Thoughts on the naming of steelhead rivers in magazines and social media - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thoughts on the naming of steelhead rivers in magazines and social media

Just interested to hear a few opinions of this topic. I understand that some river are unmistakable in many photos and need not to be named to be recognized by many. Rivers of legend and rich in history. And have decent sized runs of fish (or used to) to support the pressure brought on by being advertised in a fishing publication. But what about the smaller rivers the ones that have smaller runs of fish and are mostly fished by locals and a few others who put the boot work in to find them. The ones that are whispered rumours and are a gamble to go explore. This recently happened to one such stream in my back yard. I couldn’t bring myself to read the article all I needed to see was the picture of a guy playing a fish and the name of the river on the picture. Is this fair to do something like this to a river that sees a run of 50-100 fish? Should the small sensitive fisheries be name for all the world to see and pictures of a few fish from there waters put in print and made out to be some kind of amazing unknown fishery just to maybe sell a few magazines? Or for the guide that sold out his back yard to get his name in a magazine? We all preach conservation and want nothing more than to see steelhead thrive and keep going well beyond our life time. I seriously question the ethics of fishing publications and now only see them trying to keep there magazines fresh and selling. The naming of small rivers and there sensitive fisheries needs not to be a thing. In this day and age we live in with declining fish stocks and more crowds all over the bigger rivers and people now more than ever are searching for the next great fishing destination. This just seems wrong in so many ways. That’s all I got. I’ll go crawl back under my rock now.
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 05:27 PM
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I think a kiss-and-tell fisherman doesn't plan to ever fish there again himself. Or, what's that other explanation? Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by just plain stupidity . . .
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 05:48 PM
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Iíve always kept pretty quiet about specific details of some of my favorite spots (ainít no such thing as a secret spot in the internet age), but there is a flip side to that.

When I was growing up, there was a threat to several of the waters that fed the New York City water system. - a number of fairly well-known (locally) Catskill streams that were great fisheries within a relatively short drive of the city. Because so many people were familiar with them, there was an immediate and large groundswell of opposition and an alternative was quickly found. My guess is that lesser known waters would be at much greater risk because they donít have the base of support that can fend off a threat.

Itís a double edged sword, but there are benefits to the world at least knowing your door, if not beating a path to it.

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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 06:57 PM
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It depends on the system and what is written about it. Go ahead and write about places that are well known but don't sell your honey hole away to make a few hundred bucks and don't do it to sell guide trips.
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Nickels View Post
.... I understand that some river are unmistakable in many photos and need not to be named to be recognized by many. ....
I can recognize a river from photos where I have never personally fished the river in question. If I can do that, others can too.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 07:54 PM
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IMO, there's never an advantage in naming a river...only a potential downside, intended or otherwise....that should answer the question.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 08:36 PM
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I totally understand the downsides to naming a river and empathize completely. But then, I think of all the times I have ever traveled anywhere to fish and been grateful for shop employees and owners, guides, and fellow anglers for pointing me to productive waters. I have read books and magazines about destinations and used that information unashamedly. I suspect I'm not alone. I also keep in mind that "my" personal, special spot isn't really mine. I was sure as shootin' not the first guy to fish it, nor will I be the last. I think John Gierach wrote something about how you can divide anglers into two camps; all the wise men and heroes who were doing it before you, and all the jerks who came along after you. So, I can't howl in protest too terribly loudly when somebody names names.

I think I have come to the conclusion that we all just need to be good citizens and role models wherever and whenever we fish - practice proper etiquette, handle fish with care, keep the stream banks clean, that sort of thing. Establish a new and higher norm by example. If everyone did that, we wouldn't have to worry too much about what other anglers might do if they hear about that special spot. With any luck, they'd treat it the same way you or I would. Of course, I know that's not especially realistic, but I also know that we can change the cultural attitudes and behaviors associated with our sport. Just consider the whole catch and release ethic - virtually unheard of 50 years ago, practiced widely today.

Publicity and mass communication aren't going away, nor are they anything new. My grandpa used to grumble about the destination articles in Field & Stream magazine in the 1940's. But maybe, we can do something to encourage the spread of good behavior just as widely.

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 09:55 PM
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The double edged sword isn't steelhead river specific. My two home waters, one for wild browns, one for smallmouth bass were ruined by lack of public awareness as to what two separate government "agencies" were doing with the two waters. The brown trout stream is a trib of the smallmouth stream. Both were treasures frequented only by locals.

The army clear cut an entire mountainside (To be fair, that valley is part of the army base's property. But isn't that actually the property of us citizens?) that drained into the brown trout stream, right down to it's banks.

Simultaneously our fish commission was destroying low head dams and building a fish ladder beside another (at how much useless expense to a supposedly financially destitute agency!?!?) downstream on our local smallmouth fishery. Supposedly this was to allow shad to run (which are in trouble themselves, and have yet to make it within miles of the mouth of this particular stream).

The general public (meaning many of us locals) didn't know about either parties actions until the damage was already done.

Couple those separately idiotic, and cumulatively disastrous, deeds with extraordinary rainfall three years in a row. Both streams were destroyed by record flood, not to mention many people's homes and property downstream. Both streambeds were completely scoured and re-arranged. The bank destabilization and silt were terrible. The insect life is having a time re-establishing itself, the fish are all but gone, and the waterfowl are all but gone.

All this happened within a period of about 5 years. It's been 7 years now since the last big flood, and things still haven't bounced back. It makes me sick to my stomach when I compare how good things used to be, and how they are now. My home waters are almost dead.

