interesting article- politicians worst fear coming to pass

Salmo, wouldn't ya know it? I found an old picture from one of your legendary parties. I can't see the keg in the picture, it must be in the kitchen mumps-tea-party.jpg . Sorry I missed it big guy. Make sure ya click on the picture, it'll bring a smile to your face. Love ya Salmo. Coach


Active Member
carry on salmo g. so now we have some guesstimated escapement goals, that would be smolts headed down stream. next step is determining harvest goals. explain that set of processes, thanks.


Well-Known Member

Ya' can't see the keg cuz we're sipping single malt from tea cups. It's not like I have a complete set of crystal here in the trailer park, ya' know. BTW, don't flatter yourself. I didn't say you were favorite. And my parties aren't legendary, even in my own mind. And if anyone brings a crowbar, I'll assume they showed up to work, and I'll find something for them to do, like prying meaning out of your posts. Although in fairness, I'll admit your last one was exceptionally cogent for you. Thanks for trying.

I'm glad to read that you find the BS of fisheries science clearly illustrated. Clear and direct communication is my intent, and it's nice to know I'm gettin' it done.

I can't tell if you're surprised that science and "guesswork" or estimation overlap in fisheries management. You needed be any longer. A lot of people have the misconception that fisheries science is based only on a series of double-blind, controlled experiments. Not so. Probably not for much of what is scientific. Science is nothing more than the acquisition of reliable information. What you read in Scientific American may be the result of experiments employing the scientific method, but a vast amount of science is not. And especially fisheries science. Much of what we need to know about fish simply cannot be studied in a laboratory. So fisheries requires the testing, or attempts at testing, hypotheses with many uncontrollable variables thrown in the mix. Often it doesn't matter that the results are not precise. What matters is that the results are reliable (see acquisition of reliable information above) enough to use for management purposes. And for the most purposes it is. It is weak where precision is needed for harvest allocations between user groups routinely, and it is weak where precision would reduce variability in attaining desired spawning escapements. (This does not excuse, nor is it meant to, management's unwillingness to impose more mid-course corrections between harvest and escapement, which is a different issue altogether.) However, information that is reliable enough to conserve the resource and provide harvest opportunity is the norm, but it ain't precise. And I don't know of any managers that indicate otherwise.

Your 10/25, 12:15 post rambles on about ocean migrations. I don't know anything about the Wisconsin or white bass migration approach to Pacific salmon management and won't attempt to comment on it. There may be a lot of variables associated with the ocean phase of salmon life and migration, but the critical ones for management needs are marine surival rates and migration routes that result in harvest interception. Interception rates are pretty well documented. Marine survival rates range over an order of magnitude, and we may never have good predictive tools for that.

I can't tell what it is that you want, other than perhaps to just piss and moan. If you insist on precision that cannot be had, then the appropriate fisheries management solution might be to simply prohibit fishing. The information, no matter how reliable, will probably never be precise. Maybe you want to prohibit the fishing that you don't participate in and allow the fishing that you do. Well, who wouldn't? However, in our pluralistic form of government, that choice ain't on the menu.

Yes, we have escapement goals. No, that would not be smolts headed downstream, although the two are related.

Harvest goals of the co-managers before ESA was simply to harvest surplus production. Surplus production is usually defined as the number of fish over and above the escapement goal. Since the imposition of ESA constraints, the objective has been to provide harvest opportunity without jeopardizing the survival and recovery of the ESA listed species. That is not the same as zero harvest of ESA fish. It's limiting the harvest of ESA fish while legitimately targeting and harvesting unlisted fish.

You're welcome.


Salmo g.


Active Member
the conumdrum then becomes: a guestimate regarding escapement followed by setting a harvest allocation based on that guestimate.

based on the actual returns, year by year, it would appear that the result of those guestimates is skewed toward the harvest side. in other words, there would appear to be far fewer fishes returning than projected. this begs the question then if these guestimates are biased toward harvest, the models of projecting escapement are incorrect, the techniques employed need to be changed and so forth.

based on what the angler observes, just as what the bio observes, there are far fewer fish returning today than in past years.

so the natural question then becomes: why haven't the harvest goals been reduced to take this into account? that would be native and non-native fisheries combined.

and yes, i have been posting for some time now that the 'science' involved with fisheries management is pretty slim. trend analysis is a powerful tool to the extent you can quantify and isolate the impinging sources of variance, and obviously this is vodo with fisheries management.

