Got Rezzies?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Don Freeman, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Another thing to consider is that the wild cutthroat will be hammered if that is the only gamefish accessible to saltwater fly anglers. Resident silvers help to spread out the fishing pressure on the native cutthroat population. There is mortality with the catch&release cutthroat fishery, especially harsh on the smaller 6-12 inchers that folks are hooking this time of year. For this reason I don't target cutthroat nearly as aggressively as I once did and focus more on catching salmon in the salt.

    PS- I dropped off a hard copy of the petition at the AVID ANGLER today so please ask to sign-it next time you visit the shop. I'll pick it up at the end of July and mail it to Don.
  2. While I agree with whats happening here, this type of thinking is what has, is, and will destroy wild fish populations. Though this is about as unharmful to wild fish as a hatchery program can get, we should rely on it for angling opportunities. I really like don's outlook on this, but total hatchery take over is as close to blasphemy as you can get in fly fishing.
  3. This just doesn't make sense to me. Salmon are a much more desirable target to most anglers than cutthroat. Keep in mind that while ALOT of fly fishers fish for cutts int he sound, not a whole lot of gear guys do, there are alot more fisherman in general who would target Salmon first.

    If these fish occupy the same areas wouldn't a bigger silver salmon presence in the sound INCREASE fishing pressure on cutthroat?

  4. ok I can get some to some local shops as well
  5. Is there any specific research out there that someone can quote that shows the effects of hatchery coho on the wild cutty populations? I am torn on this particular hatchery issue. Generally I vote for wild fish first, but not sure on this one. I would love some unbiased research supported by strong evidence instead of everyone's different guesses on the impact to wild cutts.
  6. In historical context one can say that back in the day there were more wild salmonids around Puget Sound waters and yet they coexisted with cutthroats in some kind of balance. But in that same era there was more and healthier marine and watershed habitat and a greater abundance of forage species, especially herring. Today we have less watershed habitat and much of what we do have is degraded, with fewer forage species and the marine environment isnt faring any better, especially regarding herring populations. sIntroducing hatchery salmon into the environment puts more pressure and competition on the few remaining wild fish,including cutthroat trout.

    This topic is a great example of how fishermen have driven the fisheries management decions in this region to rely upon hatcheries for their fish. It doesn't work ecologically. But the political pressure continues. Anything to keep the rollercoaster running.
  7. Not being a south Sound fisher I have another question for you regulars.

    From a far it seems to me that over at least the last decade in spite of the numbers of delayed reared coho released there has a considerable variation in the numbers of resident coho in South Sound. The speculation I heard as the potential factor for part of the variation in fish numbers was the availability of forage for the coho. Is that still commonly thought to be the case? If indeed forage availability is part of the equation how does release more hatchery fish result in more residents? Would it not work the other way? The fish could exhaust the forage faster and more on.

    Just soem food for thought. It seems to me for more than a century the promise of hatcheries being an easy solution to salmon problems has disappointed folks more often than not. This past history suggests that it may be wise to carefully consider the full range of potential issues associated with an incarease hatchery production before jumping on that band wagon.

    Tight lines
  8. Forage can indeed be a factor in residualzation. When food is scarce, the coho leave the area in search of food. The cutthroat stay in place and eat what's available, so during hard times, the salmon don't over compete with wild populations.

    Your statement "in spite of the numbers of delayed reared coho released" seems to assume that the number of fish released has been stable and plentiful. This is not the case. The number released has declined dramatically in recent years with entire facilities being closed. A crucial factor in fish staying around is time of release. In some cases, lack of money for food, and fear of infection from unseasonably warm water temperatures has triggered early release, resulting in marine migration instead of creating resident Coho.

    Our current effort is to shift production of Coho to facilities which have better conditions for growing healthy silvers, but are currently having less relative success producing blackmouth than other hatcheries. There is a finite (and shrinking) license fee generated fund for these projects, and we want to spend the money wisely to provide more recreational opportunity.
  9. Curt:

    You raise some excellent questions/thoughts about the relationship between resident coho and sea-run cutthroat shared food sources!

