Occupy Skagit

The Skagit River is one of those iconic steelhead rivers, where the elusive silver ghost teases and tantalizes anglers. It's tree lined banks and wide expanse, with snow capped peaks towering in the background, evoke heartfelt memories for many, and just walking its banks leaves you with a lingering sense that you are walking in the footsteps of the fathers of steelheading. Names like Dec Hogan, Jerry French, Ed Ward and Harry Lemire are all synonomous with the Skagit, many a fly was designed on with its waters in mind, and the concept for the Skagit head was originated here.
In recent years the steelhead returns on the Skagit have suffered, to the point that the river now closes in February, completely. No catch and release season, no fly fishing only season...the river is left empty throughout the spring. An initiative, coined "Occupy Skagit", is being undertaken to try to restore the catch and release season once the run exceeds 6000 fish, to bring general awareness to the plight of this river, and to encourage WDFW to create a plan to encourage wild steelhead recovery. A river always needs concerned, passionate anglers to protect it.
From the Occupy Skagit Facebook Page:
What is Occupy Skagit?

• A gathering on the Skagit River, April 6th in support of restoring the C&R season. The activity will involve 'fishing' without hooks in as many visible places as possible on the Skagit and Sauk; from the bridge at Concrete upstream to Bacon Creek on the Skagit, and upstream on the Sauk to the bridge at Darrington.
• This is a 'Wade In' Our purpose is not to disrupt traf
fic, be violent, disrespectful, trespass, harass, or engage in illegal activity of any kind...you know, just like when you go fishing.
• This is a parallel action to mesh with attendance at the WDFW Comissioners Meeting the following week in Olympia.
Why is Occupy Skagit?

• At the time of the ESA listing of Puget Sound wild steelhead, it was generally acknowledged by NMFS that the most robust large basin population in the region was in the Skagit; in fact on its own it probably would not have been listed. After reviewing the evidence, it is our belief that a well managed, catch-and-release (C&R) season on the Skagit would not be inconsistent with the recovery of its wild winter steelhead.
• This will require a petition from WDFW to NMFS for a permit that establishes basin specific allowable impacts (as is currently being done with Puget Sound Chinook).
Who is Occupy Skagit?
• You are. If two people do it, no one will notice. If two hundred people do it, we hope to garner some attention. Sometimes you have to dump a little tea in the harbor to get noticed.

I've been fortunate enough to fish the Skagit a handful of times, but have yet to land a steelhead. Those trips were some of my best fishing trips ever, with great friends. This historic river needs all the support it can get. Even if you can't make the April 6th "wade in", please take a moment to join the Occupy Skagit Facebook page here.

1 comment:

Mark Thomas said...

Excellent looking group of anglers. Great to see more ladies on the rivers and extolling the virtues of our sport. Well done folks. Count me in for Occupy Skagit.