Chambers creek steelhead video

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Cole L, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. ww, Chambers Creek steelhead are not aprt of the DPS. See

    The Puget Sound steelhead DPS includes more than 50 stocks of summer- and winter-run fish, the latter being the most widespread and numerous of the two run types (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), 2002). Hatchery steelhead production in Puget Sound is widespread and focused primarily on the propagation of winter-run fish derived from a stock of domesticated, mixed-origin steelhead (the Chambers Creek Hatchery stock) originally native to a small Puget Sound stream that is now extirpated from the wild. Hatchery summer-run steelhead are also produced in Puget Sound; these fish are derived from the Skamania River in the Columbia River Basin. The majority of hatchery stocks are not considered part of this DPS because they are more than moderately diverged from the local native populations (NMFS, 2005). Resident O. mykiss occur within the range of Puget Sound steelhead but are not part of the DPS due to marked differences in physical, physiological, ecological, and behavioral characteristics (71 FR 15666; March 29, 2006).
  2. Curt,
    A couple assumptions/presumptions that have to take place with regard to Chambers Creek fish and the sneaker phenomenon…
    1. All smolts released cannot and will not spawn in months other than Dec – Jan. (non overlap)
    2. All smolts released cannot and will not be sexually mature when released and will not become sexually mature for another year or more.
    3. All smolts will not and cannot spawn/mate with wild fish because wild fish only spawn in months other than Dec-Jan.

    Can anyone say for certain that these three things are absolutes, and these assumptions are not happening, have not happened, and will not happen? With the release of 250k fish and on average 10% rate of residualism, that puts 25k fish per year in the river. That is just one year. Compound this year after year and the probability of sneaker fish and wild fish introgression must increase drastically. With steelhead being very diverse and resilient, I do not think we can pigeon hole them to absolutes.

    Another thing to throw into the equation is the historical timing of hatchery fish being stocked into the Skagit. Has it always been 250k fish in years past, and has the stocking time in early May always been the timing of release of hatchery smolts? I figure you know this and will save me the time of trying to go and look it up. That all being said, there is the risk of hatchery fish/smolts introgression taking place, which is why the timing is what it is. The idea is trying to “minimize” the overall risk of hatchery/wild fish introgression. So in theory it should work, but with all the variables and numbers of fish in the rivers doing who knows what, and Mother Nature throwing curve balls at us, there seems to be no absolutes.

    With regard to hatchery smolts posing risks on wild fish and the sneaker fish phenomenon, this is just one drop in the bucket of risks and dangers hatchery smolts residualizing in rivers pose on wild fish. More risks would include competition for food, and helping predator populations improve with the release of thousands of hatchery fish. Sure the survival rate might be low, but just like the number of hatchery fish returning from the ocean, I believe hatchery residualized smolts also survive in the rivers and streams. Perhaps most of what I have tried to say here can be summed up and more eloquently communicated in the following paragraph.

    A primary concern about the effectiveness of steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss hatchery programs is the residualization of released fish (Viola and Schuck 1995; McMichael et al. 2000). Residualization is the process whereby juveniles (smolts) fail to emigrate seawards within the primary migration period (Viola and Schuck 1995). These individuals are termed residuals and represent a potential economic loss in terms of adult returns. They may also cause adverse ecological impacts, as steelhead residuals are believed to compete with (McMichael et al. 1997) and prey upon (Cannamela 1993; Martin et al. 1993) wild fish and may eventually mate with (Viola and Schuck 1995) them (Ostrand 2008). Though hatchery residuals are thought to suffer high mortality rates in the wild (Ostrand 2008), their larger size (Walters 2005) and aggressive behavior (McMichael et al. 2000) likely intensify their per-capita impact on wild populations (Viola and Schuck 1995). A majority of studies on hatchery steelhead residuals have therefore focused on methods to reduce the rate of residualization and on factors that can be directly controlled by hatcheries

  3. I win on a technicality! :)

    I wonder if the part in red could be used to pull the Skagit steelhead from the DPS - they are surviving and plentiful while the others are not...sounds like a behavioral characteristic.
  4. A few weeks ago, Curt and I were having a discussion about predators and the release of hatchery smolts. During this Curt recounted the numbers of Salmon smolt numbering in the (I think) tens of millions in the Skagit alone, and the relatively small number that these extra steelhead smolt are when viewed in this context.

