Saturday, May 30, 2015

Press Release: Sea Lion Predation Forum

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Media Contacts:
Sara Thompson, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, 503-238-3567
Bruce Polley, Coastal Conservation Association Oregon, 503-880-0827

Tribes, Fisheries Managers, and Fish Advocates Join U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader in Support of Federal Sea Lion Management Legislation

Oregon City, Ore- Faced with unprecedented levels of predation from growing numbers of sea lions in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, leaders from the Columbia River Treaty Tribes, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), and the recreational fishing community were joined at a public gathering on the shore of the Willamette River by Oregon U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader and {hundreds} of concerned citizens to support the passage of federal legislation to protect endangered salmon. 

The rally, dubbed the Sea Lion Predation Forum was held at Clackamette Park just downriver from Willamette Falls, one of the locations where sea lion predation is most acute and taking a starting toll on returning endangered salmon and steelhead populations. Willamette Falls is a traditional fishing site of the Warm Springs, Wasco and Yakama Nation.  The broad coalition of tribal, state, and fishing organizations came together to draw attention to the urgent need to pass H.R. 564, federal legislation cosponsored by Congressman Schrader to give tribal, state, and federal fisheries managers the authority to address this growing threat to public safety and the survival of endangered fish populations in the Columbia River basin.        

“We know from experience that unchecked sea lion predation can wipe out an entire run of fish as they did to Lake Washington winter steelhead”, said Carlos Smith, Chairman of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. “We simply can’t allow that to happen in the Columbia Basin. This problem can be addressed, but we need the right tools.  Congress can provide some of those tools by passing H.R. 564.”

“Fifteen years ago it was extremely rare to see a sea lion at Bonneville Dam or Willamette Falls,” said Bruce Polley, Vice President of the Coastal Conservation Association Oregon.  “The huge influx of sea lions entering the Columbia and Willamette and the resulting impacts on our fish populations is an unnatural and unprecedented threat.  We appreciate Congressman Schrader’s leadership on H.R. 564 and urge the rest of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation to support this needed legislation.”  

Sea lion abundance in the lower Columbia River has seen a tenfold increase over the last three years, increasing from about 200 to nearly 2,500 this spring.  Predation in the Bonneville Dam tailrace in 2015 was over 8,000 salmon and steelhead, more than double the average from the last several years.  In 2014, ODFW estimated that sea lions below Willamette Falls consumed 8 percent of the wild, endangered Willamette River spring Chinook run and 13 percent of the wild, endangered steelhead run.

H.R. 564 – The Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act of 2015 had immediate bi-partisan backing when introduced in late January by Representatives Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA).  It has since garnered support from Representatives Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R-WA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA).  The bill, would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act to clarify and expand State and Tribal access to tools to manage interaction between abundant protected marine mammals and struggling endangered salmon. 

About CRITFC: The Portland-based Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is the technical support and coordinating agency for fishery management policies of the Columbia River Basin's four treaty tribes: 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 Nez Perce Tribe.

About CCA Oregon:  CCA is a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization comprised of 17 coastal state chapters spanning the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. CCA's strength is drawn from the tens of thousands of recreational fresh and saltwater anglers who make up its membership. CCA Oregon is made up of 13 local chapters and thousands of members across Oregon actively engaged in the conservation and restoration of our coastal marine resources. 

Heath Heikkila
253-248-0650 office

Monday, May 11, 2015

Willamette Valley Volunteering Opportunities May-June

Wrangler wants you to improve his aquatic playground
Here is an upcoming series of volunteer and continuing education options for river lovers, focused on aquatic invasive plants:

Wed. May 20, 6-8 PM: Indoor Workshop. Learn to ID and control current and potential aquatic invaders. Location: Corvallis Plant Materials Center. Light refreshments and Water Weed Field Guide provided.

