Dear supporter,

Right now, we’re pushing the Oregon legislature to protect salmon habitat, ban non-treaty commercial gill nets on the main stem of the Columbia River, and pass a bill that would allow group licenses for veterans at nonprofit fishing events. These are just a few of our many projects aimed to ensure that we have a better future for salmon, steelhead, and anglers in the Northwest. 

Starting March 1st, we will be raffling off 13 guided trips from some of our most savvy and supportive guides in the Pacific Northwest in our Angling for Advocacy Fundraiser. This is your chance to not only support our advocacy efforts, but take a chance at winning a world class guided trip! We’re only offering a handful of tickets for each trip, so the odds are in your favor (especially if you purchase multiple tickets).  Please consider supporting our efforts to leverage your voice with policymakers by participating in the raffle, and if you’re interested in speaking up for recreational fisheries yourself, register for our webinar on March 4th @ 6pm to learn how to call your legislators about restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River. 

Thank you for all your support!


Chris Hager, Executive Director


NEXT WEEK: Angling for Advocacy Fundraiser and Webinar!

From March 1st - 7th, Northwest Steelheaders is raffling off incredible trips with premier guides in the region to support our angling advocacy efforts. Our guides have generously donated their time and expertise to transform your fishing experience. Not only will you learn new techniques using top-of-the-line gear, you'll also come away with a deeper understanding of Pacific Northwest fisheries and why they are so important to protect.

We have big advocacy goals this year to protect endangered fish, restore habitat, and enhance fishing opportunities and we need your help to achieve them. 

  • Working with a multi-state coalition to remove the lower Snake River dams and recover endangered salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia River Basin
  • Ban non-treaty commercial gill nets on the lower mainstem Columbia River
  • Protect salmon habitat in Northwest Oregon
  • Collect new spring Chinook broodstock at the Clackamas hatchery
  • Pass a group license bill for nonprofit veterans fishing events
  • Increase fishing opportunities and access for all Northwesterners

Please support our angling advocacy efforts by buying a raffle ticket...or several! The more tickets you purchase, the more you help protect Northwest fisheries and the more you increase your chances of winning one of these world-class trips.

Northwest Steelheaders is also offering a webinar on March 4th at 6pm to teach you how to call your legislators about Snake River restoration. If you are looking for ways to get more involved in the Snake River campaign, are interested in learning how to effectively engage in the political process, or are curious about our advocacy program in general, this is the webinar for you!


Idaho Rep. Simpson Introduces Historic Salmon Recovery Plan for the Columbia River Basin

By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager

Earlier this month, Idaho Representative Mike Simpson announced a groundbreaking proposal for a comprehensive $33.5 billion infrastructure package to recover Columbia River salmon and steelhead by restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River. After nearly two years of regional collaboration among unlikely partners, including recreational anglers, elected officials, tribes, farmers, commercial anglers, and other stakeholders, Simpson's package identifies strategic investments that will not only recover abundant, harvestable salmon throughout the region, but modernize energy and transportation infrastructure and invest in rural economies.

Simpson’s “Columbia Basin Fund” proposes strategic investments to replace the energy produced by the lower Snake River dams with wind and solar facilities, remove the earthen section of the lower Snake River dams, deauthorize hydro energy production for some of the Willamette River dams, support tourism and economic development, and improve fish passage throughout the Columbia River Basin.

While we applaud Representative Simpson's proposal, we must address the proposed 35-year moratorium on salmon-related lawsuits and automatic 35-year hydropower license extension for other dams within the Basin. We need to urge our Northwest representatives to participate in shaping this package to ensure that the recreational angling community can support it. This is the moment we've been waiting almost 50 years for, let's make sure we seize it. 


Columbia River Basin Salmon Migration Storymap

Learn more about the incredible journey 50% of Columbia Basin salmon take from the mountains high in Idaho out to the ocean. This 900-mile migration is so much more than a wildlife event, it's an annual migration that connects communities and cultures throughout the region.

