Doug was a prolific author, conservationist, steelhead jedi, family man, friend and mentor to many as well as one of the ever more rare, died-in-the-wool good guys who fished.
He had made public his battle with cancer in a blog post 6 February in which he wrote of plans to postpone Cutts and Chum until April and put off resumption of guiding until late spring.
My first Doug Rose book was The Color of Winter and in fact it’s laying on my bedside table this morning, having been the target of some late night reading over the past few weeks. His most recent piece in The Drake was delightful, as was the following posting on his website from a year or so ago…
…One of the sad lessons of living longer is the realization that most of the time most people are extremely reluctant to alter their behavior for the common good, especially when it comes to natural resources. That’s called The Tragedy of the Commons. It’s what the quote at the beginning of the essay refers to.
In the end, all we can do is change our own behavior. I don’t want to quit fishing for winter steelhead, and fishing is a blood spot, even if you practice catch-and-release. But I also don’t want to contribute to the creation of more ghosts. Those goals are, obviously, at odds with each other. This is my, admittedly, less than satisfactory answer to that conundrum.
It also isn’t, frankly, much of a sacrifice. For me, the duck season runs till the end of January, and chum fry show up in the Hood Canal nearshore by March. I caught a bunch of cutthroat in the salt in February. Besides, it can take quite a while to catch two wild steelhead on a swung fly these days.
As I said, this is only my solution. I don’t expect anyone to join me in it.
The bottom line is that too many of these fish are caught each year, and in years when the water levels are good for fishing too many of them are stressed from the moment they enter the river until they hit the spawning gravel.
Some very, very big shoes have been left standing empty this week.