Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by daveypetey, Dec 14, 2012.
I think the best way to protect wild stock, is to maybe.....not target them.
That's certainly true from a fish's point of view. The not so small problem with that alternative is that when steelhead enthusiasts have no opportunity to fish for steelhead, they lose interest and eventually stop advocating on behalf of the resource. Check the "Occupy Skagit" thread and the mention of Ducks Unlimited. DU is very much about duck hunting AND conservation, not conservation without hunting. DU's model has been very successful, and they owe no apology for hunting ducks.
I think wild steelhead need advocates as well. And considering that the incidental harvest of a small percentage of wild steelhead populations during CNR seasons or concurrent hatchery fish target seasons are not listed as not being adverse to the survival and recovery of ESA listed populations, I have to conclude that not targeting them would be more of a "feel good" exercise and lack any practical benefit.
I can't think of any steelhead population that has benefitted from discontinuing a C&R season.
Have to wonder where all the folks here that advocating changes in wild fish management were in 2006 when we actually had a chance to influence that management during the development and approval of the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan. There was lots of opportunities to comment and help shape/influence the final product
Classic Washington angler behavior - lots of rhetoric and tough talk on the "net" and largely absence in the forums that could make a difference. That sort of apathy was been the norm for decades and I have given up hope that it will ever change. Any potential changes will be the result of the hard work of very small handful of folks who continue to the "till wind mills" on the behalf of the resource and angler opportunity without thanks or acknowledgement.
That's not the point (sad fact). The ESA is not a nuanced instrument, and probably not the best one for the situation. Steelhead do get more lip service now--which can in turn lead to more money (there will finally be funding for a PS smolt survival study--that has more to do with the listing--not necessarily C&R closure). But, the end of C&R isn't about what's good for the fish, it's more about how much "take" is allocated to the PS basin. Legal instruments are very good at drawing lines in the sand, not so good at adapting to nuanced factual situations.
It was aknowledged that the listing wouldn't/couldn't do much to help steelhead. Before the listing the question was posed, "If you knew that PS Steelhead would go extinct tommorow, would you still list them?" [2nd hand paraphrase]. The Feds said,"yes". It was more about the law, even if the listing wouldn't change the situation on the ground (make it more likely that PS steelhead woudn't go extinct), it's still the right legal/proceedural/regulatory decision.
To the original question, I'd say they are both very crowded. That said, I've seen the Penn more crowded than I've seen the PS rivers--PS hatchery reaches excluded.
I think part of the problem is lack of leadership. Because there are so many differing views on the matter, it can be difficult to get any sort of consensus or agreement, let alone a concerted effort by all anglers. If the anglers could unite sportfishing efforts, I think it could make a very positive impact on the opposing views.
I recall reviewing the wild fish management plan. In fact, I even got my employer to provide comments to it. But I'm not sure what good it ever did. Last I heard, it was being updated with something "new". I'm not even sure it ever had much of a chance to get fully implemented.
While I have seen some groups with their special interests being met by WDFW, I'm not sure that we as a society are ready to make the decisions and sacrifices needed to restore wild steelhead populations in Washington state.
I think also that there is the belief by many anglers that WDFW should be working towards the same goals as anglers. Many believe that the role of WDFW is to work for the sportsman. In much of the country that is the case. Washington has a fairly unique set of circumstances with co-managemnt with the tribes, listed stocks, cowboy netting etc. I know that fisheries in NY where I lived prior to WA seemed to be managed solely for he benefit of sportsmen. It literally took me years to understand the WDFW worked differently.
IMO we are finally seeing a bit of a change in this regard. It seems like the commission is understanding that commercial harvest should take a back seat to rec.'s as seen by recent changes in crab and shrimp policy. I think that this is due to certain people "carrying the water" and also by the hard economics of the situation. Maybe a new day is dawning with regards to fish and game management in Wa. With this change I hope we can forge the understanding that C&R seasons are the most economically beneficial way to use up "impacts" when impacts are the limitting factor. A fish doesn't have to die to be beneficial socially and economically. In fact, it's highest and best use is to be fished for and to spawn.
