Oregon and Washington Agree on Columbia River Management Reform Rollbacks, Angling Community Pushes Back

2020 Columbia River Salmon Agreement Abandons Protection Principles

By Brian McLachlan

The Oregon and Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife announced an agreement on allocation and gear types for Columbia River salmon fisheries in 2020. Notwithstanding poor run-size forecasts for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations, which will severely restrict seasons, the agreement calls for increasing commercial gill net harvests at the expense of public recreational fishing opportunity, and will potentially allow commercial netting on the mainstem during the spring season for the first time since 2016. Northwest Steelheaders is extremely disappointed in this agreement, which continues a disturbing trend to undermine the fundamental principles and commitments embodied in the 2012 Columbia River Reform package. The 2020 agreement will now reduce the recreational share of the spring Chinook catch and allow small-mesh gill nets (aka “tangle nets”) to be deployed on the mainstem.

Northwest Steelheaders Submits Testimony on Columbia River Management Reform

By Alix Soliman

On February 1, Northwest Steelheaders submitted testimony to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission concerning setbacks in lower mainstem Columbia River fisheries management reform policies. The testimony is a direct response to the March 2, 2019, decision by the commission to abandon two crucial principles that Northwest Steelheaders fought for in the reform policies:

1.) Improve the selectivity and conservation value of lower mainstem non-treaty commercial salmon fisheries through the replacement of gillnet fisheries with alternative mark-selective, live-release fisheries.

2.) Optimize the economic and social benefits to our region through the prioritization of recreational fisheries on the mainstem.

You can read the full testimony here.

Chris Hager Appointed to Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee

Executive Director of Northwest Steelheaders, Chris Hager, is one of nine Oregonians named by Governor Kate Brown to chair the Oregon Conservation and Recreation Advisory Committee. The committee is charged with reviewing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) policies regarding allocations of the Oregon Conservation & Recreation Fund and making recommendations to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission. Hager’s appointment on this committee will allow him to leverage his leadership at Northwest Steelheaders in conjunction with his work as a board member of Oregon Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in an effort to advocate for projects that will benefit species and habitats identified in the Oregon Conservation Strategy. "This advisory committee has a lot of potential and could be the future of conservation funding models as hunter and angler engagement continues to decline,” Hager said.

Governor Kate Brown Calls for Removal of Lower Snake River Dams

by Annette Cary, The Tri-City Herald

In a letter of support to Gov. Inslee, Gov. Brown said the science is clear that the “most certain and robust solution to Snake River salmon and steelhead recovery” is removing the Snake River dams. It would reduce direct and delayed mortality of the species, she said. “No other action has the potential to improve overall survival two-to-three fold,” she said.



Panel Discusses Salmon & Steelhead Issues Over Base Camp Brews

Approximately 50 salmon and steelhead enthusiasts attended the Kings & Chromers panel discussion hosted cooperatively by Northwest Steelheaders, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA), and Trout Unlimited (TU) at Base Camp Brewing on February 22nd. To be clear, this panel was not a debate. Rather, it was an honest and collective reckoning of the state of salmon and steelhead fishing in 2020. Chris Hager was a panelist alongside ODFW Fish Biologist Ben Walczak, TU's Oregon Field Coordinator Kyle Smith, and Author Scott Richmond. They covered the effects of recreational angling on salmon and steelhead populations, fostering diversity and engagement in the angling community, the use of hatcheries as a tool for fisheries management, and the deficiency but importance of data collection. BHA'S Public Waters Access Coordinator Rob Parkins moderated the discussion. "This event was a great example of how groups with different perspectives can come together and have a constructive conversation about the resources we love and rely on," Hager said. 


Chris Hager talks with Trent and Wes on the new "Everything Steelhead" episode of Born and Raised Outdoors. From learning the art as a novice to addressing problems in the ecosystem, this podcast has it all.



