“Starting this summer, bull trout of different life stages will be reintroduced into historic bull trout habitat in the upper Clackamas River above the confluence with the Collawash River, within the Mt. Hood National Forest. Donor stock comes from a healthy bull trout population in the Metolius River. The project is expected to include additional fish transfers annually for at least seven and possibly up to 15 years. The goal is to reestablish a self-sustaining population of 300-500 spawning adult bull trout within 20 years.”

Metolius R. Bull Trout to Travel to Upper Clackamas River

One of the laments of fly fishers, or fishers in general, is the decline of a fish population or body of water. On a global scale we talk the theoretical, impersonal when it comes to declining fish population in the oceans. But, when it is a piece of water we have a history with it becomes personal. When the decline comes, when it is realized, the memories become nostalgic to the point of bittersweet. There is nothing there to renew the memory, to reconnect to the past. This happens in much of life, of course, but fly fishing was and is my escape from life and when it is altered things can get askew. There are enough reckonings in life.

In 1960, Lenny and I were driven up the Clackamas River by his dad in an old DeSoto. When we reached the North Fork Reservoir the pavement ended and a narrow dirt road commenced, winding upward into the wilderness. Lenny’s dad took us to a place far beyond where the pavement ended. Lenny and I caught many large (to us) trout that day and yes we killed them all. I have been drawn to the upper reaches of this drainage ever sense…in particular the Collawash River and the Bull of the Woods Wilderness area. In the years that have passed, the fishing has progressively diminished.

Typical Little Aggressor

I long ago stopped killing fish. I see few other fishers. Wild trout seem almost non-existent. The hatches seem adequate or at least equal to other watersheds that support trout. Yet, in these wild, upper reaches the reality has changed. There are few fish. What a shame. Perhaps the Bull Trout project will brighten someone else’s future. If they allow fishing. Many waters are closed to trout fishing to protect the Bull Trout that remain. Great. So, the reality is more people focus on put and take stretches of rivers or lakes and/or the truly remarkable waters draw ever more attention.  

Clackamas-Collawash R.
Clackamas R. Bull Trout tagging 2011 Poster, old Ripplebrook R.S. (SwittersB)