FYI, the study of the white bass of lake mendota formed the building block hypotheses for the study of pacific anadramous fish and their migration habits. interesting set of studies conducted in the early 60s that really shaped the thinking about the pacific anadramous fishes..
On a real serious note, Salmo, there's no pissing and moaning. I just wanted you to admit that really little is known about our anadramous fishes. Or how flawed the system is that we decide how many can be harvested. Each time that count is off, it puts another possible race or strain of wild fish at risk of extinction. Especially in a state that has created their own little hatchery Frankenstein of rivers and creeks. I've been willing to put my rods down for years if it helps. But you see, guys like you were my heroes. I'm not a fisheries biologist. I can't throw the big words around and the statistics at the snap of a finger. I don't drink single malt, just beer. I chew copenhagen and swear too much. I'm not as polished as you Salmo. Nor do I wish to be. I'm a flyfisherman and coach. . I've sat in clubs, listened at meetings. Cleaned up rivers, taught proper etiquette. Clipped adipose fins. Anything I thought at the time right or wrong, that would help the fish. Not just to catch them, but to watch their triumphant return to their native rivers. It makes me whole. It is in my blood, like all born and raised Northwesteners. And I did it, believing most of what you guys say. I've seen you guys call runs healthy right up until they're almost gone. We've screamed and stomped our feet that we were losing them. You told us those hatchery fish wouldn't breed with natives or wild fish. We've called you guys on things we've seen, and you taked down to us like you do to me. What could some backwoods idiot know? What worth is the opinion of some redneck that has spent a couple thousand days on a river? I used to believe in guys like you. We love those fish just as much or more as you and your "educated" guys do. We are waiting for the fish to come back. But they haven't. I'll take your insults all day to get to the truth. Today I got a little closer. You say I make no sense. You know less about these fish than even I thought. And your methods for their future arrival in our magnificant rivers are haphazzard guesswork at best. All the big words in the world can't hide that. Drink a single malt for me. And the state of Washington.
Sincerely Coach:beer1:


Well-Known Member

Is it really a conundrum? I'd ask, what do you need, and what are you not getting that you do need?

Before harvest allocation comes the estimate of harvestable numbers. Before that comes the pre-season runsize estimate. The runsize estimate may be based only on brood year escapement, or it may include other factors such as peak winter flow events and early marine juvenile surveys. However, marine survival remains the dominant bogeyman as far as runsize estimate accuracy is concerned.

You're right that runsize estimates are skewed toward harvest in that runsizes are over-estimated (~55%) more often than under-estimated (~45%). A good estimation model should over and under predict equally. Whenever the model over-estimates runsize, then yes, the escapement projection, as well as the harvestable surplus, are both in error.

The co-managers do try to account for that discrepance in some instances and modify to factor it in. Not always. Fisheries management is a combination of biology, sociology, and economics. Actually, the economics are a sidebar of the sociology in fish management. Ultimately, decisions are a combination then of natural and social sciences. Often, the conservation result is a compromise.

When you say that fewer fish are returning today than in past years, you need to place that statement in context. What years, and what fish, and in what areas? For example, although wild chinook returns to Puget Sound tributaries are down significantly (recent 10 year ave.) contrasted against the 1970s, wild coho, pink, and chum returns to PS tribs are up in the same time period. It's hard for me to make sense of your statement in that context. But maybe you meant another context. Columbia River chinook? They're up by the recent 10 year ave, and steelhead are about average, I think (going on memory, not looking this up).

It's appropriate to adjust harvest goals as runsizes increase and decrease so that adequate escapements are maintained. Which ones are you concerned about?

I don't agree that the science of fisheries management is pretty slim. I think it isn't what many folks outside the business assumed it to be. Trend analysis has been much used in fisheries, but we've been discussing its limitations. I think you have some understanding of this. I'm unsure why you'd classify it as voodoo, however.

Thanks for the white bass ref. I almost feel as though I should have heard of it before. But fisheries science isn't so slim that I've encountered anywhere near all of it.


Salmo g.


Active Member
salmo, would seem to me that the primary goal is to ensure the survival of specific species of fishes. not the hatchery zombies but the unclipped fishes, although they may in fact be cousins of the others.

and yes, i do understand that fisheries 'manangment' is more sociology and economic than science. thanks for owning up, appreciated.

so what is the problem with putting the fishes FIRST???

yes, i know there would be bitching and moaning but what is the objective here? if its allowing more fish to be snagged, have you visited the lower dungenss lately?, or to build the stocks? the choices are truely hard and they obviously weigh heavily on WDFW folks and others associated with the fishery business. BUTT, its time to put the fishes ahead of the other concerns. don't you agree??

vodo, implies that when you do trend analysis, you must idenfiy and quantify the sources of variance in the equations. you and i both know, for a fact, that we simply don't know what all of those sources of variance may be. in addition, we simply don't have the tools available to put numbers around these variables. that is not a criticism, only a statement of fact related to the difficulties involved in this entire process.

what i find in talking with bio's is a line of bullshit a mile long. of course they are clueless regarding my limited knowledge and i never put that on the table. however, statistics are statistics and when you run the numbers, the runs are depressed.

you wish to point to specific drainages?? ok, that is fine with me but lets quantify the time window you are specifying so we are all on the same page.

for once, WDFW and all of those associated with fisheries management need to step up to the plate and put the fish first, economics second.

and yes, i believe this should be applied, with a blind eye, to all of those who are involved in harvesting fish. for too long, JQ public has belived that all of the management conversation was actually based on hard data. its time to admit that the limited data are in fact limited and 'we' really don't know until after it has happened!


