I just finished writing the first draft of an interview with Art Teter, a local fly fishing guide who has better than 25 years experience on the Pit River.
For those who don’t fish around here, the Pit River recently underwent a FERC hydropower relicensing, which saw flows increased to benefit the fishery, but maybe not the fishermen. Last year was the first for the new flows, and fishermen — who had heard some pretty hard stories about what was going to happen — stayed away in droves.
For example, Art Teter usually books somewhere between 60-75 guide days a year on the Pit.
Last year he booked only 18.
No Easy Answers
It’s a complicated issue — one that defies easy answers. For example, last year’s flows were condemned by many fly fishermen as being unfishable (even dangerous in the case of Pit #5), yet it turns out they were consistently 50 cfs – 150 cfs above the target flows.
In addition, campground construction made access to some reaches very difficult, further eroding angler satisfaction.
This is an issue that CalTrout and the California TU Chapter have taken a lot of heat over, and it’s an excellent example of the bind conservation organizations sometimes find themselves in when the needs of fish and fishermen collide.
Expect to hear more about this one.
One bright spot is that CalTrout and TU insisted on an adaptive management process, so if the new flow regime’s goals aren’t being met, there’s a chance things could change.
For example, fly fishermen apparently comprise better than 90% of the recreational use of the Pit River, and if the new flows significantly erode that number, than it’s just possible they might be altered.
And the reason for increased flows in Pit #4 and Pit #5 was too-high water temperatures, which left Pit #4 supporting half the biomass of Pit #3, and Pit #5 another 50% less. If the increased flows don’t result in lower temperatures, adjustments could be made.
If it only seems confusing to you, then rest assured it’s actually worse than you think. Fortunately, Teter does a good job of stating his perspective in the interview, which I hope will go up relatively soon on the CalTrout site.
Anyone who knows Art Teter knows he’s not one to pull punches, and his perspective as someone who fishes the Pit as much as anyone is sometimes surprising (and yes, I did manage to wheedle a couple of fly fishing tips out of him).
See you doing that whole keyboardy writerish thing, Tom Chandler.