Hatchery Steelhead... yes or no?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Panhandle, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. Its a very steep learning curve;) :cool:
  2. Hahahah, the Skagit == silly hard! Man, more than any river that one intimidated me the most! I think it took 6 trips before it finally gave up a fish to me....
  3. Tom Quinn's work at Forks creek characterized the low survival of hatchery/wild crosses. Send me a PM and I can probably find a PDF file unless someone else has a link. I believe there are other similar studies in the Kalama and elsewhere.
  4. Pan,
    On the walla walla river its nearly all hatchery fish. I've only landed two truely wild steelhead in 3 years of fishing when compared to larger amounts of brats. That river needs to be closed and restored. For the amount of water it carries and pristine spawning habitat of it and its tribuaries, it should be kicking out huge numbers of wild fish.

    On the T rivers most fish are wild, about 1 in 4 are hatchery atleast for me.

    Ronde, about half and half

    Clearwater, almost all hatchery

    I think I could live without steelehad if it meant their eventual return, just not well.

  5. You're a better man than me Andy.
  6. Paul,

    The Kalama studies were the first to have a significant amount of data suggesting that spawning interactions between wild and hatchery fish could significantly decrease the survival of the fish. There is a large body of scientific literature on hatchery wild interactions, some more conclusive that others. Bill Bakke with the wild fish society has a good amount of literature linked to his website http://www.nativefishsociety.org/conservation/biblio/wild_vs_hatchery/index.html
    That link should be helpful.

    As far as my feels about hatcheries I too have a number of conflicting feelings. First of all, I like catching steelhead. Increasingly however my interest in fish/fishing has been in catching native fish so I would much rather target native steelhead if doing so did not cause undue harm to the sustainability of the run. I also think that as fisheries managers we lean much too heavily on hatcheries as a means of creating better fishing opportunity. In my limited experience, hatchery steelhead are inferior in all arenas, survival, willingness to take a fly, and fighting ability. I do however understand as others have mentioned that in some systems there would be no fish/fishing were it not for hatcheries. In these instances I think hatchery production is acceptable. That being said, the amount of hatchery planting that occurs in many systems which have completely viable habitat is disturbing to me and I cant help but think that without the hatchery fish the wild fish would be much better off.

    The columbia system presents unique challenges. When you are loosing 10% of outmigrant smolts at each dam the wild fish are going to struggle to survive period, so for rivers like the Methow hatchery plantings are probably going to be the reality. Broodstocks while possibly the lesser of two evils actually undergo domestication selection and show considerably decreased survival and overall fitness within only a few generations of domestication, so they probably arent a good answer for restoring wild fish. The Snake system is the one that really infuriates me. The dams on the snake generate a trivial amount of electricity and their maintenance as well as the cost of mitigation efforts (hatcheries, habitat restoration, etc) are heavily subsidized by the government...all to make Lewiston the largest inland port in the world. Its Bull! With the amount of money we've spent polluting the gene pool of those amazing clearwater fish we could remove the dams and create a highspeed rail system that would be at least as effective in transporting grain from idaho. I hope to god we can see that in our lifetimes, because with climate change and all the other challenges facing those fish I am affraid that may be the only way to save them in the long run. Its just so frustrating that restoring those runs is right at our fingertips and the bureaucrats are too ignorant to do anything but squander tax dollars on inferior hatchery fish!

  7. I am conflicted on this issue. Much the same as some previous posters. One thought though, given the current political climate and the current demographics in the fly vs. bait vs. gear situation, IF we were to close any major river systems OR a significant number of smaller systems, you can bet that they will be closed to ALL forms of angling. Don't count on CnR fishing getting a pass. Not arguing for or against here..... just pointing out that the closure of CnR along with other forms of angling would be a virtual certainty.
    In a perfect world the folks who wanted to keep fishing would convert to CnR but, I think that in the real world they would pitch a screaming fit and lobby for total closure. You can also multiply that likelyhood by several orders of magnitude if the tribes and commercials get shut down.
    Still best for the fish?:confused:

  8. So JonB, I'm not picking on you in the least bit. But the concept of us versus them is kinda a reoccuring theme and sometimes doesn't jive with reality. Bait and gear have nothing to do with C&R or catch and keep. The use of single barbless hooks is one of the best transitions we can make towards a sustainable C&R fishery. Studies in general show that if the isn't gil or gut hooked that they will in general recover.

