Skagit River Steehead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Andrew Lawrence, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Just for the record - the Skagit had approximately 6,185 wild Steelhead return this past spring 2012. They estimated about 900 Hatchery fish returning - we did see low returns in 2009 - but have seen an increase in Wild fish over the past four years - all with introgression of hatchery fish.
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  2. "A steelheads value is not measured by how it fills belly or bends a rod..
    I say lets save them even if we never get to fish them again."

    I disagree with this - stopping recreational CnR fishing will not bring our runs back - Not fishing for them will end the passion for these fish by this generation and the next. With the loss of passion to protect the resource, the fish will loose the only voice they have - the Steelhead Angler
    Andrew Lawrence and KerryS like this.
  3. And this harkens back to the meeting in Sedro Woolley awhile back wherein we were told that "What happens to the fish while they are in the river is not the problem."

    So...lets review.
    1. Harvest is not the limiting factor.
    2. What happens to them in the river doesn't hurt the run.

    Explain to me again why we can't C&R these runs.
    If killing them (harvest) isn't the limiting factor how in the fucking hell can catch and releasing them be harmful?

    Cripes-A-Mighty! Who dreams up all this shit?
  4. The passion has not done much good so far ,and if the passion diminishes because there is no exploitation then there was no passion to begin with....

    I am not advocating an end to cnr just pointing out that it's not without harm. And that the fish have value beyond their use to man.
  5. You don't go after limiting factors you go after every factor to save every fish possible. That is if you are serious about recovery rather than managing the resource to extinction, like WDFW is so good at.
  6. Was wondering how this past year fared. Can someone please explain why there wasn't a spring C&R season? Never mind, already know. While localities vary, things seem to be getting better up and down the coast for wild ocean maturing fish. Hope the trend continues. Can't wait until we are seeing in excess of 10K fish returning to the Skagit and still sitting there twiddling our thumbs. 15K and still twiddling. Oh no says the state. Our hands are tied. California has no trouble obtaining c&r 'take' permits on 100% wild rivers that are ESA listed as threatened. Makes one wonder 'where' the hang up is...
  7. I will show my passion this weekend. I am going to fish for steelhead in the Skagit for the first time in 2 years. I know the odds of hooking into a fish are close to nil. Air temps will be in the low to mid forties. Water temps likely low forties. Tell me why am I going fishing for steelhead in the Skagit if not for a passion of the pursuit of winter steelhead? It is my river and I am going to fish it.

    Bull trout anyone?

    Occupy Skagit.
  8. Ok that's why I raised those questions. Because we here on this site or other sites really don't know the total outcome of shutting hatchery's. most rivers are in such poor health Steelhead wise, that it would mean the end of all Steelhead fishing as we know it.
    thanks Salmo-g for your insight on this issue.
    one more question.
    with the shut down of Snider creek brood stock program. does that mean the state will not go down that road for what we see as the near future ?
    i always thought that method would be the way to go for some streams on this side of the pond.
  9. "Cripes-A-Mighty! Who dreams up all this shit? "
    I think its the Federal Government. I remember when the PS was going to get ESA listed, one voice told us "fishing smart guys" that this may be a bad thing - Curt seems you were right.

    Try this - phone up WDFW and ask who the regional Bio is for the Skagit, see how long it takes to get that persons number and email. Then call our public servants at NOAA and try and find the person who is in charge of the Skagit or even PS and see how long it takes to get that persons number or email. SG you are not allowed to try this :)

    Its been hard for me to get contact info - to ask any questions, get additional info or find out what they are looking for from the state on the SMP - I did talk to someone at the State and they said that the SMP is on the back burner - they are addressing the Chinook Management Plan first.
  10. Interesting, because on the WDFW website they list their goal at 6,000 fish, and then after that is reached there is suppose to be a 16% harvestable rate. Why didn't they open it even if they met their goal? When are the counts done?
  11. Inland -
    There was no CnR spring season last year on the Skagit/Sauk because the wild steelhead are ESA and under the Fed's ESA impacts rules/guidelines there is no provision to provide for such a fishery.

    At the time of the listing for Puget Sound steelhead the federal review found that the fishing impacts the populations had experienced in the decade preceding the listing was not a significant limiting factor. It was determined that those impacts across 6 PS river systems over that decade was 4.2%. The feds assumed that 4.2% was a level that did not represent a significant risk and it became the "rule".

    With the changes in the Skagit and other Puget Sound rivers seasons since the ESA listing has been below the guidelines. However those impacts or exploitation based and remain more or less constant regardless of the run size. Even if 15,000 wild steelhead were returning the allowable impacts would remain the same and would be exhausted before any potential spring CnR season.

    That does not mean that differenallowable impacts could not be developed or even a system with sliding allowable impacts depending on the run strength. However such a proposal would have to developed with supporting data, submitted to NMFS for evaluation, review and hopefully approved. However that proposal would have to be put together by the co-managers and typically would take a number of years of work and review before approved. I'm sure that the feds would prefer a joint proposal from the co-managers covering all the Puget Sound Rivers - a matter of work load. Presently I'm not aware of any work bein currently done to address the case of what to do when runs improve. Doubt there will be a lot of co-manager interest in investing the effort for an alternate proposal until runs improve which of course meansnI do not expect to fish those spring seasons again in my life time.

    Irony of Puget Sound steelhead is that because the State attempted to do the "right" thing for the wild steelhead those of us in the area find our fishing opporunties extremely limited while in other areas of the State - SW Washington for example whose steelhead have the same status as the PS fish continue to have some generous opportunities. In fact on some of the rivers they are now allowed to use two rods while the anglers fish for hatchery steelhead and salmon.

