To Protect Redsides and Bull Trout, Bait Ban Proposed on the Mckenzie

The Register Guard recently reported that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to ban bait on a popular stretch of the Mckenzie river between Blue River and Goodpasture Bridge.  As reported by the RG, the proposal initially came from the Mckenzie River Guides Association who are concerned by the apparently dwindling number of wild redsides in the river.   The Blue River to Goodpasture Bridge bait ban has the support of the ODFW biologists who are also concerned as they have been unable to come up with a valid population estimate because they cannot capture and then recapture enough natives.  The guides also proposed banning bait between Hayden and Hendricks Bridge though that proposal does not have the support of ODFW and as such is unlikely to be adopted.

We support the banning of bait on this section of the river, perhaps unsurprisingly for a flyfishing blog.  But, this isn’t about a grab for more flywater. The fact is that native redsides and bull trout need protection and trout caught on bait have a substantially higher mortality rate than fish caught on artificials. When was the last time you gut hooked a fish with a fly? It just doesn’t happen.

The article also quotes a couple of anglers whose points I’d like to address.  Basically, the argument is that the ban is unfair to kids who are unable to fish artificial lures.  Personally, I fish with lures and gear in the winter with my boy and he has a far easier time casting spinners than bait for steelhead because with a spinner, there is only one control point.  So  don’t think that is true.  Also, as the angler in the article points out, “[i]f the rule is adopted as proposed, he said, ‘realistically, I’m better off going to smaller stream or something.’”  Bingo! There are plenty of places to fish where bait is allowed.

Another gentleman argued that without a driftboat you can’t do anything on the Mckenzie with a fly rod . . . well, if you are reading this you probably know that isn’t true. Plus, he can always fish elsewhere too.

Personally, I think protecting our native fish populations is much more important than allowing everybody to drown worms on the Mckenzie.  If you feel the same way you can send written comments to : Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Angling Regulations, 3406 Cherry Avenue NE, Salem, OR 97303 or e-mailed to the Angling Regulations Coordinator at:  You can also sign our comments that we will be sending in to the commission at the shop. Better yet, you can attend the hearing on all proposed regulatory changes Sept. 18-19 in Forest Grove.

Maybe with less pressure, they could also plant less fish . . . I’m not holding my breath on that one.–KM

This entry was posted in McKenzie River, Oregon Conservation News. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *