At long last. After what’s felt like the wettest, coldest, longest winter in memory, it appears that spring has finally sprung. Halo takes off her winter coat and leaves it lying around the house–and woods…
Salmon berries pop…
And a generous buddy’s lone Columbia River springer feeds 11 people if we make sure not to waste a morsel. Spring is late, but it’s here. Not a moment too soon.
Cooke Industries, which now owns the existing Puget Sound open-water salmon farms, bought them intending a massive expansion. The State of Washington is doing everything they can to clear the way for this expansion. The pens pictured above are anchored just off Bainbridge Island on–yes, it’s true–the Orchard Rocks Marine Conservation Area, a “Marine Protected Area” deemed so rich in sea life that it’s off limits to all fishing and harvest. The state, apparently, doesn’t see the irony in allowing a salmon feedlot, with all the known chemical and fecal pollution, parasite infestation, and viral outbreaks, to operate here.
Everywhere open-water salmon farms have been allowed to operate, wild salmon and the animals (including humans) that depend on them have suffered. In fact, California, Oregon and Alaska have all looked at the negative impacts and refused to allow open-water salmon farms in their waters. Why Washington allows them, and even worse, seems intent on an expansion, is beyond comprehension.
Thankfully, our friends at the Wild Fish Conservancy launched a campaign today to stop the expansion of open-water fish farms from destroying what we love about Puget Sound. For more information and to sign the petition asking Governor Inslee to ban the expansion of open-water salmon farms in Puget Sound, click HERE. It only takes a minute. Don’t let corporate greed, profits for few, and state malfeasance continue at the expense of our public resources. Thank you.
Hard to believe, but Saturday was the last evening razor-clam opener of the season, and we didn’t want to miss it. Skyla was literally bouncing off the walls, stoked to dig, and then realized she had already committed to a dinner with friends that night. I was bummed she couldn’t go with us, but was also proud that she stuck to her word. Then Weston woke up not feeling well. And I was left to go it alone, perhaps an early preview of kids growing up and having lives of their own? With a twinge of sadness, I decided to roll anyway, and lucky for me, had plenty of friends to join the fun. That’s Honey, David and Sam Smart, and Doc hitting the beach early.
The dig started off slow, with a big swell pushing the wash up the beach and making it tough. We scratched out a few nice ones ahead of the tide, then, as it the water receded, it was on.
Nothing like good friends on a day at the beach. That’s Dan and Mia Sweeney and me for a quick, sandy-handed selfie. Dry weather, full daylight, no lanterns…what’s not to like?
Once the razors started to show, we filled our limits with big, fat, tasty clams in minutes. That’s Sweeney double checking the Smart boys’ count.
Finished the night at the Sweeneys for a team clam-cleaning session and more good times hanging out with friends. That’s Sweeney and Smarty (with Hefty-sack wrapped wrist he broke to avoid having to clean clams) waiting for the watched pot to boil. I missed the kids, but ended up having a fantastic time anyway. Love this crew.
Since I’ve been chasing winter steelhead a bit more lately, I started running low on flies. Or at least flies I like. So Skyla jumped in, eager to learn a new craft, and after a few lessons, I put her to work. I showed her how to tie a simple bunny leech, let her choose the color scheme from a big box of materials–I figure a kid’s vision is as good as any when it comes to steelhead flies–and this is what she she twisted up. Looks pretty good for clear-water, big-river fish, don’t you think? Only issue is that she wants to keep everything she ties now. Dangit!
They don’t call it WINTER steelheading for nothing… Before the big warm rains and resulting river blowouts, I ran back over to the Olympic Peninsula for a couple days. Mostly it was a social occasion, to hang out with good friends Nate and Jeff, and stop in for another visit with JD. I went to school with Nate way back when, we’ve fished together all over the place, and now he lives in California. He’s also one of the people who first made me aware of, and encouraged me to participate in, fish conservation. So a chance to celebrate his birthday on the river wasn’t to be passed up.
The weather, though, had it’s say. Air temps stayed in the 30s, we had mixed rain and snow, the occasional white-out blizzard and some pretty sketchy driving. Water temps stayed low, and very few fish were being caught. Probably because there simply aren’t many around this year. I was lucky enough to hook one during a brief–and coincidental, I think–moment of sunshine (shortly after the picture above was taken), but otherwise we heard of little success. And a lot of the time, we were treated to a persistent, wet, mix of slushy snow and rain. Like this:
But numb fingers and slow fishing did little to dampen the enjoyment of time on the river with good friends. With all the politics around Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead now, and some pretty serious issues about their future survival, it was further incentive to participate in the challenge of saving them–if for nothing more than to have more days like these ahead.