Cowlitz wild fish

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Dan Page, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. CJ...I understand where you are coming from; but also understand that the "message" will be most likely go "unheard" by the masses, from a messenger who has partook in the "blood lust".

  2. That is not true at all.
  3. We can't even get people to understand that having 5 trillion returning adults to the Wind river won't result in 1 more smolt. Those that don't want to understand the message won't.

    Go Sox,
  4. Math is hard

    Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk
  5. Mark,

    It looks like you think WDFW is managing for only 500 steelhead on the Wind. That's not really the case. It has to be a minimum of 500 in order to allow any fishing. Otherwise it's closed. Then you posted, " I myself do not like that number and believe they should be left alone for faster rebuilding of the population." This is a recurring problem in explaining fish ecology to many folks. There persists a false assumption that runs will rebuild larger and larger, if only we allowed greater spawning escapements to occur. It doesn't work that way. Every river has a carrying capacity, and the Wind River's capacity is met with 500 spawners. 1,000 spawners doesn't cause future runs to be any larger than 500 spawners. So not only will the run not rebuild any faster, it won't rebuild to a number any higher, or at least not significantly higher than what has been observed in recent years. The only thing that could produce an outlier and larger run would be from exceptional ocean survival, which can and does happen from time to time, but it is certainly not average.

    This idea that wild runs will be rebuilt to levels that can sustain harvests is somewhat duplicitous. Of course, any time the run is greater than an ecosystem based escapement goal, there are fish that could be harvested. What I see the management agencies as avoiding like the plague, is sharing the information that future harvestable numbers under "recovered" conditions will be low. That is, if we don't screw up the habitat any worse than it already is (which is doubtful when you look at what we are actually doing), then when recovery reaches the point of "as good as it gets," the number of harvestable fish may be enough to be taken in incidental fisheries before the run reaches its natal stream and through the incidental mortality from allowing CNR recreational fishing. Any idea that wild steelhead runs will recover to the point that the future population of steelheaders will be able, as in days gone by, to go fishing and kill 2 wild steelhead per day and 30 per season, is nothing short of delusional. Ain't going to happen. Under the very best of future conditions there will still be too few wild fish and way, way too many people who want to fish for them. CNR of wild steelhead is the most positive outlook for future fishing that I can predict. All other alternatives offer worse outcomes.

  6. From what I'm reading 500 is the minimum number for returns to allow fishing! not what the system can actually handle! What is the maximum numbers for the system? So your saying WDFW SAYS "500 IS MAXIMUM CAPACITY" That is why I posted the chinook numbers for the sandy, it being generally in the same region has a return of 2,500 to 3,500 wild spawning fall chinook, the reason why I am baffled by the 500 number and don't agree with it. But if that is what the Wdfw staff wants to put out than I guess that is the number is it going to be in all reality now isn't it. I, as a free thinker don't agree with those numbers, call me stupid, say I can't do math. I compared it to other capacity numbers of another river in the region and is what I base my conclusion on. Those Chinook numbers were before they took out the dam and changed alot of the stocking programs. I don't know what the numbers are now and I do not believe they ever had a stocking program for fall chinook - just spring chinook. So would it be safe to say only 500 chinook spawn but 2,500 return on average to the sandy but the 2,500 do nothing to help being only 500 can spawn? If this is the case than I have to agree!

    If that is the maximum numbers of spawners (not the minimum) the river can handle than I agree with you on the numbers we are writing about.

    I have fished the wind in years past and there is very little access to the lower part of the river. I don't even know if you can float the river, I know you can't the lower 10 miles or so. the pressure is not what it is on other rivers because of access and the river seems to have plenty of good habitat to me maybe some of the best in the region! This is what baffles me about the wind river numbers that have been posted and the main reason I had to respond to the thread "sorry for the hi-jack" now I want to read all the river capacity numbers in the region to compare to what is given to the wind --- any site or documents I can look at and compare them with Oregon river numbers being put out? I'm willing to learn about this capacity number for sure! or prove it wrong with other regional river capacity numbers in both our states.

    What would be interesting is to know what the Hood river capacity numbers are being right across the Columbia but numbers and research being from a different state and a different fisheries department. Well now I have to look it up! "I'LL BE BACK"

    Salmo, I do have to say I like what you have put in this thread overall with a pretty non biased view! two thumbs up!
  7. TomB explained the 500 number real well. You may want to send him a PM to start.

