Terrible Steelhead Video


Will Atlas


I applaud you for your willingness to post on this thread and defend yourself. This issue is not however about how many fish the Nets take out, it's about how many wild steelhead you as a guide harvest. That fish which was killed (legally) made it PAST the nets and therefore was in a position to contribute to the production of wild fish in that river (I'm assuming its in the Quilleyute system). While you are legally permitted to harvest wild steelhead and you may as you stated earlier practice catch and release 90% of the time, you did not in this case. What's worse is the fact that you posted a video of killing a wild steelhead on Youtube. Why post this video if it's not representative of your true angling ethic? I think it reflects poorly on you as a guide that you continue to allow the harvest of wild steelhead in your boat, and furthermore it reflects extremely poorly on you that you were willing to POST that on Youtube. People here are entitled to their opinions, and as this is a free country and you exposed yourself to criticism by posting that insipid video in the first place I think you have earned the criticism you are receiving. Regardless of legallity, it is completely unethical (In the opinion of myself and a growing majority of anglers in our state) to harvest wild steelhead ANYWHERE. Look at the premier guides on the OP, the ones who are fishing the same clients year in and year out, (Bob Ball is a prime example), they refuse to allow clients to harvest wild fish. Let them catch them on their own if that's what they want. Frankly that guy didnt look capable of getting anywhere near a steelhead if he wasnt being backrowed and babysat the whole freakin day. While finger pointing at Native tribes who harvest steelhead is a popular pastime in certain circles (apparently you are a part of that crowd) we as individuals are responsible for our PERSONAL impact on the fishery. You as a guide should know that better than anyone. Every year the peninsula grows in popularity as a destination fishery, especially as other winter-run fisheries throughout the state and region continue to decline. While populations may at present seem robust, they are much more fragile than you probably know. If you value your job (and clearly you do by your willingness to defend your integrity here) it is in your interest to promote a sustainable, catch and release fishery regardless of the ignorant desires of some client who fishes for steelhead twice a year. Ethically, neither of you are entitled to killing that fish, particularly when the future of a species rides on our individual actions. Please understand, this is NOT a personal attack. I think you just made a poor choice in allowing that fish to be harvested and an even worse choice by posting that video on a public website. I sincerely hope as an apparent advocate of wild steelhead you will remove that video from Youtube and in the future practice catch and release exclusively.

Will Atlas

Also, fellas. Is anyone else pissed by watching some decrepit cheese dick reef on a gorgeous wild steelhead. Thats like the steelhead version of deep sea fishing (all the dude had to do was set the hook and reel), in my estimation that takes about as much skill as rolling over in bed. Even more reason that guy is a moron for keeping that fish, like he actually earned it. He's not even wearing waders.

I think a real threat to the OP wild steelhead exists in the form of out of state anglers who want to harvest wild steelhead. Alot of these guys fish with guides who get them into fish and they're all "entitled" by law to harvesting one wild steelhead a year. These is especially scary because the peninsula is one of the last places on the entire west coast where you can still legally harvest wild fish which means we're concentrating all the morons who want to do that on the best remaining wild steelhead fisheries that exist. It's total BS.
Post number #47 on the topic of the "Terrilble Steelhead Video" is a super risky post to be left on the site, and very sickening...just a heads up. There are several other post that are slander, un-professional and down right sick. This is a serious topic, we dont need that.
If you guys knew me professionally and knew that I kept maybe 3 wild steelhead out of 200+ trips last year and let many, many more go...you would not be treating me this way.
Mark, I really have to disagree with you. I haven't found a post that would be defined as slander or libel or any other leagally defined defamation of character. No one suggested that you did something you didn't. You allowed a clinet to keep a wild steelhead. You brought the fish into the boat and then asked if the client wanted to keep it. It's there as plain as day on the video. Now you say that there was an understanding before the fish was netted that the client wanted to keep it...that's fine.... doesn't change the facts about what posters said they saw. Just because they didn't like what they saw and reported it DOES NOT MAKE IT SLANDER. However, for you to accuse posters of slander is actually slander or libel.

