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The Never Ending Saga of English Pete

Over a year ago the story of Peter Harrison, AKA English Pete, and his,"world record" Hoh River steelhead, was making the rounds on all the fish blogs, forums and porn chat rooms. In a nutshell, Pete hooked a REALLY big steelhead on the Hoh, claimed it was mortally wounded, clonked it, and then proceeded to submit the fish to the IGFA for world record certification. At the time many people called bullshit on Pete's claims that the fish was, "bleeding heavily from the gills" and he dispatched the fish purely for his personal satisfaction in recording a "world record" fish. Ultimately Pete got his IGFA record even though we've all seen images of larger fish that were released by serious steelhead anglers. Why the IGFA even issues world record status to endangered fish is another whole topic of conversation.

Then, through advancements in modern print media, Fly Rod and Reel published Pete's story over a year later in their most recent issue......with an intro from none other than Joan Wulff. We heard about it from the Chum nation and never quite got around to calling bullshit on Fly Rod and Reel for reviving a story that did not deserve the to be on the pages preceding the Ted Willliams conservation column. Celebrating the killing of a magnificent wild steelhead on a river that has not met its escapement goals 4 of the last 7 years shows a complete lack of understanding of the plight of wild steelhead in this region.

Now Fly Rod and Reel has posted English Pete's story front and center on their website and is asking for comments pro and con about the whole affair. To continue to flog this old story is a thumb in the eye to all of us who volunteer our time, donate our dollars and fight on behalf of wild steelhead. Even the title of the story, "A Change of Tackle, A Happy Ending" is insulting to all conservation minded anglers. As others have much more eloquently pointed out, will the loss of that one fish make a difference in the grand scheme of things? No.... but that fish is a symbol for everything that is wrong with the current path we're on when it comes to wild steelhead and Fly Rod and Reel should be ashamed of themselves for keeping the story alive.

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Reader Comments (41)


I had the same experience with my local FFF chapter and didn't renew my membership once I realized it was little more than a fishing club. FFF is hardly known for its coldwater conservation these days but for some people its perfect.

Have you checked out the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)? They don't have chapters or opportunities for volunteering, but they fund a lot of high profile grants to the tune of 25 million a year. That ain't chump change.

If you want to get involved and volunteer at the local grassroots level, I would encourage you to check out Trout Unlimited. TU is far from perfect, but as a national organization they do a lot and according to their website last year TU members volunteered over 680,000 hours.

If wild salmon and steelhead is your thing, then check out the Wild Salmon Center or the Wild Steelhead Coalition.

My point here is that if you want to get involved in any capacity, there is no shortage of non-profits dedicated to coldwater conservation.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMickey Finn

Preach on Jim!!!

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfinally a good point

Killing the biggest and best game removes them from the breeding stock. The folly of such acts is obvious. I didn't see any blood on that fish picture. Taking wild steelhead is pure greed and this guy deserves all the lumps he gets for it. The only thing that could have been worse is if the fish had been gill-netted. Jesus wept; what kind of stewards are we?

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDale Von Bargen

Fly Rod & Reel has underlined how disconnected they are from steelhead angling culture with this RIDICULOUS issue. BUT! There is still a reason to keep this story alive: Pete must be held accountable for the apparent holes in his testimony. Was the fish bleeding, really? Where from? Did he pull out the fly during the "revival" and then stick it back in the fish's mouth for photos? Or is he just a BUG FUCKING LIAR for stating the fish was bleeding profusely from a hole in it's jaw? Somebody needs to corner this guy and get the real story. That's what a good editor would have insisted, Mr. Healy. You are asleep at the wheel, period.

Also, to stir the pot (one of my favorite passtimes), I'll submit this strong opinion: Steelhead are not endangered on the Olympic Peninsula. They are fighting a lot of limiting factors, no doubt. But I don't think it's accurate to characterize these populations as endangered. Even with all the limiting factors stacked up on top of a poor return, these fish are sustaining a significant sport fishery. There will be another boom, and another bust. It's only natural for people to preach apocalypse during tough times. But it's kinda lame, imo.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob Russell

I bonk fish. and i like it. Listen to yourselves. "To save the steelhead, we have to catch them because it raises awareness and funds blah blah blah..." If you care leave them the fuck alone!! you care about being able to catch the fish, not the fish itself. 2 different things. they are spawning fish. catch them in the ocean if ya want. all the state of Washington does is catch fish trying to get laid. quit being so god damn contradictory. save the steelhead by wearing them out while they are going to spawn and ripping a hook into their mouth. GOOD IDEA!!! Dumb ass people on this blog

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteryou all suck

if you all actually care about the fish you might quit bitchin at each other on a blog and do something that matters...but that wont happen...the true tragedy of the matter

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteri like big butts

You all suck,
You are dumb man really i have bonk fished too but there ones for ones not for it, you have no idea how to keep the fish around you fish for. Take a minute and use your head man, or take your bait caster/spinning real to the local stocked pond and leave the sport fish to the people who want to keep them around.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLP

yew dum ass peepel on this blog! you all real dumb i mean use yer hed an bee smart like me...doh, duh, der. i like bonk fish, all suck, errr, duh. Thanks for the comedy shit-for-brains!!