    Perhaps he could recount his portion of that conversation here...
  5. Chris Johnson -
    Yes it is indeed the case that male steelhead have a more protracted spawning time than the females. That said the period that those males actually remain viable spawners is shorter than many think may be the case. In the Saltonstall-Kennedy Skagit steelhead study that we all discussed some time ago the radio tagged wild steelhead had vacated the spawning areas on the average within 28 days of spawning. It probably is the case when those fish left the spawning area they were no longer viable spawners. However in keeping in trying to assure that we err on the side of the wild steelhead I will assume that some males (a small portion of the total population) remain potential viable spawner for 6 weeks after the last female has spawned. In the case of Chambers Creek males that would mean the latest there would be a viable spawer would be mid-March. A timing such that there would only be a fractional of a percent chance of a hatchery fish spawning with a wild fish.

    Just for fun let's look at the real world and see if that 6 week period is a reasonable assumption. As we know in North Puget Sound rivers wild winter steelhead spawn into July. Using mid-July as the date of the last female spawner we would expect to see viable male spawners through August. If the males were viable longer than that as some to think that would mean those viable males would still be in the river looking for mates after labor day. Wonder how many of you have caught such a fish in September (remember in rivers like the Skagit the wild fish are much more abundant than hatchery fish) so those late spawning should be much more common than late spawning hatchery males. I suspect like me that answer to the number of viable male wild spawners that you have encountered in late August or September is zero!

    Why would we assume that hatchery fish would be viable for longer periods than the wild fish?

    For our anadromous fish in general the quality of the habitat of the estuaries and near-shore marine waters is hugely impact and rightly so remains a high prior of protection and recovery. That said there is no anadromous salmonids that is less dependent on that habitat than steelhead. Steelhead only use the estuary area as a transportation area to move from the river to the salt and back. In their 4 or 5 life they like spend only 4 or 5 days in the estuary of our rivers. Likewise as smolts (some of the largest in the basin) they move quickly off shore in deeper water for feeding and migration paths to the open ocean. It is interesting that on the Skagit the two species that are highly dependent on those estuary and near-shore habitats are sea-run cutthroat and bull trout. Both of those species (as well pink salmon) may be the robust populations in the basin.

    Cruik -
    Great point. There is no reason that those few residuals that survive that first year in the river that some would become smolts and migrate to the salt and some others that survive until maturity return to the hatchery rather than spawning in the wild. However in these kinds of discussions the tendency is to ignore such behaviors because by assuming that those survivors spawned in the rivers is consistent to be erring on the side of the wild resource.

  6. TallFlyGuy -
    Can we be absolutely sure that there are no interactions; of course not. The real question are those frequency in which those interactions like to be producing significant interactions? Or if you will it becomes a risk assessment game. I argue that the very limited nature of those inactions do not represent a significant risk and attempted to show why I feel that way.

    Not sure how much hatchery active/history you are looking for. There has been hatchery steelhead activities in basin like the Skagit for more than a century. I can certainly summarize that history though I'm not sure how relevant that would be. The evolution of the steelhead hatchery program has been of constant adaption and evolution with the critical factor being what has happened in recent years and is expected in the immediate future.

    Let's take a closer look at what having 25,000 non-migrating smolts might be. First let's remain for more than 60 years in the Chambers Creek steelhead program any fish that mature early or did not migrate and return form the salt have been severely selected against - they are not included in the brood stock. This is much different than integrated programs like that of Little Sheep Creek where wild fish are incorporated annually into the brood stock. That alone may explain why frequency of male mature smolts in such programs are higher than in programs like Chambers. By any out of 25,000 fish that did migrate I would expect at least 90% would be gone within months of release (on water observations seem to support that). That would mean that going into the winter there might be 2,500 of those fish still left. For wild fish over winter mortalities are in the 50% range. Going into that second summer we would be looking at 1,250 hatchery parr. For the wild steelhead population where best guess puts the average number of wild smolts something in the 100,000 to 150,000 per year or about 200,000 to 300,000 parr per year.

    That means only a 0.5% of the steelhead parr would be of hatchery origin. Is that excessive? That is each of our calls though that estimate is mostly likely on the high side. On continue that math exercise to the end point of any survivors interacting with wild spawners but that becomes such a low number to essentially be meaningless (though to be fair there could be a fish or two). I agree with your assessment that such impacts are a drop in the bucket compared to other potential hatchery/wild interactions.

