Big Steelhead Redux - Done Right This Time

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Jason Decker, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. Woodfan, I'm not sure I follow where you're going with that. Montana, think of it this way. Steelhead are listed in all but 2 of the Evolutionarily Significant Units in the state of Washington, and the Chehalis system the largest river in the SWW ESU was closed early this year because of poor returns. Runs have continued to decline on the olympic peninsula and it is the last part of our state where the angling community considers the populations to be "healthy". Consequently there is tons of pressure, including from guides from the eastside and montana who employ their trout fishing tactics in pursuing steelhead. These vertical presentations are extremely effective and easy for clients to learn and as a consequence they catch ALOT of fish.

    Obviously I misread the post but if a single boat hooks 20 fish in a day they may be impacting almost a full percentage point of the run in a given year. Catch and release does cause mortality and even if the fish survive there are sublethal effects which may negatively impact their spawning success. As anglers I believe we have an ethical obligation to work to minimize our impacts on these wild fish and a mentality which focuses on racking up big numbers is unethical in my opinion. Sure, go catch 50 non-native trout any time you want, keep your limit too if you feel so inclinded. But with these fantastic wild fish we owe it to them to use discretion in the number of fish we catch.

  2. Will, i love your enthusiasm, but making rash generalizations about others is not going to help protect the resource. If you haven't noticed, the "spey-pole-swinging-fish-protectors" are not accomplishing much alone, might think about working outside your comfort zone. If we as a group can't get over the technique that the other guy is fishing, the fish are going to be gone before it's too late.
  3. fantastic fish. thanks for sharing
  4. Cheers to that...

    Will, if you're really that concerned about someone hooking 20 fish over whatever arbitrary number constitutes ethical, you should probably stop fishing for them yourself to help cancel out this "unethical" behavior. Personally, I find holding a roosterfish up by the gills for a hero shot in a misspelled town in Mexico unethical, but we all have our opinions. The "Steelhead Uber Alles" double-standard is fucking annoying.

  5. please help a novice, does the "handling rule" allow you to remove a fish completely from the water? the way I read it, not if you intend to release it or if it is illegal to keep. please help.
  6. You've got it right. And contrary to popular opinion by those who place wild steelhead on a pedestal above all other fish, it also applies to hatchery steelhead, dolly varden/bull trout, and salmon.

    FRESHWATER: “It is unlawful to totally remove salmon, steelhead, or Dolly Varden/Bull trout from the water if it is
    unlawful to retain those fish, or if the angler subsequently releases the salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden, or bull trout.”
    MARINE AREAS 5 through 13: “It is unlawful to bring wild salmon or a species of salmon aboard a vessel if it is
    unlawful to retain that salmon” (“aboard” means inside the gunwale of a vessel).
    MARINE AREA 2-2: “It is unlawful to totally remove salmon from the water if it is illegal to retain those fish, except
    anglers fishing from boats 30 feet or longer as listed on either their state or Coast Guard registration are exempt.”

  7. Look at that! Great fish, great handling technique. Congrats to your wife. I'm sure that anyone would understand getting cut off in a phone conversation over that fish.
  8. So, it appears to me that a portion of that fish is still in the water. A small portion, but that would be legal correct?
  9. yes, that is a legal picture. Technically you could hold a fish up by the gill plate, with just the tail touching the water, and it would be legal.
  10. Alpine, that fish was kept so I'm not sure where the fish handling comes into play. Joe, I agree that different factions need to come together to protect the resource. My point was only that there is a point where wracking up big numbers is irresponsible and detrimental to the resource.

    Joe, I don't think anglers who fish with spey rods are any more inclined to be fish advocates or be conservationists. Some of the finest wild fish advocates I know fish with jigs, spoons and yarn.

  11. It wasn't a question of handling, but one of ethics and how one person's ethics aren't necessarily the same as those of someone else. Personally, I think it's despicable that you killed such a nice roosterfish because such an act violates my personal ethics. For someone so outspoken and emotional about one species of fish, it's too bad you don't share the same passion across the entire spectrum of wild fish.
  12. Roosterfish are sure good eating, good job keeping that one. :beathead:
  13. Thanks for the responses, I realize I "hijacked" the post, but, I am new to Washington and the WDFW rules. I must admit, I fish alone most times and have a bit of anxiety related to my reading comprehension. I apologize to any who may have taken offense to my question, and......GOD THAT'S A BEAUTIFUL FISH.
  14. That's some good fishin.
  15. On another note, with regards to fish "numbers" - and sizes of runs.
    We are expected to believe the "counts" of two agencies - the tribes and WDFW.
    Ever think they may not have accurate numbers?

    Ever think that complaints of low returns may come from folks that dont fish at optimum times, with effective techniques?

    The numbers this season were unquestionably lower in the early part of the season compared to the last several, however water conditions were, in my opinion, poor as well. Low clear water for a good part of the early season may have kept some of the fish in the salt for longer than usual. With the late March rains, we had a great push of fish in all the systems on the coast. Maybe the run was a bit "late". Just an opinion, and it may not be correct.

    I know its a big can of worms, but when someone starts tossing around statements like "unethical", when in several instances we are fishing DIRECTLY around, and sharing water with people anchoring and pulling bait divers, and bonking fish, and indian nets - and every other technique under sun, are we really the problem?? Jergens is right. If we can't get it together as a group we may as well forget it. The tribes will have ALL the fish. Listed or not listed.

