I don’t know if they still do it, but Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has a curious measurement they used to collect every year.
It is a steelhead caught per hour/per angler estimate for rivers around the state.
I was thinking about this the other day while I was contemplating the challenges created by the “no fishing from boat” rules in place on many Olympic peninsula streams.
It came to mind because realistically, from a anglers point of view, here on the North Coast, Fish caught per hour is a much less interesting data point than fish caught per mile fished.
My notion is, that if you could fish as many miles, and as effectively on foot, as you used to while casting from your boat, you would catch just as many fish.
But I think in the long run, this turns out to be some what incorrect.
Because if you can fish as well and as fast from the shore, as a boat fishing angler used to, you catch a lot more fish than the boat angler used to.
Our rivers are rough, full of giant rocks, tangled brush, logs, steep banks, heavy current, cold rushing water. It is an extremely challenging environment for an human to move through. Put that human in waders and wading shoes and a bunch of rain coats and stuff, and things get even tougher.
ahhh, but we are forgetting something.
Bad news, just like archery hunting elk on public land, or chucker hunting, one of the biggest advantages an OP winter steel header can now have is physical fitness.
Best gear? great. Awesome caster? super. Comfortable running parkour courses and triathlons? You’re gonna catch more than any one else.
And it’s pretty much playing out that way. At this point strong aggressive hikers and waders are catching far more fish than experienced anglers without as much fitness.
This is a dangerous place to challenge the elements. Help can be very far away. But folks who really have the strength and the drive are already seeing it turn in to a huge increase in the number of fish they encounter.
It is fair to say if you are older, or very young, or disabled this sucks for you. It is shitty news. But even if you feel like you may only have a couple of steel heading miles left in the tank, let me assure you, a little bit extra goes a long way.
A little more daily stretching, a couple more min on the treadmill, any little bit of extra conditioning now pays off more than ever in this game.
For me having pursuits that encourage strong physical fitness habits have probably contributed more than anything else to my quality of life, and maybe this will encourage a few folks to add catching fish to their motivation for keeping in shape.
Obviously I will be attempting to cash in on this by offering a series of work out video’s soon to be released on VHF tapes.
“Yoga spey”, “spin class for bobber casters” stuff like that, maybe a prancercise work out? (If you are not familiar with prancercise you should definitely google it)
OOOHHH PS. January 30,31, and February 1 and 2 are now open. Tell your friends, see if we can book this for Ryan.