It's easy to rail against sportsmen who don't do enough. Many sportmen think that as residents and license buyers the government that they fund should work for them. There is a thought that the money paid in should already buy them unequal representation at the table. Afterall the commies don't pay in shit. There is no reason for WDFW to represent NA interests as they are already co-managers. Unfortunately, this thought of how it should be does not jive with how it is.
I do think that there is starting to be a new more process savvy generation of sportmen who are willing to push policy in a more sportsman and C&R friendly direction. Attitudes seem to be changing. Sportsmen are getting smarter and better represented. The change is slower than I would hope, but it is happening.
I agree Derek. However, It's important that anglers realize that C&R is not the problem. When this is understood we can try to push forward by determinig and solving the real problems like oh, I don't know, hmmmmm......... PS smolt survival?
Instead we have been focused on the C&R mortality red herring and the introgression red herring. The best thing about recent PS introgression studies is that they show just what a red herring C&R mortality is.
My impression is that the Puget Sound region wild steelhead should have been listed under ESA long before they finally did so, and the Olympic Peninsula runs should have been listed too. There should be no compromise on catch and release now, it should all be catch and release, or close it down in entirety.
I agree that we are seeing a "new era" in commission decisions with greater emphasis on recreational use of the resource. With recent changes in crab and shrimp allocations being obvious examples. However we need to keep in mind that those changes were not based on what was good for the resource (doubt it makes much difference if a crab dies after being caught in commercial or recreational pot). Rather as you said those changes was economic based. I continue to believe that there is a lesson there for steelhead.
Without a doubt once the resource is taken care of WDFW should be providing for the sportsmen of the State. But the qestion remains which sportsmen. As a user group the so call sportmen covers as much diversity as any fish population. Which interest should be addressed first or given the highest priority; how should the decision makers determine those priorities. The unwillingness of the so-called conservation minded anglers to become engaged in the "system" means that "squeaky wheel" will not get "oiled". In fact it is surprising that there has been the changes we have seen have been made. Over the last 35 years in every case the numbers of folks will to get involved in such issues as CnR, wild salmonid management zones, etc has been shocking low.
The answer to your question Curt is that C&R should be given priority. WE'll get there.
Listings don't work to allow for C&R. Listings do nothing for wild fish recovery. Nothing.
i do not disagree that out of the angling community as a whole, very few get involved in the rule processes but i did want to make one point about c&r issues.
when there has been public testimony in regards to wild steelhead release, the public comments (both vocal and written) have been remarkably one-sided in favor of c&r during the last 10-15 years. regardless of apathy, public testimony has been and continues to be one-sided when it comes to the issue of wild steelhead release. the side in favor of wild release has been less apathetic or (i would like to think) becoming more and more a majority of steelhead anglers.
I usually don't join in on these conversations because I have very little scientific data and admittedly do not know even a small percentage of the history of the cause/effect of past management decisions. However, I DO know that the early (Fall/Winter) Wild runs on West End rivers and many Puget Sound Rivers have suffered terribly and all but have been obliterated in what appears to be the WDFW's attempt to have a kill fishery. I have, incorrectly, in the past felt that I had no business offering my opinions or attending public hearings on management practices due to my lack of knowledge in the true science of fishes. I now know that just attending and voicing my concerns, opinions, desired fishing opportunity, and expectations of the WDFW are all that is needed.
I bring up the early Wild runs on the West End Rivers because, to me, it seems to be so obvious. I've sent the WDFW a picture of a large Wild Fish that I have caught in a smaller tributary creek in December as evidence of Wild Early Steelhead and asked why there seemed to be little concern in the way of fishing regulations and management practices to protect these fish. The response I received was one of almost irritation from the sender which simply told me that the fish in my picture was a Summer Run fish and that there weren't any early Winter fish returns.