    And to remove ANY shade of doubt - lots of us do wrap it up for the day after enough fish to hand to meet my, or my guests expectations. However, it's pretty rare that we say "Thats enough - you are done".

    What about wild trout? Should I start stopping at 20 in Montana as well? That would make for some short days!

    Fire away.
  16. Trout central, if you are suggesting the escapement estimates on the coast are below the actual size you are flat out wrong. If anything WDFW and the tribes overestimates the numbers to allow more harvest. Also, the exploitation rates on those stocks is extremely high. An extremely bright biologist I know who spent 10 years living and fishing on the coast believes that up to 90% of fish on the Sol Duc are caught before think that's not having an impact? If you catch 20 fish in a day you're impact is probably actually more than some Jim who kills his one fish and quits. Conservative estimates of CnR mortality of 5%.

    Certainly I agree that there were more fish around towards the end of March however that doesn't mean the runs are excellent. My impression of the status of those populations is based on data, not fishing experience. Even as runs are collapsing there can still be windows of fantastic fishing.

    Interesting anecdote....During the 90's there was a small westside river that was closed to fishing for summer steelhead. The closure came about because of a small NGO that was monitoring the population extremely closely concluded that the population had declined to below 50 fish. It was heartbreaking for the leadership of the NGO to lobby the state to close the river as it was their favorite summer steelhead stream and they had been fishing it for decades. That being said it was even more heartbreaking to snorkel a reach of stream where there was once dozens of fish and find only one or two. At the time there was a small bit of controversy within the organization. One of their biologists who fished the stream said "how can it be so bad, I've been catching fish all summer!!" When asked how many fish he'd caught they figured out that he'd probably caught almost every fish in the river and probably caught a number of them more than once....

    fishing isn't a great way to estimate abundance unless you are using a well designed mark recapture methodology and even that has its limitations.

  17. On the Columbia, unfortunately, it's an exact science. On the OP you got good point, population projection is only as good as the sampling.

    Very nice fish, thanks for sharing.
  18. Anytime any one of us heads out on river full of endangered species with and willingly fishes over that endangered species we also admit that untimately our own amusement is more important than that species truly recovering. And I speak for myself first. The hypocritical and finger pointing stance of the phony assed catch and release position so many of us take is a fucking joke. We are PART of the problem, not a solution, not a higher consciousness, not a position of higher intelligence. We are willingly stabbing an endangered species in the head, playing it to exhaustion, and then releasing it so it can be fucked with again. I can live with that, and have no problem realizing it and in fact are about to fly home and try to hook a few more before they are gone forever. I love the steelhead like no other fish, and its thread is woven deeply into the Northwest fabric I am made from. But this my friends is a blood sport once and for all, and in fact the most perverse of all blood sports in the way we fool, scare the shit out of, and then release the prey. There is no humane kill here, no putting the animal out of its misery, no we let him/her go so we can fuck with them again endgangered or not. Once again, I can live with myself knowing that if I follow protocol, (put down by scientists types like you) the fish has a great shot of making it and spawning again for all of our benefits. So before you attack a guy like Braz who I've known for a long time, take a long look at your fisheries degree and your quiver of speyrods and look at yourself. Braz is a conservationist, a great family man and a true friend. And a guide for the ages. Nobody, I mean nobody in this steelhead realm has clean hands with no blood on them. Mine are coated in blood. So either put you rod up and quit targeting these near extinct fish or keep fishing for them without living in a glass house. That goes for a whole shitload of us. How do we come together and mesh all of our hidden agendas, and self serving purposes to aid this and other species recovery? When do we really become united? Hell even I'd buy a beer for one of those bobber throwers if the delivery method is a fly rod!:hmmm: Well maybe.......:D Kidding of course. That is the target question. So far we've failed miserably and posts like yours young William (although well intentioned and from a big steelhead loving heart I know well) keep us apart. Only the steelhead suffers. What's next to ease your hunter gatherer guilt? A limit on fish catch and released? Tight lines and good fishing to all. The Coach

    PS Beading has become the new hotshotting. Very very deadly it seems and those guys are putting up numbers the great plug fisherman used to put up.

    PSS What the hell does endgangered mean and who is challenged enough to spell like that? ME.
  19. Duff, I acknowledge that fishing is a blood sport but it's shades of grey not black and white. Hooking 25 fish in three days is alot bloodier than any three days of fishing I could possibly have swinging flies with tips. Hell a good fly fisherman might hook 25 fish in a season. Still an impact but in my opinion much lower. An emphasis on numbers rather than the search and challenge is short sighted and is detrimental to peoples understanding of the true condition of the resource.

    plus fishing an indicator is like flyfishing with training wheels ;).
  20. Duff - well said. We should fish sometime. I fished with a buddy of yours this winter and got our butt kicked, it was great.

    Let's not open the damn bead door. Keep those dogs in the kennel.

    As far as the indicator comment - I have one example.

    Day one with a well known fly box manufacturer -
    "Heck with nymphin' - lets get one on the swing".
    I am fine with that. It means less rowing on my "rowers elbow".

    Day two - one fish on the swing, not bad. About 3 in the afternoon I casually mention that we might shake out some nymph rods inbetween runs - afterall it's easy and you just automatically start catching them that way - right? Wrong. One got away on a hookset that I remember someone saying "Way to swing your purse at it".

    Day three of swinging and nymphing we got some kinks worked out and landed 4 sweet chromers. "That really isn't as easy as it looks, is it????"

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