    Go Sox,
  8. I once killed a wild steelhead, I'll meet you at dawn. Tell my wife and kids I love them.
  9. Mark,

    500 steelhead is not the maximum adult steelhead capacity of the Wind River. I don't think you understand what the term means. 500 steelhead is the minimum adult return in order to allow fishing. That is slightly arbitrary, but it is based on an escapement of 500 adult spawners being the number that fully seeds the river's juvenile habitat to capacity with steelhead fry. 1,000 spawners would produce more fry, but the river would be over capacity, and most of the extra fry will just die off. You get roughly the same number of out-migrating smolts with spawning escapements of 500, 1,000, or 2,000, etc. Once you're at maximum capacity and producing the maximum number of smolts that a basin's habitat can produce, the number of eventual returning adult steelhead is controlled by factors outside the Wind River. Those factors are downstream smolt survival past Bonneville Dam, survival past all the estuarine predators like seals, terns, and cormorants; and then the all-important and highly variable ocean survival. Subsequent adult steelhead returns are not influenced by having spawning escapements significantly greater than 500.

    You mention the number of fall chinook on the Sandy. First, different species is an apples and oranges comparison and is completely irrelevant to this discussion. It doesn't matter if 10 million fall chinook spawn in the Sandy River. That has zero to do with steelhead productivity in the Wind. Ergo, different river, also apples and oranges and not relevant. Same for the Hood River even though you're referring to the same species - steelhead - but in a different river with a different carrying capacity.

    I'm not going to say that you're stupid or that you can't do math. However, it is apparent that my post was not clear, or you did not read it clearly, or that you did not understand what you read. And that is why I'm expanding on this topic in hopes of making it clearer so that you understand it better.

    Let's look closer at the factor called carrying capacity. The carrying capacity of adult steelhead in the Wind River is in the many thousands. Since adult anadromous fish have little or no need to eat, food resources don't affect capacity much. (Actually summer steelhead do feed some, so there is an effect, but I think it is small, and besides, I can't calculate it.) So we would calculate adult capacity by dividing the amount of pool habitat in the entire accessible river by about 6 cubic feet per adult steelhead to give them adequate space and oxygen and get some number like 10 or 20 or 30,000. There probably isn't spawning habitat enough for that number, but you could hypothetically fit them all into the Wind River. Capacity becomes more meaningful at spawning time, at which point the number of square meters of suitable spawning gravel (which is a function of depth, velocity, and substrate type and size), which determines the maximum number of spawners the river can accomodate. But that is not the capacity that limits productivity.

    Next we have fry emergence in summer from the spring spawning steelhead. Each emergent fry is going to need fry colonization habitat that is less than 1 foot deep and moving at a velocity less than 1 foot per second. However many square meters of habitat that fits these criteria determines the initial steelhead fry capacity. In the first two weeks following emergence each fry must find habitat meeting these criteria (at least approximately; it can vary a bit) and set up its initial rearing territory that it will defend against other steelhead fry and other fish as best it can. Depending on what this habitat looks like, each fry is going to need between roughly 1 and 10 square feet of space. See what's happening? At each step, the river's capacity to rear juvenile steelhead is shrinking, and shrinking dramatically from the many thousand adult capacity. And this is just for the first summer and early fall rearing. Habitat requirements for juvenile steelhead compress over the winter, but the next spring they really start to grow. And then each juvenile requires an even larger territory, and it becomes survival of the fittest as territories become larger, further reducing the juvenile capacity of the river for yearling steelhead compared to emergent fry. And so on, to the next spring when the juveniles are two years old, and most of them smolt and decide to emigrate. This final number - the smolts - is the most significant capacity of the river, as this is the measure of productivity. And this is the number that TomB was saying is produced by 500 adult spawners. While the river can produce enough smolts to produce more than 500 adults, more than 500 adult spawners cannot produce more smolts than the maximum number defined by the river's juvenile carrying capacity.

    I hope this makes the concept of carrying capacity and spawning escapement goals clearer. I have simplified some of the numbers and life stages to make this shorter and easier to understand. Let me know if it works for you, and if it doesn't.

  10. Salmo

    I thank you for all the time and enegy you put into your post. I have learned soooo much from reading your threads and responses.:)
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  11. Mark,
    Rather than ask you to re-read Toms post I'm going to quote it here and highlight some of it.
    So, let's review.
    The study was done over a period of twenty years.
    650 fish does NOT produce more smolt than 500 fish. (smolt being those fish that have aged long enough in stream(habitat!)to begin outmigrating, and not the number of hatchlings. In other words, no matter how many hatch, the habitat (stream, forests, septic leakage - whatever) is only going to support the growing of a certain number to the 8"-10" smolt size.
    The ideal number for that stream under current conditions is 500. More than that are extra and will not benefit the stream in the future with higher numbers of returning adults. So once the 500 number is reached C&R fishing is allowed keeping in mind that there is incidental mortality figured at 10%?

