Article: ‘Opinions’….an Op/Ed by Willem ‘Willbfishing’ Bome

Posted: February 19, 2012 by Hellcat in Fish Reports, News, Salmon, Trout & Steelhead
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There are very few angling websites that have endured the life All Around has. I’ve tried to keep things fresh and new by spending countless hours, days, weeks, months and years both on the water and behind this computer screen to bring you a piece of this passion. I try to do so as vividly and profoundly as possible while staying true to my core beliefs, concerns, accomplishments and desires. There are some of you reading this right now who have been beside me the entire 7 years with support of this effort. To you I am grateful and flattered. I am also grateful and flattered for the new content contributors I’ve picked up recently. There are nearly 20 new content contributors since the start of 2011 alone. To share your content with me means you have faith in this All Around project and you see yourself a part of a winning team. I respect and admire that decision. The caliber of anglers I am attracting with is tremendous. In addition the beginning angler still continues to find the pieces he/she needs within the virtual boundaries of this website. This helps them assemble their own puzzle concerning this river game we all love to play so much and brings them that much closer to consistent success and a chance at routine production on the water. This ‘range’ of viewership in combination with the new pieces being submitted to brings me a level of pride I hope to communicate to you today. Anyone can make a fishing website: It’s those who complete a prolonged on line effort supported by a standard set of rules which includes a respect for the rivers, for the anonymity of treasured waters being shared and mostly for the desire to help others learn the way…..the right way. I now give you the newest piece submitted by Willem ‘Willbfishing’ Bome entitled, ‘Opinions’. Enjoy this Opinion/Editorial…and remember, please tell a friend about today. Thank you. CRH.


By Willem Bome

What if I told you that a man says he could build a machine that would create 10’s of thousands of jobs. That the entire population of the Pacific Northwest would be effected. From grocery stores to gas stations, from hotels to new homes, construction, furniture sales, new cars, electronics, in fact every type of job out there would make more money and employee more people. What would you say?

It would just cost 5 million dollars. What if I told you that the machine is already built and with a small investment we could turn it on. The Columbia River is that machine. My point for this new article is the Columbia River is an amazing piece of Mother Nature in our backyard that is capable of bringing tons of jobs to our region through the fishing industry.

The Columbia River is 1210 miles long with numerous rivers pouring into it as it works its way up into Canada. When Lewis & Clark first came to the Pacific Northwest it was estimated that 20 to 30 million salmon made their way up the Columbia River every year. Last year at Bonneville dam we had 2,520,193 game fish go through our fish ladders and 369,365 were steelhead and 948,070 were shad. That leaves only 1,202,758 salmon that actually went over the dam. Last year the Kenai River in Alaska had an estimated 1,680,697 salmon return; the Kenai River is 82 miles long and has a few rivers that feed it.

So I guess my question is how does a river that only flows 82 miles produce more salmon then a river that flows 1200 miles. Some would say well it has to do with all the dams that are in place on the Columbia and there might be some truth to this, but if that is true then why do rivers below Bonneville dam continue to have dwindling returns?

What does the fish and wildlife department in Alaska do that we are not doing down here?

Well for one the Alaska department of Fish and Wildlife is producing a huge amount of anadromous fish, (fish that migrate to the ocean) 1,869,370,000 and no that’s not a TYPO. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is kicking out 77,882,102 anadromous fish a year and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are releasing 38,723,664 smolts a year. If we take Oregon and Washington and combine their totals we come up with 116,605,766 and minus that against Alaska’s total they produce 1,752,764,234 more anadromous fish.

It is a wonder why a river that only flow’s 82 miles out produces a river that flows 1200 miles with major rivers that pour into it. The Columbia River has been drawing the river down by opening the flood gates for several years now, and we have seen a rise in the amount of salmon returning, by pulling water through the flood gates and not through the turbines the mortality rate climbs, only 1 out of 10 smolts survive the turbines. The rivers before the dams on the Columbia that don’t have dams on them are not doing well either. My belief is that the smolts in our rivers don’t have enough nutrients in the streams to support healthy populations of fish.

