I am ashamed, embarrassed, and disgusted by a small minority of the men and boys who fish for steelhead on the Hood River.
From the Columbia to Copper Dam, the banks and trails along the river are littered with beer cans, bottles, cigarette packs, and discarded packages of fast food, fishing tackle and bait. In the past two weeks I filled three large garbage bags with trash from some of my favorite fishing holes. Without exception, they were covered with litter in less than a week. From these garbage artifacts I have developed a profile of the serial litterbug that stalks the banks of the Hood River for the elusive Steelhead. If you know a person who fits this profile, please give them a lecture or report them to the local boy scout leader for discipline. Better yet, call me, I'm in the book.
These people drink only domestic beer, favoring Busch beer over Rainier by a five to one margin. They smoke Marlboros, enjoy Snickers and Milk Ways, prefer teriyaki jerky over pepper flavor, and buy most of their tackle from Hi-School Pharmacy and Wal-Mart. Casting their big Eagleclaw hooks loaded with Safeway shrimp across deep pools of emerald green water exhausts them. I know this because they have the strength to carry full packages of beer, cigarettes, and junk food down to the river, but are too exhausted to carry the empty packages and cartons back to their car.
I doubt they read letters to the editor, but here is my plea: If you fish on the Hood River, please don't litter. Here's an idea; take a small plastic bag to the river. If you catch a keeper, use the bag to carry the fish home. Or better yet, release the fish, allow it to reproduce, fill the bag with litter, and throw it out when you get home. We were all underage adolescents who chugged beer in the woods and left empties behind. Now's our chance to make amends. It only takes one or two minutes and you'll feel good about yourself. I promise.