will continue to be so. What is that quote you hear?, " the North Umpqua is the graduate school of steelheading", this is still true. The word on Highway 138 is that, anglers want the ODFW to start planting hatchery smolts throughout the "fly-water". Is this the answer, I think not. I'm a young man, but within the reading I've done, and the life I've dedicated to these fish and the good older friends I've talked with, hatcheries are not the answer. Can we not still learn from the past. Name a river where hatcheries have helped the wild steelhead in that river.
Of course, we look to what is happening to the north of us on the Columbia, they're having stellar returns up there, of historic proportions. But if you take a look at the data, you'll see that most are hatchery fish. The northern Pacific Ocean is having really good conditions for fish. And hatchery fish fare really well in good ocean conditions. But from the information I've gathered, our North Umpqua fish turn south upon entering the salt. And when the northern waters are having good ocean conditions, down south we are on the flip side.
Another thing to think about, we had an extremely wet June here. The North Umpqua rose higher in June, than throughout the winter months. June is when a lot of our fish move up. And as I'm sure you know the majority of our fish spawn in Steamboat Creek, that is where they want to be. And normally there is a thermal block at the mouth of Steamboat Creek by the middle of June. Typically why the the "camp-water" is so famous. And the refuge pools on Steamboat Creek are holding the same numbers of fish if not more in some.
If you look at the numbers of fish, we should be getting more than last year. But, I really believe our slower fishing is due to our high water June. There is already more fish than last year, and last year was decent.
Total Percent of
YEAR Period of Through Total Run By
Jun. 16-30 30-Jun Count 30-Jun
2001 2,576 4,147 11,331 36.6%
2002 1,791 3,041 9,175 33.1%
2003 2,544 3,720 7,997 46.5%
2004 2,499 3,650 9,157 39.9%
2005 1,696 2,793 6,987 40.0%
2006 1,656 3,131 7,669 40.8%
2007 817 1,424 4,552 31.3%
2008 2,022 2,773 6,674 41.5%
2009 933 1,548 4,993 31.0%
2010 1,442 2,125
2001-02 3 17 110
Believe me, I'm feeling the pressure. I'm a guide, I'd love to get a hatchery fish a day. But, " Do wild fish need hatcheries, or do hatcheries need wild fish?"
I've been guiding the North Umpqua for the majority of the summer, and for the most part we've had success, not epic by any means, but success. And for the anglers out there that are complaining about not jumping fish and wanting hatchery fish in the "fly-water". Try fishing water out of your daily routine. The first sign of insanity, " to do same thing day in and day out, and expect a different result"
Can we not just roll with the punches?, it's not a good run this year on the North Umpqua. Wild steelhead runs fluctuate through the years. It's not like the bait guys are slaying'em down at Swiftwater Park, right? (where the hatchery is). Let's not jump to what seems like a quick fix, because it's not. If ODFW plants hatchery smolts, it'll still be four years before they return,... what if our wild runs rebound?(which I'm sure they will).