  7. In the video the second major Chambers Creek impacts discussed was the attraction of an artificial number predators to the system. Since both WW and TallFlyGuy have also mentioned this issue let's take a closer look at this issue. Again I will focus on the Skagit and will talk in rough round numbers for this year's smolt out migrations in the basin. As we all know the current Chambers Creek smolt release target is 239,000.

    Every spring in the Skagit between the wild steelhead, sea-run cutthroat, and bull trout smolts leaving the river is roughly the same as the hatchery release.

    The number of sub-adult and adult sea-run cutthroat and bull trout leaving the system is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the hatchery steelhead release.

    The number of hatchery Chinook and coho smolts leaving the system is 2 or 3 times of the numbers of hatchery steelhead releases.

    The number of Baker sockeye smolts leaving the system is roughly 3 times the number of hatchery steelhead smolt #.

    The number of wild coho leaving the system is typically 4 or 5 times the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild Chinook migrants leaving the system is typically 8 to 10 times the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild chum likely will be 4 times of the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild pinks will be in the 40 to 80 times more numerous that hatchery steelhead.

    In other words there will be pretty good numbers of salmonids (the majority of which are wild) migrating out the basin this spring.

    In terms of attracting predators we probably should consider a couple of the other native species that can be fairly common in the basin. In the tidal section of the river there are surprising numbers of peamouth chubs and every year at this time there is a run of smelt spawning in the lower forks of the Skagit (some years the numbers of smelt are significant - most of which die after spawning and provide significant foraging opportunities). In addition there are quite few whitefish to be found through out the Skagit and Sauk.

    Can any one say that whether the hatchery steelhead programs continues or not there would be significant difference in the forage base supporting potential predators?

    _WW_, Irafly, KerryS and 1 other person like this.
  8. Curt,

    From what I understand the Skagit is “healthy”, proportionately speaking, when compared with other rivers up and down the WA coast in regard to winter steelhead. Historically speaking, it is a mere fraction of what it once was, and should be considered on its death bed. This turns up a couple question as to smolts and the total amount outgoing from steelhead and other salmonid. Is the total number of smolts heading out to the ocean the same amount of smolts as back when the Skagit had epic/mythical steelhead runs? Are ocean conditions and smolt survival to blame? If 25-50% of those smolts heading out survived and returned, we would have runs of epic proportions.

    From the limited amount of research I have come across, when biologists radio tagged smolts, both hatchery and wild, on average 80% survived the out migration, but once they hit the salt, the survival rate dropped through the floor. I don’t think those fish are just dropping like rocks from poisoned water or pollution etc. My opinion/theory is the seals, larger fish, cormorants, and other predators are eating/feeding on hatchery fish mixed in with wild fish.

    We have hatcheries dumping millions upon millions of smolts into the many rivers that dump into the sound and then to the ocean. I really don’t see how dumping millions upon millions of “artificial” smolts, into the ocean is going to have a positive ecological impact. The only survival skills these fish have are linked to overpopulation and cement tanks, void of natural predators, and daily being fed “manna” from the sky. The survival rate of those fish returning as adults is diminishing down to less than .05% in some cases. Sure some might die from natural causes (freshwater to salt), but my guess is the majority of them are being eaten out in the salt. If they are not dying from predators, then the next logical explanation is a lack of food. If that’s the case, again, the problem points back and is rooted in the hatchery problem because then we have too many fish trying to compete for a limited supply of food. It seems all roads lead back to the hatcheries being part of the overall problem.

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  9. Why is that?

    When was that exactly? And where is the evidence that the numbers were epic? Perhaps that is the myth?

    I think the next logical step is that mother nature is trying to select fish that thrive in concrete tanks out of the several different methods.

    What if that is not the case?
  10. Since yesterday I have been thinking a bit more about Cruik"s question of about whether we should expect mature residuals to return to the hatchery. While it is always dangerous when I start thinking about things and my thoughts often end up weirdly the more I thought about it the more I think he hit on a very important point. We know both anadromous and resident O. mykiss have demonstrated a strong tendency on reaching mature of returning to their "natal" home. We should expect maturing "residuals to do the same.