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRob Russell

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Bleeding or not what Pete did was within the regulations. If people put as much effort into changing the rules to make it mandatory to release ALL wild steelhead than they do with making threats to hurt this guy this would not be an issue.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterronny

I find it hilarious how you fly guys bash everything that affects this beautiful fish but fail to point the finger at yourselves. Fish on boys. Enjoys your grip and grins and blame everything on the others that are not pure enough to fly fish. Maybe one day the whole world will be C&R single barbless hook fly only area and you all can rest in peace.

April 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHillary Clinton

Just like to point out that in the original post you make a common mistake by 'admitting' that that the "loss of that one fish" won't make a difference "in the grand scheme of things." Even considering any other effect on steelhead whether positive or negative-- such as habitat degradation and climate change--that fish does make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The number that quantifies that effect is small, but highly reliable. That is one fish that is 100% for certain gone.

Research does not support the assumption that the largest fish bring superior genes for reproduction or for survival; that's another fallacy in which we value larger fish so we assume that those fish are especially valuable to the stock. Doesn't matter. Killing that one fish is still a small but real effect on the health of the species and the local population, and killing a smaller one instead is not better. Same goes for the question of killing males or females. Assumptions about how these choices and regulations affect a stock are often wrong; scientists are the best informed and trained to make those calls. But anglers can make a binary call that is always right: release the fish and it lives.

In fact, killing one fish is very different from evaluating the effect of any general pressure on the stocks. Noting that sea lion populations have increased, for example, might lead you to assume that more steelhead are being eaten, but the variables in that question create soft numbers. Same with warming oceans or dam removal or stocking or any of a hundred other measures or anti-measures, actions or inactions, that we propose and discuss every day. Soft, unreliable numbers. One dead fish is one dead fish. Short of closing the river entirely, releasing fish you want to keep is the most effective way individual people can be certain they are not damaging the stock.

Also attempting to evaluate the effect on other anglers is complex, and therefore unreliable. Some may keep fish they would have released; others will release fish they might have kept. Yet others will fish when they might have stayed home...etc. But a single fish is a very specific and reliable number (though small). That's why it's good, and not silly or a waste of time or coals to Newcastle or whatever, to point out the problem with the behavior of the man and the behavior of the magazine.Furthermore, as we can see from the comments, your audience is positioned to act on the question of releasing fish or bonking them (though from the photo I'm not sure if English Peter is has bonked or boinked that fish--could go either way, and I detect a suspicious bulge in those breathables.)

We all can decide on individual fish. But we have failed as a society to decide on the other problems, except in a few places where sensible people have the power. Large swathes of our society are willfully and aggressively illiterate about science, for example, and only science can provide anything like the information we need to act to save this and other species. The illiterates win by forcing the doing of nothing. So long as nothing is doing, we should put our fish back so that something is being done.

I don't care what others have pointed out. The loss of that fish does make a difference, because there is no grand scheme. There is only you, there, at that moment, with the fish on the beach.

Keep it up


April 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Jayus... this freakin' story just won't die...

April 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAC

Every time this story pops up there is the instant backlash from the steelhead community, but after reading the same crap spewed over and over I come to the same conclusion. Most of you are pissed off because it was a record fish. If this was a much smaller fish, one it would not have made the media and two even if it did there would not be half as much 'outrage' about it. Aside from that point I want to reiterate a couple of issues mentioned above that most have overlooked.

As many have pointed out, without the activism and money flow recreational fishing provides steelhead (or any other fish for that matter) conservation would be much much worse off. However, the VAST majority of fisherman will use this argument but will NOT actually put any time or effort into ground level conservation. For all of you who have condemned 'English Pete' to death for his actions: What have you actually done to help conserve steelhead, and could you do more?

Volunteer your time, put some effort behind causes such as stopping the Pebble Mine, this is how you can actually make a difference.

April 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergillymonster

English Pete would not have made it back to his car here in BRITISH COLUMBIA. period.

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWAIT4ITfilms.

He might be English but the chances of him being a gentleman seem low.
Conversely, the likelihood of him being a bit of a dick seem quite high.

April 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEnglish Guy

all these comments are so negative - heres the real question was it a legal kill if so leave the poor fellow alone and do a better job voting otherwise shut up ! all you so called steelhead fisherman are so wrapped up in knocking everything about everyone else come down off your so called high ground - driving your fancy high dollar car talking on your cell on the way to the fast food joint - I get so sick of listening to you bitch - if you cared half as much as you write like you do you wouldnt fish at all or oh gee I guess I care about fish so much I'm just going to go hurt them for the fun of it makes no sense .................and how the hell do any of you really know if the fish were to die later after the release do you hang out for a couple days after the fact about boat the whole river to track down your fish you released making sure its OK what a freakin joke

December 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjust one man

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