With the new year upon us, a new season and fresh fish start to return to their natal waters. There's high anticipation for the famous coastal wild winter steelhead run and this year, Native Fish Society is more anxious and hopeful than ever before.
It seems just days ago we were in the middle of the 2020-2021 winter season where anglers, lovers of wild fish and healthy rivers, and grassroots advocates struggled north and south to find abundant wild fish. It’s always tough to visibly observe these fish while enjoying a day along a river or entice an interaction as an angler. But be it a grab of a fly, a swipe of the spinner, or a glimpse of fish holding in pools from a hiking trail or through the mask of a snorkel, it seemed last year there were far fewer fish than previous years on record.
Recently, ODFW published their annual spawning survey results for the Oregon Coast showing the estimated abundance of wild winter steelhead. This report displayed population estimates for all north coast rivers from the Tillamook and Nestucca in the north to the Sixes and Umpqua Basin in the mid-Oregon coast.
It was shocking for Native Fish Society to see that according to last year's monitoring, the Oregon coastal rivers saw more fish last year than the past five years. This contradicts all the anecdotal evidence from advocates observing fish or actually angling this past winter season.
How You Can Help
That's why this season we could use your help. We need to share our voices and observations loud and clear with the communities of wild fish advocates throughout the Pacific Northwest. Let’s make sure fisheries managers understand we are concerned about these fish, their future, and the role we play in restoring them to abundance.
This winter, we are asking folks to share their #wildsteelheadstory. What does this mean? Get out on your homewaters this season, take a photo, share your experience, and let us know how things are looking. Whether you're out angling or hiking, we want an update of the current conditions for wild fish. We want to see your interactions with hooking and landing wild steelhead. We want to hear about those fish you hooked but were unable to land. We want to see photos of the habitat, steelhead redds, and potential clogged culverts and barriers for juveniles and adults.
It's simple. Whether you angle or just want to enjoy a day connecting with fish as an observer, get out on your favorite rivers and document what’s happening. Share your experience on social media, hashtag #wildsteelheadstory, and post your picture of your interaction with wild fish and rivers. Through these actions, it will help us understand the anecdotal evidence on the health of steelhead and their homewaters in the Pacific Northwest. It will help us, fisheries managers, and your community know what challenges need to be tackled and what successes should be celebrated.
We have said it before, and we will say it again, these fish need all the help they can get. Let’s band together to benefit the future of wild steelhead. Share your #wildsteelheadstory today and get involved with your homewaters to help restore abundant wild fish, free-flowing rivers, and thriving local communities across the Pacific Northwest!