How is the Sauk/Skagit this year?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by MJGROTA, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    I agree this is a good discussion - thanks for getting into this gets.

    "Chris-
    The things that "we" can control- harvest and hatcheries have been being addressed for nearly 30 years. That sad reality is the virtually everytime the hatchery or harvest wrench has been ratched down we have seen declining wild runs. I would submit that the things "we" can control are not what is currently controlling the wild populations. By constantly focusing on those issues the brief windows where the kind of things Kerry talks about passed without action being taken."

    Curt - Can you tell me how the Bottom Commerical fishery has impacted the Sound - it seems to me that we have seen a real hit on areas that our smolt can hide and survive their first week or so in the Sound. I don't remember that aggressive of a fishery in the late 80's - I could be wrong. That is the kind of thing I think we have not addressed - I love Steelhead - but look at limiting/stopping those PS commerical fisheries as a start to a healthy PS. It get really pissed when I see Chum getting wiped out - just to send eggs to our friends in Japan. My Dele-Domis prediction is we will see the same roe fishery and decline with our little firends the Humpies.

    Thanks
     
  2. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    That is a flat out crazy statement Chris. Seriously. Who has closed PS rivers and managed the fish into oblivion? The pro-wild fish organizations? C'mon man. You know better.

    Nail - Im not blaming the Wild Fish Organizations, your right THAT would be crazy - I don't see really any other recommendations for PS steelhead recovery from them - except, support the stop of the sport CnR fishery (they don't fight to keep it in the rule book and continue to close on an emergency basis) and elimination of the hatchery. Please show me some recommendations thay have other than those two items. If I agree with them I will send money, give my time and as Charles said "sell brownies"

    I'll tell you - if the wild fish organizations just put up a little fight to keep these CnR rules in the regs - I would look at that as them standing for the angler when its responsible for a CnR fishery. I really think its an element in their mission they are missing - guys like me don't need much, but we need to know that an organization is standing a little for our responsible oportunity to fish. I hope you get my point.
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Chris -
    While those bottom fisheries were definitely an issue for the Puget Sound ecosystem as a whole I don't see the impacts from those fisheries being much of an issues for salmonids in general and steelhead in particular. The bottom trawl fishery not only over fished number of bottom dwelling species (somoe of which are very slow growing) it also did damage to some of the deep water bottom structure. That said from what is know steelhead seem to spend their time in the upper portion of the water column.

    For many fish species the issues in the Sound seems to the constant soup of exotic chemicals we as a society pour into the system. That is compounded by development in the river's estuaries, harding of eroding slopes on the sound's beaches, and other development in both the salt and the rivers.

    Again the marine survival issue for steelhead seems to be a bigger issue than just here in the Sound; in fact I'm not so sure how much the early mortality of the stelhead in the Sound has increased. Remember the fish using the northern portion of the Salish Sea and avoiding Puget Sound entirely are doing equally poorly. At the best (worst?) for steelhead inner sound survival is only part of the marine survival question.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  4. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I was not joking regarding writing a recovery plan. The state isn't gonna do it. The tribes would step in if they thought they would benefit. It would wrestle control out of the states hand and is the only real way to change the paradigm we now find ourselves in.

    Today I was chatting with fellow anglers at the Deming boat launch. There was much griping about how few opportunities we have. One gentleman wanted brodstock hatcheries. One guy was trying to explain the negative of that sort of hatchery. Another said that he didn't think that there were enough wild fish in the Nooksack to use the whole rivers habitat so why not flood it with hatch fish earlier in the season.

    We all discussed going North in the fall. We were all ready and willing to spend money in return for opportunity. It's the chance that I'm gonna feel that tug that I need. I moved 3,000 miles and away from my family and my wife's family for that chance. It's that chance that defines that fish to me. At present, I see that chance being eliminated. Nothing else is being eliminated but that chance.

    For the chance to feel that tug, I'll pay money, give time etc. The goal needs to be to have enough fish, to be given that chance. At present there will be no chance regardless of run size. This is the next important step. I can assure that the state will not write the plan. If the natives try and do it, we aren't gonna like the results either. So...why not? If your gonna petition for a listing, why can't you also write the plan too?

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  5. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

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    Chris, I can't speak for NFS or WSC but I'm confident they are not anti-fishing. Their mission is for wild fish to be healthy enough for significant recreational fishing. The reason they exist, founded by passionate fishermen, is the fear that all fishing will go away, since that is the current management trajectory.

