How is the Sauk/Skagit this year?

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

  1. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Andrew,

    In part yes, the flood effects could be a factor. However, abundance declined in all index reaches while the dam reach increased, supporting my point that if the Skagit dams were having a major adverse effect on the population, that absolute and relative increase would not have occurred.

    Sean,

    The major effect of the gillnetting is that it is visible, kills fish, and therefore invites criticism. Obviously it doesn't do the fish any good, but in the scheme of things, it's one of the small bit players. Three or four years ago, the nets took 400 wild steelhead, and that was an anomoly. The typical catch is in the dozens. In terms of subsequent run size abundance, the incidental gillnet catch usually has no measurable effect, sort of like the CNR fishery. The limiting factors as well as the not so limiting factors have been discussed at length here in this thread.

    Sg
     
  2. Plecoptera

    Plecoptera Active Member

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    I'm also surprised they are still allowed to do this in spite of where things are at. The returns are so bad that a C&R fishery is determined to have too much of an impact yet a May gillnet fishery goes as planned every year. I've personally seen several steelhead come up in a single net pull during this spring "chinook" net fishery.

    Even though this may not be much of an impact, it is still an impact and is the only one that can be eliminated immediately... just quit netting. None of the other impacts are optional.

    I don't get why they don't just net the Cascade. Thats where all the springers go anyways, and way fewer nates to intercept. Having nets below the Sauk confluence in May is ridiculous.
     
  3. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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    FYI, Here is the WSC's response to last year's closure and believe it would pertain to this year's as well. I am more than happy to provide the WSC comments to WDFW 2011-2017 Strategic Plan regarding wild steelhead http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/WSC_WCTU.pdf This may provide some context regarding priorities for the agency.

    The closure of the North Sounds streams was the catalyst for the birth of the WSC. The anglers developing the organization didn't like it, (the closures) but supported the decision since it was put into place due to low returns, however we questioned what got us to this point. Lot's of people got involved and attended hearings, but I personally noticed when the Skagit/Sauk was opened back up the following year folks seemed to get apathetic again, even though the Sky and NF Stilly remained closed, it seemed the prevailing attitude was at least the Skagit is open. It looks like a fire is burning again, which, in my opinion is a good thing, apathy is not good for advocacy. Although a healthy debate on a bulletin board provides a release of frustrations, but my challenge is to put those frustrations into action. That's what I did, the Sky was my home river...eleven years ago, to me it was a wake up call, perhaps this will be yours.


    As many of you have heard by now the rivers around the Puget Sound will close even earlier than expected due to low wild steelhead returns. Jim Scott, assistant director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) said that pre-season estimates developed by WDFW last fall indicate that wild steelhead will return in numbers far short of target levels. The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of WDFW’s statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), he said. “We’re closing these rivers early because of conservation concerns,” Scott said. “With low numbers of wild steelhead expected back, we need to take this action to protect those wild fish that do return.”

    While it is a continuing bitter pill to swallow the Wild Steelhead Coalition supports the ruling as a measure to conserve wild steelhead in Puget Sound , but we continue to request the WDFW to look beyond closures as a means to conserve and recover wild steelhead. We hope this will be an increasing call for more participation in steelhead advocacy and not simply allow cynicism to cloud our thinking. No doubt this closure will result in more effort on the coastal streams and provide increased pressure on the wild fish in those systems, which are also in a downward trend. We request that anglers look beyond just simply moving their fishing efforts over to other opportunities, but step up into conservation efforts and hold the WDFW accountable to developing more conservation based steelhead management plans that focus on recovery and abundance rather than harvest allocations.
     
  4. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Andrew -
    A good question! That 2003 flood was a signifcant event.

    Some additional info on the impacts that the massive 2003 flood had ont he Sauk. As you know that late October put massive amounts of silt in the river. The casue of that silt wsa the huge rain fall(have seen estimates that 21 inchs of rain fell in 24 hours) on Glacier peak. With the receding glaciers over the lsat few decades there were massive amounts of exposed glacial tilt on the peak. Normally that materail is covered by snow during the flood season but with both the timing and amount rain huge amounts of material was washed from the peak down the Suiattle and Whitechuck. As anyone who attempted to fish the sauk in the winer of 2003/2004 that material literally buried the river under feet of sand.