If you look at the flesh and eggs for the smolts in Alaska you will see the difference, their rivers are littered with fish carcasses. There not so much Chinook or Coho but they are pink, sockeye and chum. Since the Chum salmon is not as sought after as the Chinook and Coho their smolts are feeding on the Chum’s remains producing a healthy fish to better fight for their lives once they hit the ocean and yielding a higher return.

Many of our rivers in the Pacific Northwest had these fish in them, at one time long ago. If you look at some of the rivers in Washington that have pink Salmon returns you would be amazed at the size of their returns often over one million or close to it. The smolts that are coming down these rivers have plenty of nutrients to eat. Washington and Oregon both have been working on nutrients enhancement programs, but in my opinion they need to be doing tenfold of what they are putting into the rivers. Maybe I am just whacked but when you look at Alaska and you look at the Pacific Northwest that is the difference, food!!!!

Again that’s my OPINION!

Willem Bome, AKA Willbfishing

  1. The Hustler says:

    Thanks for the article, WBF. You have been at this for decades and I just a fraction of that time. It is a shame that we don’t have the hatcheries kicking out mass quantities of fish. My favorite metro river is not my favorite for the epic days that I have had, but for it’s beauty and the way it can clear my mind just by being there. In fact after dozens of trips to this river, I finally caught my first fish there TODAY! A minty native hen. I hope the rumors aren’t true about closing the hatchery on that river. Its a shame that these close proximity metro rivers aren’t producing mass quantities of fish. All you hear now is how they want to close hatcheries. What does it take to change the DFWs mind about how we need more fish planted to keep this legacy going?

  2. Hellcat says:

    It’s a tricky slope to navigate. Who wants to weigh in on this question for The Hustler first?

  3. Willbfishing says:

    I know that this is a HOT topic, But I Belieave that this is all about money! some States pour more money into there fisheries then others, Alaska is the big dog when it comes to the amount of money it puts into its fisheries followed by Washington and if you cut 3/4 of that away thats what Oregonis doing to its fisheries. If you have hatcherys on a system for 50 years and that system runs unchecked how can their be any native fish in that system left. It has all become tainted, the mixing pool has been in affect for along time and now we are going to trim it back. If you look at Coho Salmon caught up north in streams that have no hatcherys they look alot different then the Coho’s we catch down here. They are built like shoulders Malone, not like are skinny Coho’s we catch here. The same goes for Steelhead that are hatchery raised verse there native brothers, and how they fight. In closing I would like to end with this, Alaska has a healthy population of wild and hatchery fish and they have layed out the blue print how to get us back on track! It can be done.

  4. daheller says:

    There is no doubt that most of our rivers don’t work the way they did when huge runs of salmon occurred. To start with, something like 60% of the miles of historic salmon habitat in the Columbia is now blocked by dams, culverts, tide gates etc. The ones that remain accessible are often heavily altered by development and the habitat shows it… no wood, disconnected floodplains, reduced water quantity and degraded water quality etc. Coupled with reduced runs, this simplified habitat has a major lack of fish carcasses (which provide marine derived nutrients to drive much more productive systems). Much has been done to change things and on many rivers there are real positive changes in river function and also ownership and organization by communities. Salmon are tough and I hope they hang on long enough for us to get smart and realize the priceless heritage and enormously valuable resource that they represent.

    I will stay out of the hatchery argument except to say that hatcheries play an important role in commercial and recreational fisheries and are here to stay and that research has shown pretty conclusively that hatchery fish have lower survival rates than wild fish and when they interbreed, lower the fitness of wild fish. Sal


  5. Hellcat says:

    I was hoping you would share your insight dad. I respect and admire all you have done for the restoration of our precious rivers and streams. Your knowledge and experience is unequaled.

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