One of the most iconic of Northwest fish is the steelhead. While commonly thought of as a salmon, the fish is actually an anadromous rainbow trout that is prized for its beauty and tenacity.
For fishers, both fly and gear, it is the fish of dreams. I’ve known people who fish for nothing else and wait all year for the chance to spend hours on freezing rainy winter days in Northwest rivers fishing for this magnificent fish. I’ve not chased them but envy those who do.
And at least for those steelhead that return to Washington rivers, they are facing extinction.
But it is not climate change or pollution that’s being blamed for the decreasing numbers, it’s hatcheries and decisions made by fisheries managers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Dylan Tolmine, writer and Patagonia ambassador, has written an article on the future the fish face where every river that has hatcheries has seen the collapse of the steelhead. It is only where the wild fish gene pool has been maintained that the fish thrive.
You may not live in Washington or fish for steelhead. But it is important to be reminded how often humanity is accelerating species collapse, even while it is creating a future brought on by the climate emergency. It is for valid reasons that our grandchildren and future generations will curse this current generation if we fail to act.
The article can be read here.