Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by TomB, Feb 21, 2009.
WOW...that may be the dumbest thing i've ever heard!!:beathead:
Was on the upper Hoh today and it was confirmed 32+# native. Also saw a driftboat land a 12+# native using a knotted net, holding the SH out of the water so 4, 25 to 30 ish old gear guys could have their picture taken. I didn't make a fuzz, 4 young to 1 small senior, bad odds. No hook-up for me. Low water but a beautiful day.
The angler was from England not P.T. I'm also told he was not properly educated in the plight of wild steelhead. Not sure who was guiding him, but for what it's worth, he apparently felt horrible when many other anglers sadly watched as he took home the dead wild fish. Unfortunately the regs say it's legal. The fish was caught on the swing...amazingly. Water is extremely low and apparently the fish was already dark. May not have even had a chance to do it's thing...
I was also told that the mouth at the park boundry was filled with bank fishermen this morning. Also unfortunately....the were hearding ascending fish back down into the pool/estuary/ocean. Blocking their run as they tried to get up the one and only riffle leading to their spawning grounds.
I don't want to offend anyone who's posted their dissapointment in the angler because I think it is ultimately his responsibility. However, IMHO, I do think the only way to get to no kill is through public awareness.
Thank you for your post for as usual, you cut through the crap and spin and put the issue on the table as it should be. Kudos to you my friend.
Intellectual honesty is refreshing, especially when it illuminates irony and hypocrisy. This is a blood sport. Pain is inflicted, stress is induced for our enjoyment and sense of accomplishment. This is what we...I do.
"This above all, -to thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."
That being said, the killing of such a grand fish was unfortunate.
This is always so hard to get across over the internet and we have been here but here goes....
Inland and others aren't arguing that C&R is more ethical and doesn't harm fish. They are arguing that it is a better way to manage the resource than catch and kill.
What is more ethical? Treat the fish as a resource? Or treat the fish as a treasure?
IMO, most of the time "intellectual honesty" is people thinking way too much and I am as guilty of that as the next guy.
ak powder monkey-
Steelhead are incredibly diverse animals with large regional differences in behaviors and life histories. You seem to get yourself in trouble by assuming that the steelhead in Washington and Alaska are the same. Remember that many of the Alaska steelhead at the very limit of their range.
You information is correct for those Alaska steelhead, that is many of the fish are repeat spawners and many of the largest fish are indeed repeat spawners. Here in Washington in the approximate center of the steelhead range the situation is different. First the portion of the population that are repeat spawners is much lower; here in Puget Sound it is rare to see repeat spawning rates of more than 15% while at the northern limit of steelhead's range in Alaska it is not uncommon to see repeat spawning rates as high as 60% or more.
Here in Washington because to the biological demands associated with spawning a repeat spawning fish will be smaller than the of fish of similar age and freshwater rearing history that is spawning for the first time. Consider a pair of sister steelhead that leave their natal river as two year smolts (normal life history for Washington; those further north may be older smolts). One returns after two summers of ocean rearing (2-salt fish) as a typical 8 to 10 pound fish. After spawning that fish's weight will have dropped several pounds and portion of the next year's rearing will be dedicated to recovering from the losses associated with spawning and will return the next season typically as a 10 to 12 pound fish (each fish will be different). That fish's sister that is return for her first spawining after 3 summers of rearing (a 3-salt) will at a larger size; on the water I fish she would typically be a 12 to 18 pound fish.
I have had the pleasure of looking at scale samples from some large Puget Sound winter steelhead; including a couple that were of similar size of the fish discussed here. Nearly all those fish were first time spawners. Those very large fish typically were older fish (delayed age of first return) and the fastest growing fish of that age/life history.
Just an example of the importance of the fish's life history comes from the Sauk river in 1983 (the mother year of large steelhead in my fishing experience). As part of a wild brood stock collection program 3 7 year steelhead were sampled. One was a 43.5 inch male that weighted 31.5 pounds. That fish left the river as a two year smolt as was returning to the river for its first time. Another was a male that left the river as a 3 year smolt and was returning for the third time (had spawned twice) and weighted 16.5 pounds. The third was a female that had been a 2 year smolt and was also retruning for the 3rd time, it weight just over 20 pounds.