    The reason why I bring this up is because most of the best bait guys I know do C&R exclusively for wild fish, even when it is their right to keep one. The people you speak of demographically are more into the harvest aspect of the fisheries, and the usual argument is based on the "right by tradition". The arguments that we see about harvest versus C&R occur on bait/gear boards at a rate that rivals our own on the fly boards and definately crosses the boundry of fly versus gear into gear versus gear.

    As is, the catch and keep of wild fish is pretty much as limited as it's going to get in this state (with the exception of the OP). Further restrictions would reduce the harvest on the OP to 0. Unfortunately that doesn't help the current plight of the wild stocks on the big C or the puget sound metropolis rivers. In most cases, the rivers are simply closed on Feb 28th, usually based on escapement for the wild stocks (which usually means it's closed).

    As for justification, the only thing that we can do to justify our C&R season is to state that the C&R mortality goal for a specific run will be how we choose to use our allotment of fish for the fishing season. Our tribal co-managers can do what they will with theirs, but that's a firm legal issue, nothing more nothing less. Any argument from the tribes would be quickly put down as this would be well within our rights by the Boldt decision. Of course if they *did* choose to revist this it is entirely possible that the entirety of the Boldt decision could be unravelled based on the current plight of the fish. I doubt comanagership would be surrendered as that right was earned in blood and suffering, but the oversight for the tribes and WDFW would probably start to change, as well as the defined right of harvest and how limits are set.

    -- Cheers
    -- James
  9. I catch very few natives in local waters. I can count only a few and most of them are winter fish. I try to avoid places like the Upper Kalama where there are better numbers at certain times of the year. If I am to catch them, I would rather do it in the spring or early summer when they are fresh and full of vigor.

    I doubt that rivers like the Cowlitz have many natives in them. Winter fish maybe, but I doubt there are any true summer fish left. It is too bad, but realistically keeping a few rivers a catch and keep fishery will make kill fisherman at least partially happy. I personally bonk most if not all hatchery fish. Although I would prefer to catch a beautiful strong native steelhead, I will take a slightly mutilated hatchery fish that sometimes fish just as well as its native brethren. Also I believe removing hatchery fish from the genetic pool is a must. I have seen on two different systems steelhead spawning, Both times I noticed some of the fish were not wild. I left them alone, but what are the genetic consequences?

    So yeah I am torn as well.
  10. When you examine the DNA of both hatchery and wild fish, you will see amino acid differences in the same line sequences. These slight variations can and will account for a genetically different fish, regardless if they make it back to their rearing habitat. Interestingly, mutations along DNA sequences can both help sustain a population or weaken its ability to survive.
  11. iagree
  12. We were in Hank's Market in Twisp on the 4th and they had fresh Columbia Steelhead for sale. Now what's up with that?

  13. Will, well said, I see Some good points in you post...

    "Hatchery fish" could mean several different things. 1. It could be fish that from some where, other drainages, that have totally different genetic profile. 2. It could be the offspring from last year wild type parent fish that have pure genetic profile.
    Having the first type of hatchery fish in the river, the gene pool would be washed out and lost their evolutionary significance and also might reduce the fitness of the local wild fish. On the other hand, having the second type of hatchery fish in the river, they did help the river maintain certain amount of fish, increase the population size of the whole lineage in that specific race. "Good" fishery fish restore the population that have been hugely damaged by dam, fisherman and habitat loss. For the genetic tool we have today... ,and if the implantation have been done properly, hatchery fish could be a good thing to the damaged fishery. Although I still love to see the fish will roam wild by themself without humans' hands. Just my little opinion for your reference.