Well-Known Member

You're sounding rational now, so I'll try to step off the high horse of arrogance and not talk down to you. It's not always easy cuz I try harder to be clear and direct than nice.

I don't admit that very little is known about anadromous fish. We know more about them than many marine species. Obviously we don't know everything, and we especially don't have high enough precision in population estimation to suit the critics. We probably never will have enough for them.

Nor do I think the system for runsize estimation is flawed. If it was as flawed as you seem to suggest, the % of over-estimates would be much higher than it is. The goal in estimation is to have overs and unders be equal, with the narrowest variance around the mean as possible.

Can you explain how management system is putting specific populations at risk of extinction? (I almost can't believe I'm asking this since my personal leanings are more toward conservation than the harvest mentality. But a good technical person should be able to argue both sides of the equation.) There have been threads in this forum where Smalma has described the huge reduction in harvest rates on PS chinook, that wild coho escapements mirror the best of historic estimates, and that PS pink and chum populations are higher than they've been in over 30 years. PS steelhead are another matter, but there simply is no evidence that harvest rates have anything to do with the low recruitment experienced in recent years. All indications point to an as yet unknown early marine survival effect.

It's unfortunate that you held fish bios as heros - we ain't all that. But we do know a few critical things about conserving and managing fish, and most of us welcome your reasonable criticisms. However, we can't do anything about it if you choose not to believe what it takes to manage a fish population. It would help if you agree to understand, even if you don't like it, that those charged with managing the fish have extremely limited authority to affect harvest allocations and dang little to protect and conserve habitat, which is ultimately the key to abundant wild fish populations.

Also, sorry to disappoint that you think I know even less about these fish than you previously thought. It may amuse you to know that most fish bios in the business think I'm pretty damn well informed. Of course, it's all relative.

Please believe this one thing: I want those salmon and steelhead, wild ones, around here for generations to come. And by good fortune and using my wits, I think, I get to do some pretty neat stuff that helps assure that reality. That doesn't mean the fish will be as abundant as you, or I, would like them to be. But it gives them a chance to be as abundant as they can be within the constraints imposed by our pluralist system of government and fish management.

I'll try and remember to tip one in your name. Good discussion. Thanks for your effort.


Salmo g.


Well-Known Member

Maybe survival of the species above any other objective is your management objective. It certainly is mine. As I've mentioned several times now, in this pluralistic system, there are parties with equal and greater influence than you or I who put harvest as a goal at the same level with species conservation. That's the reality I've come to know. People, as a species, are not altruistic. As a species, as a society, and more often than not, as individuals, we put us first, including our wants, not just our needs. Look around and see if you agree.

Therein is the number one reason why society has choosen not to put the conservation of wild salmon and steelhead first, above all other objectives related to anadromous fish, both wild and hatchery origin.

I think snag fisheries are deplorable more for what they say about the quality of the people involved than for the effect on the resource. Most of the intense snag fishing is concentrated in limited locales where abundant hatchery fish are stacked up. From a fish ecological perspective, there's no significant loss. The principle loss is one of human character in my opinion.

Yes, I'd like to see fish put even further ahead in some respects. But I've been around this for a while now, and I'm very impressed with the amount of weight given to fisheries conservatin concerns these days. Believe it or not, it has not always been this good. I'm not saying that it's good enough in every case to ensure the long term conservation of every fish population, however.

In this discussion, I think the trend analysis most relevant is the one indicating the long term declining trend. For some populations that is going to continue as a result of human population growth, and probably because social priorities will eventually change, and some current protections will be reduced over time. Nonetheless, I'm fairly confident that a significant number of populations of each species will persist quite a while into the future, thus preserving managment options for a future, potentially wiser, generation of resource managers.

You mention again stepping up to the plate and putting the fish ahead of all other interests. If you're serious about that, the place where that can happen is the state legislature and the Congress, not WDFW, USFWS, nor NMFS. The legislature has placed harvest right along with conservation as the resource management objectives for salmon in this state. Giving a higher priority to conservation would require a modification to state law that would be heavily, and most likely successfully, against by the commercial fishing industry. The change could occur, but the vast majority of state citizens have no interest, and those who are interested in fisheries are far too apathetic to organize and fight for the change, based on my observations of past performance.