    Lets say there are 550 fish. You could let 50 lucky guys harvest 50 fish - or - you could let 500 guys C&R until they all hook one and use up the 10% mortality. Which method puts more guys on the water?
    Which method seems to support the few and which method supports the many?

    By the end of the decade in WA you will have to decide to either fish C&R or not fish at all!
    Your choice.

    I feel your pain...but this is exactly how we wind up with the fisheries we running away.
    Better to stand up and confront the guy - over, and over, and over, and over....
    jwg likes this.
  12. Ah...I see Salmo has beat me to the punch...and with more authority! :)
  13. WW,

    I don't have any more authority than the next guy. I can be more verbose than some, however.

  14. I'd agree with that if someone can show that 500 has always been the Wind Rivers capacity. Information I've been able to find shows as many as 2500 returning adults. My point from above is that if we simply just keep re-adjusting the number downward, as the carrying capacity is further reduced by habitat loss, etc., we eventually get to a single pair of fish (hopefully a buck and a hen). I suppose that keeps each generation in the fishing game, but is that the real goal here? From many of the replies on this and the OS thread, sadly, it appears so.

    And to answer WW's probing question about "when have they survived", a mating pair is technically survived... let's fish em!
  15. FSA,

    It's highly unlikely that 500 has always been the number of spawners that fully seeded the Wind. (If you read my other posts in this thread, you'll see why I don't call 500 the capacity, because it isn't. Adult capacity is far, far higher, but adult capacity is irrelevant.

    That as many as 2,500 adults have returned is not surprising. Those 2,500 could have been produced by 500 spawners just as easily as by 1,000 or 10,000 spawners.

    The carrying capacity that is relevant is the smolt production capacity, as I tried to illustrate in my post above at 4:02 PM. That capacity is based on the intrinsic productivity of the Wind River, and it is undoubtedly less today due to anthropogenic perturbation than it was in 1850. If we as a society choose to restore lost productivity to the Wind, or any river basin, then, as productivity increases it would make biological sense to raise the spawning escapement goal accordingly. And even though I can be pretty Polly Anna-ish in some context settings, the future of our anadromous fish habitat is not one of them. Consequently I predict that habitat quality will either stay about as good as it is now, or be degraded even further. With a rapidly increasing human population, the likelihood of increasing habitat productivity just doesn't seem to be in the cards.

    If habitat productivity does, in fact, continue to degrade, and productivity decreases significantly from what it is now, it would just be a reality check to lower the escapement goal in accordance with the river basin's productivity. What purpose would be served by setting a spawning escapement goal far above what is calculated by realistic spawner-recruit analysis?

    I have no objection whatever to advocating for habitat restoration and fisheries conservation commensurate with whatever productivity that restoration achieves. It looks to me like you think setting the escapement objective at a level suitable to habitat productivity in 1850 will somehow make a difference. If that's the case, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news; it won't. The key to abundant fish populations is habitat. And that's the hard part. It's relatively easy to adjust escapement objectives in accordance with productivity, whether it's up or down.

    jwg and Derek Young like this.
  16. Sweet Jesus.

    Go Sox,
    Chris DeLeone likes this.
  17. So at what point do the effects of anthropogenic perturbation result in an expected return number low enough that you might come to the conclusion that having the added risk of them being hooked and released is not an acceptable risk?
  18. OK,OK I get it! I would catch and release for the rest of my life if need be to help the steelies in the region or just not fish over them.

    I have just read other ODFW river management goals and trying to pull up carrying capacity numbers from other rivers in the region and as you explain the other rivers do not matter! Each river is different and I understand the carrying capacity now for smolt and out migration and spawning numbers.

    What I was looking at was the number of adults returning not what the system can produce! I found this short management write-up of my home river and it mentions the population long term geometric mean of my home river (the sandy) being 850 which I would have to say is consistent to the 500 number for the wind.

    Further down it mentions habitat productivity and capacity being 2,500 for the habitat. Than lower down under "effect on population with hatchery removal" it states some 1483 natural-origin spawners increasing to 1664 just for numbers sake!

    Maybe this is the wrong study to go by for the sandy but my research found consistent low numbers for natural spawner numbers. I guess I just had to read it for myself to want to understand it and let it sink in!

    Thank-you for your very simple explanation of the current standards and management tools and the difference between spawning numbers and smolt out migration. And yes I'm thick headed and believe very little of what is posted on the internet! Had to find out myself with a little help from - well - Washington fly fishers!

    I've been outta the game far to long!!!
    Matthew Kaphan and Jason Rolfe like this.
  19. A perfect example of a superior intellect in action.
  20. OK, same question to you that I asked Salmo g. At what point do you stop fishing over depressed stocks?

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