  14. Prolly purchased from a tribal netter... It was more than likely hatchery origin fish...
  15. Here's a link to a USGS study looking at genetic differences in the migration, growth, and survival of hatchery and wild steelhead and of hatchery and wild spring chinook salmon :


    That's funny, because that was the river they chose to sample steelhead from. If they can't get wild fish, how can they make a comparison??:confused:

    Something else weird about it: It only has the first 2 years (2000-2002) of a five-year study written up, and should be finished by now, but I couldn't find the final data anywhere on the USGS website.

    Thanks for the link, Will. That looks like a great organization and website!! :thumb:
  16. Thank you for that!:rofl: I promise not to pick on you either.:thumb:

    I believe the same studies also show that the likelyhood of gill or gut hooking increases with the use of bait vs. artificial lures.

    I used to be one of those guys but, "Most of the best bait guys I know" is not a very large sampling group, and I'm not sure I made my point clearly enough since you are bringing this up.

    My point is that closing the hatcheries and making more rivers CnR only will increase lobbying form the CnK crowd to close the rivers completely.

    I then asked the question, Is this still the best thing for the fish?

  17. Come live in Wenatchee and then you won't have to talk hypothetically about closed rivers:)
  18. Interesting thread. First of all I would rather fish over fewer fish in a self sustaining run rather than a river full of hatchery brats. I do on occaision target hatchery fish based on the time of year (Dec-Jan), but I would gladly trade this opportunity if there was a chance to recover early returning nates.

    Here are a couple of observations. Steelhead are planted in almost every river in the state. Coho and chinook are also planted in a great many drainages. Which species are having the greatest challenges?
    hmmmm....steelhead, chinook and coho. Pinks and chum are doing pretty well on their own. Could it be that hatcheries are negatively influencing wild steelhead, chinook and coho? :beathead: If you presented this question to a fourth grader I'm sure you could find the solution. How long before we can no longer call any of our runs native?

    Hatcheries are getting fewer and fewer fish back, in some cases this is in the face of larger and larger plants. This has two effects: One, the obvious effect of less returning hatchery fish to fish for or to collect for spawning, and two, those fish that actually make it back and end up straying are from a severely compromised stock and likeley have an even worse effect on the native gene pool. We need the remaining rivers that have viable native stocks to be preserved as such.

  19. Totally gut hooking was more likely with bait, but the single largest factor in the study I saw was the use of single barbless hooks. The non-use of bait was second, not distantly but enough to be distinguished.

    Totally agree on this. The catch and keep crowd often use this argument as reasons for keeping. The reoccuring theme is, if the river can't sustain harvest it should be closed. It is funny though as often those arguments are grounded in the bizzare belief that C&R mortality is like 75%, and that fishing is about harvest. The counter of course is that fishing has evolved into a sport, and that to maximize the sport opportunity, C&R is an excellent tool.

    As for closing all rivers, because of the C&K crowd not liking C&R, I doubt it will ever happen. BC had a huge contingent of C&K up in their lakes region. When most lakes were turned into C&R based on a provisional plan there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Five years into the program though, people learned that *more* money was coming into the local economies because of the excellent fishing, and that the fishing was more fun. Of course there were still meat factories to allow people to keep, but by and large quite a bit went to C&R.

    Then again all of this is opinion, so you know how far that goes! :) None the less I do see your point more clearly (and it seems you've seen much of the same arguments between the gear guys!).
  20. For me it is rather simple. I love fishing. I love catching fish, but it is a simple question of quality vs quantity. Some fisheries are truely amazing. Some coatal fisheries come to mind. These fisheries have fish in the system every day of the year due to the fact that we have created hatchery runs. The streams still maintain a great native fish population that haven't been messed with and are great sport. I maintain that such fisheries be left intact. The upper columbia/ Snake river tribs are a much different story. These streams have one run of fish and they all spawn at the same time. The hatchery fish, that some of the streams produce, are VERY tiny where the natives are huge perfectly propotioned fish. There are places though where big hatchery fish are produced and thus they create fun fisheries, but I know my wild fish fight much harder and are generally better fish. Its a tough one Adam.
    Mark T Bové

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