Saturday, May 30th, from 1-4pm Discover the surprising history and uses of Corvallis' shortest stream on the free Mill Race "Flour Power" Tour. This will be the 8th annual Corvallis Urban Creek Tour. Did you know that the Mill Race in South Corvallis was a principal economic driver for early Corvallis? Local experts will lead you on this free guided tour of the Mill Race, where you will discover it's history, biology, and noteworthy features. Choose either a guided bicycle tour or ride on the City's trolley. To register for the creek tour, email Heath Keirstead at A second tour on Saturday, June 13th from 1-4pm - The Lower Marys River Paddle - will take you past the inlet and outlet of the Mill Race and on an adventure experiencing places you have never seen in Corvallis. You need to provide your own canoe or kayak. To register for the paddle tour, contact Dave Eckert at These Mill Race events are sponsored by Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District, City of Corvallis Stormwater Program, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Water Action Team and May's River Watershed Council.

Thurs. June 11, 10:30-3:30: River-based Workshop. Learn to ID and survey for current and potential aquatic invaders while paddling on the Willamette. Bring your own boat or reserve a space in a Willamette Riverkeeper canoe. Water Weed Field Guide provided.

Sat. June 20, 10:00-3:00: River Weed Pull. Join us in protecting fish and wildlife habitat as we paddle and pull on the Willamette. Bring your own boat or reserve a space in a Willamette Riverkeeper canoe.

Wed. June 24, 10:00-3:00: River Weed Pull. Join us in protecting fish and wildlife habitat as we paddle and pull on the Willamette. Bring your own boat or reserve a space in a Willamette Riverkeeper canoe.

All events are free of charge.  If you would like more information or to sign up, please contact

Sponsored by Benton Soil & Water Conservation District, Willamette Riverkeeper, ODA Oregon State Weed Board, Meyer Memorial Trust, and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Xan Augerot
Marys River Watershed Council
PO Box 1041
Corvallis, OR 97339-1041
Office 541-758-7597
Cell   541-231-1300

Monday, May 4, 2015

Real Women of Fishing: Sara Dodd

Not just another pretty face among women featured in outdoor magazines, Sara Dodd has an authentic passion for hunting and fishing, which begs the question: What is the proper term for a woman that's an experienced, successful and true outdoorsman?
No bad days for Sara Dodd
Sara with a blacktail taken this past fall
Photo by Marty Theurer
If you've paid attention to this publication recently, you've noticed there's been a lot of energy put into highlighting women with an authentic love for the Outdoors. While many outdoor magazines feature advertisements of scantily clad women in heels promoting guns and gear, there are women outside that spotlight who are opening camo compacs and putting on seafoam green waders, proving that they can be as capable as any man, without handing in their "woman card."

Sara Dodd not only fits the mold for the "Real Women of Fishing" feature as a legitimate angler, she sets a standard. A native of southern Oregon, she grew up fishing the Rogue, but these days you'll be more likely to find her fishing Tillamook waters. If you've seen her out with her fishing buddy Kristin Bishop, they're probably decked out in goofy costumes fishing out of guide David Johnson's boat.

I was fortunate enough to have her and her father Larry introduce me to the Wilson River earlier this March. With the water barely at a trickle, she launched a Northwest Boats drifter and rowed us two hefty men through some very skinny water. As we approached the first the first pinch point, she made it politely clear to her father that he needed to sit down, and that I needed to shift my weight to the right. Larry answered, "Yes dear," and took a seat while I followed the captain's orders. She then proceeded to tell me how she borrowed the boat from a fellow CCA member, Marty Theurer, who rescued it from sitting in an old farmer's barn. I got a history lesson behind Northwest Boats being bought out by Clackacraft twenty years ago while she rowed us downstream, avoiding her fair share of obstacles with ease.

Sara Dodd & Kristin Bishop modeling their outdoor look.
Ugly sweaters and Fall Chinook.
While she exhibited confidence on the oars, we didn't have high expectations for the day. We were one of only three boats on the entire stretch, one of which was a well-known local guide "Big Dave," owner of the Wilson River Lodge. The water was so low and clear that the chances of us hooking anything in the few puddles we could drift over seemed bleak. I was floating 8mm beads, trying to present something subtle to spooky fish. Sara was chucking a bead nearly twice the size of mine. Her father landed a trophy sized cutthroat on a spoon, but most of the holes seemed to be holding nothing more than a few very late fall salmon swimming around. We stopped the boat to get out and fish a hole on the opposite side of an island we drifted past. Just as I made sense of her presentation and switched to something closer to a chinook egg sized bead, she hooked up on a nice, coastal chrome hatchery buck. While I was scurrying around holding a net, she brought the fish into slackwater to beach it. Just about the time she had it's head flopping in the gravel, I went to reach for it's tail and tripped on the basket of the net. The fish freaked out, broke the line and I stumbled clumsily up the bank trying to swat at it in one last futile attempt to get between her trophy shot in a magazine and that fish's freedom. I could make up a story about how it was a wild fish and we were being good river stewards caring more about the fish than getting pictures, but I've told that fib so many times nobody believes it anymore.

