Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Bob Triggs, Oct 2, 2013.
I prefer american style pale ales, and porters.
Usually, I try to avoid the steelhead threads, but Charles Sullivan just hit a home run. At Fenway.
I always think of this topic in pictures, so let me paint one.
Picture a beautiful run, on one side of the river is the traditional Spey angler. On the other bank is a dirty bobber fisherman. They both have abandoned fishing and are in a furious screaming match. They fucking hate each over.
Meanwhile, 10 miles downstream at the mouth, the netters are setting up a slalom course of nets giving the fish very few opportunity to swim past.
Now, out in the bay, just past the river mouth, the commercial boys are running a zig zag pattern for maximum effect.
Past the bay, out in the sound, the fish farmers are pouring chemicals in the form of antibiotics into the water to keep the fake fish just healthy enough for humans to eat.
So, the question is........
What are the anglers fighting about?
If I remember right, Doug rose has a chapter about this very problem in The Color of Winter. He explains it very well, and that was the first time I ever really understood the issue properly.
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angling experience does matter. imagine how good the fishing on the hoh was from 1976-1981....
Angling experience does matter. It is not a conservation issue though.
I spend a lot of time, money and vacation accruals to fish places where angling experience is better than OP. I personaly enjoy no fishing from boat reg's and not fishing any peice of water someone else is on, riffle to tail. I don't think it's a conservation tool though.
i disagree that we have no impact with the level of traffic currently seen on the hoh. when over 75% of the run is c&r'ed during prime fishing conditions that adds up (actually probably closer to 100% of the fish entering the river during the season as total run size includes fish that enter after the season closes). we are responsible for our own actions and reducing our mortality via sanctuary water and no bait regulations adds some fish to spawning beds. the tribe isn't netting the upper river, and the fish that get through the nets when they are out of the water (either by schedule or during big water events) become our responsibility.
there is a reason the finest well known steelhead rivers have restrictive regulations, especially since most of the famous ones have harvest issues outside of our control.
no one can honestly call me a tribal apologist, but the tribe is gonna do what the tribe is gonna do and screaming about their bad behavior to justify our own is pretty selfish imo.
of course, the crowding on the hoh chased me off the river long ago. i haven't fished it in the winter since before i shut down my charter fishing business back in 2005. it has gotten so much worse since then and any steelheading plans i now have will focus either on summer-runs or winter-runs far away from what the olympic peninsula has become.
I agree that the impacts are relatively small, but there are impacts. I have been over there 4 times in the last few years, when Puget Sound rivers were open to c & r I never went over. If we could get WDFW to manage P.S. rivers individual basis it would alleviate some of the pressure. That would take $$ though, and we all know how people feel about taxes. We can make changes if we want, or not, it's up to you.
Here is my perspective on the "Love to Death" concern about the OP and other rivers.
PS guys go over there to fish because they can't fish close to home. They have to use hall passes from the wife and work - so they need to make the trip worth while - that means multiple days. Now guys have buddies they want to fish with each year and since no body in PS can go fish oh lets say the Skagit for a day with one buddy that also has or took the day off - they set out to the OP in crews of friends, four to six even more and now every body has a raft - so there is two or three of those things tagging along. Its has to become an event, extended weekend or lets take weekdays off of work so the "crowds" are less. When rivers close to home are open you call one buddy to fish that day - there is no event mentality, you have until the end of April to hook up and fish with friends, knowing because its close that you don't have to fish with all of your buddies over one or two weekends a season. Top that off with the marketing of the OP, from Montana trout guides making money off the resource while their rivers are frozen and you have the only steelhead game in town.
My solution - as Chris Johnson said - a basin by basin management approach for the PS systems - open the Skagit, open the Nooksack and work our asses off to open the Sky someday (when its responsible to do so). These are unintended consequences from everybody so excited to have the PS system listed under the ESA and not knowing the full extent of that listing or full well knowing it and using it to raise funds for your organization.
At what point is it okay to fish for wild steelhead? Incidental mortality because of catch and release can kill fish. That's a given. How much effect it has on the run is up for debate. Commercial fishing kills fish. Guaranteed.
if managing any resource for maximum harvest isn't lust then i don't know what is. i agree with you Charles that the impact from sport angling is minimal compared to other impacts. however i believe in controlling ones own actions. the simple fact is that anyone saying that repeatedly catching and releasing wild fish multiple times while they have already past the nets and other obstacles is uninformed, selfish, or stupid. furthermore its just tacky and unethical. there is no sport without ethics. many sport guys behave like its a right to go fish. its not. its a gift and privilege. my point is perhaps it would at minimum send a message that wild fish are important enough to have some restrictive regulations if not help them out just a bit. yet I'm sure that might interfere with some guys right to gang bang, over market, over hype, and just plain get some for himself then so be it. bottom line we can control "sport" angling to some degree and the traffic is out of hand. if you don't think there is an impact you have your head in the clouds or the sand take your pics.