    The affect on fish like steelhead and the bull trout was huge. Not only were many the juvenile fish in the river at the time of the flood literally buried alive there were long term impacts on the eggs of spawning fish for several years. Just one example it has been typical on the Sauk to see the peak emergence of hatching steelhed fryin early August. The emergence following the 2003 flood shifted to early July; The fry were emerging from the gravel at less than fully developed - some still had not fully absorb. Such behavior is the fish's respond to lower dissloved oxygen in the in-gravel water flowing around the eggs. This often happens in heavily silted gravels where there isn't enough quality water flowing through gravel to support the fry (the eggs require less oxygen). By emerging from the gravel the fry experience higher mortalities than if they had been able to remain in the relative safety of the gravels for that extra month.

    I saw that early emergence of fry every summer through 2008. Clearly the survival of Sauk steelhead took an immediate hit from the flood and those impacts on the juvenilescontinued for at least another 5 years. It is equally clear that those imapcts from that flood was not just confined to the Sauk; that materail also found its way into the Skagit. Today that sand can be found all the way down into the tidal water portion of the basin. The 2003 flood is continuing to affect the basin.

    It ahs been noted that when the quality of the steelhead spawning gravels is adversely impacted the spawnig fish will seek out alternate spawning areas. Those that fished the North Fork Stillaguamish during the mid-1980s may have seen that behavioral response in action. After Deer Creek unraveled winter steelhead spawning surveys found a dramatic shift in the distrubtion of the redds in theNF. That shift was from below Deer Creek to the waters above Deer Creek.

    While it may be the case as suggested by Salmo g the increased steelhead spawn use in the mainstem Skagit above the Sauk because of more favorable flows it could also be the case (at least what litte I know about steelhad and their behavior) that is the result of steelhead behavior response to what was happening elsewhere in the basin.

    BTW -
    In the decade prior to the 2003 flood the portion of the total wild winter steelhed spawning population using the upper Skagit main stem (above the Sauk) was declining as compared to the use during the 1978 to 1992 period.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  5. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    I will add to your observations on the affects of the 2003 flood on the Skagit. It also took the river up to 5 years to clear after that flood. Think about this. The huge amount of silt that washed into the river during the flood caused noticeable turbidity for 5 years. Even during the late months of summer into the fall when the river dropped after melt runoff it never cleared.
     
  6. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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    Curt, That was a great summary regarding the impacts of the '03 flood, I also believe it really impacted the productivity in the basin. But the beauty of wild fish is the ability to seek out available habitat to survive.
     
  7. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    iagree Thanks Curt!
     
  8. Thomas Mitchell

    Thomas Mitchell Active Member

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    I have nothing to add to this thread other than sincere thanks to the previous posters. It's been very educational and even the divergent threads are all signal and no noise...

    Much appreciated.
     
  9. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Rich -
    I agree that the adaptability of steelhead is pretty cool. It is important to remember that even though some of the Sauk steelhead may have sought out alternate spawning habitats those habitats were being used by other fish and overall there undoubtly was a productivity lost for the population.

    The main stem Skagit is surprising lacking in the kinds of habitats need to provide for the complex rearing needs of the juvenile steelhead over the two year period that most of the fish are in freshwater before smolting.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  10. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Just out curiosity, has there been any sort of increase in the number of redds (spawning steelhead) in the portion of the Sauk River (including the South Fork) above the mouth of the Whitechuck River? On the other hand, does the increase in redds in different potions of the Skagit system only pertain to the “dam river reach”, as was stated by Salmo_g in an earlier post?
     
  11. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Andrew,

    Redd counts vary in each index reach every year, but I think only the dam reach has increased above 1980s levels, while all the others have decreased. This is off the top of my head and not from the annual tables.

    Sg
     
  12. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Thanks Salmo_g!
     
  13. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    I sure hope everybody has made a comment to wdfw about the proposed rule changes, ChrisC provided a link on page #6, tomorrow (30th), is the last day.
     
  14. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Rich -
    Looked at the link you provided regarding the Willapa Bay streams and their steelhead escapement goals - found WSC recommendation interesting.

