Idaho's Redfish Lake

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Steve Buckner, Nov 22, 2007.

  1. BFK

    BFK Member

    Steve-- Thanks for the reply. I do have a question-- you lost me on the Columbia/Fraser in regards to ocean survival not playing a part. Could you explain a bit further as I don't understand the logic there (this is not an attack; I really don't understand your reasoning.)

    Second, in comparing dammed versus non-dammed rivers: there are a number of streams without dams, without hatcheries (and their weirs as on the Quilcene) where the headwaters are pristine that have seriously depleted runs of fish. To name three: the Hamma Hamma, Duckabush and Dosewallips. There are other problem streams without dams: the Dungeness (some hatchery/irrigation issues there), and even streams like the Quillayute system where runs are significantly down. When you have streams with few habitat problems and no dams AND no fish, then there is something at work somewhere (most likely in the ocean) because it definitely ain't dams.

  2. inland

    inland Active Member


    Please read 'A River Lost' and 'Salmon Without Rivers'. I will loan you my copies if need be. They represent the truth and solution to the abysmal situation that we currently face.

  3. gt

    gt Active Member

    take a drive out to lyendecker park and learn about the 'problems' on the quillayute system. looks like bank to bank net sets to me. the dungness also has a 'vibrant' indian net fishery which greatly reduces the hatchery escapement. just a bit of local flavor observation for 'yah to ponder.
  4. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    My point is that once the outgoing smolt reach the pacific, they're basically subject to the same oceanic conditions regardless of their river of origin. I'm sure their are some statistical variances, I'm just not sure to what degree. One thing is certain however, and that is that the Fraser is freeflowing and it's salmon/steelhead populations are far greater than the Columbia which was once the greatest salmon/steelhead river of them all.

    Canadian and US commercial fisherman are in constant quibble about this same topic, because they're basically fishing for the same fish, claiming that the fish in their nets are from their country of origin. I suppose a geneticist would be able to validate each of their claims but the problem is that salmon basically pass through, live, and feed in the same water because they largely follow the same path, ie, out to the pacific, then up the inside passage to feed in the rich waters off of Alaska/Brittish Columbia coast, and then back home to where they came from after they've reached adulthood.

    If the above is correct, then I'm suggesting that it makes little difference if the fish are from the Columbia or the Fraser, because once they've made it to the ocean their survival (smolt to adult) rate would be roughly equal.

    As you point out, and as I also agree, there are some rivers like the ones you mention that are basically sterile to date. And I'd put money on it that somewhere back in history, humans were involved with that. Rivers do reach a point of no return. We're seeing that now as well.

    Lastly, most agree that it isn't that dams are solely to blame for the loss of our wild fish, but they are the largest obstacle for them. The lower Fraser has many tributaries, (freeflowing) that allow for many more returning adults/outgoing smolt than the Columbia. The lower/mid/upper Columbia tribs are mostly dammed. And by comparing the numbers of returning fish in each system, it's clear that the Fraser is in far better shape than the Columbia.
  5. BDD

    BDD Active Member

    Steve Buckner,

    I have read that there can be a big difference in ocean feeding conditions as they are not all the same throughout the system. When you stop and consider the long migrations that some fish make, it makes sense that they would encounter different ocean conditions. Wish I could remember the exact reference for you. I do recall a Clearwater, Idaho fish being recovered near Japan; several thousand miles away as the crow flies. When considering that the fish probably didn't take a direct route, makes you wonder how many miles that particular fish swam? Pretty amazing.
  6. i beleive in using your most abundant resources. ours is water and im sure the dams do hinder fish a little but not as much as some might claim. i think we should improve our dams to be more eco friendly, but right alot of cities on the major rivers are hydro electric powered. i agre with 509, the windfarms just look ugly and i think i have only seen them spinning once since the once around here was put in (at least a couple years) and i see them nearly everyday. wherever humans go there will be enviromental impact and so you just need to fix the problem as you go. there is no way that wind farms produce more energy than hydro electric dams and they just take up good farming space. solar power is acctually a very good idea to run with and i think thats where the future is. in no way should we make energy farms though, for those scared about global warming you should want farms put in for plants that make high amounts of sugars around here. maybe some sort of hybridized sugar cane or super sweet apples. (takes more co2 out of the air)
  7. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    The three Hood Canal rivers you list, Dose, Duck, Hamma Hamma are the poster child of near pristine rivers with depleted runs. While you generally won't find many biologists in WA who think that overfishing is the proximate cause of the depleted fish stocks in WA rivers (generally we believe it's primarily a habitat issue), there are a few who've examined the situation and believe that the wild stocks of those particular rivers are as likely as not to more likely than not having been subjected to overfishing to the point of such depletion that a measurable resilience isn't likely without effective intervention, if indeed, anything will work.


