Flawed rationale in WSC's proposed boat bans? (Part 1)

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by ChrisC, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

    In a recent post on Doug Rose's blog, he brings up several good points on WSC's proposals to the WDFW on a number of rule changes for 2012. Primary is that these proposals divide the sport fishing community by disproportionately lessening opportunity for those who fish gear. Doug makes a very valid point that many of those who fish gear are as vocal and passionate about protecting wild steelhead as those who swing the fly and why alienate that community of allies and advocates with rule proposals that significantly impact their fishing? Wouldn't it make more sense for there to be a unified coalition of sport fishermen advocating mandatory statewide wild steelhead release and selective gear as first and foremost priorities?

    If you read WSC's submissions to the WDFW this year, they consistently make this argument as justification for the boat bans: "Wild steelhead are caught and released (CnR) in large numbers, often while in their spawning phase. Repeated and high levels of CnR can negatively influence behavior, reproduction and survival of many fish species, including steelhead."
  2. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

    Part 2:
    To me, the only reasonable decision that the WDFW commission can make from the argument above is to limit opportunity for everyone by closing the OP rivers earlier as they have with the PS rivers. Maybe that ultimately is the right decision when poor returns dictate that . . . but I really think the boat ban proposals and the rationale only helps reinforce the line of reasoning within the Commission that their only conservation tool is to close rivers early or entirely (and not consider important foundational actions such as statewide wild steelhead release and selective gear).

    Wouldn't at least some consideration of how the Commission typically acts support a completely different set of submissions that would drive lower risk outcomes (with regard to limiting opportunity for everyone) but have comparable impact and much greater support across the steelhead fishing community?

  3. Bottom line is something needs to be done but I would be more nervous about the commission adopting these proposals than closing rivers early because it would be an easier pat on the back for the state that does more harm than good for reasons some of which Doug Rose mentions. I would hope these proposals ultimately fall back on WSC and not fly guys in general... yeah right!
  4. Yard Sale

    Yard Sale Active Member

    This is why it's difficult to lump all these rivers together in one proposal. For the section on the Klickitat they are talking about I would say this change affects the fly guys more than the gear guys. Spey guys are few and far between. It's a fairly even split between nymph and gear boats. Gear guys can still hit all of the river from shore. They might have to adjust tactics a bit but they can still hit it all. Nymph guys will be more limited to what water they can actually fish. So for this piece of water I'd say the fly guys actually get a worse deal than the gear guys.
  5. TomB

    TomB Active Member


    Without addressing any particular angling technique, one can make a very scientifically defensible argument for limiting angler efficiency in a fishery, provided one objective of the fishery is to distribute allowable catch among anglers and mimimize monopolization of the fishery by a small minority of anglers.

    The rationale is this:
    1. A fishery has a mortality limit (biological goal) that must not be exceeded.
    2. This translates to a limit on the number catch and release events or killed fish
    3. Certain fishing methods catch fish at a much faster rate than other methods
    4. There is enough fishing effort that the mortality limit may be exceeded.

    You now have two options:
    1. Allow the free-for-all any technique goes continue and shorten the season.
    2. Limit angler efficiency so that the allowable impacts are spread across more anglers and more time, allowing the season to stay open longer.

    If distribution of the catch among anglers is not of concern at all, why not open the fishery to wild fish harvest with no limit and close it after only a few days or weeks when the catch limit has been met? Clearly we all value distributing the allowable impacts to some extent, the question being how much. The creel data unequivocally shows that boat anglers have a higher catch rate. It therefore stands to reason that limiting fishing from boats would be the first place to start if one wanted to spread the allowable impacts across more anglers and time. With angling effort rapidly increasing, making tough decisions about how to spread limited fishing opportunities among anglers is a reality of fisheries management.

  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Good reply Tom!

  7. Tom,

    Thanks for sharing, it's always nice to hear from someone that really knows what's going on. I am curious about mortality limits and had a couple questions.

    Are mortality limits established for each river or regionally?

    Assuming this is something that can only be monitored in fisheries that are heavily creeled, do you know if these limits are being exceeded on the Hoh, and Quillayute river systems?

  8. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

    Shorter season...+1
  9. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    From what I have observed, one of the reasons boats are so successful is that they cover a lot of water, find the fish and then hammer the same spot. They often either anchor up or row laps in the hole until they have caught a bunch of fish. Is this possible from shore? Absolutely, but on foot, it is harder to find the fish.

    So, one variation I have thought of is if boat fishing isn't banned, try to level the playing field by 1. no fishing while anchored 2. one must continue downstream while fishing and can not row/motor back upstream to fish the same spot again

    It probably wouldn't fly though as enforcement would be difficult...
    David Dalan likes this.
  10. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    It would be easier to enforce a ban on fishing from a boat, but not ban boats on the river. Other state have success with this regulation.