    As I understand it WSC position is to use all the basin specific run reconstruction information to develop the appropriate spawner/recruit (S/R) curves to determine escapement goals; classsic fisheries management. Hard to argue with that approach when that kind of information is available. It seems that a driving factor in the push for the escapement goals is that folks feel the current goals are too high and limiting fisheries. This seems to be a major shift in WSC's thinking about escapement goals though I see the bottom line remains longer seasons with selective gear/CnR wild steelhead seasons.

    Since this thread is about the Skagit/Sauk I thought it might be of interest to review the current Skagit wild steelhead escapement goal. As most may remember WDFDW and its co-managers lower the Skagit wild steelhead escapement goal to 6,000 spawning adults a number of years ago. This was greeted by a great outcry from many folks in WSC, fly anglers and other user as an attempt to sabotage the wild fish and put more fish in the tribal nets. What is germane to this discussion is how that 6,000 goal was developed. The managers did was to take all the basin specific run reconstruction infornation to develop river specific S/R curves and MSY escapement goal - sound familiar? The result of that analysis was that based on the river specific information the appropriate MSY goal ws 4,000 spawners. In keeping with decades long managment phiiosophy of attempting to err on theside of the wild resource the managers at a 50% buffer to the calculated goal to establish a goal of 6,000 wild stgeelhead spawners.

    As I said found it interesting folks have problems with that Skagit goal but WSC is asking folks to support a similar approach (without the buffer) for the Willapa rivers.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  16. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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    Curt,

    Dick Burge wrote the comments and he is always more than happy to talk it over with you. We believe the information was incomplete for a blanket closure policy for those streams. We've communicated with the department in attempt to get the data/models. The department to date has not been able to find that information for us. We wanted to understand run sizes from the '80's and the models that were used to get to the present 10K goal for the Willapa basin. In our comments we are asking the department to find, reevaluate/update their data and postpone the blanket closure to next year or a Major Rules Cycle. In the meantime utilize some proactive measures (gear restrictions) to decrease the impact until a more informed decision can be made. Also the north coast stocks on the OP are being pushed hard from closures of other systems and displaced anglers and in our view a simple blanket closure with out good information is going to facilitate even further pressure on the north coast stocks.
     
  17. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

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    I don't want to blame WDFW (the situation is dire, why worry over blame). But honestly, the managers have ultimate accountability right? It's possible the WA anglers are less informed than most others, in fact I'd argue it's probable. Curt is arguing WA fish managers attempted progressive mgmt but recreational anglers wanted no part in it. Probably. Maybe. So, now we are here. Closed waters. What next? Or has the future already been determined? And if so, why bother?

    Anglers can still kill ESA listed bull trout on the Skagit/Sauk, correct? 2 per day? What about the "trout" limit aka resident rainbows/residualized steelhead, steelhead parr, native cutthroat, etc. All open for kill; bait, barbs. Oh, now WDFW will close all rivers to "trout" fishing... in 2012.

    Why is it that status quo recreational fishery regs everywhere else (no bait, barbless, wild release) is so freaking difficult for WA to implement? Why is that? Why is WA the only place on the entire west coast with this death spiral?

    We are expected to believe WA has uniquely suffered a steelhead catastrophe that Oregon, California, BC and Alaska have not? Certainly fisheries have diminished across the range yet WA is far and away the worst. Maybe we could point at the Thompson in BC as equivalent to what has happened on the Skagit, but also the Sky, Stilly, Snohomish, Pilchuck, Green, etc etc all closed. Beyond Puget Sound what about the Hood Canal streams? Every one of them is closed. Dungeness? Essentially every single river in WA with the exception of far west end? Even the Columbia Basin rivers in WA are pathetic with the closures and mis management Toutle, Lewis, Washougal, Wenatchee, Methow? Or the international joke that is the Cowlitz? This is INSANE.

    Rich is right to think about pressures on OP rivers. Based on trends and WA mgmt decisions there is no question in my mind that OP rivers will be closed to recreational angling within five years. Done. And the fish mangers will blame it on Sol Duc broodstock program funding or impending closure of hatcheries for ESA violations etc. Or mostly Boldt. Whatever is convenient. Managing this is complicated but honestly, WDFW is THE WORST by almost any comparison. Just terrible.

    Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.
     