    Different fish stocks experience different ocean conditions. Fish biologists once thought the great ocean was a homogenous feeding ground for all anadromous fish, but it turns out that fish from different rivers migrate to differing and very specific ocean feeding grounds. And the smolt to adult survival rates vary significantly as a result. You are right however in that the Fraser supports healthy populations that are very heavily fished by sport and especially commercial fishing gear, yet retains some very healthy runs. The Columbia in contrast has only one wild stock, the upriver bright chinook, that are capable of supporting a significant harvest and maintaining their ecological viability. Virtually every other wild stock in the Columbia is ESA listed and on the brink, or beyond it. All the harvests supported by the Columbia are hatchery fish, and fishing as we know it would disappear in a heartbeat without the hatcheries.


    Salmo g.
  8. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E


    Eloquent as usual :)
  9. Jergens

    Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

    thats as scary thought, you think you would learn that living as close to hanford as you do. how do you fix extinction?

    inland- two awesome books, "a good rain" is another one i thought was awesome, covers the state rather than just the columbia.
  10. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

    Thanks for the info. As I metioned, I'm sure there are statistical variances. The next question then is the significance of this variance between these two systems in terms of where both river's fish feed in relation to each other and/or how that affects the surviability of them. Do you happen to have some additional info on that?

    Is it possible that the Fraser's relatively high success rate of returning adults would be the same if the river was dammed? In short, is the Fraser's success more a product of it being free flowing or does it have more to do with where it's fish feed?
  11. nuclear power is a very clean source of power. now of course there is contamination from when we didnt know better, but we are fixing that now, and i think there is stuff we can fix with hydro electric dams to improve the fish flows and also stuff we could do to maybe take more energy out of the dams. we should also be doing some stuff to maybe make some tougher hatchery fish with better reproduction. once you build something that massive on a river though its pretty much there to stay unless you want to suffer some massive damage to other stuff. i can see how taking down ice harbor could make some nasty waves near the mouth of the snake.

  12. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    your naive happy go lucky demeanor seems to ignore the fact that columbia river salmon and steelhead are either a.) extinct or b.) on the brink of extinction. There is no technological fix, if we want salmon in our rivers we have to allow them to be rivers, not a series of warm water impoundments. Every point you make sees to be based on wishful thinking rather than fact.

    Salmo_g pretty much covered the bases on marine survival. The marine is high variable, both spatially and temporally which can lead to some pretty high fluctuations in marine survival. Salmon have evolved under these conditions and are remarkable resilient, but human activies such as hydro development and other alterations to the habitat complex remove natural resilience to these fluctuations so that when survival is poor populations crash or go extinct. Additionally, smolts are most vulnerable to mortality when they first enter the marine environment and consequently variations in early marine survival often have VERY important implications for future escapements. The conditions that smolts experience in their first few days/weeks in the marine environment are highly variable and localized. One point I tried to make earlier is that there is a fair amount of literature suggesting that early marine survival is lower that natural on the columbia because of the stress that smolts experience as they pass through the hydropower complex.


    comparing the Hamma Hamma, Duckabush, or Dungenness to the Columbia is like comparing apples and oranges. Think about how diverse the columbia basin and its wild fish stocks are, probably 100 times more diverse than those three watersheds combined. Certainly those rivers have their own host of problems that are very severe, but nothing like the Columbia. If you want to compare watersheds, lets talk Frasier, Kenai, Skeena, Rogue, but comparing the columbia basin to little tiny coastal rivers that flow below 50 cfs in summer just doesnt have much clout in my book.

  13. Allison

    Allison Banned or Parked

    Is the Fraser system really that much bigger than the Columbia? I think of the Columbia system as being pretty big....
  14. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Nuclear is a delightful option. Most of the waste the world is dealing with (including hanford) if the result of wepons production, not power generation. Nasty waste is produced, but if stored properly it can have a very minimal impact.

    Unfortunately its been mismanaged, the public is grossly misinformed (everyone still sees three mile island, Chernobyl and thinks they can explode like a bomb). I doubt well see a reappearance of nuclear power.

    You can't "fix flow" and use a dam for power generation. The amount of potential power generated by a facility is dependant on the height of the hydraulic head (how deep the water is immediately beind the dam). Deeper water generates more energy for spinning powerful turbines. If you lower the reservoir to flush water (the only flow regime change possible) you limit the potential for power production.