To answer the question, "which interest should be first?" I'd, without hesitation, reply, "The Wild Fishes survival should ALWAYS be first". From here it gets cloudy though. Fish that you can't fish for don't have many friends to watch out for them. So, at least in my simple view of things, Catch and Release only seasons should be in place. I think hatchery programs should be limited to only rearing and releasing fish from the same river systems. I think that using fish from completely different systems due to their run timing so as to have a kill season is irresponsible, from the view of protecting and sustaining the nature wild strains in the river systems.
This year is the first year that I intentionally participated in the fall hatchery steelhead fishery with the intent of killing and eating hatchery fish. It was really fun. So, I understand people's desire to have a kill fishery. I have a hard time believing that there are is a large majority of anglers that would, knowingly, choose to have a hatchery kill season at the expense of the natural wild fish. I think that the WDFW has misled anglers for decades and knowingly let these early season wild return strains decline at alarming rates in the wake of the hatchery release and kill season. This is the point I think we all should be stressing to the decision makers.
I have pictures of my great uncle and Grandpa with huge (18+ lbs) steelhead that they caught on small tributary creeks off of the main stems as well as quite a long ways up the main rivers. I find it very hard to believe that, given the option, to have those runs return or maintain the early hatchery 6 - 8 lbs (or 4 - 6 lbs) returns, the majority of anglers would choose the return of the Wild runs. Unfortunately, I don't think that we now have that choice and few people believe that the wild fish runs will ever return regardless of what we do.
This got to be a bit long winded and I'm sure I did a very poor job at making my point, which is why I usually abstain from these discussions in a forum basis.
2001- Many of us attended the Commission hearing and testified for a wild steelhead release, no exceptions regulation in Vancouver. I believe the annual limit at the time on rivers "deemed healthy enough" to support harvest was 30 wild steelhead per year. We we successful in getting the annual limit reduced to 5 per year.
2004- After much work and providing trend charts from WDFW data, we were successful successful in getting the Commission to impose a 2 year moratorium of any sport directed harvest of wild steelhead. The Forks C&C and Mayor complained that it would hurt business and the tribes complained that they were not consulted, which in turn delivered the current regulation of 1 wild steelhead per year. A directive was also given by the Commission to the WDFW to develop a Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which Curt referred to and the opportunity to provide comment was given.
Since than there has been success to eliminate sport harvest on the OP streams through Feb. 15 to help the early part of the wild steelhead run recover as well as the Sol Duc now imposed as a wild steelhead managed stream. There have been other successes as well, but they often go un-noticed or not the sexy issues like C&R.
I would love to see the Skagit go the same direction as the Sol Duc, but these things do not happen easily and sometimes a glacial pace with few folks involved as Curt pointed out. I would love to see a few hundred folks testifying at the upcoming Commission hearing to make the Skagit the next wild steelhead managed stream in the state of Washington.
I see and get the appeal of moving the management of the Skagit more in the direction of the Sol Duc. However with the large Wild Salmonid Management Zones (WSMZs) on the Skagit (All of the Sauk, the Cascade above the lower bridge, and the Skagit itself above the mouth of the Cascade) I feel pretty strongly that the managment structure on the Skagit is much more conservative and responsive the resource diversity needs.
Not sure that this thread is the place to get into all the reasons I prefer the Skagit sturcture over the Sol Duc.
Curt, I agree regarding the place to get into discussion, this thread has changed course. I personally would like see one entire system in Puget Sound become managed has a wild steelhead managed river, in my opinion the Skagit would be the best candidate. Again my opinion, The Puget Sound Hatchery Action Advisory Committee appears to be inconsistent in their procedure in determining which rivers to designate as wild, bending politically to keep hatcheries in tact no matter the cost to the tax payer, how ineffective and ultimately the cost to wild steelhead and their recovery.
This question of Wild steelhead/salmonid management river/zones merits its own thread. This is far too important of an issue to be buried as a secondary topic in another discussion. I will start such a thread in the steelhead forum.
That being said I think the O.P. is more crowded on weekends when the rivers are in shape than many of the S-rivers!
I believe I agree with you.
I thought the object of this thread was to state ones thoughts on, if the the O.P. or puget sound rivers get more fishing pressure.