  18. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

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    iagree

    Unfortunately The WDFW is the laughing stock of all state fishing and hunting managers in the the west cost including Canada. That being said the WDFW does face one more major obsticale than most state fisheries managers and that is the boldt decision. However, instead of bowing down to the every wish and desire of the co managers the stated could put up at least some sort of resistance when it comes to fish management. I am sure as a whole a lot of the lower level employees and biologists of the WDFW are hard working people that would love to see our waters full of fish especially native fish but the upper management of the WDFW has failed us and continues to do so. I personally have lost all faith in the WDFW when it comes to the management and working with the co managers to regulate and improve our rapidly declinging anadromous fisheries.

    Fishing in and around puget sound is my passion and it is so sad to see the state that it is in. It is to the point to where I may not buy a fishing licences this year. It is quite obvious that the funds are not being put to proper use and quite frankly whats the point of spending even more money this year on a license when there is nothing to catch in puget sound.
     
  19. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Nailknot,

    It's easy to throw stones. Most of us have. But if the price of criticism were to offer a constructive alternative, what would you suggest?

    Sg
     
  20. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Nailknot's post above, #97, got me thinking that often we think we know more about what agencies are and are not doing than we actually do. The following was posted on another forum in regards to WDFW Director Phil Anderson and his efforts on behalf of sport fishing. It's not specific to the Skagit or Sauk or even steelhead, but it's worth the read.

    "I normally refrain from these kinds of internet posts as they take away too much energy that needs focused on keeping our fisheries going. Many times on the internet, decisions are formed, are either decisions made on partial information, misinformation, or sometimes misunderstandings and then things get out of control like wildfire. There are some things that need cleared up about Phil so I need to clear the air. First we need to look back at where our fisheries were, now are, and heading, to understand where he is. Then start connecting the dots.

    When Phil was a nomination for Director, most of the fishing organizations were very skeptical. I was only a Puget Sound Anglers VP at the time got bombarded immediately with phone calls from most of the fishing organizations about Phil. We knew he had a lot of background with the tribes and policy making between us and them. But policy making was his job. At times we felt we were not dealt a good hand. But we need to go back and look at the pecking order of how WDFW was structured. WDFW was basically a puppet for Senate Natural Resources. Senate Natural Resources was ruled by the commercial fishing interests. Our fisheries have been ruled by the commercials since Washington state started commercial fishing in the 1800s. It has where all of the Alaska fisheries started from for the US.

    Ken Jacobsen was the head of Washington State Senate Natural Resources. He was the senator from Ballard. Ballard is where the commercial fishing fleet of Alaska and Washington reside. Alaska is one of the world’s largest fishing fleets and has tons of money. With that money comes power-extreme power. (I had a talk with the late Phil Harris of deadliest catch. He told me of how the commercial fishermen had voted on one of the Alaska commercial fisheries at one of their council level meetings. The next morning there was a Lear jet on the runway from Seattle. That fishery went back on the agenda the next morning and was overturned! This tells you how much power the money of the commercial processors has.)

    Senator Ted Stevens from Alaska was the Senator that got the commercial fisheries all of their power. He got them federal funding and lawmaking that made them untouchable. This connection goes right into Ballard. Anything that could fall in Washington state could cause a precedence effect against Alaska. So Washington has been protected by the commercials at all levels of the government for them not to fail anywhere. The commercials have woven themselves for way over 100 years into Washington State. They have gone unopposed as we have never been effective in stopping them. We have always been too busy fighting each other and bickering to ever begin to be a threat. Meanwhile while we were infighting they continued to fund and lobby legislators and go on their way commercial fishing.
    WDFW was the end result in dealing with sports fishing or the ones giving us the leftovers.

    Now we have the Boldt and Rafeedie decisions. The Boldt and Refeedie decisions gave the fish and shellfish resources back to the tribes, up to 50%. We all know that is not how it is. They were given co-manager status. In reality, our fisheries were put on detention and we have to work under the tribes. For those of you that work with WDFW fisheries know that if the tribes don’t agree with our seasons or quotas, we do not fish. They fish while we sit at the dock. Now as a director how do you deal with that? Tribal agencies have sued Washington state many times and never lost. So now the tribes and the commercials are WDFW’s boss. How do you make your sportfisher customers happy when you know what you should do but you have marching orders. Give both commercials what they want.
    The non-tribal commercial and tribal fisheries have dictated our resources and fisheries. We got the WDFW commission in place by a vote, referendum 45. The commission is the agency that has authority over the director. When it was first put together, the senate put in a couple of commercial interests that were senate confirmed. This means the governor cannot fire them. So the chair being the active voice, senate confirmed, and commercial laden, meant that we would not be heard- again. Phil’s boss was the commercial industry one more time.