    This is the "loss" in revenue that the Corps and BPA talk about. Not actual loss of $$, but loss of potential. So thier loss $$ are "soft money" (i.e. largely crap) and not useful for more than negative PR efforts.

    Now combine this with the fact that (at least in 1998) less than 30% of the current capacity (i.e. number of available generators) is being used to produce power at any one facility and you get a situation where (with the modified flow regimes) there dams produce little power, and have little capacity to increase production during much of the peak consumption season (spring and summer).

    So now (since blowing water is probably here to stay) you have 4 piles of rocks that are useful for naviagation.

    Except for the barge companies that transport cargo (again trains would replace them not trucks...for simple economic reasons) and the handful of Corps employees who actually maintain the facilities, who is a real worlkd beneficiary?

    Nobody. There is no "magic" group of people who will be seriously impacted by the removal of the dams. They simply don't exisit. If you took a portion of the annual costs of maintiaining the four Snake facilities and provided a 25 year transportation subsity (improve rail and rail hub access, as barge traffic is already subsidized) the end users would likely see NO impact from the removal of the dams. The rail line runs right behind most of the temrinals along the Snake (Almota, Clarkston, Lewiston) so access is virtually a non-issue.

    Throw a few more nickles at the Brotjes and Snake river farms to extend and improve their irrigation access (above ice harbor) and the few irrigators weather this transition with no impacts at all.

    And now for the $$ we spend, we might actually get some kind of biological payback. At least improved payback.

    Spending money to make dmas fish friendly is like spending money pimping out a Pinto hatchback. It may look neat when your done, and sure costs a bunch, but in the end it's still a crappy Pinto. No offence to anyone with a pimped Pinto.

    Oh yeah, waves in a river? So what? ITS A RIVER NOT A LAKE.
  15. gt

    gt Active Member

    you are absolutely correct david. the nuclear industry talks about themselves as ' TMI...'. the physical design of that plant has not been replicated anywhere in the world since that period of time. current nuclear plants are nothing at all like TMI or chernoble.

    having a engineer daughter who works in this industry has given me a unique opportunity to ask pointed questions about plant operations. i am totally supportive of expanding our nuclear generation as a result of what i have taken the time to learn.

    here is a sampling of the most common myth: '...nuclear waste is highly radioactive and will kill you if you look at it...'

    commercial nuclear plants are shut down on about a 15month interval to replace fuel rods. those rods end up in a containment building rod pool for three years. you can enter that pool area without any sort of protective clothing, etc. and come out not glowing in the dark!

    out of the pool and into sealed containers which are kept at the various plants for another 3-5 years. at that point they are ready to be transported for deep burial. you can also approach, walk around, and touch these containment vaults without dire consequences.

    this is completely different than waste produced by our military which is indeed a real problem for this country. consider, the aircraft carrier, regan, with an expected sea life of 50 years, will never be refueled. now that is hot stuff.

    the design of nuclear plants is an engineers delight. there are more fail safe and redundant systems in place than you can imagine. because these are steam generators, there is no mixing of radioactive materials ourside that containment building.

    i just wish the mass hysteria would go away and investments in this clean, cheap, source of power were allowed to expand in this country. and yes, my backyard would be a great place to locate a plant.
  16. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    I am an ex nuke from the US Navy's Nuclear Power School. I am all for nuclear power. All of our moderns plants are water cooled reactors which are inherently stable. The Navy has been running more reactors than anyone else in the world since they started and they aren't having accidents with them, ever.

    People who don't understand nuclear power are the big opponents of it. I really like to talk about this stuff though because it is one of the few things in the world where I can discuss it while standing on the solid backing of formal education and work experience.
  17. BFK

    BFK Member

    Wish I could spend more time with this thread, but it ain't gonna happen today. I can hit a few high points to question/explain/disagree/agree.

    gt-- yeah, I know about the net fisheries on or in front of those rivers. The Columbia also has a BIG tribal net fishery in September (hundreds if not thousands of nets), not to mention a significant non-tribal net fishery as well. Don't you think that has a part? And we certainly agree on nuclear power as a generator of electricity...

    Will/Salmo--I wasn't comparing D, D & H to the Columbia, I was offering them as examples of non-dammed rivers that are doing poorly. The closest comparison to the Columbia we can make, IMO, is the Fraser, and I'm not sure that's valid either.

