Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Restoring a Salmonidae fishery to the Pacific Northwest

"Good fishing never stops.There are only times when in some places it is better than in others"
~ George Fichter

This evening President Dave called our meeting to order at 7:05.
We had 23 members and guest present.

Our January 18th meeting was cancelled due to icy winter weather, and bad road conditions, so the first order of business this evening was to proceed with the election of club officers for the New Year. An agreeable slate of officers was proposed, seconded, and passed by majority vote.
Dave Stemmer – President
Tom Craig – Vice President
Doug Coe – Treasurer
Dale McKain – Secretary

Vice President Tom announced to the meeting that Saturday March 18th will be the Walla Walla County 4-H Super Saturday, and the local 4-H and our Walla² Fly Fishers are looking for volunteers to conduct fly casting and fly tying demonstrations. Please email VP Tom at <> if you have a few hours to help with, and enjoy some 4-H kids on the 18th.

President Dave brought to our attention that with the advent of the New Year, club membership dues are due. Our annual membership dues are $15 for individuals or $20 for entire families.

Treasurer Dr. Doug gave his New Year’s report of the financial standing of our club. With the intake of this evening’s funds from membership dues, we currently have over $1300 in the bank. It was mentioned that we should look at creating an event / a banquet to promote fly fishing and club membership, with some of our funds.
It was mentioned that Barbara had purchased a DVD copy of Modern Nymphing ~ European Inspired Techniques by Devin Olsen and Lance Egan.
Devin was our guest meeting speaker of November 2016. The video is full of beautiful trout catching scenery and explains Devin’s technique for competition fly fishing ~ catching. Barbara and Dave also mentioned that Devin Olsen has recently acquired his fishing guide license from Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His area of fishing guide concentration will be the Wallowa County as he is the Nez Perce Indian Tribe fisheries biologist there. Devin is a very knowledgeable fly fishing individual, a man worth spending time with.

 This evening we were privileged to have Gary James addressing our meeting.  
Gary is the Fisheries Director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).  
 Gary has held his professional position with CTUIR for 35 years, and he and the CTUIR are known nationally for the work and success of their models for the recovery of salmon and steelhead runs in NE Oregon, SE Washington the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
His work has been to restore a fishery for the CTUIR and the general public of the PNW on 6.4 million acres that was assigned the CTUIR to have watch and ward of, in agreement with the Treaty of 1855
Aboriginal Title Lands of the CTUIR

Gary began his presentation by giving our group a better understanding of the importance of Salmonidae fisheries to the First People of the Pacific Northwest / West Coast. Here salmon have existed for millions of years. Salmon fishing in particular is not only a way of life, but also a primary religious factor of the PNW cultures that depended on fish for its very survival for the past 10,000 – 12,000 years. For the culture of the First People of the PNW there is an obligation, a respect, and a reverence for the gift of the first foods given by the Creator for the circle of life, and existence.
The First Foods and ritual table setup

Their culture and fisheries were very much disrupted with the immigration of white men, the onset of 19th Century technology, machinery to cause stream and river re-channeling and the placement of dams. In the more recent past the Treaty of 1855 has been implemented to correct many of the complications to culture and fisheries of the previous 100 years.

CTUIR Department of Natural Resources Mission Statement:  To protect, restore and enhance the First Foods - water, salmon, deer, cous and huckleberry - for the perpetual cultural, economic and sovereign benefit of the CTUIR.  

We will accomplish this using traditional ecological and cultural knowledge and science to inform: 1) population and habitat management goals and actions; and 2) natural resource policies and regulatory mechanisms.
Gary then focused on the progress by the Tribes, State and Federal agencies of the past 80+ years to restore the wildlife and fisheries of the PNW to sustainable levels for a constant harvest in recent times.
CTUIR Fisheries Program Mission Statement:  To provide sustainable harvest opportunities for aquatic species of the first food order by protecting, conserving and restoring native aquatic populations and their habitats.
Being the CTUIR Fisheries Program is so extensive, this writer will not expound on the breadth or depth of it here; but will offer this link ( for all interested parties to explore.
One of the most expansive projects that the  (CTUIR), Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Program is currently engaged in is the in-stream design and construction oversight for salmonid habitat restoration and enhancement efforts on the South Fork Walla Walla River, Oregon.  
Before construction began
Work now in progress

The location of the Hutchison Project site is; 11 miles east of Milton-Freewater, 1.5 miles downstream from Harris Park, 1 mile upstream of the CTUIR Fish Hatchery, on the South Fork Walla Walla River near River Mile 6.5.

For more details, please follow this link -- -- for an overview  of this project that will impact our entire Walla Walla River Basin fishery in a very positive manner.
NOTE: 20 years ago the Walla Walla River bed downstream of Milton-Freewater was a bed of dry, dust covered, rocks during the entire growing and harvest season each year.
TODAY: the fishery looks like this...

 Thanks to the CTUIR Fisheries Program.

This evening our fly boxes - door prize and raffle were won
by Robert and Diane.

Thank You Gary for this most informative presentation of the culture of our neighbors CTUIR and the work you, and your staff have been doing to recover and improve the fisheries of our Pacific Northwest region.

Meeting was adjourned at 8:30p.

 Our next monthly meeting will be March 15th at
Smith's Family Restaurant
1425 Pine Street

Dinner and social at 6:00 pm with meeting following at 7:00
Come one, come all, come as you are.
Our meetings are open to the interested fly fishing public.

Respectfully submitted,
Dale McKain
Club Secretary