    We worked hard to get the Commission away from the commercial interests and a blood bath occurred. We finally got there. Had the WDFW commission gone away as has been tried over and over by Senate Natural Resource, we would have lost our voice again. Then there was the try by them to put the director under the governor away from the commission, once again silencing us. (We stopped this one too.)

    Now we have a commission that looks out for the resource and works well with our director, Phil Anderson. He now has a new boss that does care about the resources and sportfishing community for one of the very first times.

    I and my constituents work with Phil on a very regular basis. We have done some very great things with Phil and many things are not broadcasted. Some things I can tell you that would not have happened without Phil, you would have already had full blown marine reserves or no fishing zones. We have the 120 depth foot line by the state of Washington for rockfish. This is basically a buffer to keep the federal government from stepping in and stopping fishing altogether that has happened many places on the East Coast, Gulf, and California. Phil has been “our” advocate that has helped to keep us fishing at all costs. The average person has no idea how hard he has worked to do the right thing for us.

    Phil is the one that truly knows our fishing history and background probably better than anyone. He works with NMFS, NOAA, IPHC, PFMC, and every other agency out there. He can talk to them from history and his background cannot be ignored. We do put him in some uncomfortable places and a hot seat at times. But I will attest he has done a great job for us. I don’t think anyone would or could have kept us fishing in these times like Phil has. There are many things that are out of his hands with things like ESA listings. Those listings he has to deal with as there are no alternatives. There are mandates that come down and it is his job to try to manage and recover the resource the best he can. Previously we have had commercial fisheries that have made WDFW manage resources to extinction. But he is still under the WDFW Commission and they are under the Governor. Lets not forget the governor has a strong connection with the tribes as they gave her huge campaign contributions. Her retribution has been costly to us. I am not sure how much worse it can get but it certainly can. Read this link http://nwifc.org/treatyrightsatrisk/ This important white paper called Treaty Rights at Risk details Tribal Concerns regarding ongoing loss of Salmon Habitat, declining salmon populations and recommendations for change. There have been high level meetings and discussions occurring on this with Tribal Leaders at the federal level in WA DC and at a statewide level with state & federal agency departments heads and at the Puget Sound Partnership’s Recovery Council.
    There are so many things that are really out of his hands that he gets the discredit of. When the feds tell Washington to do something, they have to do it, like it or not. He and the commission are that end result. Many do not know or understand this.


    I was not yet president of PSA when he took Directors position. I had no intention of becoming president of PSA either. I watched the meetings for the MA 4 rockfish closure with a certain commissioner make a proposal and passed to shut down MA 4 or Neah Bay rockfishing. Phil was the person that combated that information that was presented with true government based science. He told it like it was and that his information did not agree with the others. My blood was boiling as I knew this fishery very well. You see I have worked with Phil on our coastal halibut and bottom fisheries for probably about 15 years for so. The info provided to close the Neah Bay fishery to citizen based science was not in our best interest but was done. Mainly Rob Tobeck, Bear Holmes of CCA ( and a couple of others that I cannot mention their names) were the only ones at that time fighting to keep our Marine area 4 open to bottom fishing. Phil knew better. This area keeps the entire west coast bottomfishing through the Magnusson Stevens Management act as it is managed coast wide. So the healthiest yelloweye population on the west coast, lower 48 states, was just closed due to bad information!

    This decision was what made me decide to step up and become PSA State Board president. The commission had unjustly closed my fishing grounds since the 1980s! As soon as I called the state board existing president and gave her the opt out, she agreed. I had been asked three previous years and declined. Due to family reasons she needed out and a special meeting was arranged to vote me in. Next call was to Phil and tell him that I was becoming the PSA State Board President and we were going to work together to reverse this closure. Which we did. This would not have happened with any other director, period. I took 13 PSA members to the next rockfish meeting. We sat through it and sat with WDFW staff for hours afterwards with them and Bear Holmes of CCA. We voiced our concerns and staff took it back to Phil, Phil reached the commission the next day and they overturned the vote of the closure by phone conference. Phil called me the next morning to tell me it was overturned.

