Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

April 5th, 1999

Spinning Disease Found!

When you think about fly fishing, a particular trip or outing, I wonder how many of those memories are of hatchery fish.

Not stocked

When I read an article about great fishing somewhere, the mental picture I have is of running water, streambanks with vegetation and probably overhanging evergreens. Maybe some soft moss in the shade, and sweet riffles and deep pools.

The actual fish, ('tho I do see trout) don't need to be big. But it helps if there are enough of them to make the fishing a challenge rather than a frustration. The 'promise' of a big fish once in a while is enough.

So imagine my surprise - or shock - when I read the lastest issue of the Trout and Salmon Leader which is the publication of the Northwest Council of Trout Unlimited. There on page 5 is an article with the headline, "Southwest Washington offers many opportunities for trophy trout fishing."

Reading the article it does mention many of the high mountain lakes some of which one can drive to, but most ". . .require many miles of hiking."

However, here is the phrase/s which stopped me cold. "The area I am talking about is Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lew and Shamania counties. Within this area, there are lakes managed for planted catchable trout."

Quoting again, " Hatchery trout such as browns, eastern book, rainbow, cutthroat and golden trout are also found in abundance."

Again, "Many of these lakes are open year-round and planted throughout the winter and spring" . . . "You can find information on fish plants and the waters stocked on our website . . ."

In the entire 12 paragraph article there are six references to stocked, hatchery, or planted fish.

Ok, I realize not everyone can travel far enough to get away from streams, rivers, reservoirs which have stocked or hatchery fish. And I realize that some places have made fabulous fisheries from either eyed eggs or full hatchery programs which probably would not have existed without the eggs or hatcheries. Chili and Patagonia come to mind on the former, but their fish reproduced naturally.

And we do live in a society where it seems the government feels it must provide recreation for everyone, spin and bait fishers included. But in this case we are talking about Washington state, with more water, shoreline than practically anywhere.

Unfortunately, what is the truth here is the fisheries in this state have been horribly, criminally mismanaged. To cover their backsides, the state puts out the "spin" that all of these wonderful fishing opportunities are there. And is so eager to sell fishing licenses they will put up a website listing when and where the hatchery trucks will show up!

Not a Planter What happened to quality!

Does every fishing "opportunity" have to be about numbers of fish? Is this what the memories of our friends, children and grandchildren will be? Following hatchery trucks?

Old Rupe's column last week was about how we draw from our fishing memories to sustain us through the winter (and life.) Hatchery fish, and for the most part the really accessible places they are planted, are not the places for memories. Nor places of peace and reflection or renewal of spirit.

Something is wrong when TU is putting this stuff in their publication. What happened to protecting the water, encouraging stream enhancement, stopping polution?

At what point has TU become the spin tool of this state? And is it happening where you live? Promoting the wonderful opportunites of fishing for "catchable" hatchery fish? Give me a break! ~ The LadyFisher

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