    Charles, you might be onto something there.
     
  6. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

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    How can a C&R fishery be justified today? Push to lower the escapement goal again? Ok, push to lower the Escapement goal and then we get a C&R fishery and a tribal net fishery on the excess fish.

    Unfortunately this sounds like people want to fish just to fish regardless of the ramifications. Please tell me how a C&R fishery could happen with today's conditions and run size? I'm all ears!

    WDFW is extremely negative towards C&R fisheries and always has been. Look at the Coastal and Puget Sound Stream Strategies. Selective gear rules and C&R fisheries for trout are being replaced by bait and kill fisheries. Closing C&R fisheries for steelhead while in the same breathe opening trout retention on the same rivers. The WSC has submitted comments against these steelhead closures until further information is provided and against trout retention.
     
  7. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Chris D, as far as I know there has not been a "drag" or "bottom trawl" fishery in Puget Sound for a long time. Although it is a destuctive way to fish, I don't believe it is still having an impact in inland waters.

    No one seems to talk about the millions of hatchery smolts that are dumped into P.S. rivers, and the impact that they might have,competing for availible food and habitat in rivers and the sound.

    Love the discussion by the way, great stuff. Wish I would have gotten in sooner.
     
  8. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    One issue with the Skagit is that we will have no C&R fishery even if the run size was 100,000 fish. The listing did absolutely nothing except kill even the potential for a C&R fishery. That was the only thing it did. I'm not arguing that there should be a C&R fishery with a 4,200 run size. I will say however, that the listing forced what will be a permanant C&R closure regardless of run size. Escapement goals and forecasted run sizes have nothing to do with anything given that the state has no management plan.From the states perspective (if there were such a thing, states aren't a thing capable of a perspective) it's actually easier to manage now: Do nothing..... Done. "Fed.'s made us do it.".... "It's cuz of the listing."

    If I had the power to snap my fingers and make the Skagit's run size 18,000 fish tomorrow I would. In this scenario, I would not be allwed to fish for them during a C&R fishery....ever. That's right even if we got 18,000 every single year. That is until WDFW writes a mangement plan. If you think that they are gonna do it then I got a bridge to sell you. If the run size was this large, the tribes may attempt to come up with a plan. If you think that the state doesn't care for C&R then go look at the tribal stance. They hate it.

    If I were a group that wanted the fish to managed properly I would look hard at leveraging the sportsman's passion to wrestle control from the state by creating a science based management plan. Without this plan all that the listing will have accomplished is reducing the total amount of passionate steelheaders in the state.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  9. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

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    There are other plans to review as a starting point. Plans where steelhead fishing remains open. In fact, this is the case everywhere EXCEPT Western Washington. Coastal Nor Cal and Olympic Peninsula are the only places where steelhead are not ESA listed... Yet it's all barrbless, no bait, release wild fish (like BC). Why is WA the only place on the west coast without these steelhead regs?
     
  10. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Ringlee -
    Your statement -

    "WDFW is extremely negative towards C&R fisheries and always has been."

    Just is not true (at least for the north Sound rivers). Every CnR season on north Puget Sound region from the North Fork Nooksack in the late 1970s to the Sauk in 1980s and the following Skagit, Skykomish and North Fork Stillaguamish originated at the desk of a Game/Wildlfie/Fish and Wildlife employee. Further each proposal for those season recieved minimal support from the angler community and until the mid-1980s those CnR fisheries were lightly fished. Having spend a lot of time on those fisheries from the very start I would say it is safe to say that the State through their creation and support of those fisheries helped considerably in the education of the angling community in the differences between wild and hatchery fish and the potential of such fisheries.

    Nailknot -
    Excellent point about the other plans/fisheries. A couple big differences is that in some areas the hatchery fish are considered to be essential to the ESU and during periods of good returns those fisheries are used to remove excess hatchery fish. Another factor is that allowable fishing impacts were developed by the managers and approved by the feds before the current State's steelhead management plan and its guidance was developed.

    Finally there is nothing to prevent the state from developing models for determining allowable impacts under different population conditions though as Charles pointed out they would be unlikely to do so with tribal input. Unfortunately there was little interest on part of WDFW or the angling community for such efforts and conservation groups have generally sued to prevent such efforts (PS Chinook is a good example). Regardless it seems that window to pursue such an effort has passed and it may take a significant directed effort to pry that window open again.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  11. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    "How can a C&R fishery be justified today? Push to lower the escapement goal again? Ok, push to lower the Escapement goal and then we get a C&R fishery and a tribal net fishery on the excess fish.