    I watched our fisheries for many years never go anywhere. The recreational fishing community used to draw a line in the sand and expect them to give us what we asked for. Our fisheries management relationship techniques were to go into the director or other staff office and pound on their desk and yell at them. “Give em the what for!” and feel like we did an effective job of telling them how it will be. I don’t know about anyone else but in my business that is what I call a one time customer. I choose not to deal with that person again. This is surprising to me that people think they can be effective by whining, complaining, or just causing problems, then expect them to go to bat for us. Ludicrous!

    I got involved in fisheries years ago with the attitude of working with WDFW and staff to do their jobs by being an advisor. We offer suggestions, roll up our sleeves, and try to work with them instead of name calling and tearing them down. Tell me anyone who is effective by doing this? Phil and WDFW deserves better than this. I see meetings that sportsfishers do not show up to present their case but the commercials do. Then the sporties are upset because they start losing.
    You would not have seen the changing of the WDFW crab policy, the earlier halibut opener in the straits in 2004, and the fin clipped Chinook fishery, without the help of Phil Anderson. These are only a few victories that come to mind. However you would have seen fisheries close this year had our paid representatives not worked with him in increasing our license fees to cover these fisheries. This is a fact. We are working with him on many fronts and many good things are yet to come. One thing I do know is that somethings seem as a loss where it actually was a head it off at the pass and make the best of it. Still a win, but not a total loss. But bashing is done as a result.

    In Olympia I sat in the North of Falcon salmon season setting process room this year for the ocean fishing seasons. One of my VPs had to take it one day when I had to sit in on our Crab Policy steering committee to implement our new crab steering committee for our newly gained allocation change for the sportfishers. The meeting day was Phil, Pat Patillo, WDFW staff, probably about 30 commercial salmon fishers, two Westport Charterboat Association Members, and me. The Tule (lower Columbia River Chinook) had been placed on the ESA listing. This king was a huge run and takes the hit all of the way up to Alaska for other kings to get through. This was major trouble for us. 2011 had a huge resource of Chinook and so Alaska and BC had expanded their salmon take. Washington state is the end of the line so whatever they did not take, Washington state was going to pay the price with whatever quota that was left in the decreased fishery. So instead of us getting a huge bump in our fisheries like everyone else, we were going to get cut back by paying for the Tule.

    At this meeting we had talked about the June fin-clipped Chinook fishery. The thought was that there could be some incidental Tules caught in June costing us the late season Chinook and silver fishery. I watched one by one as the commercial fisherman slammed the June fishery. The consensus was that it was not a good fishery as they could not take a fish home if it was not clipped. Some days you cannot get a wild fish. One said they fish recreationally too, and their guests get upset when they have to turn fish back and not take anything home when its all wild catch that particular day. I was the only one that spoke up in favor of that fishery. Maybe it was not the year for it, but a great fishery and I didn’t have to kill every fish that I caught. The consensus was to kill that fishery. But Phil kept it as an 8 day fishery as they have plans to make this a regular season for us, against the tribes will. It takes five years of consistent yearly data building to make this fishery and had they not gone with this fishery for that short date, we would have either lost that fishery or had to start over to build that data again. This was a sportfishing victory as we already have part of that data built.

    I watched the emergence of the Willipa Chinook recreational fishery by a dear friend leading this charge. It took years and was turned into a great fishery. That friend took a new job and could no longer sit in on those meetings and I watched that fishery start going back to the commercials. The background done to keep that fishery was no longer present. It’s a shame but a reality. If you do not show up at meetings to present your case, don’t expect it to continue as it appears that no one is interested in it. This is probably the biggest case today.

    The fin clipped fishery is against the tribes will and the VTR or voluntary trip reports are the tools used to build these fisheries. They have had to go head to head with the tribes to keep this fishery and still have been expanding it.

