Chum Crash

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by freestoneangler, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Curious with all the low numbers of chum returns in the PS basin what effect it will have on chum fry and SRC activity? Seemed not too long ago that we'd never worry about the numbers of Chum Salmon returns crashing...they were every dang where and in huge numbers.

    So far the SRC fishing seems to be holding up well, but chum fry are a staple in their diets and diminishing numbers of Chum can't be a good thing for them.
     
  2. Dipnet

    Dipnet The wanted posters say Tim Hartman

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    There didn't seem to be any shortage of dogs at Chico Creek this last fall!
     
  3. DennisE

    DennisE Topwater and tying.

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    Lots at Minter and a small (dinky) stream I keep an eye on.
     
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  4. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Early November department forecasts was that PS numbers would be lower than usual, then, they more than doubled the forecast, then the Nisqually was closed early for low returns. Plenty of pictures of tribe boats loaded with fish... some of us think that stock was excessively hammered by the nets. Perhaps that's an isolated case...let's hope. :confused:
     
  5. Jerry Daschofsky

    Jerry Daschofsky Moderator Staff Member

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    I doubt it. All the nets I saw were pretty full as well on a few different rivers and out in the sound. I know fishing on the coast was phenominal for chum, even with the Quinaults heavily netting them too. Was amazing the size and amounts we hit.
     
  6. Steve Saville

    Steve Saville Active Member

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    In the general forum I spoke about the presentation by Larry Phillips of WDFW last week, We asked about this and other questions and what he said was that the "out-migration" of fry for most species here has been very high, meaning that the survival, rate of fry has been very good but the fish are running into problems either in the Sound or out to sea. We have long suspected that something is happening out in the ocean and we are now seeing the affects in the smaller runs. The chum is also very heavily netted so that may be aother reason for fewer fish as well.
     
  7. Beachmen

    Beachmen Active Member

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    for a fishing tip on that time of year if your not catching them on the chum fry try a small polychete worm. that is their spawning time. as for the migration. i have not seen a lower number as far as bait balls on beaches and such the last few years. i know salmon returns are not the greatest and am looking forward to this year with the pinks. for spring 2014 the migration with pinks and chum it should be very good.
     
  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    A couple comments/thoughts regarding PS chum salmon and the interaction between them and our sea-run cutthroat.

    First keep in mind for much of the previous decade we were seeing record and near record PS chum runs. When we see those kinds of abundance it is human nature to expect them to be the norm however Mother Nature has never worked that way leading to expectations that can not be meet over the long haul.

    It is also helpful to keep in mind that what fuels the cutthroat foraging on chum fry is not the abundance of the parent run or even the parent escapement but rather the number of fry surviving to reach the salt. A very large run to the sound that is heavily fished may not produce any more spawners that a mediocre run that is not fished as heavily. Given escapements can produce widely different fry out migration depending on the survival conditions the eggs and fry find. A huge determining factor is flooding with the magnitude, frequency and timing of flood events critical. It is not uncommon to see similar escapements producing as much 20 fold differences in the fry outmigration abundance.

    The sea-runs as well as all of our other salmonids evolved with that dynamic nature of their forage and have developed a number of feeding strategies utilizing a variety of food sources assuring their long term health. Yes fewer fry will affect the spring sea-run fishing - without a predictable and abundant food base the fishing will be tougher/less predictable. However that does not mean the cutthroat will be doing poorly. Years of very high fry abundance can produce better growth rates. On the Skagit the cutthroat following a year of high pink fry outmigration were often 1/4 to 3/8 inch larger at a given age than on non/poor pink years. However unless an angler looked closely at the size at a given age (via scales) I don't the average angler would notice the difference - just too much variation in size at a given age.

    In short be prepared to enjoy the good chum years but like the cutthroat also be prepared to adapt if the chum fry are not abundant.

    Curt
     
  9. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Interesting Curt...makes sense. Haven't given much thought to flood events...and we've been in somewhat of a mild period of late. Many of the SRC's being shared by members seem pretty healthy and large...but being new to SRC fishing, maybe their about average and mine... well... are not :D
     
  10. Dipnet

    Dipnet The wanted posters say Tim Hartman

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    I'd expect a good out-migration of chum fry this spring as I can only recall one big rain/flood event this past fall and winter. Lookin' at my phone pics, that was in late November (the 20th) but it was also not too long after the mature chum were up into the fresh. Does an earlier flood event impact 'em more than one that occurs later?

    Here's what Chico Creek looked like just below the Kitty Hawk Road bridge on the day after that storm:

    downsized_1120121356.jpg
     

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  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Dipnet

    The various salmonids eggs are very fragile the first few weeks they are in the gravel. Any jostling/shock early in their development (basically before the eye pigments become visible) result in high mortality. That means early floods (late in the spawning period or immediately after) are likely to cause significant mortalities than those later.

    Curt
     
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  12. Dipnet

    Dipnet The wanted posters say Tim Hartman

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    Thanks for the info Curt. :)

    After reviewing the weather for that time I'm a little less hopeful for our local chum fry. Here's one report about that storm: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2012/11/record-rain-swamps-puget-sound-area/

    After looking at several articles about the Nov. 19, 2012 storm I now remember how nasty it was. Downtown Port Orchard was flooded due to a combination of heavy rain and very high tides. By one report I saw, one Seattle neighborhood recorded nearly 2 inches of rainfall in a 6-hour period! Fortunately the rest of the fall and winter wound up being pretty benign.
     

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