My point is that we can eliminate sport fishing all together and it will not put 1 more fish on the gravel. Those impacts will be gobbled up by those that kill the fish. This will happen under the current paradigm, every time, all time. It's not a question of morality. It's a question of process, paradigms, politics and math. It's high time we get smarter and less emotional.
My favorite bumper sticker..."Subvert The Dominant Paradigm."
just as sportsman's techniques have improved over the past 10 years allowing us to cast further and fish more effectively so has the tribes techniques. The Hoh tribe is amazingly good at drift netting now. Whereas there used to be a net fixed to the side of the river they now can do in and hour what would take 24 hours of set netting. I do agree with most of the comments above that state that if there was 1 or 2 PS rivers with CNR I think it would greatly take pressure off the OP. I am part of the problem. I used to fish PS as long as I could then take a trip or two out to the OP. Now I go twice as much and stay twice as long out there.
Nate, when you wrote, " How much effect it has on the run is up for debate," I decided to lift that sentence from your post because it is wrong. Oh, it's up for emotional debate, but not for a debate that is limited to just plain objective facts. That is the point Charles is making, and that is why he is correct. The incidental mortality associated with CNR sport fishing for wild steelhead is not having any effect on the subsequent runsize 4 or 5 years later. Guys can think and feel that it must have an effect (and it surely affects emotions), but the data do not support that conclusion, no matter how heart felt. The data do not even support that the directed harvest mortality from sport fishing for wild steelhead is having any deleterious effect on the subsequent abundance of steelhead populations. This, and the inherent treaty tribal fishing issues, is why WDFW is not interested in achieving spawning escapement numbers any higher than the existing goal.
With respect to Puget Sound steelhead, NMFS even writes in its status review and ESA listing determination that harvest, as it has been managed over the last 20 years, is not limiting the abundance of PS wild steelhead. That being the case, there is just no mathematical formula on earth that will calculate the incidental mortality associated with CNR sportfishing of wild steelhead as causing measurable adverse impacts to populations. Even though we know full well that no individual steelhead even benefits from being chased, hooked, and caught by any angler, even a CNR angler.
I am having a really hard time finding data, and learning about this issue. Please correct me if I am wrong because I need guidance. It seems that the only reason why WDFW has the hatchery programs is not for the anglers like us but for commercial purposes. Am I way off here or am I on the right track here?
You're on the wrong track. The hatchery steelhead program was begun in the late 1940s under WDG Director Clarence Pautzke to fill sport fishermen's creels with steelhead in numbers Mother Nature could never compare with. Commercial fishing for steelhead was banned under state law in 1935. But then came U.S. v WA in 1974, and treaty Indian catches of steelhead re-entered the commercial market after a 35 year absence.
The reason for continuing hatchery steelhead programs was twofold: to maintain recreational steelhead catches because, without hatchery fish, harvests would fall to near-zero; and secondly, to maintain FTEs. A big part of any government bureaucracy is continue to make itself relevant, needed, and its staff employed. WDFW has all these hatcheries. And it has all these hatchery staff. If they don't raise hatchery fish, then what is WDFW going to do with the hatcheries and hatchery staff? Never underestimate the momentum of status quo. The best and worst example of this is the hatchery steelhead program at the Kendall Creek hatchery on the Nooksack. It get barely enough fish back to meet its broodstock requirements, and sometimes doesn't meet it. And to do this, WDFW must close the river to steelhead sport fishing to increase the probability of meeting its broodstock requirements for the program. And the program consists of producing hatchery fish that don't return in numbers large enough to support the sport fishery they were intended for. So again, the river must be closed to steelhead sport fishing in hopes of getting enough steelhead back to make brood to keep the program going to . . . keep the program going, because it sure isn't creating much sport fishing opportunity when the river must be closed to the very activity the program is intended to support.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-hatchery. I'm just against spending money on things that don't deliver a reasonable return on investment. And a lot of steelhead hatchery programs are in that category of not delivering a reasonable return. And as far as I know, WDFW isn't even having the conversation about what it should be doing with those funds that would make sense from an economic and recreational fishing perspective.
It's as if your saying that hatcheries are really a jobs program where the state can waste millions of dollars in the most inefficient way possible.
"Never underestimate the momentum of status quo."
that sums it up very well
Thank Mr G that brings alot of clarity to a fuzzy picture for me. Please forgive me everyone as I am indeed a rookie, and wanting to get more involved, and learn more about the politics of things here.