To your other point. No one would be sorry or treating you differently if they knew you only kept 3 or so wild fish a year. It pretty much ticks off a lot of people to no end that when anyone keeps a wild steelhead.

You removed the video from youtube...........I/we applaude you.

Does removing it mean you relized it was wrong to post in the first place, or was it just peer pressure? I'm hoping that it wasn't the latter.

The measure of a man is how he handles his mistakes. I think I speak for a major majority here that we would rather hear "I'm sorry, I screwed up by posting that", than excuses.


fish or DIE
The video is there and will remain on YouTube...for 8 months it was just a fishing video and no one saw differently.

Thank you to those who have emailed in my support and I do understand why you have stayed off this thread. Some of these posts are really getting ugly...
The video is there and will remain on YouTube...for 8 months it was just a fishing video and no one saw differently.

Thank you to those who have emailed in my support and I do understand why you have stayed off this thread. Some of these posts are really getting ugly...
According to YouTube...

This video has been removed by the user.

On the one that shows a guide bringing the steelhead into the boat then asking the client if he wants to keep it. The other video, is still on.


Could be those videos were taken before the handling rules were enacted. I didn't watch them all so don't know if there was a date stamp on the vids. Just because he joined in '07 doesn't mean the vids were shot then. Fire at will.

Just sayin'.
One of us might have pointed out that the vids might have been taken before the handling rules were put into effect.

I still can't see justifying keeping wild fish at this point in time. Scale samples could probably be taken from some of the fish retrieved from the nets if our co-managers cooperated?

Salmonguy, I don't like these threads either. there are times I've wanted to wade out and grab a persons fly line just so I could break a fish off that was being played to exhaustion by someone who had no business with an 8 wt in their hand.

Personally, I don't like the vids or the self promotion that comes from those vids. But, the flyfishing community needs to understand that 95% of the guides on the OP are strictly CnR wild steelhead. They also spend a substantial amount of time and money fighting on behalf of the fish while we sit behind the computer trying to make ourselves feel better.


Joe from PA
..."was just a fishing video"

Really? Why then the gratuitous shot of the client proudly displaying a dead wild steelhead for the world to see. Disgusting. If you don't get the implications of doing that today, you're simply ignorant (or worse).

Will Atlas - awesome post. Couldn't agree more, except sadly I think there's plenty of folk that live within a few miles of that river that have the same mentality as that dope holding up "his" fish.

Will Atlas

The video is there and will remain on YouTube...for 8 months it was just a fishing video and no one saw differently.

Thank you to those who have emailed in my support and I do understand why you have stayed off this thread. Some of these posts are really getting ugly...
If you cant take the heat, stay out the kitchen buddy. Its not just a fishing video, its documentation of you and your client doing something which many members of this board view as unethical. You can pat yourself on the back as much as you want, and we can be as vindictive as we want. I'd tell you in person that it's BS, not hiding behind any computer screen.

Steve Buckner

Mother Nature's Son
For the record, the reason why I asked my client again about whether or not he was sure he wanted the fish was just that...to make sure. If he said no, (even though his goal of the day was to potentially keep a wild fish where legal to do so) I would have put it back if he'd had changed his mind regardless of the law. You have to be sure when keeping these fish.
Mark, the fish was already in the boat prior to any question being raised about keeping it. I think that is where some of the contention lies. It's clearly the habit to lift the fish into the boat first, ask questions later.

The current law is that wild fish must be kept in the water, or killed if they are removed. It's been that way for a couple of years now. Regardless of what the guide thinks, the law is the law is, and it's not up to his interpretation. That said, I'll give you some leverage, maybe you did catch this fish prior to the rule change...

But I'm confused, because in the email that I sent to you, you responded that the fish in this video was an unclipped "quinalt hatchery" fish - not a wild fish. Do you guide on native water? In the statement below, you seem to indicate that the fish was indeed wild, hence the confusion...But to give you the benefit of doubt, assuming this was the unclipped fish you claimed, then what's your worry? Why not state that same thing on this thread?