    I know at least one local guide service that already limits their Steelhead guiding on the Methow to drive and wade. Maybe enough pressure from the angling community will push others in this direction.
  11. ChrisC

    ChrisC Member

    Tom, I appreciate the rationale. I hope the Commission is able to appreciate these finer points and act in that regard - though I'm wondering if they have ever in the past or would even consider a similar ban on the Skykomish to restore opportunity.
  12. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

    How about going after the real problem. Gill nets!
  13. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Not interested in getting into the BAIT debate. I do feel if you use a method of fishing to fool a fish that is cool (please read my intended meaning of flies, lures, jigs and those non-bait methods). Gill netting is a method that just can't be allowed. Fish have to swim and those nets are placed, legally or not, in a manner that the fish just can't win.
    Derek Young likes this.
  14. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows The Thought Train

    i agree and disagree with the proposals. i agree that the fish need some sanctuary water from an increasingly effective sport fishing fleet. at the same time i do know that we still allow wild fish retention (bad) and bait fisheries (worse) in the lower rivers. the reason i classify bait as worse is the impacts to non-targeted species such as sea-run cutthroat, resident rainbows, and smolts.

    as for a united sport fishing community, i would also like ice cream that tastes great and makes me thin for dessert and unicorn meat sandwiches for dinner. there will never be this utopian united front as long as we all have very different reasons for fishing and different ideas about the importance of wild fish. we should work towards finding things to work on together that we all agree on, but should not sacrifice the health of our wild fish runs solely for unity.

    i still think something needs to be done to alleviate boat pressure with less rivers being open statewide for winter steelhead. managing an area independently of what is going on elsewhere is not smart and will lead to more river closures in the future. do you like how the spring fishing for steelhead in puget sound is? the same managers are making the same mistakes on the coast. thank god we have organizations and wild fish activists making a difference in trying to preserve not only the wild steelhead runs, but also our ability to fish for them.

    Jonathan Stumpf likes this.
  15. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    WDFW has always had a hard time managing a scarce resource sought by a large number of people.

    One of the downsides of CNR steelheading becoming popular is that good anglers, with increasingly better technology and improved technigues, is that these fishermen who used to catch two steelhead a day and kill them and then go home, now spend all day catching as many steelhead as they can - double digits and then some, has become the expected result of many high-liners when water conditions are favorable. At 5% incidental mortality, some of the CNR high-liners are killing almost as many steelhead as if they kept a limit AND reducing the opportunity of fellow anglers who don't float or jet boat or use the most efficient fish-catching methods.

    The boat fishing targeted by the regulation suggestion wouldn't even be thought of if only a CNR limit of two steelhead a day were enforceable as a regulation. Catch two, and put your rod away. How do you think that would go over?

    If there is no limit on the number of anglers and no limit or restriction on the effectiveness of the methods they may use, it's only a matter of time before reduced seasons will be necessary to limit the total impact on what remains of the steelhead resource.

  16. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    Sg, or how about 20 C&R wild steelhead/year? At 5% mortality, that translates to 1 dead steelhead/year/angler. Each angler would have to record/punch every steelhead they land, wild and hatchery. After 20 wild's, you stop steelheading for the year. Hatchery fish are mandatory harvest up X/day, depending on the system. Get X/day, you are done for the day. This way, if one is seen releasing a fish, they had better have marked it as a wild or they should have kept it if was a hatchery fish. Release a fish that you didn't either mark on your card or keep, you are done for the year if caught. Pretty simple.
    David Dalan, Irafly and Ed Call like this.
  17. Benjy

    Benjy Active Member

    The biggest winners in this would be the gear guys. They can pull over and get out in tight quarters, pitching their rig all the way across the river if need be to reach the holding water. If this ban were to happen, I would start fishing gear and probably catch more on gear from the bank than on dead drifted flies from the boat.

    If C and R mortality is such a concern they could require all nets to be rubber coated, make all hooks single barbless. That would be good for tackle manufacturers and also good for the fish. Enforcement is non-existant out there, I think the biggest place that they're missing are people who retain their one wild fish per-year every single day that they fish and never punch their card figuring that they could do it on the sly if they saw enforcement.

    Where does this 5% mortality number come from? PETA? If mortality is so high, why do you NEVER see dead steelhead on the bottom of the river? I think that number is ridiculously high.
  18. Klickrolf

    Klickrolf Active Member

    I've seen lots of them. The filleted ones sink to the bottom and slip away if the current moves them. Full carcasses float and find a hidden spot to decay. But most of the mortality occurs near their spawning water...which is often well away from steelheaders eyes.
    ribka and Paul Huffman like this.
  19. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

    Does anyone support closing whole river sheds down, I.e., Skagit system closed for 5,10 years,the Snohomish system,the Puyallup system,....do a lottery,close down a watershed,everyone gets to fish his/her way no battles over boats.does that provide recovery opportunities for said fish?
    Blktailhunter likes this.
  20. BDD

    BDD Active Member

    They have closed whole river systems down for 5-10 years...Wenatchee, Thompson, Methow, PS rivers, Hood Canal, and many others...the closures didn't necessarily facilitate increased wild fish recovery. Of course, an argument could be made that it was that it was not long enough to make a difference.
    Bob Triggs likes this.