aka Craig Pablo
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Western Montana
Excuse me. While this letter may upon initial glance imply great sacrifice by the author (after the chest-thumping introduction-Editor of a well-known Fly Fishing magazine contacted me about writing about OP destination pieces) which he further discusses in detail on his blog the length of sacrifice he is going to by not guiding for wild winter run steelhead this year, I would like to offer a different viewpoint.
Before I get started, I would like to let everyone know that I do not know Mr. Triggs personally, and this is in no way a personal attack on him. I simply believe that his story (like most stories) is viewable from a multitude of angles, many of which are divergent. In fact, the one I am going to offer is only one of many viewpoints that even I have on the subject stated.
One more qualifier I would like to offer up immediately is that my reply has nothing to do with the regulation allowing for the retention of one wild OP steelhead per year (that is another argument completely) and personally I am a proponent of catch and release of all wild steelhead.
With that out of the way I will allow that Mr. Triggs was a (albeit small) part of the impetus of the exact thing he so vehemently opposes. By his own allowance, he has lived on the OP for 13 years, during which time it’s probably a safe assumption that he has guided literally thousands of people. I think it’s also a safe assumption that at least some of those people made return trips to the OP, on their own or more likely with family and/or friends. In fact, it is very possible that some of the rude, trash leaving, bobber/slinky throwing douchebags are in fact former clients of Mr. Triggs, if not former clients then at least friends/family of former clients.
My viewpoint (well one anyway, as I said, I have many opposing viewpoints myself on the matter);
Mr. Triggs moved to the OP in 2001, fishing pressure was obviously less than today, steelhead were more plentiful and he, along with a handful of other guides, made a decent living guiding for steelhead and I imagine salmon to extend the season and to make more money. At the same time days off were probably spent (especially in the early and late season when guide days were more limited and pressure even lighter) enjoying many of the OP rivers, especially the lesser-known gems, in relative solitude. At some point, this guy has decided that there are just too few wild steelhead, too many people, many of them rude, to justify guiding and his conscience wouldn’t allow him to do it this year. I’m sorry sir, but you’ve had your cake, and now you want to eat it as well. (Well, more like you’ve had your cake and now you don’t want anyone else to have any).
Don’t get me wrong, I dislike crowded rivers and getting low-holed as much as the next guy does. I also happen to hate people who litter, especially on/near a river. I also know quite a few guys who throw beads and indicators, some with slinky weights, who are very passionate about their catch and release practices and are strong proponents of catch and release of all wild steelhead. It is difficult to paint a detailed picture with a broad brush.
One of the reasons I am writing this reply is that I happen to be one of those guys in one of the countless drift boats that floated down the Hoh (as well as other OP rivers) this winter. It was my first time ever fishing the fabled waters of the OP for wild winter run fish. It was something I wanted to do since I started chasing steelhead in the Clearwater in Idaho not many years ago. Now that I have had the opportunity to tail a wild OP winter run, to feel the power and determination in the fish, and to share a brief moment with it, I am educating myself on the plight of the wild OP steelhead, as well as wild steelhead throughout its range. I am also reading up on and seriously considering which conservation organizations to join up with i.e. Native Fish Society, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Steelhead Society of BC, etc. All because I made the pilgrimage to the steelhead mecca that is the OP, I’ve stood in the mighty Hoh, Bogachiel, Sol Duc and Calawah and cast flies into their depths and was blessed with the opportunity to tail a couple of wild winter run fish.
I will end my rant with a question for Mr. Triggs. How many years did you guide on the Hoh when escapement return goals were not met? Forgive me if I am wrong or my terminology mistaken, as I’m a relative noob when it comes to the anadromous fish game, but I believe reading something somewhere about the Hoh not meeting the goal for 7 out of the last 10 years, and maybe the last 3 or 4 in a row? If you guided on the Hoh any of the aforementioned years in question what makes 2013/14 any different???