Last Chance to Get It Right – by Gregory Fitz PT – 2

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs steelhead fly fishing on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for Patagonia and the Wild Steelhead Coalition

I grew up in the PNW and the Olympics acted as my backyard as soon as I was able to drive. My friends and I would pile in and we’d take the long winding highways to the coast in search of waves, bonfires and whatever the weather had in store for us. Rarely did we stop at the rivers. We sought the confluences where freshwater met salt; a long journey’s end or just the start for a molecule of water. And likewise for the sea-run rainbow trout, or better known as steelhead.

This project written by colleague Gregory Fitz and published by Patagonia was an honor, a return to my backyard after the long self-isolated stretch of COVID shutdowns and a reawakening into the beauty, fragility and wildness that the Olympic Peninsula is. Like the waves I’ve spent countless hours feeling roll over my back and sliding like a river under my feet, the steelhead of the OP move with the tides, and the way we manage our fisheries. In the words of writer and angler Fitz, “Instead of arguing for more opportunities to keep pounding on fish, we should be fighting for policies that give their populations time to rebuild. We should be proud to catch fewer fish, even if that means closing rivers when it is necessary.”

Last Chance to Get It Right by Gregory Fitz, published by Patagonia.

Last Chance to Get It Right – by Gregory Fitz PT – 1

© Cameron Karsten Photography photographs steelhead fly fising on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State for Patagonia and the Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Olympic Peninsula (OP) is home to one of the last remnants of primeval temperate rain forest in the continental United States, but it is the rivers that draw anglers to the coast each winter. Named for the Indigenous peoples who’ve lived here for thousands of years, the Hoh, Queets, Quinault, Quillayute, Elwha and other rivers are volatile, wild watersheds with a powerful strain of large steelhead that evolved to migrate during the cold winter deluge.

The above is an excerpt from an article written by Gregory Fitz for Patagonia regarding the state of wild steelhead within the wild tributaries of The Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I had the pleasure of photographing Greg, Steve Duda (Patagonia’s Managing Editor for Fly Fishing), Matt Millette (Head of Marketing, Patagonia Fly Fishing) and Gray Struznik (Fly Fishing Legend and Guide) for two days as they floated, waded and wandered the waters in search of the seasonal steelhead run.

The published article speaks for itself. It is poignant, crafted with an ease of the need to spring to action, as well as consider all parties involved. Gregory paints a picture of the OP as it is – a rainforest of endless ferns, brambles, huckleberries and salal with climbing towers of ancient breathing wood carpeted with wet mosses. It is a place of beauty that is on the edge of imminent disaster.

Can we embrace restraint and become guardians of these rivers and wild fish, instead of mobs of enthusiastic user groups? Long days of fishing give a guy plenty of time to dwell on this question. When I’m leaning against the current, and the fly is swinging through the cold water at the right speed, I find myself settling into a blend of gratitude and anticipation that I struggle to describe to anyone who isn’t an angler. Time seems to slow, and I feel connected to the river, the ancient cycle of fresh and saltwater, and the weight of what we have already lost. I want to believe that we can do better and demand better of our peers. If we can’t meet this higher standard, then the only option is for all of us to stop fishing here until we can adequately honor the privilege, and our responsibility, instead of taking it for granted.

I offer the link to the full article published on Patagonia’s website Last Chance to Get It Right as well as additional photography from this winter’s assignment. Speak up for our planet and take action with the following organizations:

Wild Steelhead Coalition

The Nature Conservancy

American Rivers

Tearsheet: Seattle Met’s “Secrets of the Olympic Peninsula” Feature

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Jane S., Seattle Met’s Art Director, called and sent me out on a little circuitous route on the Olympic Peninsula. I was happy to oblige, as jumping in my Tacoma with a cab packed of camera gear and a bed setup for camping, is one of my simplest pleasures. Below are the resulting images. But first a quick write up about “How We Got Those Shots” in the Behind The Scenes section:

“There is never enough time, especially when it comes to visiting one of the many outdoor escapes our state has to offer. Fortunately, photographer Cameron Karsten – who is that perfect combination of avid outdoorsman and stellar photographer – is no stranger to the Olympic Peninsula, star of this month’s cover story. The photo on our table of contents is from a fishing trip Karsten took, and the surf shot you’ll find in the feature is of one of his buddies. Of course, being near the coast means weather is always a factor. Karsten’s visit in early June was no exception. There were slight breaks in the clouds, but the sky stayed frustratingly gray and rainy. Which brings me to the cover; while Cameron did get some striking photos of the peninsula’s famous Tree of Life, our web editor (and occasional staff photographer), Alison Klein, happened to be camping there the week prior – and captured some sun-soaked-near-dusk shots we just couldn’t resist.” – Jane S., Seattle Met art director

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And for a better view:

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

Olympic Penninsula Top 25 for Seattle Met

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STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. IV)

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When there is a river nearby, there must be fish. Always bring your fly rod, seek the thrill and reel in those steelhead. Somewhere up the S. Fork Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State on a Stormr assignment.

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STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. III)

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Nature is stealth. Walk out into the woods and count the number of wild animals spotted. Many are heard, but few are seen. However there are eyes watching you and scents tracing your every movement. Stalking and hunting a wild animal is one of the most difficult thing to do, especially in the shadows of the Hoh Rainforest, but the rewards are one that will feed your family for months to follow. Practice the art of patience, endurance and awareness while chilled temperatures permeate the saturated environments of the Olympic Peninsula. On the hunt with STORMR foul-weather gear.

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STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. II)

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It rained and then it poured. With STORMR gear, the woodsmen were kept warm as a low ceiling of clouds passed, and dry as the hiking became arduous with sweat and fatigued. Heavy ferns draped in our path while carpets of green moss stretched before us. Animal trails were easy to find, their beaten paths the only thing breaking the wildness of the Hoh Rainforest. These led us to the wide open swaths of America’s logging industry.

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Cameron Karsten Photography

STORMR Deer Camp: Into the Hoh Rainforest (Pt. I)

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Recently, I ventured into the Hoh Rainforest with STORMR foul-weather gear for a 4-day 3-night adventure. With four woodsmen we explored a sodden mossy wilderness furthest from humanity. These are the western edges of the Olympic Peninsula; a place so remote and ecologically diverse that it could be considered its own evolutionary island.

What we were in search of was the elusive black-tail buck. What we discovered were torrential downpours, rivers full of returning steelhead and King salmon, as well as pockets of clear-cut forests amidst pristine woodlands of idyllic nature where migratory elk bugled near the trails of deer, bear, and cougar scat.

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For more visit www.STORMRrusa.com and www.CameronKarsten.com

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Cameron Karsten Photography

STORMR Campaign: Olympic Wildness Pt. III

_N9A4726After a night’s rest, the men returned to the waters, this day wading into the flowing waters of the Olympic tributaries. Their STORMR foul-weather gear proved protective and durable as fishermen Simon Pollack and Skyler Vella threw flies before returning steelhead and salmon.

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For a complete portfolio, please visit www.CameronKarsten.com

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STORMR Campaign: Olympic Wildness – Pt. II

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Fishermen Simon Pollack and Skyler Vella reload and reseek the elusive steelhead within the Wild Olympics on a recent campaign for STORMR foul-weather gear.

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For a complete portfolio, please visit www.CameronKarsten.com

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STORMR Campaign: Olympic Wildness – Pt. I

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 Walking into the Olympics of western Washington is a step back into time. Undisturbed and wild America – a land of the tallest trees, isolated mountains, rugged coastline, and an epic run of salmon and steelhead. Here’s a sneak peek at a recent campaign for STORMR foul-weather gear with fishermen Simon Pollack and Skyler Vella.

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For a complete portfolio, visit www.CameronKarsten.com

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