Pacific Northwest Sportsmen's Show Goes Off Without a Hitch

Thanks to over 30 volunteers and staff members that manned the booth at the Sportsmen's Show this year, our Gerber sponsored membership drive was a success! We brought in over 50 new Northwest Steelheaders members and discussed all things angling, advocacy, and education with a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts. To get involved in organizing and volunteering at our booths in the future, please fill out our volunteer form.


Family Fish Camp Registration Closed

Registration for Family Fish Camp has closed earlier than expected, with over 100 individuals itching for a  family weekend of fishing and lodging at cozy Camp Angelos along a gorgeous stretch of the Sandy River. Our staff and volunteers are excited to teach novice anglers the skills and techniques they need to successfully land a salmon, trout, or steelhead in Oregon's bounty of streams and lakes. Learn more about Family Fish Camp and consider getting involved in one of our favorite education programs next year!


All anglers are invited to compete in the John Aho Memorial Steelhead Derby on March 7th in Troutdale, the fishing tournament to raise funds for a scholarship named in John’s honor. This annual charity tournament offers a top prize of $300, plus other awards, food, and music. All are invited to attend the awards celebration, raffle and silent auction beginning at 3:30 p.m. at Skyland Pub, 3175 S Troutdale Road. The entry fee of $75 is due by 8 p.m. March 1st. Launched last year, the event drew 72 fishermen and raised $4,000 for scholarships for the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Water Works Association. Aho, who lived in Troutdale, was retired from the City of Gresham and an enthusiastic volunteer for the American Water Works Association. He was especially passionate about serving on its scholarship committee that helped local students fund a college education. Aho received the association’s Heart and Soul Award in 2008. He fished throughout the Pacific Northwest and was a well known, part-time fishing guide on the Sandy River. John loved the Sandy River and fished there since he was old enough to hold a pole, and he has achieved almost legendary status to Sandy River regulars. He wasn’t the loudest guy on the river, but he was the most willing to lend a hand, give pointers, and donate his services to many worthwhile regional events.


Coming Up

Tualatin Valley Spring Fish Along in Tillamook

March 6 - March 8 

John Aho Memorial Steelhead Derby

March 7 @ 3:30 p.m.

Family Fish Camp

March 13 - March 15

Sandy River Bank Fish-Along

March 28 @ 9:00 a.m.

Chapter Meetings 

  • Emerald Empire: March 3 @ 7:00 p.m.
  • Mid-Valley: March 4 @ 7:00 p.m. Biologist Paul Olmsted will  Alsea and Siletz Rivers and surrounding areas.  
  • Sandy River: March 4 @ 7:00 p.m. Spinner Class!
  • McLoughlin: March 10 @ 7:00 p.m. Fishing Guide Dave Eng will be talking about winter steelhead and springer tactics. There will be a drawing for 2 guided seats on Dave's boat!
  • Columbia River: March 11 @ 6:30 p.m. Fishing Guide Brent Soule will be presenting on Kokanee fishing tips and techniques. 
  • Tualatin Valley: March 12 @ 7:00 p.m.
  • Salem: March 17 @ 7:00 p.m. Fishing Guide Brandon Glass will cover springer tactics.
  • Tom McCall: March 18 @ 11:30 a.m.

Get Involved

  • Become a Volunteer! As a volunteer-driven organization, we thrive when you take action on issues you care about. Learn more...

  • Mailing/Shipping: We will need volunteers to help out with mailing envelopes and shipping merchandise. Fill out this form or email office@anws.org to help out!

  • ODFW Reptile & Amphibian Surveys: Volunteers needed March 2020 through May 2020 to conduct reptile and amphibian surveys on the Denman Wildlife Area in Central Point. Volunteers will be required to attend a 1/2 day training on field protocol and safety on March 7th. Will survey in groups to improve safety. Surveys will be conducted outside on uneven terrain.

  • Emerald Empire's March Garage Sale:  The details will be forthcoming but now is a great time to clean out your garage and donate some of your fishing and/or boating items. Please contact Chapter President Ken Johnson at kenmjohnson@msn.com for more information. 


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Association of Northwest Steelheaders
6641 SE Lake Rd. Milwaukie, OR 97222
(503) 653-4176

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