    Any steelhead smolt residuals upon reaching maturity should be in that 14 to 18 size range or about the size of steelhead "jacks". Fortunately most of the hatcheries have both the ability to trap and keep track of the numbers of "jacks" returning (and captured) at various hatchery facilities. While the number of "jacks" returning to a steelhead hatchery would likely include true "jacks" and residuals the raw counts should provide us with the opportunity to look at the magnitude of the numbers of residuals surviving to maturity. Based on comments seen this and other discussions the range of residuals potentially reaching maturity ranges from 1,000s to 100s or if they survive at the rate of their anadromous siblings maybe dozens with the hatchery rack counts providing us insights into where in that range where the numbers might actually fall.

    To explore those numbers I visited WDFW's hatchery escapement reports for the last 5 years at looked at the total adult returns as well as the "jack" numbers for both the Skagit and Snohomish systems (by far the two largest Chambers Creek programs in Puget Sound). What I found is that over the last 5 years 1,096 adults and zero "jacks" where trapped on the Skagit and 5,064 adults and 1 "jack" was trapped on the Snohomish system. I will leave it to the reader to decide what sort of survival to maturity rates those residuals are experiencing.

  11. TallFlyGuy -
    I have attempted to limit my comments in this thread to the issues raised in the McMillian Chambers Creek video. He specifically mentioned the potential hatchery/wild interactions off smolts that were sexually mature as smolts, residuals surviving to maturity, and the numbers of hatchery steelhead smolts attracting predators and used the Skagit as an example.

    I think I have demonstrated:

    1) With a early/mid-May release of the smolts any sexually mature smolt would be approximately 4 months past reaching maturity and are no longer viable spawner for the current spawning season.

    2) Because of the general lack of fitness of the hatchery fish and the extreme hydrograph of the Skagit the long term survival of any residuals is very low approaching zero.

    3) On the Skagit the total numbers of [potential prey in the spring on the Skagit dwarfs the contribution by hatchery steelhead. It is doubtful that those hatchery steelhead are attracting significant numbers of additional predators.

    In your most recent post you have raised some interesting and important issues. However they are much broader in context and are outside of the scope of this discussion. Rather than diluting the two discussions I would suggest that a discussion on those issues you have raised would be better served in a separate thread; especially if the context of that discussion could be more precisely defined in historic and regional aspects. If that discussion I would attempt to provide any limited thoughts/insights that I might have.


  12. WW,

    Myth? I don't think so. Populations of wild steelhead were upwards around 80k fish for the Skagit basin, and around 54k for just the Skagit alone. Now its averaging around 6k. To me that means it is "sick" and not as healthy as it used to be. If you have something that counters this please post. link is as follows.....

    Nevertheless, recent estimates of Skagit River historic steelhead run-sizes indicate that present wild steelhead returns are greatly depleted. The Puget Sound Steelhead Technical Recovery Team (TRT) used a habitat based (IP)approach with historical estimates of 54,802 wild steelhead for the Mainstem SkagitHistorical Demographically Independent Population (DIP), 4,353 for the Baker River DIP, and 18,913 for the Sauk River DIP. The resulting total was 78,068 historic wildSkagit basin steelhead (Connor et al. 2011).

    Comparatively, the present escapement goal (or “escapement floor” as more recently termed) of 6,000 wild steelhead (Skagit Co-Managers 2011) represents 4-8 percent of these historic run-size estimates. Thatescapement level has been met six times in the 14 year period of 1998-2011 (UST-a).

    I agree, mother nature is responding to the millions of "artificial" smolts dumped into the sound/ocean. The response has been more predators eating more "easy" meals. These fish have virtually no survival skills. If there were no predators, and there was an abundance of food, are you suggesting these hatchery fish would still be dying? If so how?
  13. I would consider it to be changed, rather than sick.

    We will never have "historic estimated" numbers of steelhead in the Skagit unless we restore everything, (and I mean everything, including the two mile long, 1000' wide logjam with ten inch thick trees growing out of it that existed below Mount Vernon!) to what it was, on whatever date that is considered to be "historic". We all need to move away and all our infrastructure needs to go with us - and I think we need to figure out what to do with several billion people also. Does all of that sound feasible to you? So instead of living the pipe dream of "total restoration" or "fully recovered" lets deal with what we have now. Let's do a better job of caring for the habitat, manage the existing resource, and still provide some recreational opportunity, electricity to power our homes and industry. There has to be some give an take.
    The fish were here first, but we're all here now!

