Our Blog

February 18, 2020

2020 Columbia River Salmon Agreement Abandons Protection Principles

Last Friday afternoon the Oregon and Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife announced an agreement on allocation and gear types for Columbia River salmon fisheries in 2020. Notwithstanding poor run-size forecasts for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations, which will severely restrict seasons, the agreement calls for increasing commercial gill net harvests at the expense of public recreational fishing opportunity, and will potentially allow commercial netting on the mainstem during the spring season for the first time since 2016. Northwest Steelheaders is extremely disappointed in this agreement, which continues a disturbing trend to undermine the fundamental principles and commitments embodied in the 2012 Columbia River Reform package.
February 3, 2020

Northwest Steelheaders Submits Testimony on Columbia River Management Reform

On February 1, Northwest Steelheaders submitted testimony to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission concerning setbacks in lower mainstem Columbia River fisheries management reform policies. The testimony is a direct response to the March 2, 2019, decision by the commission to abandon two crucial principles that Northwest Steelheaders fought for in the reform policies: (1) Improve the selectivity and conservation value of lower mainstem non-treaty commercial salmon fisheries through the replacement of gillnet fisheries with alternative mark-selective, live-release fisheries, and (2) Optimize the economic and social benefits to our region through the prioritization of recreational fisheries on the mainstem.
January 15, 2020

Tim Lenihan Proposes Bill for Group Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Tim Lenihan, a combat veteran and dedicated Northwest Steelheaders member, testified in front of the Senate Veterans Committee on November 20, 2019, to propose a draft bill (LC 55) that would benefit Oregon hunters and anglers by reducing the financial burden of licensing on disadvantaged groups. Similar to a program already implemented in Washington, the draft bill calls for a program wherein the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife would issue group hunting, angling, and shellfish licenses to qualifying non-profit programs. Group licenses would be granted to organizations providing support to veterans, active service members, underprivileged and at-risk youth, and those that are hospitalized or have disabilities, among others. Currently, participants are required to purchase licenses for hunting and fishing programs themselves.
December 23, 2019

A letter from Executive Director Chris Hager

This morning, as I pulled on my waders to fish for a couple of hours before heading into the office, I was shocked by the realization that December is nearly over. Reports of winter steelhead hooked on the Clackamas have been few and far between. It seems returns are occurring later than ever. I can’t help but recall stories told of frosty early mornings on the bank where fish were caught before Thanksgiving dinner. I take stock, remind myself that “it only takes one bite,” and push on. As anglers, we push on, driven by a passion that lures us to the next hole or riffle, regardless of run counts or projections. If there are fish in the river, we fish. No matter what. Rain or shine we’re there, one cast at a time. It's that same passion that drives me to preserve these special places, to ensure that the next generation has a place to fish and fish to catch.
December 12, 2019

A letter from President Tom VanderPlaat

In many ways, 2019 was a year of transition for the Northwest Steelheaders. We hired a new Executive Director, Chris Hager, a new Operations Manager, Alix Soliman, and we brought aboard a new Ameri-Corps Education and Outreach Coordinator, Allena Vestal. I and our board of directors are extremely excited to have each of them on our staff. Individually, each brings energy, enthusiasm, and experience to our organization. Collectively, they represent the “Next Generation” of Steelheaders that is vital to our organization’s growth, effectiveness, and continued tenacity. While we propel forward, it is important to recognize an enduring aspect of Northwest Steelheaders: the commitment of our people. As an organization, we’ve been working for “a place to fish, and fish to catch” for almost 60 years.
November 13, 2019

Winter Steelhead Extinction Risk in Willamette River Plummets with Sea Lion Removal

When the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) modeled “Extinction Risk” of winter steelhead in the Willamette River in 2017, it was a whopping 90%. Following the removal of just 33 California sea lions preying on steelhead at Willamette Falls, ODFW estimates that the year-end extinction risk will fall to between 10-15%. Before the permitted removal began, about 25% of the steelhead population was consumed by sea lions. Predation on winter steelhead dropped to 9% this year. Just 512 winter steelhead spawned above Willamette Falls in 2017, rising to 3,118 in 2018.
November 6, 2019

NW Steelheaders Supports Lethal Take of Sea Lions

In concert with the Northwest Steelheaders’ efforts to increase salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of people and ecosystems, the association has issued a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) supporting the June 13, 2019 Sea Lion Removal Application submitted by the Oregon, Washington, Departments of Fish and Wildlife, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation; and the Willamette Committee.
November 6, 2019

President’s Teriyaki Smoked Salmon Recipe

Recipe by Tom VanderPlaat and Joe Rutledge. Ingredients (for 5-7 pounds of fish filets): 1 ½ Cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce, 1 ½ Cup Apple Juice, ½ Cup Brown Sugar, ½ Cup warm water, ½ Tablespoon of Garlic powder, ½ Tablespoon of Onion powder, 1 Teaspoon of coarse Pepper.
November 1, 2019

Snake River Salmon: A Response to Kurt Miller

Miller wants to blame the decimation of Snake River salmon populations on anything but the four lower Snake River dams. So he invokes overfishing that took place 80 years ago and adverse ocean conditions. If those sound like evasions, it’s because they are. Fish biologists agree that removing the dams is the most important step we can take to restore salmon whose populations have dropped by 90% since the dams were built.