    I have no solid information about about food availability for resident coho and sea-run cutthroat. However, in my "unscientific/opinionated" fishing journal I noted a noticeable decrease in sea gull activity in the 1990's vs. 2000 to 2010 particularly Bonaparte gulls which eat much of the preferred food(amphipods and sand lance) of resident coho and sea-run cutthroat. It seems like sand lance populations are cyclic. Are changes occuring in food sources in Puget Sound? Herring populations have greatly decreased in the past but appear to be maybe on the increase hopefully. I was out fishing on Monday and there a lot of baitfish out in open water in a lot of areas. My quess is that they were herring which would be encouraging. What about other food sources?

    IMHO there are some locations where resident coho and sea-run cutthroat share the same locations but it is not the norm. Since both resident coho and sea-run cutthroat prefer shallow near shoreline locations, they obviously share the same food sources. The resident coho will normally be in deeper water(10 to 25 feet) and the sea-run cutthroat in shallower water(1 to 10 feet). Whenever I keep a resident coho, I check it's stomach content. It gives me a good indication of what nearby sea-run cutthroat will be feeding on.

  10. Roger -
    Thanks - I was hoping you would chime in; I respect your history, observations, and opinions on the fish and fisheries in south Sound.

    Unfortuantely your observations seem to reinforce some of my concerns. That is on poor or marginal forage years planting more delayed released coho are unlikely to produce more south Sound "residents" and potentially increase interactions between those hatchery fish and the wild cutthroat.

    Tight lines
  11. I'd reserve judgment Curt. I've asked some biologists who specialize in this area for their input. Joe Jacquet for instance published a body of work several years ago sampling the stomach contents of sea run cutthroat in the south sound throughout the calendar year in various locations. In recent years when the resident Coho population was especially abundant, we took a lot of them home, and were very surprised to find them choked with herring in the 5-6 inch size. According to my recollection of Joe's work, these herring are not a major component of cutthroat fare.

    Also, unlike cutthroat which are true residents Coho leave the area when food is scarce migrating north until until they find adequate forage, and have been observed in the Straits of Juan De Fuca. Cutties don't do that.

    Again, like Roger, this is my personal observation based on a small and informal sampling size.

    I am going to ask Joe and a couple of other professionals I know for their input on this subject, as they is more sophisticated on forage habits of both species than sport fishermen who are not authorized to pump the gullets of src's.

  12. From my observations resident coho are thick in the south Sound December through early May, feeding on amphipods mostly until they reach 13-14 inches then adding baitfish to their diet such as sandlance. During much of this time the mature spawning age cutthroat are dancing in and around their spawning creeks, so they are certainly not in constant competition for food. In late spring and early summer resident coho range further in their foraging and head into the north Sound and Straits of San Juan DeFuca depending on where the baitfish are concentrated. Meantime, the cutthroat have emerged from spawning and are staying put in their home waters feeding on the local offerings. Unlike the cutthroat, the resident coho have the mass eating gene that keeps them on the move to satisfy the need to put on weight and size as fast as possible. The time of year that I most frequently catch both resident coho and cutthroat in the south Sound is March-April, when the rezzies are just starting to switch to a baitfish diet.

    In my opinion, the most valuable contribution of the south Sound resident coho program comes when these fish go into hyper feeding mode in July-August and provide spectacular fishing throughout Puget Sound. By this time the rezzies have reached 3-7 pounds, while the cutthroat stay close to home and maybe gain an inch or two in length during the year (prefering longevity over size). I just don't buy the argument that these two species have serious issues with competition for food as they have different survival strategies, feeding times, feeding zones and occupy distinct saltwater niches.
  13. Interesting thread, full of measured and insightful posts,thank you. How many people take advantage of this fishery? Does anyone have the #ers? Is it worth the risk to the native populations? Do they compete with Puget sound Steelhead when they smolt? Just a few questions I had floating around in my head.

  14. To those of you who both support hatchery resident coho AND live on Bainbridge, Poulsbo, Kingston, or pass through the area: I just dropped off a hard copy of the petition at Penninsula Outfitters in Poulsbo. I talked with the shop owner and he is supportive of the effort. Please stop on by and sign the petition.