    Salmo--While most realize that the runs in the mid-Hood Canal streams are almost non-existent, we still allow commercial netting in the Canal north of those rivers. Since we do have steelhead and native silvers running at the same time as chum, isn't there an impact? And wouldn't closure of the opportunistic netting on ESA-listed summer chum make sense? Is there anyone in the department using common sense?

    DD- Nice post.

    Steve--We agree that runs in the Columbia system suck, and dams are to blame for a lot of it--Chief Jo and Grand Coulee to name the two worst offenders. However, I have yet to be convinced that taking down the Snake dams would make any difference. Look at the tribal net fishery, timed, what a surprise, for the best part of the runs. Look at the increasing populations of avian predators (in at least one case helped by man) or sea lions.

    Deadlines call.

  18. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    All four H's make an impact where they exist (i.e. Hatcheries and Hydropower are not a factor in all populations).

    To rationally make progress in the discussion of mitigating Hydropower, it is important to leave statements to the irrelevant/innacurate extreme ("dams aren't hurting fish" or "remove the dams and the runs will recover") out of the conversation.

    Dams impact fish. Dams are not the only factor affecting survival.

    Dams on the Snake have a big bullseye on them becasue (IMO) for the same money they cost to maintain, all (most? many?) of the negative impacts of thier removal could be mitigated.

    I have yet to see hard science to show me that the fish are better off with the Dams in place then they would be without them. Some (not on this board) have tried, and thier efforts are deceptive at best, again IMO.
  19. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    In general terms, chinook and coho from both the Columbia and Fraser migrate north along the west coast and into the Alaska gyre, altho each system also has south turning stocks of coho that encounter fisheries along OR and WA respectively. Steelhead from both systems generally migrate northward, then westward into open ocean, as do sockeye and chum salmon from both systems. The Fraser also has a massive pink run that likely migrates further west than north. There are more specific breakouts available for some stocks, but not all. The upshot I believe is that there is enough variation between stocks in ocean migration routes and timing to account for significant differences in overall marine survival.

    The Fraser's return rate success for sockeye (it's main species) and chinook would be extremely compromised if the Fraser were dammed as extensively as the Columbia. The Fraser sockeye fishery would disappear as a significant commercial commodity, as the Columbia's has, even though the Col sockeye fishery was never the magnitude of the Fraser's. The chinook fishery would be nearly wiped out, same as the Columbia. Remember, except for upriver brights, there are zero healthy stocks of wild fish in the Columbia. I would expect the same from the Fraser, and there's no telling that it would have a stock equivalent to upriver brights.

    The success of the Fraser has far more to do with it being undammed and a somewhat healthy ecosystem suitable for salmon than it has to do with ocean survival rates.


    The Columbia basin is about 3 times the size of the Fraser basin. And the Fraser produces about 3 times as many salmon as the Columbia, and the Fraser salmon are almost all wild, naturally produced fish, not hatchery.


    The Fraser and Columbia may or may not make good comparisons/contrasts. It depends what is being compared and how.

    For every river with depleted salmon runs, there is an explanation of causes. Sometimes the causes are the same, and sometimes they vary - it depends. With respect to the Columbia and wild stocks, the proximate cause is dams, and that's by a country mile. I'm not sure if over-fishing or other environmental perturbations runs the distant second. Removing the 4 lower Snake dams in itself will not lead to recovery of Snake R chinook and steelhead. However, those stocks will not recover without removal or breaching. Reduced fishing interceptions of wild chinook and steelhead is also necessary to attain recovery.

    For the 3 HC rivers, over-fishing is the most likely proximate cause, altho the fish mgt agencies seem to be in denial. Maybe because that's the one factor they could have controlled. The main HC commercial net fishery is for normal timed chums. I would expect the worst impacts to be to wild normal timed chums, then wild coho, and then to a handful of wild steelhead if any exist with that run timing. Commercial fishing for summer chum was only recently resumed because the main summer chum populations had recovered to the point of exceeding escapement goals. It's unclear yet whether they have actually recovered to the point of naturally self-sustaining status. Any bycatch in that fishery should be minimal. We might agree that common sense is an uncommon attribute.


  20. we dont exactly have any back up energy solution that we can have working in a day right now. this area is dependant on dams and until we construct energy solutions that dont damage animals and dont take up space from crops, theres no point in destroying dams. wind farms arent the solution cause they are ugly, take up good farming space, kill migratory birds (im not going to give up duck hunting just to save a salmon population that is going extinct that the dams may or may not be causing) and they dont even produce that much energy. seriously, give it a rest, just because stuff doesnt just pop up out of the ground doesnt mean the government isnt working on it.