  12. Curt,

    This is pretty much what you have previously said. My comment was a sarcastic one.

    The flaw in this whole debate comes down to California and some of its rivers. The Eel being the main example. Hatchery fish removed, bait allowed but with barbless single hooks, C&R angling. There are tribal nets. Again NO HATCHERY FISH. Seasons did not change. Rules did not change on wild fish release. Things moved forward without the hand tying that has happened in Washington. There is a really big elephant in the room, that somehow avoids being acknowledged regarding the bull that is the Skagit.

  13. Anadromous fisheries management in the PNW is the antithesis of economics...and maximizing economic benefit is the only way it can work! Economics is a true science and is NEVER wrong!! Increase a resources value and you'll get more of markets assumed. Government intervention always attempts to satiate or subsidize interest groups while ignoring the driver which is ECONOMICS. Over the last 20 (or 40) or so years we have proven intervention with hatcheries doesn't increase returns. Why not let the fish do it, that is what they want to do.

    It's time to stop subsidizing harvest and let the wild fish create their own value...they will if we let them. Wild fish have rebounded exceedingly quickly wherever given the chance with no cost to the ratepayer or taxpayer.

    Harvest subsidies amount to what?..up to 1K per hatchery fish! Thanks for buying them for me but surely I wouldn't pay more than 5 bucks for the opportunity to catch a hatchery fish. I'm not that hungry!
  14. Leave it to the Feds to create a rule that cannot be changed because no one has a lifespan long enough to accomplish the task.

    I for one have purchased my last Steelhead license for Washington. Relocation plans to commence in the morning.
  15. I' m coming out Kerry...going to fish a dry line this winter so I'll just blame that for any lack of fish!!!
  16. When I read WDFW's arguments for rejecting the many reasonable rule proposals that were made by well intentioned individuals and groups, the agency comes across as arrogant and yet self contradictory. For example, the agency's response to Curt's recommendation that that the Puget Sound Stream Strategy be extended for "all waters that are open for targeting steelhead at anytime of the year would be managed under selective gear rules (SGR) during winter or summer seasons."

    WDFW's response is emblematic of a self righteous, yet flawed bureaucracy:
  17. [WDFW's response] The stream strategy was intended to provide protection for juvenile steelhead. At this time, that protection is considered sufficient to continue to allow anglers to pursue other opportunities. Bait is an important tool for catching salmon. This rule would reduce salmon catch and would reduce the removal of hatchery fish from rivers. Broad application of selective gear rules would unnecessarily reduce diversity of opportunity.

    Reasons not recommended for further consideration

    Salmon, goes through the North of Falcon process
    This proposal deals with salmon. Salmon seasons are set through the Pacific Fisheries Management Council/North of Falcon process.

    Can anyone (other than the WDFW bureaucrat who wrote this) make sense of the agency's response to a proposal that had the intent of steelhead protection (which itself stated at the very beginning of its response) and yet later makes the case that the proposal is salmon related?

    I can't make any sense out of it as it reminds me of the classic line "never argue with an idiot... he will beat you with experience".

    I don't hold any hope that WDFW will manage in a more enlightened approach - William's example of how CA's DFG manages the Eel is a great reminder of what the WDFW is not capable of.
  18. You now know why many of us have given up working on fish related issues. Some call it angler apathy. I see it as one will only bloody one's head against the brick wall for so long.
  19. WW,

    As you see in Curt's and Chris' posts, the feds and state combine to dream up this crazy shit. And when contrasted to SW WA river regulations and CA, it demonstrates the lack of any continuity between regions. No one (except a few die hard CNK anglers and some tribal reps) is saying that CNR seasons on steelhead are inconsistent with recovery. From my perspective there just is no CNR advocacy at the agency level. Almost every one I know who works in fish management (called harvest management) assumes that the purpose of managing fish and fishing seasons is to establish regulations for the harvest of fish, not for catching them and letting them go. We are too small an interest group to invest the work necessary to accommodate CNR seasons as recovery planning procedes. And since there is no steelhead fishery of consequence in PS at this time, no one who would be charged with working on it has any incentive to take it off the back burner and move it forward.


    Occupy Skagit. I like it.

  20. I don't think SW WA can be included as an example. Every river has a hatchery component that overlaps the ten or so wild fish returning. Which fits with dept. ideology.

    Cali is the real example of why washington (and visiting) anglers are getting the shaft. Hatchery programs closed on several rivers, tribal nets (admittedly not co-managers), bait and barbless hooks. Not one day was missed once those fish were listed. No one can even begin to claim the Eel isn't more degraded and still in more trouble than the skagit or sky. Not one day was missed. The river is far more depressed, historically, for wild winter steelhead then the skagit is right now. Not one day was missed.

    One department has an ideological difference about C&R fishing.

    The problem has nothing to do with the feds. It is the state of washington. I don't care who you can call and get the person in charge on the phone faster. Washington has repeatedly said they do not support fishing on wild populations of fish unless there is a direct harvest season. If there are not enough wild fish to directly harvest, there had better be hatchery fish available, or there is no season. Period. This is why the skagit is closed (which brings up the question- how the hell did Smalma get those mid March and April C&R seasons passed?). And why the state is doing nothing to get a season in place. It goes against their ideology. Not the feds. It isn't the feds dragging their feet. I am sure the co-managers aren't helping as this goes against much of their ideology as well. Fish are for food not fun. The bullshit about 'foregone opportunity' is exactly that. Another ploy to ensure that no wild fish are released for fun by the recreational angler.

    Pachyderms are freely roaming the halls and offices of WDFW brass...

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