    Although I can only comment locally (PNP through South Bainbridge...the only areas I fish), the data in my fishing log does not support the notion that hatchery resident coho populations have a significant impact on SRC catch frequency for cutties has remained solid over the past 7 years and yet the rezzie catches have varied dramatically.
  15. Don/Dimebrite/SciGuy -

    I agree that once those resident coho get larger they convert to a bait fish diet and by the time they are 18 to 20 inches long they are fish eating machines. Further there south to north movement as young fish is largely food driven. By the time they usually reach MA 9/10 or points to the west they represent little threat to the cutthroat; those of us that fish those areas for those larger resdient fish have access to a wonderful fish (both on the rod and table) with little risk to our local mid and north sound cutthroat. However I suspect the section to the south is a different matter. It is while the coho are smaller that the potential over lap in diets in the coho and cutthroat is the greatest. It is also the most critical time for the cutthroat as the adult fish are preparing or recovering from spawning and the coho numbers are the highest. My sense is the if food resources are depleted the coho can move great distances while the cutthroat are not nearly as mobile.

    One thing I have noticed with those larger summer resident coho in MA 10 is that every 4 or 5 years their diet during July/early August includes lots of salmon smolts. In the summer of 2005 every coho stomach I looked at in July or early August had at least one salmon smolt that could be identified - fortunately most of them were clipped but then most of the salmon from that area are hatchery fish.

    Don -
    I will be very interested in Joe's take on this whole issue.

    Chris -
    What little information that is available concerning steelhead smolts would indicate that those resident coho probably are not a big issue. Unlike the cutthroat the steelhead smolts generally are found in deeper water and are in the area for relatively short period of time.

    I have been tracking the cutthroat of the "S" rivers for more than 30 years and the quality of the fishing is not only holding its own it has improved. 2010 was just an exceptional year with not only great numbers of fish I found a shocking portion of my catch being "large" fish. Using your logic about coho on the cutthroat based on your fishing I would have to say that neither the retention or the use of bait in river systems like the Skagit and Snohomish are not having adverse impacts on the cutthroat. I sure that all the readers here will agree with that conclusion; don't you?

    Tight lines
  16. I enjoy fishing for resident silvers but I love fishing for blackmouth. It is to bad that we have to choose between the two, not to long ago we had an abundance of both in south puget sound. If I had to choose between the two though I would have to vote for the enhancement of resident chinook in area 11 and 13. It is to bad that we are so low on the priority list here in southern puget sound that we have to fight to maintain or slightly increase an already terrible fishery compared to 30, 20 even 10 years ago. I hope the WDFW figures it out someday, until then I will be optimistically sitting by hoping for a decent run of fall kings this summer that more than likely won't show up, just as they have not in the past 4 or 5 years.
  17. I must have missed something Jonathan. How is it that we have to choose one or the other?
  18. The state is not going to fund the enhancement of both and after reading the first page or two of posts I was just noticing that the push was to enhance the resident coho population. I was simply putting my 2 cents in that I would rather see more blackmouth in south puget sound than pulling more money from that resource and putting into resident silvers. Don your right we should not have to choose between either resident coho or blackmouth but you and I both know that the state is not going to substantly increase the amount of either fish population let alone both.
  19. I don't buy the argument against hatcheries so I support more of them. We need something in place while we stabilize and improve habitats. Perhaps hatcheries give us genetically inferior fish but could it also be that they are providing a baseline fishery that will, over time, prove to help rather than hinder, the diminishing runs we are seeing.

    Study a little about the research in human genetics and how adapative our genes are to environmental circumstances before you fully buy into the argument that wild fish are "designed" to endure. Genetic adapatation can occur much faster than we've ever thought.

    More fish = more fishermen = more political base for strong fisheries. Yes to Resident Silver supplementation.

  20. JR -
    You are correct of course the natural selection process is constantly in action to adapt the genetics of population to the local enviroment. And yes even mal-adapted hatchery fish under natural selection with adpat to the environment and be come more productive in that environment if given the chance. However the key is if given the chance. The constant infusion of those hatchery fish (especially at high levels) into the spawning population insures that the natural selection will not be effective (most of the spawners will not have undergone selection by the environment) and the resulting will have a reduced prodcutivity. That will continue to be the case until that infusion of hatchery fish spawning with the wild fish ends. While means ending the release of hatchery fish or somehow greatly reducing (ending) the interaction of those hatchery fish with those that are constantly undergo that natural selection process.

    However the major point here is not the spawning of the delayed hatchery released coho and whether they will be productive or not but rather will increased numbers in the releases of those coho increase competition with the wild sea-run cutthroat. And secondarily will releasing more coho mean more resident coho? To put it another way how often is the numbers of those fish opting to rear in the sound (and specifically south Sound) not currently limited by available food resources in that period following the releases?

    Tight lines

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