By Tracy Pennel
A few weeks back on the campus of the University of Washington, Trout Unlimited’s Wild Steelhead Initiative brought together scientists, conservationists, and anglers alike for a workshop exploring the current state and restoration potential of wild steelhead. As a novice steelhead angler and young professional in the world of fisheries, I was glad to participate in this discussion amongst a group with such an exceptional breadth of knowledge. It was also great to just be connected to a community who is supportive and believes in the restoration of wild steelhead populations. I think this sentiment held true for any of the workshop participant regardless of their history with steelhead. Whether you’ve been captivated by steelhead since the days of Salmo gairdneri, or you’re a new member of the anadromous Oncorhynchus mykiss obsession, this workshop was worth it.
The series began with the life of a steelhead, breaking down the diverse life histories of this singular species. Each topic was introduced broadly, and followed up with a more detailed look at the issue from an angling and restoration perspective. The fundamentals of what makes a steelhead unique were discussed, ensuring a solid foundation on which to build upon throughout the day. Variables impacting steelhead survival, abundance, and sustainability were also examined. Contributors seamlessly transition from discussions on individual fitness and genetic heritability to adaptability and hatchery management; tying together elements from throughout the day and ensuring a connection of information across themes.
Speakers representing TU, NOAA, UW-SAFS and WDFW offered great insight to the most current research available, and discussed the benefits and challenges of various management strategies. The resilience of the steelhead was highlighted as the panel scientists expertly weaved together their research with a deep passion for angling, making for a rich discussion on science, management, and fishing. Yes, these scientists were also anglers.
Whether the information garnered from the Steelhead Science Workshop for Anglers serves as an introduction or a refresher, the time spent among the knowledgeable speakers and participants was invaluable. It is the hope of the greater fishing community that together we can go about the protection and restoration of this incredible species with the determination and resilience of a wild steelhead.
So yes, I totally think it was worth it and you should go to the event in Corvallis on June 27th.