Salmo g.

Manannan Mac Lir

Professional enabler
WOW! Now that's what I call a debate. Thank you Pilchuck Steelie for the original post. Then, thanks to the guys who got Coachduff riled up. That really got this party started! Then, thanks to the Coach, gt, and Salmo G for the education. Man that was entertaining and very informative. I'll raise a beer and a malt to you all for a spirited discourse on the state of things anadramous in the state of WA. No BS. Every day I learn something frrom this site.
Manannan Mac Lir said:
WOW! Now that's what I call a debate. Thank you Pilchuck Steelie for the original post. Then, thanks to the guys who got Coachduff riled up. That really got this party started! Then, thanks to the Coach, gt, and Salmo G for the education. Man that was entertaining and very informative. I'll raise a beer and a malt to you all for a spirited discourse on the state of things anadramous in the state of WA. No BS. Every day I learn something frrom this site.
I'll second that. :beer1:

Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here

Kind of reminds me of the old Rodney Dangerfield joke...

"I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out!"

There's a lot of good stuff in here. Thanks, guys. :thumb:


Active Member
You mention again stepping up to the plate and putting the fish ahead of all other interests. If you're serious about that, the place where that can happen is the state legislature and the Congress, not WDFW, USFWS, nor NMFS. The legislature has placed harvest right along with conservation as the resource management objectives for salmon in this state.

i was tracking right along with you salmo, until this came at the end of your last post. i sat back and thought about this overnight, but it just does not sit well.

what i have to say is not directed at you as an individual, i don't know you, what you do, or anything about your training and current role. my comments are more a generic view of how i have seen things unfold over time. and as a retired public servant, i know full well how difficult it is to step up and stand straight. we have all seen the 'scientists' over the last 6 years, in particular, dummy up.

sorry, i do put much of the blame on the three agencies, their staff and managers along with NOAA and probably several others we could name off. the difficulty in buck passing, is nothing happens, ever. yes, much of fisheries management does become a political agenda item. but without specific recommendations from the professionals who are claiming to have at least some handle on what is happening, bad policy results.

you seem to be implying that the political process is going on without any input from the agencies you named. if that is really the case, then i would suggest the tens of millions of dollars being chanelled to those agencies be redirected. you see, if employees of those agencies are not actively beating the conservation drum, each and every day, at every twist and turn, there really is no reason for them to exist.

the long term trend data you mentioned could be generated with several hundred concerned volunteers using a well designed data collection instrument interviewing others participating in this activity. i would be more than willing to wager that this anecdotal data collection would at least equal the 'trend' analysis you mentioned. so whats to loose if these agencies fold up their collective tents?

every individual who is directly employed in agencies that are managing our fisheries has a direct obligation to speak out. it is with that voice that the policy maker will have to contend. with clear and concise information laid out to the public, the elected policy maker will engage in the political process.

silence leads to apathy and policy which is driven by the squeaky wheel. if the agencies you mentioned are not squeaking every day, they don't deserve continued funding.

the buck stops with those managers who have the data and do not directly and forceably pass that information to our elected policy makers. sorry, the buck can't be passed from my perspective. finger pointing and claiming the dog ate the data just won't cut it. employees of the agencies you mentioned are paid by me and everyone else on this board, and we have the expectation that those employees are agressively defending our fisheries with intelligent comment and data to support their recommendations.

the economics of native fisheries is astonishing. the folks in these agencies need to get beyond buck passing and get out in front of these issues.

thanks for the discussion salmo, appreciated.
Watching this with interest guys, gotta plug in the ocean survival rate with higher temps and then the high seas 3 inch gillnets. The pinks never did show up in Alaska this year and they have been at all time highs for the past ten years.:confused:

Wow, i've really glad you guys started arguing. I'm considering going back for my PhD soon, and part of my research might involve fisheries. At least now I know it won't be boring....

So, not to start another fight. I know that this whole thing started as a treaty rights issue, and evolved into a fight about the scientific credibility of modeling data, but here it is anyway. How big a role would removing a dam or two play in recovery? I'm sure that research has been done but it is so far outside of my field right now I wouldn't know creditable data from junk. Does a dam have a higher kill rate the further upstream it is, would removing dams help at all? My grandfather came to this area in the '30's or so, and I got his descriptions of the salmon and steelhead runs second hand through my dad. Now, my dad could spin a yarn, and i'm assuming that his dad could too, but if the runs were 1/10 of what were described to me we aren't even close to the biomass that these rivers could move back in the day. This seems to be the right group to ask. I'm not looking for a succinct answer, I just want to witness the discussion. If we were at a bar i'd keep buying pitchers.....