    Unfortunately this sounds like people want to fish just to fish regardless of the ramifications. Please tell me how a C&R fishery could happen with today's conditions and run size? I'm all ears!"

    Chris Please reread my post, you missed my point - I stated twice "responsible oportunity to fish" I would not support fishing this season or last - but as some have stated if we get better returns in the next few years, we can't reopen the CnR season. The simple process of standing for keeping the CnR season in the regs and support of more porgressive sport fishing methods IS STANDING FOR THE ANGLER - I hope we are on the same page now

    Thanks
     
  12. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Eel is ESA listed, hatcheries closed and yet there is a C&R fishing season. Somehow California figured it out.
     
  13. Clarki

    Clarki I'd rather be reading water

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    A few questions about dams. If rainbow trout can out-migrate at any time and therefore become steelhead, does that mean that all rainbow trout in a given stream share a genetic trait with the Mykiss in the same stream? If dams are blocking the potential out-migration of far upriver fish, like in the Elwha, then maybe the dams are playing a role not yet mentioned. How common is it for a mykiss offspring to spend it's entire life cycle in fresh water, and what percentage of it's offspring out-migrate?

    If the number of reeds has increased in recent years between dams, then that is evidence that the destruction of said lower dam would further the increase of natural spawning habitat.

    Something was said about the release of toxins from the dams, this spring on the Columbia during flood stage we might remember this:

    “The decision by the Bureau of Reclamation to increase river flows at Grand Coulee Dam and over-saturate the river with toxic gases is killing 100,000 fish a day at Pacific Aquaculture’s sustainable steelhead farm 20 miles south of the dam,” the company said in an appeal to elected officials.
    “If this practice isn’t stopped immediately, it will result in more than $30 million economic damage to our company alone. There are currently 2.7 million fish still living on the fish farm that are threatened by this environmental and economic catastrophe.”
    http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2011/05/26/hi-flow-in-columbia-trout-die-salmon-o-k/

    Little has been said about the problems dams pose when they are running at flood stage, when the release of nitrogen gasses are the greatest.

    Thank you all for your passion and drive to create something sustainable and better. I'm all ears.
     
  14. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Inland -
    In some cases "they" even figured it out here in Washington - just one example bull trout on the Skagit (and everywhere else in Wshington) have been ESA listed longer the PS steelhead. Yet on the Skagit one can actually harvest up to two bull trout a day (over 20"); BTW those populations are doing very well.

    The rub with the Skagit and rest of PS steelhead is really two fold.

    First the relatively nw WDFW's steelhead policy states that there will not be any fisheries (recreational) targeting wild fish whose runs are expected to be below escapement needs. Even though it was clear that would push us to where we are the majority of the handful of anglers that bother to comment on that policy while it was being developed supported it.

    The second is that the feds as part of the ESA listing process are require to establish such things as allowable fishing impacts. At the time of the listing nearly everyone agreed the impacts under the management in place at the time was not what was limiting the population. The feds decided that lacking a better proposal they would allow only impacts at that level which was determined for region as a whole it was approximately 4% in the aggregate. The feds would be required to review any proposals that would suggest allowable rates above that ~4% and the "science" that supports those new levels and determine whether those impacts represent a significant increase in the risk of extinction. While in theory the State could put some forward on just the Skagit recreational fishery the feds would rather have any such proposals to be region wide and come from the co-managers as a group - that way any fishery would be covered.

    I can understand why the feds would want to do business that. Once such a proposal reaches them there is a lot of work to be done on their part and any end product will surely be challenged and law suits likely to be filed. Going through such a mess once seems a lot better than a number of times. Bottom line with the current status of steelhead in the region many of the tribes see no need to priotrize time needed and WDFW seems relucate to move further along in the process on their own. After all they have coverage for the important fisheries - salmon.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  15. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    While I don't doubt your facts, the thought that at present WDFW is in any way anything but hostile to C&R steelhead fisheries is laughable. They certainly weren't for them on the coast. Additionally, I wouldn't give credit to WDFW for educating people on them either. As an East coaster by birth I was astonished by people's drive to kill steelhead out here. There seemed to be a far stronger C&R ethic in the great lakes to me. Much of it is generational more than anything. Many in the older generation seems dead set on killing fish. Most of us 40 and below see no need, unless it is to rid the river of a brat. I think more "education" came from TV, books and Easterners/ trout fishermen on planes.