I can't help but think that some public awareness/action could have prevented all of this (hopefully just temporary) loss of habitat and wildlife. Be careful just how secret you folks keep your secret spots. I'd rather share a healthy river with a few more people that love the resource than lose it altogether.

-Sean
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:12 PM
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I think it is a terrible practice.

3162 Posts here on Spey Pages
18,556 Posts on The Fly Fishing Forum North America
1,172 Posts on the Salmon Fishing Forum
488 Posts on The Fly Fishing Forums UK.

That's 23,388 Posts and I have never mentioned where I caught a single fish!

I've been finding places to fly fish since before Fly Fisherman Magazine was ever published.

I've been finding access points since before the first detailed Roadside Guide to fishing most states was ever dreamed up and published.

If you are my friend I'll bend over backwards to help you catch fish but the chance of me creating step by step instructions for complete strangers to come fish where I do is absolutely ZERO, that's 0 never ever.

It is possible to write an interesting article about fishing without telling a million people where to go try for themselves.

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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:21 PM
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Itís BS. Should anyone should be fishing a system with a return of 50-100 fish? I wouldnít fish it. Iíll fish a river with a return of 500 fish. Writing an article and naming the system is a whole Ďnother level.
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post #11 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:29 PM
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I think it’s healthiest to acknowledge that it’s just very difficult (if not impossible) to keep anything really secret these days and to focus the potential positive benefits that growing a community of concerned citizens around a beloved resource might bring. If you’re that invested in keeping rivers a secret you’re just setting yourself up for frustration. Find a way to shape the community’s growth in a positive way. Take a kid fishing. Pick up trash and encourage newcomers to the rivers to do the same. Etc etc. (Not saying you don’t do these things, just thinking of examples)

The secrets are going to come out, we can’t stop them, so it’s more important to spend our energy trying to make sure our community’s inevitable growth is to the benefit of the resource rather than its detriment.
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post #12 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by steeliesncarp View Post
Iíve always kept pretty quiet about specific details of some of my favorite spots (ainít no such thing as a secret spot in the internet age), but there is a flip side to that.

When I was growing up, there was a threat to several of the waters that fed the New York City water system. - a number of fairly well-known (locally) Catskill streams that were great fisheries within a relatively short drive of the city. Because so many people were familiar with them, there was an immediate and large groundswell of opposition and an alternative was quickly found. My guess is that lesser known waters would be at much greater risk because they donít have the base of support that can fend off a threat.

Itís a double edged sword, but there are benefits to the world at least knowing your door, if not beating a path to it.
What are the benefits?
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post #13 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-09-2019, 11:36 PM
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It’s BS. Should anyone should be fishing a system with a return of 50-100 fish? I wouldn’t fish it. I’ll fish a river with a return of 500 fish. Writing an article and naming the system is a whole ‘nother level.
And there’s the conflict, right? That system probably should be closed. But lobbying to change the regs and close the system needs a large group of concerned citizens to push for change and where do they all come from if it’s a secret? Catch 22.
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post #14 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 03:49 AM
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What are the benefits?
I think he means the more popular rivers often have many people go to bat for that them. A river without friends is extremely vulnerable
That said im sure he's not speaking toward the insanity of naming a run of 500 fish. Just speaking towards the pros and cons of popularity overall
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post #15 of 38 (permalink) Old 12-10-2019, 04:02 AM
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Just interested to hear a few opinions of this topic. I understand that some river are unmistakable in many photos and need not to be named to be recognized by many. Rivers of legend and rich in history. And have decent sized runs of fish (or used to) to support the pressure brought on by being advertised in a fishing publication. But what about the smaller rivers the ones that have smaller runs of fish and are mostly fished by locals and a few others who put the boot work in to find them. The ones that are whispered rumours and are a gamble to go explore. This recently happened to one such stream in my back yard. I couldn’t bring myself to read the article all I needed to see was the picture of a guy playing a fish and the name of the river on the picture. Is this fair to do something like this to a river that sees a run of 50-100 fish? Should the small sensitive fisheries be name for all the world to see and pictures of a few fish from there waters put in print and made out to be some kind of amazing unknown fishery just to maybe sell a few magazines? Or for the guide that sold out his back yard to get his name in a magazine? We all preach conservation and want nothing more than to see steelhead thrive and keep going well beyond our life time. I seriously question the ethics of fishing publications and now only see them trying to keep there magazines fresh and selling. The naming of small rivers and there sensitive fisheries needs not to be a thing. In this day and age we live in with declining fish stocks and more crowds all over the bigger rivers and people now more than ever are searching for the next great fishing destination. This just seems wrong in so many ways. That’s all I got. I’ll go crawl back under my rock now.
Is there a particular example of a publication doing this that you are referring to? I must admit I was annoyed by some of the things shared in the most recent Steelheader’s Journal. I’m less concerned with increased mediation further pressuring fragile stocks (I have not seen anything too egregious on this front and would hope a larger sense of ethics, and conservation legislation, would prevent this) and more with just increased traffic. As has been mentioned, the information has always been out there. My annoyance is more that people no longer have to work to find things out (don’t get me wrong, I have benefited from this). But lazy researchers are also (hopefully) lazy fishers so maybe the pull out spots will be a bit busier but the less-trodden routes will remain less-trodden. I dunno. A really interesting question. Good thread.

There’s certainly something to the Scott Howell adage about ‘unknown rivers don’t have any friends, and a river without any friends is unprotected’ but, back to Gierach, ‘the secret places are the soul of fly fishing’. One person’s Notellum Creek is someone else’s Nunya River. It’s more the feeling of being the only one in on the secret than the actuality of it.

Polyanadromous
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