Ryan Beck exhibiting proper netting techniques on a steelhead Sara hooked this earlier winter.
Photo by Kirby Cannon 
Patience paid off with a productive day of catch and release
fishing for wild steelhead in the Siletz gorge.
Photo by Author
"Slimy, scaly, stinky, louse-ridden, beady-eyed sons-a-bitches!" her father exclaimed. I won't repeat what Sara said because she's a lady. Let's just say I took a walk to give her a moment to herself while I stood in a corner and thought about the sloppiest landing job I've ever done. She seemed to get over it pretty quickly, but that was the only steelhead we touched all day and I kept replaying the moment over and over in my head until it haunted my dreams.

I wanted to set up another trip for us to stomp the banks on some water where we were both familiar. Unfortunately, her busy schedule and the oncoming spring salmon season competed with our mulligan, but she made time to fish one afternoon a week later. She managed to spot a few fish that weren't interested in biting. Again, it was a low water situation late in the season, so fresh chrome winters were few and far between. While she has a long successful history as an avid hunter and angler, I grew frustrated with failing to bring her a fish to the bank to make up for my faux pas on the Wilson. I got grumpy, and started
Sara put a couple red stripes in her hair the night before and a few
red stripes on the bank the next day. 
complaining and making excuses. Sara, running on very little sleep already, had to leave the river early to get back to work. Even though we both had little to show for our combined knowledge, skills and experience, she exhibited the one quality that is a priority for fishing: patience. That would pay off on our next adventure.

A trip up into the Siletz gorge in late March finally provided us with some fruits for our labor towards the ending of winter steelhead season. Some rain events earlier in the week had given the water some color, and I was floating a larger bead in the morning. The water started to clear, and about the time I went to downsize, Sara, one step ahead of me, was hooked up. Then she hooked another, and another, and another. In just a couple hours we hooked a half dozen late march wild steelhead with beautiful spawning patterns. She hooked 5 out of the same hole. I spent most of that morning throwing my gear up the bank and scrambling to land her fish.

Our experience fishing together serves as a good example for any women (or men for that matter) aspiring to be a successful steelhead angler. Not because we were consistently successful, but because she was determined to overcome adversity.
One of several spawning bruisers Sara hooked that day
Photo by Author

In a modern culture of instant gratification, patience is required to enjoy fishing. Fishing and hunting are not sports where everyone gets a trophy. If you don't enjoy putting in the work as much as the reward that comes from it, then it isn't for you. Sara says she is drawn as much by the anticipation of a bite as she is the adrenaline of the fight. "Fishing is my therapy. I think about nothing. It's calming," she says. Sara has mastered the zen and art of enjoying being on the water. Sometimes, going the extra mile to create a few smiles along the way.

Playing dress up and having fun
comes naturally for this kid at heart.

Sponsors and pro-staff gigs aren't the motive behind the interesting wardrobe selections. In the words of Cyndi Lauper, "Girls just want to have fun!" When asked about her reasons behind the goofy costumes, she says "Growing up, fishermen have always been serious and competitive about the sport." Far too often, I've found myself frowning at googans and snaggers ruining my trip. Those days I'd give anything to replace them all with a shameless comedian. That's the fishing buddy she aims to be to those she shares the water with. Sara's positive attitude, patience and pleasant company makes it quite clear why she's fished with some of the top guides and anglers in the Northwest. Who wouldn't want to fish with someone who doesn't have bad days?

This article was published in the May 2015 issue of Northwest Sportsman Magazine
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