    WDFW cares little to stick up for C&R fishermen, especiall flyfishermen. If there was any will to stick up for us, they would go to bat for us at least on opening the lower Skagit to C&R cutthroat in the spring. As it is, any push back from the fed.'s at all and they say OK. Killing salmon and stocker trout is what this regions WDFW is all about. If that isn't your fishing game...tough luck.

    It's truly sad. I was reading through Combs Steelhead fishing and flies on the way to Vancouver recently. He wrote how the Puget sound area had possibly the finest density of steelhead streams anywhere. By next year I will not be able to fish them for their famed wild winter fish at all.

    It likely won't get better. Under the current management policies nothing will be done to attempt at recovery (closure doesn't further the goal).

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  16. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Salmo g… Just out of curiosity, is this the result from the effects (massive siltation, etc.) of the flood that occurred in the fall of 2003?
     
  17. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

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    We have always been on the same page regarding standing up for C&R fisheries and I support fisheries where runs are healthy and look to make reg changes like C&R, Selective Gear. I live in Washington and I am watching the fish dwindle and the fisheries dwindle hand in hand. Responsible wild steelhead angling opportunities on the Skagit or PS can't and shouldn't happen without recovery. Plain and simple and the way the management plans are going, it's going to take a long time for anything to happen with the current plans. Kick starting recovery is essential and this is what needs to be discussed and implemented before we can talk about angling opportunities. Many NGO's are working to get WDFW and the Fed's to do something. Just because it's not plastered all over websites and in weekly emails, doesn't mean things aren't happening.

    Are you simply pissed because people didn't stand up for the C&R fishery to remain in the regs on ESA listed, underescaping wild steelhead fisheries?

    Look at WDFW's track record to anything proactive in nature for Wild Steelhead. C&R on the OP, How did that go? Selective Gear rules, how did that go? Go check out the last major rule cycle proposal's sponsored by the WSC and other Orgs. regarding wild steelhead. See how all those turned out.
     
  18. ChrisC

    ChrisC Active Member

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    William's point about California's Eel river is spot on - I remember particular rivers of great historical or biological significance in California still offering opportunity with very restrictive regulations such as "Dec. 1 through Mar. 7, but only on Sat., Sun., Wed., legal holidays and opening and closing days. Only artificial lures with barbless hooks may be used." These regulations applied to rivers far, far more damaged than those mentioned above and yet they were restrictive enough that over a long enough time, there are examples where populations have recovered enough to offer more angling days (but still with barbless, no bait regs). Among the contingent of steelhead fishermen who fish these systems you will also find some pretty passionate people (gear and fly) who are making an impact at the local level defending these rivers. Without angling opportunity, I would argue that apathy and lack of awareness will be a bigger longer threat to long-term viability than incremental mortality. Worst case, poaching remains and increases as you have no one but poachers who have a good reason to be on these rivers.

    To Ringlee's point, it would be great to see the fish advocacy organizations provide a more clear position on what they are trying to achieve short-term and longer-term. This was recently posted on the Osprey blog - very well put on what would represent a more enlightened approach:
    http://ospreysteelheadnews.blogspot.com/

    There's still time to submit comments back to WDFW on their proposed rule changes:
    http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/release.php?id=oct1911a
     
  19. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

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    I have found reading the website of the various fish advocacy groups a great way to surmise what their agenda is. I usually read the mission first, maybe brush up on current projects and initiatives, read about past work, you know... typical things folks do when they seek knowledge. Reading and such.

    As for closing the rivers to recreational fishing. Look no further than WDFW. The agenda there may be much more difficult to surmise. However, I am quite sure WDFW is happy to have anglers looking at fish advocacy groups with conspiracy theories, than looking to the fish managers and accountable parties for answers.
     
  20. Sean Beauchamp

    Sean Beauchamp Hot and Heavy at yer 6

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    I'm surprised I haven't received an actual answer to my question. Here we are talking about things that may or may not be harming our steelhead. When the skagit gets GILLNETTED every spring and wild steelhead die. No statistics, studies, science or theory needed. How many? 20? 50? 150?

    How many spawners could be spared if the nets stayed out just a few more weeks? Seems like something that could and should be addressed. Maybe I'm wrong and none get caught but I find that impossible to believe considering how late some of these fish show up.