alcatraz prison bars
Kitchen knives were outlined on the prison wall so staff knew if one was missing (photo: Kris Millgate).

Prison fishing

Life without privilege

I’m going to prison. With flies in my pocket. The prison is in California’s coastal waters. The flies are for Idaho rivers. The pairing is unintentional, but there it is all the same.

I coach youth hockey in Idaho Falls. One of the kids had his big brother tie eight flies for me. I received them at practice the night before I left town. The rink is cold so I had my coat on. I slipped the fly box into my coat pocket and that coat ended up on a plane with me on my way to prison. An old prison. Alcatraz.

gold dredge - yankee fork - salmon river
The Yankee Fork gold dredge still sits in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River. It turned the tributary inside out in search of gold seven decades ago (photo: Kris Millgate).

Gold rush

Restoring redds 850 miles from the ocean

I feel small in this landscape. The gravel piles bury my shadow. The dark canyons swallow my sight. And the fish. Oh, the fish. Chinook salmon far bigger than anything that’s ever taken my line, but I’m not here to hook up. I’m just here to look with my lens.

“Fish are such an important part of our heritage,” says Cassi Wood, Trout Unlimited central Idaho project specialist. “Without them, I don’t really think we’re complete.”

Susitna River
Photo: Travis Rummel

No Su Dam: Alaskan governor cancels Susitna River hydro project

Flawed mega-dam proposal falls victim to wide public opposition, Alaskan budget crisis

After years of tireless advocacy from groups like Trout Unlimited, the Susitna River Coalition and others, the ongoing effort by the Alaskan government to put a mega hydroelectric power dam on the Susitna River has come to an end. Yesterday, Alaskan governor Bill Walker announced that, as part of $1.5 billion in extensive budget cuts, the Susitna-Watana Dam project would be cancelled.

The Susitna is the nation's fourth longest undammed river and is home to Alaska's fourth largest king salmon run. The dam, if completed, would have been the second tallest in the United States.

river snorkeling
Snorkelers keep one eye on each other for accurate spacing across the river and the other eye on the fish swimming past them (photo: Kris Millgate).

The snorkel crew

Counting the return of endangered salmon

Wet, black backs are slowly moving upstream. I’m watching the scuba suits through my lens and I like what I see from above, but seeing what’s under is what I really want. From underneath, there is a precise picture of what holds where and for an angler, that’s more effective than dropping bugs on the surface and waiting to see what bites.

ice harbor dam snake river
Ice Harbor Dam (photo: Salmon Recovery).

Latest ruling is another victory for Snake River salmon and steelhead

The Snake's dams move one step closer to removal

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the government's current plan for management and restoration of wild salmon and steelhead populations on the Snake River is in violation of both the federal Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, primarily due to its allowance of continued operation of the lower system of dams on the Snake, which it deemed a threat to the continued existence the Snake's native, imperiled fish populations.

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