    Does it seem beyond reasonable to you that a fish raised in a tank where 'manna' falls from the sky daily might be at a disadvantage in the wild where this no longer happens. Wild food bears no resemblance to fish pellets and it certainly doesn't fall from the sky like clockwork. Some of them could be literally starving to death within sight of an unrecognizable feast. Is there predation? Of course. And they are no doubt easy prey having never had to be on the lookout like their wild brethren. But the wild fish is not easy prey just because the hatchery fish are - just to be mingling with these brats in the Salish sea they have already survived two years in the wild dodging predators from above and below.

    And there was no abundance of predators when the "historic" runs were over 90% larger?
    Somebody should sue the WFC for attempting to starve out these predators! They deserve to live too!

    The other thing that gets me is how everyone talks about what failures these hatchery fish are. "They only get .05% return or less". (I think the Skagit recently is between 3 & 4%) But somehow, out of this miniscule number, a couple of bucks are going to done superman capes, hang out for five or six months with their bulging gonads, and breed six thousand+ wild fish out of existence! Really! Seriously!
    When it happens on those rare occasions that they do successfully mate, and the progeny are now inferior wild fish, mother nature will take care them as she does all creatures - survival of the fittest.

    I really think this concern for the Skagit hatchery is blown out of proportion a little bit a lot. It's the one system that works pretty much the way it was designed to.

  14. I agree with you 100%, there is no way we can bring back those epic runs. Not sure where you are getting or reading that I am saying we can restore those run sizes. I think many would like to see populations restored back to the way it was in the 70s and 80s of 10k plus size runs for a start. So why not stop or at least reduce drastically the smolt counts and see if wild fish counts go up? Thankfully, that seems to be the path we are heading, because one thing is for sure, as the winter hatchery fish harvest and return rates started going downhill, WDFW increased the smolt counts to try and compensate. The result wasn't more hatchery fish, it was less, and so were the wild fish counts. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Speaking of pipe dreams, That whole song and dance about doing a, " better job of caring for the habitat, manage the existing resource, and still provide recreational opportunity...." has been played over and over. It sounds good, feels good, and seems to be good, but how much of a better job are we doing, or has been done since that was fed to us? Why not allocate the resources we are paying for hatcheries, and take that money and put it toward habitat renewal projects, and coordinating that with volunteer efforts etc? Hatcheries are failing their purpose and their success is dismal at best, when compared to wild fish "restoring" runs.

    I agree, I think I have made it pretty clear what I think about hatchery fish and their severe disadvantage to survival they have.

    As I indicated earlier, an increase in smolt counts should mean in increase in run size, but it didn’t. It actually had a negative effect. If fish were dying of starvation, then the run size should have been proportionate in numbers of adults to the number of smolts released. It wasn’t. Again, the opposite happened.

    Haha, that is funny. I say go for it!

    Look, in the video Bill McMillan presents his main argument. That argument is that Chambers Creek fish hurt the wild populations in and around the Sound. He then gives a few of his supporting arguments as to how this is happening. Only one of many is that of hatchery fish “sneakers” spawning with wild fish. Is it a risk? I say yes. Is it going to bring down the population from 6k to zero? LOL, uh no. But it is a risk significant enough to make the release time coincide with the best time as to not let this happen with wild fish. If it wasn’t a risk, they would just release them anytime.

    If you want to see his completed work with all his research and findings that detail much of his argument as it relates to the Skagit and the sound, I suggest you click on the following link and read his full argument along with his research and evidence, and not just the one with hatchery fish “slinging capes and bulging gonads”, as you put it. In order to “hook” you…Here is his opening paragraph regarding Chambers Creek fish in the Skagit

    The first most basic assessment was to evaluate the primary management purpose of stocking Chambers Creek origin hatchery steelhead in the Skagit basin which has been described as that of providing high harvest on early returning hatchery fish prior to the arrival of wild steelhead and to minimize interbreeding between naturally spawning hatchery steelhead and wild fish (WDFW 2004). As a result of a hatchery steelhead stocking guideline paper (WDW 1992), in order to provide more steelhead harvest in the Skagit basin a management decision was made to increase hatchery smolt releases by 115% from a pre 1992 average of 248,000 to the proposed level of 534,000 thereafter (WDFW 2004). The history of the total steelhead stocking history in the Skagit basin from 1933 to 2011 is depicted in Figure 1 and that of total winter-run steelhead harvest from 1948 to 2011 in Figure 2. The number of hatchery winter-run steelhead smolts stocked (per release year) to the total returning winter-run steelhead harvested (per spawning year) between 1933 and 2011 is depicted in Figure 3. It is apparent from these figures that rather than increased harvest, the history of steadily increased stocking of hatchery steelhead has resulted in a relatively continuous decline in winter-run steelhead harvest dating to 1970 with more subtle indications back to the early 1960s. The further findings and related discussions follow:….

