Native summers

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Panhandle, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,779
    Bellingham Wa.
    Ratings: +310 / 1
    Shawn, Those #'s are astounding! their reference to % of habitat loss and how low the # are now was suprizing to me!

    P.S. I knew the nookie had potential!
  2. Derek Day Rockyday

    Posts: 567
    Olympia
    Ratings: +146 / 0
    The Nooksack numbers blew my mind. It only looked at habitat loss due to loss of access, not degradation. 30% loss of access for a corresponding 2500% decline in numbers. I misspoke earlier, the Finney "premier" run was a hatchery program, I think.
  3. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,792
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +643 / 0
    Derek -
    To the best of my knowledge those Finney Creek fish were not hatchery fish, though whiel there certainly could have been some hatchery strays included.

    After poking around bit in the Skagit basin and even though I had manage to catch some wild summer steelhead in the basin I'm firmly convinced that there isn't any significant summer steelhead habitat in the Skagit basin. Through the rest of North Puget Sound where native summer steelhead are/were found it was always when there was significant habitat available for steelhead use above some sort of migration barrier (usually some sort of falls) that provides a selection advantage for the summer life history. I have not found such habitat in the Skagit basin.

    Something that folks often over look is that both Day and Finney Creeks drain the opposite side of the ridge from Deer Creek which had by far the largest run of summer steelhead in Puget Sound. Have always wondered if some of those summer fish on the Skagit side were visiting Deer Creek fish. A pet theory that I have for the origin of those wild summers (especially those in areas other than the middle Skagit) is that they were produced by smolts from resident rainbow populations above anadromous barriers.

    I too read that abundance paper with great interest and your habitat comments are spot on. With a fish like steelhead who spends several years rearing in freshwater and requires a variety of habitats at different times of the year and at different sizes the quality and diversity of habitat may be at least as important as the amount of habitat. In fact given the combination from the habitat lost and the hit from greatly reduced marine survival the surprise is that the region still has as many wild steelhead as it does. Any more detailed discussion of the abundance question probably merits its own thread.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  4. stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Posts: 1,381
    Carlsbad, CA
    Ratings: +190 / 0
    except the NF Stilly has no such barrier. The south fork nooksak does to a certain extent
  5. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,779
    Bellingham Wa.
    Ratings: +310 / 1
    I've never been up deer creek but, aren't most of the summer runs deer creek fish?
  6. stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Posts: 1,381
    Carlsbad, CA
    Ratings: +190 / 0
    yes, Im just saying that if a natural barrier is a determinin factor in the presence of native summer runs inthe system, then why does deer creek have historically one of the largest runs when neither the NF Stilly or deer creek itself have one of these barriers?
    Deer creek also has a winter run, there are not exclusivey summer fish in that system
  7. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,792
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +643 / 0
    Chris -
    You are correct the native summer steelhead of the NF Stillaguamish were confined to Deer Creek. About 1.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Deer Cree it enters a very steep canyon that has series of serious steps or falls. The exact shape of those falls change from time to time however the end result is that the overall length of the canyon and the cummulative effect of the "falls" provide a barrier between the summer and winter steelhead habitat. Winter fish (as well as Chinook, pink, etc) spawn downstream of the canyon and summer steelhead, summer coho and bull trout (a couple times sockeye as made it upstream) are found upstream of the canyon. It often is the case there will be a spot within the canyon that essentially blocks upstream migration except for short periods of very specific flows.

    Of the top of my head I would say there is approximately 14 miles of Deer Creek about the canyon accessible to the steelhead as well as another 6 or so of tributary habitat). Historically based on the size of the stream and its gradient that upper Deer Creek basin must of provided near ideal habitat for juvenile rearing. It was this amount of habitat that separated Deer Creek and the size of its steelhead run from other Puget Sound populations.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  8. Chris DeLeone Active Member

    Posts: 526
    Monroe, WA
    Ratings: +90 / 0
    Curt,
    Why aren't there more studies/information on the PS wild Steelhead. The state really has left that off the books as far as run size and forcasts and detailed information.

    Thanks
    Chris
  9. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,792
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +643 / 0
    Chris -
    You probably can find information on forecasts and runs sizes (both hatchery and wild) in the co-managers annual steelhead harvest plans. There are individual plans for each of the basins so contact the WDFW regional office fish management staff nearest to the basin(s) of interest. Or you can get that info from the Fish management program at headquarters in Olympia. Numbers are in the pamphlet or WDFW web site.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  10. Chris DeLeone Active Member

    Posts: 526
    Monroe, WA
    Ratings: +90 / 0
    Thanks I will check it out - I talked to a Bio up there and he told me they didn't do much with the summer runs as far as the forecasts. That may be a good thing in the long run - seems when they get too much info and NOAA get their nose in it - they blame us, we blame our selves and they close the fishing. I say that a bit tounge and cheek.

    Thanks