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A Few More Of Northwest Fishing’s ‘Influential Communicators’ Who Need To Be Recognized

A local fishing magazine’s list of the “15 most influential communicators” in the Northwest’s angling world caught my eye recently.

While I absolutely can not argue the merits of any of those who made the roundup* — they are or have been crucial to getting some aspect or another of The Word on Fishing in these here parts out to the public — from my vantage point I feel there are a few more folks who probably should be recognized too.

(Dozens more like Buzz Ramsey, who also writes, were part of the main portion of the article which focused on influential anglers, so aren’t listed here.)

So here is some recognition for:

SCOTT HAUGEN

I can think of very few Northwest hook-and-bullet writers who have had as many consistent monthly bylines for almost the past two decades as full-timer Scott Haugen, who has shared expert advice on all things fishing as well as hunting in the Northwest and beyond dating back to 1997. Plus he’s a book author, TV host and seminar speaker. Wife Tiffany Haugen also deserves strong recognition for her wild game and fish recipes and cookbooks, helping sportsmen come up with new ways to serve up their harvest.

SCOTT HAUGEN WITH AN UMPQUA RIVER WINTER STEELHEAD CAUGHT ON A MAG LIP. (SCOTT HAUGEN VIA BUZZ RAMSEY)

MARK YUASA

A devotee of mooching for salmon on Puget Sound, the longtime Seattle Times outdoor reporter who I chased scoops against for years now works for the Northwest Marine Trade Association as its Grow Boating director. Even as we still race to post the latest clam openers, etc., Yuasa’s duties nowadays include filing a monthly regional fishing prospectus — Get Hooked on Reel Times With Mark — and outside of that he provides fishing updates for The Outdoor Line radio show and blog and is very active on social media.

MARK YUASA WITH A PUGET SOUND COHO. (MARK YUASA, NMTA)

DAVE GRAYBILL

The self-proclaimed Fishin’ Magician has been detailing North-central Washington angling opportunities since I first learned my ACBs, and to this day his reports are regularly carried by local media and posted to his website. Oh, and he’s also a member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, where he’s a strong angler advocate. Talk about influence!

WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER AND “FISHIN’ MAGICIAN” DAVE GRAYBILL. (WDFW)

TREY CARSKADON

Besides authoring occasional articles, he’s the public relations director at O’Loughlin Trade Shows, which puts on annual sportsmen’s shows in Portland, Puyallup, and Redmond, Oregon, and is a strong positive force in a time of overwhelming negativity in terms of fish runs and angler attitudes.

MIKE CAREY

Flipping through broadcast channels on a recent Sunday afternoon in search of football, who should pop up onto my screen — and with a turkey no less — than Mike Carey. He took what began as Washington Lakes waaaaay back in the Interwebian dark ages of 1997 into the cross-platform behemoth that is Northwest Fishing Reports, featuring fresh reader content, searchable reports, how-to videos, articles and a TV show.

INFLUENCING THEIR REGION

While the weekly outdoors newspaper columnist is a critically endangered species in most of our region’s population hubs — preposterous when you consider that one of every five Washington salmon and steelhead anglers in 2015 lived in the SeaTimes’ hometown and backyard, King County — there are a few more out where we haven’t yet completely paved Mother Nature over and there are a fish or two to be caught still.

Jordan Nailon has Southwest Washington fishin’, clammin’, huntin’, viewin’ and other outdoorin’ activities nailed down in his weekly column for the Centralia Chronicle, and last year won the 2018 Dolly Connelly Award For Excellence In Environmental Journalism with his coverage of the region’s massive poaching ring.

Eric Barker anchors fishing and outdoor coverage in the hugely important Lewis and Clark Valley at the mouth of Hells Canyon for the Lewiston Tribune, just as Mark Freeman‘s has held down the fort in Southern Oregon for 30 years at the Medford Mail-Tribune.

Even as he’s authored the Northwest Sportsman fishing and hunting column in the Yakima Herald-Republic for 25-plus years, it’s a bit of a mismatch to slot Rob Phillips in with the rest of the regional writers as he’s also the owner of an ad agency with Yakima Bait as one of its biggest clients, giving him influence beyond the valley.