Bottom line taking regional generalizations and apply them globally can lead to erroneous results.
Thanks for filling in the details Curt!
Manimal makes a valid point - all fishing is a blood sport. If one truly believes that no wild steelhead should be killed then they should not be fishing steelhead. It really makes no difference to the resource whether 10% of the populations is killed in a "bonk" fishery, a CnR fishery or a WSR fishery (sorry Manimal that probably means that you should not be just targeting only hatchery fish because even then there is incidental impacts on the wild resource).
The real debate IMHO should be about what sort of impact/risk is acceptble to the wild resouce in question. Likey many would be comfortable with different impacts/risks depending on the status of the population in question. But where should that line be drawn; at zero, 2%, 5%, 10%, etc. is the question that needs resolution?
Only after the imapct/risk question has been address is it appropriate to discuss/debate the best way to use those impacts to provide recreational opportunities which is really more of a social/economic question than a biological one. Without addressing the first question while advocating CnR fishing over a kill fishery is little more than a resource allocation grab and we should not be surprised that such moves generate a blacklash from other users.
Once upon a time there was a great river. It ran free and wild from the glacial mountains all the way to the sea, and was filled with wild steelhead. Anglers fished it for years, and tradition and legend were powerful. Then, one year, the state decided that revenue generation was needed through increased fishing license sales. To that effect the state allowed a single wild steelhead to be harvested per angler-per day. Pressure increased, but no one was worried, after all, the river had over 30,000 returning wild fish per year. Ten years later the fishery collapsed. Everyone searched around for the culprit. Some blamed the Native Americans, others the foreign anglers. People blamed the commercial fishing boats out at sea, they blamed the cormorants, the seals, pollution, bears, etc.
They decided to have a meeting in the town hall to determine what had happened. Angry and concerned anglers and citizens filled the limited seats and spilled out into the aisles. For hours people spoke, expressing their opinions. Experts showed charts and graphs. Finally one old wizened soul with unsteady hands and hunched back went up to the lectern. "I been lis'nen to ya here, and I think I can tell ya what's what. I lived on dis here river all my life. I got three pounds 'a pretty pebbles in my pocket. I'm puttin them on this here table, and I want each of ya to come up here an' take just one."
The old man produced a mound of shiny polished colorful stones on the table, and each concerned citizen went forward to select just one from the pile. When they were done, there was just one semi-precious stone left. "Now I's gonna tells ya what happened to the fishes" the old man said. He slowly walked over to the single remaining stone, and grasping it gently between his shaking fingers, raised it up to the light, and then slowly placed it in his pocket.
"I got mine" he said.
He slowly walked out of the meet'n hall.
The citizens hung their heads, and muttered protests and realizations could be heard. "But I only just took the one..."
I don't think education is the ticket. It wasn't six years ago when this arguement started coming up, like we're still thinking it's an option. Not with human nature involved. And six years into the future, all this will come up a hundred times. The debate will stop when the OP fishery is just as lame as the "S"eattle-rivers.
