Video Spotlight: Signs of Life

By Josh Duplechian

Waking up I notice my toes are still frozen solid. I slept in layers for the last few nights. Many layers in fact. The tip of my nose is the only body part not covered from the cold damp January night. 

We are still in our hotel near the banks of the Skagit River in Concrete, WA. 

It’s 6 a.m. and we are all moving. Carefully sipping coffee while putting on yesterday’s still frozen waders and boots we manage to get to the river at first light. With three cameras at the ready we prepare for what we joke about as “another day of documenting people casting.” The actual hope though is to see and document, if for a brief second, just one of the elusive wild steelhead that make their way up Washington’s extraordinary Skagit River.

The goal of this film and photography collaboration with The Flyfish Journal is to tell the story of Washington’s Skagit River through the lens of science, culture and history. 

For many anglers, this is a river that inspires hope. Ten years ago, wild steelhead returns to the Skagit were dismal. In 2009 only 2,500 wild fish came back, just two years after their listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Since then, those numbers have rebounded drastically. More than 8,500 wild fish are consistently returning to the Skagit now, making it one of the strongest returns of wild wintersteelhead in the Northwest. 

Even with the numbers of returning wild steelhead on the rise it’s still a big ask for three photographers. Regardless, we’re excited because in the back of our minds we all know that the Skagit is a unique river. 

Today we are excited to present with our partner, The Flyfish Journal, as we release Signs of Life: Seeking Wild Steehead on the Skagit River.

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