Salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin need our help - time is running out for their recovery. Already, the reservoirs behind the lower four Snake River dams in southeast Washington are at lethal temperatures, threatening salmon and steelhead on their migrations to and from the sea.

As Oregonians who thrive off of the Columbia River fishery, we need to come together and demand a better future for salmon and steelhead. I'm counting on you to join me and fellow NW Steelheaders on August 7th, on the Willamette River, as we Rally for the River and stand up for salmon.

I'll see you on the water!

Chris Hager, Executive Director

Salmon Successes as Oregon's Legislative Session Comes to an End

We were largely successful in securing the key bills and amendments we wanted during the legislative session that just wrapped up. We negotiated the Columbia River endorsement renewal and legally tied the fee to require ODFW to keep non-tribal commercial gill nets off the lower Columbia River. After three long years, we got our veteran’s angling license bill signed into law, increasing veterans' access to fishing programs in Oregon. We also secured amendments to protect small streams in eastern Oregon and undisturbed wetlands. Some of the bills we were interested in did not make it through the process this year, including bills to establish an independent science review board, update the structure of the Marine Advisory Board, and allow ODFW to reduce angling fees to increase accessibility. We were very involved in the process to set ODFW’s 2021 - 2023 biennium budget as well, which includes funding to reinstate a Habitat Division to coordinate efforts across the Department. It also includes funding for multiple positions to support complex water basin planning efforts and field biologist throughout the state. There is not any funding for immediate hatchery reconstruction earmarked.


The Fight to Remove the Lower Snake River Dams is Heating Up

By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager 

We had the driest spring on record and the summer is shaping up to be a serious scorcher - setting spring summer Chinook and B-run steelhead up for what could be a devastating season. We continue to put pressure on elected leaders to negotiate a durable plan to remove the four dams and provide access to thousands of miles of pristine cold water habitat. Chris Hager, our executive director, recently published an opinion piece in the Columbian expressing concern about what anglers might be facing this summer with low returns to the Columbia River. Norm Ritchie, long-time Board member and salmon advocate also published an opinion piece in the Astorian calling on leaders to come to the table and compromise as climate change introduces new threats to salmon survival. The extinction clock is ticking and NW leaders need to act fast. Along with Save Our Wild Salmon, we sponsored full page ads in the Seattle Times and Oregonian on Sunday, June 20 urging Washington and Oregon Senators to stand up for salmon. Help us turn up the heat: email your elected leaders and tell them we don't have any more time to wait.


This Summer Could Shape the Future of Pacific Northwest Salmon

By Betsy Emery, Advocacy and Campaign Manager 

With recent weather reaching nearly 120 degrees, it's no surprise that our cold-water fish are going to have a long summer ahead of them. Oregon experienced the driest spring since the 1890s. The spring summer Chinook adult salmon returns weren’t enough to support a fishing season on the Clearwater River in Idaho. Now, as we head into summer, over 70% of the state is in severe or extreme drought, and lack of snowpack has many of our streams  flowing with only 25% of the water they usually have this time of year. We haven’t even approached the depths of summer when the mainstem Columbia River routinely  heats up above the 68 degree temperature salmon can withstand, increasing risk for disease outbreaks.


Save the Date: August 4th Pint Night

On August 4th, join us for a Pint Night at Hopworks Urban Brewery at 6pm. Meet other Steelheaders and learn about the dire need for a salmon recovery plan that restores a free-flowing lower Snake River. Salmon don’t have any more time to wait: beloved Chinook and B-run steelhead runs across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho will start to go extinct in the next five years. 

We will have postcards for you to send your representatives in Washington + Oregon and banners for you to use during our boat Rally for the River on August 7th on the Willamette River between the Morrison and Burnside bridges near the Portland waterfront at 1:30pm. We printed 30 vinyl 6’ x 3’ vinyl banners for folks. Reserve a banner for your boat here! 

The pint night is where you can pick up your banner and learn more about the need to restore a free-flowing lower Snake River. We can’t wait to see you all there!


Rally for the River: Save the Date!

Join us for a boat rally on the Willamette River to urge lawmakers to get serious about salmon recovery. We will be meeting on the river between the Morrison and Burnside bridges near the waterfront in Portland at 1:30pm on August 7th. Speaker remarks (TBD) will begin at 2pm.

Reserve a banner for your boat! We printed 30 vinyl 6’ x 3’ vinyl banners for folks. Make sure to sign up and reserve your banner here. We are hosting a pint night on Wednesday August 4th at 6pm at Hopworks Urban Brewery so you can pick up your banner and learn more about the need to restore a free-flowing lower Snake River. 


Join our Team: Apply for Confluence AmeriCorps

Are you passionate about working with kids and educators, protecting fish & wildlife, and serving families and communities of color curious about nature? Apply to be our next Education and Outreach Coordinator with National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Association of Northwest Steelheaders (ANWS)!

The application deadline has been extended until July 2nd at 5pm. Don't wait, get your applications in today!


Shad smoking in Mark Hutchinson's Traeger

Why Fish for Shad?

By Mark Hutchinson, Tualatin Valley Chapter President and Board Representative

Each year I have to take a small break from springer fishing to catch a few shad. The day I went,138,000 were crossing Bonneville dam, that means you have good odds of catching fish. That many shad is more than the entire springer run in one day. I’ll usually fish for them when the counts go over 15,000 a day.

We went on a Sunday afternoon with not much else to do after church. We anchored in the current, and adjusted the boat to where we saw downstream fishermen catching fish. We used a steelhead pole, dick night lures, 4 foot leader, splitter, and 2 OZ lead on a 36” dropper. We also used special shad darts my friend Joe made me as a present for taking him fishing. Color is important, that day red fished better than chartreuse. In the course of 4 hours, we boated 33 shad, and lost half that many. Throughout the afternoon I had two sturgeon grab the shad and jump behind the boat, they were 6 to 8 feet long, my 10 pound line was no match for them.

When I got home, my friend said they didn’t have any room for the shad, I would have to keep them all. Thankfully, he agreed to help me clean them the next day.

After work on Monday, my wife lectured me about not wanting shad in the freezer, so we only bagged up 10 of them for crab bait. The others we scaled, filleted, and put them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. The next day I made up a dry rub of 1/3 cup salt to 1 cup of brown sugar and some spices and sprinkled it in between the fillets, then placed it back in the refrigerator. Later that evening I smoked half of them for a couple hours in our Traeger and canned them.

I packed them into ½ pint jars with a slice of Jalapeno, and put them in the pressure cooker. An hour and 40 minutes (100 minutes) later, I turned off the cooker and followed my wife to bed. The next day I took them out, opened one of the jars and was happy with what I saw. Next time, I'll start smoking earlier and brine them overnight. Later in the week I smoked the others and canned them too.

I like taking canned shad with crackers as a snack when I go fishing. I’ve learned to let people taste it before I tell them what it is. Shad is a great fish to take both kids and friends to catch, they're 1 to 5 pounds and they run and jump. I call it a gateway drug to steelhead fishing: it’s good practice netting, playing fish, and if you lose one what the heck.

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, July 7 @ 7 pm
  • Columbia River Chapter - Wednesday, July 14 @ 6:30 pm
  • Tualatin Chapter - Thursday, July 8 @ 7 pm.



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