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I have enjoyed steelhead fishing since the early 60s starting with the Clearwater in Idaho, the Snake River around Lewiston, and the Grande Ronde in Washington and Oregon. There were abundant wild fish in all of those rivers then and, fortunately, almost no fly fishermen. The situation, particularly in the Clearwater, has changed dramatically with the Dworshak Dam shutting off the run of some of the largest steelhead into the North Fork of the Clearwater River. Part of the mitigation of the loss of the North Fork fish was a hatchery at Ahsahka just below the dam. There are a lot of steelhead returning to the hatchery but they are not the same. They don't take flies as well and they tend to return rapidly to a large pool just below the hatchery where they over-winter prior to going into the hatchery.

I related this story because it's just one of thousands of examples of what's happened to the steelhead and salmon fishery on the west coast of the United States and Canada. From hatchery programs that were intended to mitigate habitat damage, farming, logging, and dam building the runs are found in less than 10% of their original habitat and their populations are reduced to pathetic numbers. It's a tragic situation that needs help.

There are two organizations that I believe will help restore steelhead and salmon in some streams and help maintain and enhance runs in other streams where there are already fish. The first organization is the Coastal Conservation Association. They have done remarkable work in restoring fish in the Gulf and salmon on the East Coast. They have recently become active on the West Coast and need members to build a strong organization. They are a strong advocacy group with lobbyists, biologists, and lawyers who will take on forces working against our fisheries. One of their major tenants is that sportsmen outnumber any other group but until now have not been effectively organized to protect and enhance our fisheries against other groups such as logging companies and commercial fishermen who are well organized with substantial funds to influence legislators. They are changing this by recruiting large numbers of sportsmen so we can help make a difference.

I encourage you to go to their web site and read more about their programs and to make contributions to their efforts.

Main Web Page

Northwest Web Page

The second organization is Fish First. This is a West Coast organization that has been very effective in helping the fisheries.

I learned of these two organizations from my friend, Gary Loomis, who has been a tireless supporter of these organizations. Gary spends countless days traveling around the Northwest speaking to different organizations trying to raise awareness of the steelhead and salmon issues and signing up members. There is a good chance Gary would come to your organization to help raise awareness. You can contact me and I will put you in touch with Gary. Our fishy friends owe a great deal to Gary.

Tom Morgan

Questions? Contact us:
21505 Norris Road
Manhattan, MT 59741


Phone: 406.282.7110
Fax: 406.282.7167

(Note: is no longer a working address)

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