An important call to action from our friends at the Native Fish Society.
The Metolius River in Central Oregon is the crown jewel of the upper Deschutes Basin and a place of exemplary ecological value in the state of Oregon. It is also ground zero for an exhaustive wild Chinook, sockeye, and steelhead recovery effort. These fish swim hundreds of miles up the Columbia and the Deschutes to reach the Metolius where plentiful spawning and rearing habitat await them. These struggling anadromous populations remind us that we are duty-bound to act on their behalf to restore sustainable runs. Long story short, the Metolius is just too special to not receive all of the protection that we can reasonably and sensibly provide it.
But existing angling regulations are leaving our Metolius wild fish vulnerable. Existing regulations are difficult for the public to interpret, contribute to ongoing ecological damage, and are detrimental to the health of our wild fish. The Native Fish Society is urging the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to make changes to the 2019 angling regulations to protect the Metolius, our wild fish, and the communities that depend on this special river.
The Native Fish Society recommends the following changes:
1) Extension of Fly Fishing Only Boundaries
Law enforcement personnel have recommended that the entire river be designated fly fishing only, rather than just a segment of the river currently outlined in the regulations. Illegal poaching activity is a serious and ongoing problem on the Metolius. Making the entire Metolius fly fishing only would simplify the regulations, make law enforcement much easier, and go far in eliminating the ongoing issue of unscrupulous anglers poaching bull trout and other species.
2) Single, Barbless Hooks Only
Current regulations allow for the use of treble hooks, which cause unnecessary harm to fish and are not appropriate for a catch and release fishery. Treble hooks are better suited for harvest-oriented fisheries, and can result in increased angler-induced mortality when trying to release the fish. Similarly, snagging, both intentional and unintentional is a documented problem on the river and can be better mitigated with proper tackle restrictions. Single, barbless hooks are very effective and cause minimal damage to the fish.
3) External Lead Weight Restriction
During ODFW’s 2015 “regulation simplification” rulemaking process, important conservation-spirited rules championed by local anglers were discarded. One such regulation was a ban on external weight on the Metolius. Lead split-shot and other lead based weights are once again being used by anglers and being found along the river as part of lost tackle rigs and from spilled containers. The harmful effects of lead to wildlife and humans are well documented. Reinstating the ban is the responsible thing to do.
The Metolius should be the shining example of how we manage our most cherished and ecologically significant river systems. Do your part today and sign the petition for Metolius regulation changes and send your letter of support to the ODFW Commission and Director Melcher.
You can also send a personal letter to:
ODFW Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org
ODFW Director Melcher: email@example.com
Thanks for joining Native Fish Society in advancing the recovery of our wild, native fish!