October is a wonderful month for a sportswoman. Hunting and fishing are at peak. The air is cooler, the dogs lift their heads, capturing scents, fish are eating in anticipation of winter.
Our favorite smaller river closes to fishing today, end of the month. We went out, for a last time this season, on Saturday. Casting to the foam, pondering whether to change from a soft hackle to a dry or nymph. There is a bittersweetness about the last time. An appreciation of all that the river gave to us this season. Some absolutely gorgeous fish, exciting falls while wading, cooling water during a hot day, moments where we realized no one in the world knew where we were. And the sadness that we will have to wait until the last weekend in May (in reality, much later due to run off) to return with a fly rod in hand.
The reality is we will return throughout the rest of fall and winter. Snowshoeing, back country skiing, walks with the dogs. And while we will not have a fly rod in hand, we will appreciate the fish, the beauty of the river, the sense that no one in the world knows where we are.
That is what being outside is, that sense of being awestruck at what nature gives you, realizing there is a high chance you'll fall into the river, your dogs will find some decomposing something that looks pretty gross, that the Monet painting you saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has nothing on the yellows, reds, greens, or stark branches of the trees in October.
This river is but one of thousands in the West. It's a small area, much of it on federal lands. People drive along the river to look at it's beauty every day. There are no oil rigs, not a lot of logging anymore, and few scattered small miners stubbornly asserting claims to minerals that don't exist anymore. It could get worse. Much worse. But I will continue to work on ensuring that the leaf peepers, the hunters, anglers, hikers, white water kayakers can find their place where no one knows where they are.
It's the end of the month. Tomorrow I will take the dogs out to walk along the river.
The dirty little secret known to everyone is that stormwater run off is horrifically bad for freshwater fish. And a recent study demonstrates the issues.
But help can be on the way. This is one of those things that simple solutions, or what we call "low hanging fruit" can help enormously. Rather than having stormwater dumped into rivers, streams, and even Puget Sound, infiltrating the stormwater run off through soils is an effective way of neutralizing the toxics in the water and helping salmon.
Washington state Department of Ecology has taken a leadership role in ensuring the new development in Washington manages stormwater more effectively while protecting freshwater and anadromous species.
While Western Washington soils are almost all bad for infiltration rates (much of the Puget Sound area is on top of glacial till) there are ways to build rain gardens, berms, and swales that can still infiltrate without creating muddy messes.
Shelterwood Consulting has extensive experience in this area. We have worked with municipalities to correct their mistakes in building rain gardens and we have worked with developers in creating effective stormwater management plans.
It's important. Our salmon are depending on us to pick the low hanging fruit and help them.
We consider ourselves avid outdoors people. We fly fish and we hunt for upland game. In during so, we spend time getting to know vegetation, riparian areas, wildlife, and ourselves.
Hunters and fishing folk can and generally are exceptionally responsible for nature. But then there are the exceptions and often they are egregious. These men committed horrific crimes. Including the poaching, the unnecessary and horrible waste in hunting is almost unspeakable.
We are proud of the hunters and anglers we know and spend time with. Aldo Leopold's vision of sustainable and ethical hunting, catch and keep them wet release advocacy by Trout Unlimited, advocating for sustainable habitat management by upland game hunting groups, that is what being an outdoors person should be about.