ROB PHILLIPS PILOTING HIS BOAT IN TRAFFIC AT WIND RIVER DURING A PAST SPRING CHINOOK FISHERY THERE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

UP-AND-COMERS

You can’t deny the passion, energy and much-needed positivity that Sara Ichtertz has brought to Southern and Coastal Oregon fishing since breaking onto the writing scene in late 2016. Her name recently shared a line with Buzz on the cover of a local sporting magazine.

Eli Francovich certainly has some very big boots to fill at the Spokane Spokesman-Review as the replacement for now-retired outdoor reporter Rich Landers, but his coverage of Inland Northwest issues over the past two years has been impressive.

You certainly can’t call Duane Inglin an up-and-comer following his years behind the mic on two different Seattle-based radio shows, but since March he’s been at the desk of his new two-hour Thursday evening Fish Hunt Northwest, streaming on YouTube, as well as posting news nugs, pics and more to FHN’s Facebook feed.

Online, angler-influencers like Ashley Nichole Lewis, Bryanna Zimmerman and Sebastian “Seabass” Chik are ones to pay attention to too.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Joel Shangle moved on to the national bass fishing world a year and a half ago and is now the editor-in-chief of Major League Fishing, but not before beginning his outdoor career here in our radio and magazine ecosystems as the host of Northwest Wild Country, editor of Fishing & Hunting News’ flagship Washington edition and freelancer for other titles.

Full disclosure, he’s personally taught my sons and I how to crab, but author Wayne Heinz has also authored good books on catching a variety of saltwater species and how to read depthfinders — and his data on Tri-Cities bass is ridiculously deep. Speaking of deep, there is all-things-halibut guru John Beath. Speaking of John, there is John Kruse, host of not one but two shows heard on stations big and small through his Northwestern Outdoors Radio and America’s Outdoor Radio broadcasts. And while also retired Jeff Barnard, the longtime Associated Press reporter in Medford, did well to keep that region’s fish, wildlife and environmental issues in the news before going on to detail his late-blooming interest in hunting for ODFW.

Lord knows that I am absolutely forgetting some folks, and my sincere apologies for that.

Influential all, and I am thankful they provide their time and energy to the betterment of Northwest fish, fishing and issues therein.

* Editor’s note: The 15 influential communicators were listed in the December 2019-January 2020 issue of Salmon & Steelhead Journal. They are Terry Sheely and Jim Goerg of The Reel News; Bill Herzog, the angler-author; John Keizer of Salt Patrol and seminar speaking; Tom Nelson and Rob Endsley of The Outdoor Line; Ifish originator Jenny Logsden; freelancer Jason Brooks; Bill Monroe of The Oregonian, Terry Otto of The Columbian and Rich Landers, now retired, of the Spokane Spokesman-Review; Owen Hayes of Outdoor GPS; Patrick McGann (who hired yours truly at F&H News) of SSJ; California-based writer JD Richey; and Addicted Fishing’s Marlin LeFever and Cameron Black.

The full list of influential and innovative anglers includes Jason Atkinson, Southern Oregon fly guy and former Fish and Wildlife Commission member; Gary Loomis, rodmaker and CCA member; guide and CCA member Jack Smith; pro-fish and fishing former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber; Walt McGovern, longtime president of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders; Buzz Ramsey of record steelhead catches, Luhr Jensen and now Yakima Bait; Liz Hamilton, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association director and member and advisor to many committees and agencies; Frank Amato, publisher fishing magazines and books; Bruce Polley of CCA; Rod Brobeck of the Oregon Wildife Heritage Foundation; Frank Haw of the old Washington Department of Fisheries and salmon management innovator; Dick Pool of Pro-Troll; Tony Floor, a retired WDFW and NMTA spokesman; Brian Kraft, Alaska fishing loddge owner fighting the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay; Dave Schamp of the Steelheaders, CCA and now Hatchery and Wild Coexist; Ron Garner, president of Puget Sound Anglers and member of the Billy Frank Jr. Salmon Coalition; former U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, key to beginning mass marking of salmon; rod designer and fly fisherman Steve Rajeff; former Washington Department of Fisheries director Curt Smitch; CCA’s Andy Marks; retired WDFW salmon policy analyst and current fishing lobbyist Pat Patillo; Mitch Sanchotena, founder of Idaho Steelhead and Salmon Unlimited; and lobbyist Carl Burke.