    I became very active in our fisheries many years ago when I saw a small bulletin that there were some senators were making a run at shutting down coastal fishing. I could not believe this came up and no one knew of it. I wrote letters and contacted people to write their legislatures to stop it. It was stopped. Back then those attempts were very weak. But now the non-governmental organizations have gotten collectively better at doing closures. They have been doing it all over the world. Some places need them and others can be fixed by management. I try and keep my eye on these closures with very key close friends in the upper government fishing agencies. When the Yelloweye ESA listing in the Pacific Ocean of of Washington came about, we had to work with Phil and Michele Culver. Every year the feds screwed down the amount of catch allowed for us to kill and keep fishing. It was getting ugly and there was a proposal to close down the entire Washington North Coast for halibut and leave three small areas open for halibut. One near the SW corner of the C closure, one near Bluedot, and one near Swiftsure. His office sent me the coordinates and I plotted them. I went over them with my bottom fishing friends and charters. I went back and asked they leave the entire ocean open and we should use the SW corner open to take the brunt of the halibut off of as it is loaded with halibut. This area has already taken some of the yelloweye off of it as there is not that many as some of the other areas have. My request was granted and we were able to keep fishing. This is what working relationships get you.

    When the catch share program came out in Alaska that was a bomb shell for me. I made some phone calls to those friends and was assured that the people we have lined up in those councils and agencies are not anti-fishing and have our best interest at heart in our state. Phil Anderson is one of those few key people that know the truth about the health of our fisheries.

    We have brought our groups together such as PSA, CCA, FishNW, NSIA, and even at times NMTA to work for a better tomorrow with Phil and many others. Our groups on the upper most levels are working together and changing things for the better for sportfishing. Some things we lose opportunity, but not as bad had we not worked with Phil. We have dodged some very huge bullets lately. Given the climate in Olympia today with more special sessions, Phil is going to be our best help in keeping us fishing. He fishes and used to be a charter fisherman. What more can you say?

    The average person does not know what we are doing and probably thinks most things happen by accident. Not so. Being that I have a more than full time job along with fish politics, I don’t have the time to tell many and in most cases, can’t, and have to make decisions for us. Over the years I have heard too many complain and I ask them if they have gone to the meetings or drive to Olympia to talk to someone about it. The answer is 99.9 times out of 100-no. Everyone claims to be too busy to make things happen, but I guarantee you none are any busier than I am. If you do not take the time out to build relationships, you will get nowhere. I have worked on fisheries issues with Phil for a long time and he has yet to disappoint me on things that I have asked for. I don’t bother him unless it is really important. Then we get things done on the top level.

    Phil Anderson has a very tough job to do and is doing a great job. With the amount of cuts and volume of shifting going around in Olympia it has to be the hardest jobs in the world. During the fat times all agencies got bumps in funding and WDFW still got cut. We worked with Phil on our license fees keeping our fishing seasons open where before we would have had them closed. Could you imagine if we had Jeff Koenigs during this time? I could not. I have sat in some meetings with Phil with some wanting to help replenish certain fisheries and needed his approval. Phil set them up with some people in key positions and organizations to help them get their projects going. These are projects to bring fish back before the NGOs start marine reserves. He did not have to help them but did because he cares.
    My vote is thumbs up for Phil Anderson as he has done more for sports fishing than anyone really knows. He is a huge asset to the sportsfishing community and you can take that to the bank. Working with Phil has stopped some very nasty things that could have happened with the sportfishing community and most will never know. I talked to a friend today that told me about this post so I had to respond and let people know what Phil is really made of. My biggest concern is who will replace him when he has to leave or retires? At the rate of anti-fishing groups growth and sky is falling mentality, we need someone that has the real background to offset bad information. Remember that these groups cast doom and gloom to get funding through homemade science and not actual science. Good news never gets funding and bad news does. These anti-fishing groups take away fishing areas. I sit in these meetings to see where they are going and are trying to do. I also educate their members on the truth and they are surprised when I back it up with paper. They take the sportfishing dollars for licenses, manufacturing, boat sales, etc. and replace it by funding from the government and NGOs by kicking us off of the water. Phil is a critical piece of the puzzle to keep our fisheries open. Believe me there are anti-fishing organizations planning against us as we speak.

    Ron Garner
    President
    Puget Sound Anglers
    State Board"
     

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