Winter steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest have been on the decline for many years now. They face different challenges from harvest, hydropower/dams, habitat degradation, hatcheries, to warming ocean conditions. With a plethora of different interests and stakeholders involved in the conservation of these fish, state fishing regulations just can’t keep up with the protection of these fish. Winter steelhead’s fate may be in the hands of the angler.
We recently saw a story posted by British Columbia photographer Chase White on his Instagram introducing a conservation concept that he dubbed #OneAndDone. The idea behind it is simple: as a steelhead angler, once you’ve caught and released a wild fish, opt to put your rod down for the day.
Here’s how Chase put it on his posting:
With winter steelhead season approaching, would you support a “one-and-done” pledge to catch only one (at most) wild winter steelhead per person per day?
Think of it like this: if you’re lucky enough to get a fish, rather than try to get as many of them as you possibly can, just kick back and celebrate your fish with a beer or a stogie for that day.
The idea is to self-regulate pressure on the resource while also fostering the ability to go out and fish as many days for these fish as you want.
What do you think? #OneAndDone?
With traction on the post building, his poll at the bottom of the story received 96% in-favor support.
We reached out to Chase for some additional thoughts, and here’s what he had to add:
“I’m glad people are so receptive to this because I think in some cases it could have a real positive impact on the health of our migratory wild fish runs. That said, this sort of thing can be a surprisingly polarizing topic. Many conservation efforts these days are, especially when it comes to migratory fish. You have to remember, these are very complex issues with many contributing factors. Beyond recreational fishing pressure, there are more, bigger, often institutional, issues detrimentally impacting these fish (ahem—gillnets), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do things as anglers to minimize our impact (and no, by acknowledging that anglers have an impact is not going to take away their rights to fish).
Further, I’m not proposing that this should be implemented as a regulation, or that this is necessarily a good idea for every fishery. For example, you should still remove hatchery fish from rivers where regulation allows. In this case, I was talking about an opt-in practice for wild winter-run steelhead on my home rivers in BC which have no active steelhead hatcheries. Although many people have reached out in response, suggesting that they would appreciate this mindset on their home fisheries, as well.
I’m not suggesting people should fish less days. Hell, fish more days… It’s super fun and deeply cathartic. Hopefully, if we’re smart we can fish more days for these incredible fish, subsequently bringing in new generations of anglers while increasing angling license revenues to fund additional conservation efforts.
Ultimately, this is an opt-in idea, similar to keeping fish wet. You don’t have to do it. But then again, you don’t have to keep fish wet either. It’s up to you as the angler where you stand on that.”
Where do you stand on this? #OneAndDone? Comment below.
Comment and photo from Chase White – follow him at @anadromous on Instagram for fishy adventures and outdoor inspiration.
Want to learn more about why the #OneAndDone pledge might be necessary? Check out the film below.