Friday, February 6, 2015

Acrobatic Oregon Coastal Winter Steelhead Video

Often the debate comes up between hatchery and wild steelhead, and many in opposition argue that wild and hatchery steelhead are not that different from each other. You can see the argument being legit as far as chromosomes go, and I would imagine they are the same creatures more or less. When it comes to dealing with these animals first hand there is a really large difference when you have experienced catching lots and lots of them. Then and only then can you really compare. I know people are also going to hammer on me (the hatchery fish proponents), but this entry is not to argue about the politics or anything like that. It is to just mention the power, vigor, beauty, splendor, and magic of wild steelhead, and you can also watch the video for first hand visuals of my point. 
This double striper wild buck tore me up catching many air & not wanting to yield
Personally I have had one of the meanest battles ever on a chromer hatchery 9-10 pound range winter steelhead on the lower Siuslaw River while fishing with my friend Ethan; so I know hatchery steelhead can kick your butt in simple angling fights. One huge difference is that on a scale of many fish (talking 100's of a theoretical sampling pool), when it comes to landing fish, wild fish freak out much harder than hatchery fish do. They simply do not want to yield to us! The next main point I have seen over a large enough sampling pool to see the statistics mount up, is that hatchery fish go down the drain fast in regards to "in the river" time. Likely a good thing; so they lessen the odds of successfully spawning, but they still intermingle with wild fish and also spawn with each other; so we can only guess what that is doing to the gene pools.
This fish has a really large tail to help its propulsion
Conversely, wild steelhead that portray the rainbow trout paint job fight like bandits. They crack airs and make runs better than most chrome bright hatchery fish do. They stay hard bodied, and don't get that gross funky look that many hatchery fish get when they have been in the river for more than the time of being chrome. Many hatchery fish out of this theoretical sampling pool just shake their heads, and make some runs, but the runs don't compare with the speed, torque, force, and assertion to their wild counterparts.
Oregon coastal rivers have been fishing well this winter so far.....
Again this is not an entry talking about politics of hatchery vs. wild, but my personal observations of how they feel on the end of the rod, and how they look compared to each other. You can tell when you have caught lots of them. The wild ones feed my addiction of steelheading. The hatchery ones are another story; where they are fun to catch, but not nearly as special to me. I guess if I liked eating hatchery winter steelhead more, I may have another feeling about them.....

The one really impressive thing is to think about is that a wild steelhead was born from an egg in the river. The egg was not eaten by anything before it hatched into the fry. That fry made it by all of the hungry critters to become a smolt. The smolt made it by all of the hungry cutthroat trout that may have eaten it. The birds did not get it on the way out to the ocean. It made it by all of the hungry fish in the ocean, and you can imagine the predators that would hunt a steelhead that is over several pounds. Then the fish is headed up to do its spawning run, and it already dodged the sea lions, and was scratched by a seal. It came through the bombardment of bobbers, eggs, jigs, flies, etc; only to intercept your offering. The fight is on, you land it, look it at, and send it off to keep up its run upstream to create the cycle all again.

 Wild Steelhead are amazing creatures!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! This is your best post thus far. I wish more people understood the need to protect native fish. It's hard to image how such a small egg can turn into a 20 pound beast. How it can make it through the heck it goes through and still come out fighting on the end of your line. I really appreciate your care for this fish. I have only hooked one, but I will always remember that day. I hope within the next couple of weeks I will be a able to land and behold the beauty of this majestic species!