Columbia River Basin salmon and steelhead are essential for Northwest tribes, local economies, and the region’s way of life — yet they’re running out of time. This storymap, made in partnership with National Wildlife Federation, is a timely addition to a national conversation ignited by U.S. Representative Mike Simpson’s (R-Idaho) recent proposal for the Columbia Basin Fund, a jobs and infrastructure framework that offers a strong starting point to save the Northwest’s valuable fisheries and river-dependent communities by restoring a free-flowing lower Snake River.


Steelheaders in Salem: Oregon Legislative Priorities

By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaigns Manager

The Oregon legislative session is well underway in Salem and Northwest Steelheaders is hard at work fighting for salmon recovery, habitat protections, and fishing opportunities. After three years of work, Board member and Tualatin Valley Chapter Representative Tim Lenihan testified on behalf of Senate Bill 320 to establish a group angling license for non-profit that host veterans fishing events. 129 of our members supported him by emailing Senators on the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee in support of the bill. On Mar. 2 @ 3:15pm, the Committee will host a work session to discuss an amended version of the bill and hopefully advance it to the next step of the law-making process.

We also provided testimony regarding SB 59 at the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery hearing on February 8th alongside the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, Coastal Conservation Alliance, and Trout Unlimited. All of our testimonies centered around the need for any renewal of the Columbia River Endorsement fee to be (a) temporary and (b) legislatively tied to implementing the original 2013 Columbia River Reforms and elimination of non-treaty commercial gill nets from the lower mainstem Columbia River. The Committee will be discussing an amended version of the bill during a work session on March 3 @ 3:15pm.

Stay informed about what's happening at the Oregon legislature by following updates on our blog


1,000 Casts? More like 410 Days: A Steelheader’s Journey

By Brian West, Tualatin Valley Chapter member

How long did it take you to bring home your first steelhead? A few days, weeks, or months? It took me over a year… 410 days to be exact, and not for lack of effort. My adventure began on Black Friday, 2015. I walked into Fisherman’s Marine and bought all the gear to float fish for salmon and steelhead, but none of the store employees warned me how difficult the challenge ahead would be.

I started a fishing journal right away, so I know that on November 23 I hit the Wilson river with a new drift boat owner I met at work. It ended up being a scenic boat ride since we had no idea what we were doing. On December 29, I attempted to bank fish the South Fork of the Wilson River in the rain. When I went to make my first cast, my line got tangled. I couldn’t sort it out with my cold hands, so I walked back to my car, cut the line, and re-tied everything.

On February 13, I attempted to fish the Necanicum and excitedly noted in my fishing journal that I saw a steelhead which, at the time, was a huge win. I tried to fish the Wilson six more times, but nothing happened. It was at this point I had a bit of a breakdown. I had tried steelheading 9 full days and had nothing to show for it. Not even a bite. I questioned my decision to begin this journey… and my sanity. Whenever someone asked, “did you catch anything?” all I could do was say no with my head hung low.

On March 25, something finally happened! I saw a large group of steelhead on the Wilson and cast my bead like my life depended on it. I hooked into a monster dark green buck and wrestled it to the shore, amazed by its power. As I nervously approached, it wriggled off the hook and swam away. I didn’t even get a picture. Over the next six months I kept fishing. My failure only made me more determined. Thirteen times on the Wilson, three on the Columbia, three on the Trask, three on the Clackamas, and one on the Deschutes. I lost four fish.

It was around that time that I discovered the salmon and steelhead fishing group on Meetup, which led me to Northwest Steelheaders. I knew I needed help and met plenty of friendly people willing to show me the way. I learned rapidly after I joined. Finish the story here!

We're looking for volunteer writers! If you're interested in submitting an article for our blog and newsletter, please contact Operations Manager Alix Soliman at for more details. 


Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley Introduce Bill to Designate Over 4,700 River Miles as Wild and Scenic

By Betsy Emery, Advocay and Campaigns Manager

This month, Senator Wyden (D-OR) introduced the River Democracy Act, an amendment to the The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System Act to include an additional 4,700 river miles throughout Oregon. Congress originally passed the Act in 1968 to provide an additional level of protection for free-flowing rivers with remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, or historic values.

“Declaring Oregon's rivers and streams as Wild and Scenic not only preserves pristine riparian habitat and spawning grounds, but helps preserve our Northwest fishing heritage and the vast economy that angling supports,” said Executive Director Chris Hager. “This is the leadership Oregon needs if we want to recover critically listed salmon and steelhead throughout our state.”

Driven by years of grassroots community engagement, including over 15,000 river nominations from 2,500 Oregonians, the proposed River Democracy Act would more than double 2,173 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers Oregon currently protects. It includes free-flowing segments of the Alsea, Umpqua, Deschutes, Grand Ronde, McKenzie, Nestucca, Rogue, Santiam, and Clackamas rivers.

State and federal agencies manage Wild and Scenic Rivers to ensure their special characteristics, recreational opportunities, and pristine conditions are permanently protected and maintained. Most importantly, Wild and Scenic Rivers are protected from a variety of damaging activities, including damming, bank alternation, and resource extraction within at least a quarter mile of each side of the stream.

Zoom Chapter Meetings

A few chapters have resumed Monthly Chapter Meetings via Zoom, and we hope to get everyone online as soon as possible! To get the Zoom link to access a meeting, please visit our Events Calendar. If you're having trouble setting up Zoom but would like to join a meeting, please reach out to us at and we'll help you out. As always, Chapter Meetings are free and open to the public. If you're new to Northwest Steelheaders, attending a meeting is a great first step to getting more involved with your local fishing community. 

Upcoming Meetings

  • Mid-Valley Chapter - Wednesday, March 3 @ 7 pm
  • Columbia River Chapter - Wednesday, March 10 @ 6:30 pm
  • Tualatin Chapter - Thursday, March 11 @ 7 pm.


Photo by Isabel Ortiz Soto

Pledging to Protect Monarch Butterflies 

Like salmon, the monarch butterfly is a beloved and iconic keystone species whose population health can be an indicator of the troubling decline of ecosystems. And like salmon, they too depend on healthy river corridors for habitat and migration that are affected by what people do in their own backyards and gardens. Whether it’s applying pesticides, removing native trees, planting non-natives, polluting waters, or other activities – these can have a detrimental impact on water quality and wildlife species survival.

Alarmingly, western monarch butterfly populations have plummeted by 99.9% since the 1980s. In fact, the Xerces Society’s annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, which monitors population numbers at overwintering sites along coastal California, has seen a dramatic decline in monarch numbers the past 5 years, reporting 298,464 monarchs in 2016 to less than 2,000 in 2020. The good news is that communities across the west can all play a critical role in saving the monarch butterfly and other pollinators for generations to come. Through the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, mayors and other heads of local and tribal government can take action to create sustainable habitat for the monarch butterfly and educate their community on the importance of pollinators and ways they can help.

Learn more about the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge program. Invite your mayor to take the pledge today and join a growing list of communities across the country pledging to protect monarchs! Students are also encouraged to engage their community leaders as youth advocates (see Take Learning Outside for a list of ideas). Pledges are being accepted now through March 31, 2021.

Congrats to the City of Salem for recently pledging – the only community to do so in Oregon this year (so far)!


Volunteer with ODFW's Angler Assistance Booths

The ODFW will be setting up Angler Assistance Booths at popular fishing spots in March, staffed by volunteers, to help new anglers learn to fish. These booths will have a limited amount of loaner fishing rods, along with tackle and bait. The program will target people who are already out recreating to host COVID-safe, small-group fishing events. Register to volunteer here!


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Association of Northwest Steelheaders
P.O.  Box 55400, Portland, OR 97238
(503) 653-4176
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