I'm also a bit suprised especially since no one knows that my videos were taking over the course of 5 years...yes, many of them BEFORE the recent rule changes of removing fish from the river, and releasing wild steelhead, etc...oh.

Im on the river almost every fishable day and I'll tell you what...the biologist/fish checkers that I run into at the end of each day are happy to see a few wild steelhead kept so they can take their samples and records. The WDFW has set the rules and regs for wild steelhead retention that are safe for the river systems that are open to do so. In this day and age they are not going to let us do something to hurt what fisheries we still have. Everone is so afraid they say...its Ok to follow the rules.
Two things here:
1. Just because it's legal, doesn't make it right, and if you're as moral as you suggest, you should know that. The WDFW has some serious issues to overcome if they'd like to see wild steelhead survive. I'm skeptical at best that their "rules and regulations for retention" are based upon "safe", harvestable numbers. Sadly, those same laws and regulations have led to the ESA listing of Puget Sound Steelhead. Clearly the WDFW is not managing this resource well.

Given the WDFW's history, the rules and regulations put out by the WDFW as it concerns the wild steelhead on the OP are more likely about the potential loss of revenue and/or from the pressure put on by the Mayor of Forks. Do you really think the WDFW has more than an extremely rough estimate as to how many fish are killed each day and/or how many make it back to spawn? Clearly not enough to have prevented the Puget Sound fish from being ESA listed.

2. I too spend a great deal of time on the water, and I have NEVER met a fish checker that was happy to see another wild fish taken from the river. The fish checkers I've spoken with are sick to death of the blood bath they've seen. In particular, one fish checker said she'd never seen so many wild fish killed because many anglers view this as one of their last opportunities to kill them before it's shut down - it is just a matter of time. I guess we've each had completely different experiences.

Did you know that when everyone banded together a few years ago and created the Statewide Steelhead Moratorium it actually allowed for many, many more wild steelhead for net fisherman in Washington State? One net takes 10 + wild steelhead each day...one net!

That moratorium was placed because anglers/guides recognize/recognized the loss of these magnificent wild fish, and videos such as the one you placed do nothing but continue the false belief that the last of our wild fish can sustain being harvested. I find that irresponsible. Looking at the comments below your video posted there, I don't think you're winning anyone over as potential clients.

Your second issue of the netting is correct, one net can kill many fish per day - hopefully we'll be able to convince the WDFW and the tribes to put a moratorium on that as well but trying to justify the killing of another fish by a sport angler because netting by the tribes is still legal is a straw man's argument.

Lastly, it was you and/or your company that decided to place your video on YouTube, and as such, you now get to "reap the rewards". It's certainly speculative as to what the motive was but I have my own ideas. That said, I'm surprised that it took 8 months for this to come to light - and as well, it should have.
Man, you hens sure cluck alot, for not verifying your facts when attacking a guy. I want to make it crystal clear, if anyone invades my space when engaged in a legal activity, or grabs my line with the intent to pop a fairly hooked fish i'm playing on my 6wt, I will hand you your ass and that is no sh*t.

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
If you guys knew me professionally and knew that I kept maybe 3 wild steelhead out of 200+ trips last year and let many, many more go...you would not be treating me this way. Also, most of the folks out there do know who I am and know that I do practice conservation and care very much for the fisheries world-wide. Do you know that I'm an active member of the Coastal Conservation Association, and I also try to get more anglers to join each day.

If any one of you knew me personally, and what Im about, you would feel ingnorant for the things you have said about me. The YouTube video say's nothing to promote keeping wild steelhead nor was the the intention. That video was on there for almost 10 months and nobody even notice the little adipose fin on that fish until someone here made a big deal about it. It was about a fishing trip.
I understand your frustration, but I think the reality is, since you are a visible advertising guide, that people will look up at you on how to do things. Like it or not, celebrity brings certain responsibility, and in this case it looks like you're getting negative backlash. I applaud your efforts in being active in the CCA, but as a whole quite a few folks I know (WSC, CCA, etc) view even *3* steelhead out of 200 trips 3 too many wild fish caught.