Stohr Named WDFW Interim Director; Unsworth ‘Exit Interview’ Out Today

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission unanimously named Joe Stohr as the acting director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife this morning.

Stohr, who has been deputy director at the state agency since 2007, takes over on Thursday, February 8, the day after current director Jim Unsworth leaves the position.

JOE STOHR WAS NAMED WDFW INTERIM DIRECTOR TODAY BY THE FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION. (WDFW)

Over the years Stohr has fielded policy, legislative and budgetary questions from this magazine, and he’s also overseen risk management, capital projects and human resources.

“We know we are leaving the agency in very capable hands by placing Joe in charge,” Commission Chair Brad Smith said in a press release out in the afternoon. “His leadership and extensive experience will be very helpful as we begin the search for a new director.”

Prior to WDFW, Stohr worked for over 20 years with the Department of Ecology. Amy Windrope, the agency’s Region 4 Director, will step temporarily into his position.

A nationwide search is also being launched to find a permanent WDFW director.

While it’s likely that that person won’t be seated during this year’s North of Falcon salmon-season-setting negotiations with the tribes (which actually could be a good thing, says one source), whomever is chosen will be faced with the same highly complex and contentious Puget Sound fishery management issues that led to Unsworth’s resignation announcement in late January.

Essentially, the proposed and very unpopular with sport fishermen 10-year Chinook harvest management plan that came out in early December was the nail in the coffin for him.

Referencing a KING 5 interview, Puget Sound Anglers President Ron Garner said, “I’m getting a lot of praise and thanks, but we really got to praise the commission,” on 710 ESPN Seattle’s The Outdoor Line last Saturday. “They’re the ones that understood what happened and they got called on this to step up and do the right thing and they put a lot of pressure on the director. They’re the ones to thank; we just gave them a nudge.”

As Unsworth makes his way out the door, he gave an exit interview to outdoor writer Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune and which is out this morning.

He said he’d “enjoyed” his three years at WDFW’s helm, calling it “challenging,” especially on the fisheries front.

“We have some real difficult situations with anadromous fish and (Endangered Species Act) listings and conflicts with hatchery production and harvest allocations,” Unsworth told Barker. “Those are all big challenges, and certainly any time you do this kind of job you aren’t pleasing everyone and you are disappointing some people, and at some point it’s time to move on and give someone else a shot.”

Unsworth, who came from Idaho with a very deep background in wildlife management, urged people “to pay particular attention to (salmon) habitat issues and do what we can. That is the long-term fix.”

“We need to explore opportunities for hatcheries,” he also told Barker, “and produce as many fish as we can in some of these systems that are heavily impacted (by development) and do what we can for native fish.”

In the grand scheme, Washington’s wolf issues may be tame in comparison to Westside salmon problems — work with me here, 509ers, we’re talking like from the 100,000-foot-level — but Unsworth offered some guidance for when the state’s population of the furry fangers reach population benchmarks.

“I think you need to acknowledge the success states like Idaho and Montana have had with harvest management,” he told Barker. “Both of those states are excellent examples that you can reduce your livestock conflicts and other predation conflicts with hunting and still have abundant and widely distributed wolf populations. I think there are some great lessons to learn.”

In his Jan. 24 resignation letter to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, Unsworth had recommended Stohr as interim director.

The last time a WDFW director exited in a similar manner, Dr. Jeff Koenings’ December 2009 resignation, it took nine and a half months before the commission chose a new permanent director, Phil Anderson. When Anderson announced in August 2014 that he’d be leaving at the end of the year, it took the citizen panel five months before choosing Unsworth.

Unsworth’s immediate plans are to take a breather, according to Barker, then continue with his passions, managing and conserving critters.