    Really? To me that is a huge waste. I think we have to do everything in our power to stop that from happening. Minimizing it is one thing, but eliminating the risk would be the best thing. I really don’t think the discussion of hatcheries is being blown out of proportion. I feel there is enough evidence from current and ongoing studies to show that hatchery fish have a significant risk to wild populations. It will be interesting to see the outcome over the next few years with the reduction of hatchery plants.
  15. So I did some quick math using Curt's out-migrating numbers. Where ever he gave a range I used the lower number. I added them up and multiplied by 239,000.

    The low answer was 15,296,000
    The answer using the higher range numbers was 25,812,000

    So the mean is just over 20-1/2 million out-migrants. (20,554,000)
    239,000 hatchery smolt is 1.16% of that number. I'm not going to try and figure out how many predators you can feed with that number of 8" or smaller fish, or for how long it will keep them alive - it's out of my skill set. :)

    Which also seemed to coincide with a poor marine survival state.
    Fish numbers have always fluctuated - here is a study not done by Bill McMillian:

    And a paragraph to hook you;
    “The implications for management are profound,” Schindler said. “While it is convenient to assume that ecosystems have a constant static capacity for producing fish, or any natural resource, our data demonstrate clearly that capacity is anything but stationary. Thus, management must be ready to reduce harvesting when ecosystems become unexpectedly less productive and allow increased harvesting when ecosystems shift to more productive regimes.

    And I was speaking of the single hatchery on the Skagit, and my point is that "clear cutting" all of them out of existence is too extreme of a measure. There are places where it can and does work. Eliminating all risk to wild steelhead once again leads us down the path to total abandonment of the area.

    I would agree if you were to insert the word 'some' right in front of wild populations. Painting all possible interactions with the same brush smacks of totalitarian management.

    Here in the Skagit Valley, which is where I live and the only area I can remotely even speak to, there have been many changes in the last 25 years to benefit habitat directly influencing fish. I live here, I see them, I read about them in the local paper, I have participated in some, and my business, (construction) is impacted by changed regulations designed help fish habitat. And a lot of this has/is done without WDFW's money. The entire Skagit basin has the most conservative management policies of any WA river I know of...and it's been that way for a long time. I like to think that this may indeed be a part of the reason that the Skagit is not in the dire straights that other systems are experiencing.

    We are nearly there, and if not for the '03 flood event the count would probably be right where you want it - except that many believe the carrying capacity in the environment of today is around 9,000. Last season the number was 8,815. If you look back at the 'glory' days of the eighties, that 8,815 number is higher than five of them, and all of the official counts from the seventies (77 is the first official record I have)!!!

    You can keep asking for miracles but the reality on the Skagit is that this is about as good as it's going to get - there will be fluctuations as there always has been but I don't see the Marblemount Hatchery as a significant or even mild threat to wild steelhead with it's current operating procedures that you yourself have noted.

    BTW I did plow through Bill's work. :) And that of several others also.
  16. Couple of things, First this discussion keeps getting steered toward the Skagit river. If you were to take the totals for just the Skagit and the hatchery smolts released in it, it would not be a very significant number. If you take the totals of all the rivers that dump into the sound and then into the ocean, the total number would be very significant, and I believe has a very negative ecological effect on the health of the wild runs. We are talking millions upon millions of hatchery fish dumped into the rivers.

    Secondly, I am aware of the ocean conditions and how they do not remain static. This argument seems to be the final stand in the pro hatchery crowd’s defense. McMillan’s contention, I believe, as well as my own is WDFW knew something wasn’t right compared to the previous years and increased the total output of smolts. The increase in smolts should have filled the gap with the changing ocean conditions. IT should have at least been close to or equal to the prior years total run size when less hatchery smolts were released. Again, the total run size had a downward progression even after smolt plants were greatly increased from 250k to over 500k.

    Lastly, it wasn’t too long ago that Bill McMillan was trying to get the word out about how negative hatchery fish are to wild fish populations. He was laughed at by quite a few, and some people called him crazy, while trying to debunk his research and findings. Now we are seeing all his research and work come to fruition as hatchery plants are being decreased, some rivers eliminating all hatchery plants, and rivers set aside for gene bank preservation for wild steelhead conservancy. My hats off to him as he is a true hero for wild steelhead preservation!!
  17. Bill used the Skagit as an example in the video, and it is the system I am most familiar with. I wonder, would the numbers I calculated above extrapolate to all the streams. The count for releases this years was to be around 900,000 not millions and millions so I assume you are talking about past plantings up to today. That would indeed be millions and millions mixed in with billions and billions of wild fish. And I am unclear if what I quoted above by you was steelhead or all salmonids. Are the Canadians going to play along?

    Again you are using the broad brush approach. It would seem more truthful if your first sentence were typed as such: Lastly, it wasn’t too long ago that Bill McMillan was getting the word out about how negative hatchery fish are to some wild fish populations under certain conditions.

    It's all a moot point now.

    So there will soon be no Skagit winter steelhead season in Dec. & Jan. That frees up some allowable impacts - oops! There is no steelhead season what-so-ever. How does one go about using allowable impacts if we are not allowed to fish when said fish are in-system?

    How will we know when we can officially call them 'preserved'? Or 'saved'? Or 'restored'? What is the magical number? Where is the finish line?
    Once the wild steelhead are preserved, saved, or restored, then what do we do with them?

    I've been asking those same questions for over two years and not one single person has come up with an answer.

    Used fishing gear in Washington has just become the new penny stock - better sell now before you have to pay someone to take it away.

    Mostly what we saw today was a money grab. WFC grabbed some for their lawyers. WDFW will lose funding because "Hey, they no longer need to run some of these hatcheries!" And the poachers on my local river will get an additional two months with no one watching them.

    And to top it all off, they are going to explore replacing the hatchery with a "brood stock program" which is a three word description of "a hatchery" that history has shown is just as economically and genetically as unsound as what it will be replacing.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a Mel Brooks movie...
  18. At least Mel Brooks was funny. This shit is just sad.
  19. WW,

    If you go to the following link and then scroll down half way, there is a table there showing the totals of hatchery "marked" fish in WA. You'll see that in the Puget Sound alone, there has been 4-5 million coho a year released, 25-30 million Chinook smolts released, and 1-2 million steelhead smolts released... each and every year. That is allot of fish! I am trying to imagine how many full size dump trucks 35 million hatchery fish would fill. These fish are dumped into the sound and then into the ocean. The total for WA state smolts released is 50-90 million. That's each and every year we are flushing out 50-90 million artificial smolts into the rivers. I think this kind of artificial ecological impact on our rivers and nearby ocean has had a profound influence on wild fish populations when you take the full spectrum of risk and harm hatchery fish pose on the environment.

    I really hope they will not shut down the rivers because of the absence of hatchery fish. Hopefully the governing agencies will see the value and the protection of anglers watching over and watching out for the fish in the rivers. Props for you for spearheading that!

  20. FWIW...the following link was taken from the wild Steelhead coalition site and is a reprint of a chapter in Sean Gallagher's recent book. It is a lengthy interview with Bill McMillian in which largely centers around Skagit Steelhead recovery.

    He feels very strongly that there can be no Skagit recovery without a return of what he perceives as the critical early component of the run. My interpretation of the WFC agreement (and I might be completely wrong) is that they feel that this will facilitate the recovery of this component of the run and that the brood program is a concession to the tribes if/when necessary. That if there must be tribal impact on native fish that it should occur on the stronger later running fish and that this is the only way to build back the early retuning fish.

    I'm not here to argue historical numbers of early returning fish etc...I don't know Bill, I'm not local, never fished the Skagit, and don't know the politics or biology of the place. I will say that Mr. McMillian does always seem to put forth a compelling argument. From what I do know about steelhead (and people) my sense is that like most thing in life, reality probably lies somewhere in the middle...

    My apologies if this link has already been posted and I missed it but it seems pertinent to this thread.
    Chris Johnson likes this.

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