Everybody and I mean everybody has a self-serving interest in steelhead. The loggers want logs, the commerical development guys money, the tribes a self governing destiny and money, the commercials money, the people of Forks, (although wrong in every way) the sustainment of their sport industry, and us the flyfishing catch and release guys want to catch and release fish. We release them with love and care so they can spawn so we can catch those offspring in 2-5 years. And some of them die in the process and even though most of the wild runs are near extinct we fight our asses off to keep catch and release seasons open so we can in theory pound a hook through an endangered species' head and then play them to near exhaustion and release them so they may spawn again. Then again they may head downriver 100 yards and roll over and die from either lactic acid build up or a busted artery or major heart failure - hell there are a dozen scenerios. This whole wholier than thou approach has aliented us from the majority of the steelhead world. And if you disagree, than why are folks still killing fish in Forks? Tell me why? Because our lobby is horseshit as is our elitist approach to other anglers. Number 1, the British angler broke no law. None whatsoever. It was a law for a week or two and then us Catch and Release superstars got the shit kicked out of us (as usual) by the Forks lobby. We come across as full of shit hypocites. We walk on redds, we overplay fish and we fish with gear that lends itself to over playing fish they say behind closed doors. And when it comes down to it, all we really want is to catch the same endangered fish they do, and we cover our bloodlust with a catch and release cover story. That's what they have been saying about us for years. We counter with our tearful eyed responses, talking about how much they mean to us and how they are the most beautiful thing in the world and then we drill another one and play it to near exhaustion. Where is this rant going boys? Fucking no where. Just as fish conservation, unity in our ranks (all anglers) and our steelhead runs have gone. To damn near extinction. So bash the fuck out of the guy who LEGALLY killed a 29 pounder. As usual, it reeks of elitism and goes nowhere. It's days like this that I don't miss that mess back home. I bleed the same colors you do, I make more mistakes than most and am more than human. But I quit walking around claiming catch and release to be a higher consciousness or a superior calling a long time ago. It is a conservation tool, nothing more, nothing less and is not even close to being a solution of any kind. It has as many self serving porposes as any of this other stuff. When we hang up our rods, and start walking the rivers as our own enforcement, when we start marching on Olympia, putting our hard earned money into net bans, challenging native american practices like they challenged ours, picketing, starting restaurant boycotts that are more than phone calls to chefs, uniting with the gear side catch and release advocates (believe me they exist and have money) and generally just kicking ass then I will truly believe that we actually want these fish to return like we tearfully claim to. Until then we are and will continue to be a paper tiger. Tight lines The Coach
Couldn't have said it any better Coach. We REALLY need to go fishing together. I think we'd have a great time. Or kill each other. LOL
The best management decisions are 1) made on the basis of objective data and 2) directed to the highest end...which in my mind is the continued existence of the species and an eventual return of them in substantial numbers. Steelhead that is, not catch-n-kill guys...
Current management decisions allow things that go against common sense, and it's usually in the name of commercial harvest or avoiding an uproar from the catch-m-and-club-m crowd. If I know a run is depressed I don't target them, which is why I'm usually fishing for hatchery brats these days. That's just responsible choice, and my choice alone. That's the first time I've mentioned it in these pages. The breaking point for a run of steelhead is commonly thought of as 1000 fish-999 signals big trouble and low chance of recovery. Those few fish don't need me driving a hook into their head.
Flyfishermen come across as elitist, or at least have that image-- maybe that's a hangover from the British snobbery that used to permeate the sport...and Coach, Smalma and others are dead on accurate, this should be looked at. Having knowledge is useless unless people listen to you.
Also, some ironclad guidelines for management decisions to protect a depressed run would be helpful...ESA listing shouldn't be the signal to start looking and deciding what protections to put in place....a realistic way to define a depressed run of fish would be a great starting point.
I feel like so many runs are in such bad shape that ALL fishing should be suspended in certain rivers, commercial/tribal/sport, until some substantial returns occur. That's a bitter pill to swallow, but the points about postrelease mortality, (inexperienced) fishermen walking on redds, etc are all valid points. Just because C&R flyfishing is less damaging to the resource doesn't make it consequence-free for wild fish survival.
In the meantime, bonk a hatchery brat for Jesus.
I heard that it was the guy's first time flyfishing...yes, first time!! beginners luck! I guess it was a legal fish??!! so if he didn't kill it the next guy would have.
If it was my fish, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED!!!
Its a freaking blood sport. We both understand that. H&R FLY angling isn't wildlife photography or tree hugging. Involves a life or death struggle. Which, if practiced with some restraint towards reducing numbers of fish caught, leaves a statistically proven insignificant footprint.
Great story, everyone got their one and then there were none.
Thank you for noticing this among all the ranting.
As such a newcomer to fly fishing, especially steelhead in our wonderful OP rivers there is so much controversy in my head. Your story, although simple, is very impacting. There are so many great points. I believe that I'm confident with my plans, intentions and that I'm likely very little threat to catching these great fish. I will fish for hatchery fish if they are available. I will release wild fish, even if legal to keep one, unless of course my lack of skill proves to be the undoing of that poor beast. I shall pass judgement on no man yet stand by for many to pass judgement on me. Thanks again for the story.
Controversy... there is so much it is confusing. So many facts and opinions. Which is why I chose to tell a simple story through parable. Sometimes it is a simple way to cut through to the real issue. Allegory has a lot of power this way...