You are spending an awful lot of time working on a conservative guide over one wild fish you saw on YouTube. What about gill netting?
Boldt is Boldt, let's not mix apples and oranges here. If there was a magical way to get rid of that decision, I'd have used it by now....

Did you know that when everyone banded together a few years ago and created the Statewide Steelhead Moratorium it actually allowed for many, many more wild steelhead for net fisherman in Washington State? One net takes 10 + wild steelhead each day...one net!
How so? I was under the impression that the build of the OP wild run occured in Feb/March/Apr, with no overlap with salmon? Are you talking about the Dec/Jan fish, or is it somehow related to Native American netting? Just curious about this assertion, thats all.

-- Cheers
-- James
ETHICS – “What we do and how we act when we are alone and only have that little voice inside directing us to do what is right.”
I have been a NRA Firearm Instructor and a New Mexico Hunter Education Instructor for 20 years. I have hunted and fished for over 50 years. I feel that majority of the above comments are way off the point and others very rude.
Different folks have various opinions as to what is and is not ethical. An example is found in the sport of bow hunting. In many states you can have a bow hunter hunt with a modern compound fiber bow with a let off of 35%, aluminum arrows and laser sites. This is a long way from a “Primitive Hunt” with a bow hunter hunting with a wooden longbow, wood arrows, turkey fletching and shuns all mechanical aids. They both hunt the same game, in the same season under the same state laws of fair chase. Who is ethical and who is not? Is hunting over bait ethical? Is hunting behind dogs ethical? We all need to draw the ethical line in the sand for ourselves.
Sportsman are made and not born. It is a path we follow. Views and opinions are in constant change. When someone enters into a sport they first learn all basics about the sport. The next stage is the desire to be good at the sport and limit out. The sportsman then wants to prove that not only are they good - but they are capable of harvesting trophy game. The final stage is the maturing and realization that you need to give back to the sport. At this stage the sportsman is concerned about the resource, game laws, limits and may want to teach others the finer points of the sport.
I did go to You-Tube and watch the referenced videos along with a few other fishing videos. I too did not like what I saw. However I make no judgment as to the ethics of the folks involved as I do not know all of the facts. While watching a few of the other fishing videos what I was for the most part uneducated fisherman, playing fish too long, fishing too light equipment, handling by the gills, keeping the fish out of the water too long, and even one fool releasing a bleeding wild steelhead to die.
I fish the San Juan F&R waters here in New Mexico. I normally release all of the fish I catch although the state game laws say that fisherman can keep one fish over 20” per day. The only fish I ever keep are fish that swallowed the hook or were bleeding. Under my ethics releasing these damaged fish to die would be wrong and be wasting the resource.
If we sportsman partake in fighting between ourselves we will not survive any assaults by the Anti-Sportsman.
So when you fish with your graphite fly rod complete with a strike indicator (as I do) don’t look too far down your nose at the other(dare I say it - "tackle") fisherman – you could trip off the pedestal– please show the uninformed by your example and education just how a true sportsman should act.
Good fishing - The Strawstalker, NM


Joe from PA
I do not have 50 years of experience and I don’t hunt, but it became obvious to me 20 years ago when I learned to flyfish in my teens on the steams of central of PA that there are different degrees of sportsman and prey. Indeed, I quickly learned the not so subtle discrepancy between wild and stocked fish (I know the only native “trout” to PA is the brookie) and how proper presentation of a fly is often the great differentiator. Yes, there are the gear/bait sportsman that generally prefer to target the stocked “put and take” trout; perhaps these are the same sportsman whom have entered your stage to “desire to be good at the sport and limit out “. Fortunately, I’ve never felt the need to obtain this stage – at least the “limit out” part.

All guides should be aware of the dire existence of one’s prey - regardless of the ignorance of his client or that of the state that regulates their existence. This post has nothing to do about being “anti sportsman”; rather it is about protecting fish from those that are less than sporting.