It’s the best collection of Salmon and steelhead fishing rivers (Wilson, Trask and Kilchis, Miami and Tillamook Rivers) meeting up as what’s known as Tillamook Bay. Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine listed this fishery in it’s Top 10 some years back and many of us are fondly aware of why. Tillamook Bay is in the process of being sucked into a coast wide effort to change fisheries for the coming years. In a not so subtle effort to put blame on hatchery fish versus the numerous other obvious issuses facing fish these days, the ODFW is in the process of entertaining a public process where hand selected individuals are selected as participants in a “user group” based process that appears to be a trojan horse for a wider state agenda.
Hatchery fish, for obvious reasons, have been a regular target for those with mitigation responsibility, but experiments to curtail hatchery stocks has not lead to documented cases of increased wild fish and has only stiffled public opportunity. In the most recent example, ODFW officials give all sorts of credit to the modification of hatchery practices when it comes to the rebound of coastal coho. What they fail to tell the public is that upon the ESA listing of coastal coho, the ODFW was forced to stop managing at a harvest rate of 85%. This harvest rate was clearly unsustainable and simply modifying it was all that was needed to see immediate improvement.
This past weekend on the NW Outdoor Show. I had a chance to interview one of the leading voices in the fight for hatchery fish and the opportunities that those fish represent. Carmen Macdonald has been around fishing a long time. He has worked as the agency for the likes of Lamiglas, Okuma, Fishermens Marine and Outdoor, Savage Gear and Luhr Jensen. Along with his work within the fishing business, this guy just simply loves to fish and loves the culture that we have here in the Pacific Northwest.