A Bashing Good Time

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Last Saturday, June 24th, 2023, close to 45 people gathered together on the mainstem Umpqua River for the second annual Umpqua Bass Bash! Anglers from all over the state participated in the event to remove invasive species, bring awareness to the issues of non-native predators, and build a community around wild native fish. 

Anglers hit the water early Saturday morning after checking in and making plans with others at Tyee Campground. Numerous folks floated in boats, kayaks, pontoons, or other vessels. This was the ideal method to catch large numbers of smallmouth bass. The day soon turned into a bright sunny afternoon, and the fish became more active. A few fish were caught on flies, and while most anglers were using gear, anything from spinners to soft plastics did the trick. This year, the fly of choice was a black wooly bugger, closely imitating a dark lamprey ammocoete. 

After a long day of fishing, anglers brought their catch back to Tyee Campground, where a team of folks worked together to filet the fish, preparing them for dinner! Shout out to Sophia Kim, Mike Darck, Garrett Stroup, and Ken Anderson for helping prep the fish for dinner! 

Following cleaning, volunteers helped prep food, Molly Hiatt mastered the tortilla station, and NFS board chair Doug Deroy started frying smallmouth bass filets for dinner! Five minutes later, we had a delicious fish taco buffet that would satisfy any taco lover! A community effort to put together one of the most delicious meals a small-mouth bass has ever been a part of.

During the event, Native Fish Society Southern Oregon Coordinator Kirk Blaine briefly introduced NFS and dove deep into why we were removing invasive species from the Umpqua River. Smallmouth bass entered the Umpqua system in the 1960s, with high water events flooding nearby ponds. About a decade ago, ODFW removed bag limits on the fishery with support from outstanding advocates such as NFS River Steward Stan Pertrowski. And just a short time ago, Governor Kotek signed monumental legislation, HB 2966, allowing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) the authority to approve no-limit take fisheries, including at tournament events, for non-native fish populations in order to benefit native fish and ecosystem health. Read more about this bill in NFS Conservation Director Jennifer Fairbrother’s debrief here.

It was a wonderful gathering of new and old volunteers, passionate river advocates, and folks celebrating wild native fish. It boiled down to the following numbers - over 45 participants, 4 dogs, 8 boats, and 289 smallmouth bass harvested from the mainstem Umpqua River. A huge success in building a community and bringing awareness to the issues these invasives cause to the natural ecosystem. 

Native Fish Society will continue to work on restoring wild native fish in southern Oregon by assisting with limiting factors that depress the restoration of native species. If you would like to learn more about our work or how to get involved, please contact us today.

Photos: Fontaine Rittelmann - @fontainerittelmann

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