Skagit to Skagit

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by _WW_, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. I feel you Will, but I still think that having bait restrictions isn't a My-Way-Or-The-High-Way type of thing.

    Something along those lines would be "Fly Fishing Only".....I would NEVER be into that.

    I think restricting bait would be about the fish and not the tackle because all those flatfish, corkies, and jigs catch steelhead at nearly the same rate without bait and the fish tend to be mortally wounded less frequently.

    That is why no bait just seems like a no brainer to me.

    As for not being able to fish from a boat, that is harder to justify but I would like the idea of the fish having safe havens in the river, I think that would lead to a lot more hookups too because they wouldn't be getting pounded everywhere they try to find sanctuary so when they do move into a fishable run, they are rested.

    A also agree with the above that a good compromise is having a "No Fishing From Boats Area". That would be tough to enforce but would be a good thing in my mind.
  2. I think they should close fishing above certain points where they know a lot of the redds would be. On some systems, they may be spread out and you could just close sections.

    I'm surprised some who claim to advocate for wild steelhead are so quick to give up on some systems. The cowlitz for example. If there is hope that someday the Elwah dams will come down, and wild fish runs will start building back up if given the chance, then why give up on the Cow and other rivers? Keep fighting to get better\safer fish passage for adult fish and outmigrating juvinille fish. Keep fighting to stop poor hatchery practices - possibly shutting down all hatcheries if you really care about wild fish recovery. Yes, that means you give up fishing on many systems. Yes, that means many guides would be out of work. Yes, that means license sales would go down. Fight to stop netting of all kinds that impact steelhead (directly or 'by-catch'), improve fish passage and habitat, and shut down the more sensitive rivers or sections of those rivers. No bait that juvinille fish may swallow, smaller hook sizes to help both adult and juvinille, and so forth.

    I doubt many steelhead guides are ready to give up their bread and butter though.

  3. Thanks Curt! This is exactly the data I was looking for.. Here is my interpretation based on the data that I am looking at.

    And for those of you that asked me if I was serious about removing the bottom of the hook as a rule change – yes I was kidding. I used it as an example how someone’s OPINION can impact a lot of fishermen without any data supporting the ask.

    I am going to focus on the Skagit data, as this is where this conversation started, but I will note that I see similar patterns across all data that is provided… I’m still of the opinion that each river system needs to be looked at individually to come up with the best solutions for each of the waterways.

    Patterns that jump out at me:

    1. The exponential trend line can be thrown out because from a statistical standpoint there are not enough data points given for this to mean anything. We would need at least two or three times as many years recorded for an accurate trend.
    a. Ie, 1978 and 2003 had roughly the same number of fish return to the Skagit, with the large difference in the years between, a larger group of years is required to fully understand if this is a normal fluxuation that is tied to a cycle, or some other cause.
    2. A small trend develops every 2-4 years affects an increase or decrease in the number of fish returned.
    3. A larger cycle seems to be in play that comes about every 15 or so years which affect a larger increase or decrease in the numbers of fish returned
    4. Since 2001, the total sport and tribal harvest combined take do not even add up to 5% of the total run (this was a surprise to me)
    5. Not sure why the escapement goal changes? Can I guess politics?

    My take away:

    1. Sport and tribal harvest has NOTHING to do with the decline in our fisheries. The data shows it is a non factor.
    a. There is way too much effort being focused on less than 3% of the total run, we need to figure out what causes the jumps in the purple and red lines which represent deltas of over 300% – this is where you are going to see results
    2. I would look into the following to see if there are additional correlations that contribute to declines and rebounds within the years given:
    a. Flooding?
    b. Introduction of logging, housing, or industry that contribute to the destruction of riparian zones
    c. El Nino and El Nina weather patterns within the ocean that can determine the amount of feed available in the ocean
    d. Water releases below the dam
    e. Commercial take/catch out in the ocean (not just American/Canadian, but elsewhere along the oceanic migration path)
    3. The WSR enacted in 2003 appears to be helping; however, we are way too early to know given the patterns outlined in line items 2 and 3 above.

    More take aways:

    1. I still have not seen one conclusive shred of evidence that hatcheries hurt wild steelhead
    a. Hatcheries were in full swing in the 50’s and 60’s with most likely more output than today and the number in 1978 were the same as in 2003.
    b. If someone can give me a case study where the removal of a hatchery has steadily increased the number of wild fish returned over a period of 10-15 years I will change my story – the arguments I continue to hear seem entirely opinion based here
    i. With this said, I am completely for the removal of introduced subspecies into other rivers (Skamania, Cook, etc).
    ii. I’d like to see more data on the success of broodstock programs
    c. I still think that if you take away hatcheries, you are going to place a lot more pressure and burden on our wild fish runs which everyone seems to be in agreement that more pressure is a bad thing
    2. WE AS SPORTSMEN need to stop beating each other up and suggesting ridiculous rule changes that limit how people fish (ie boats, flyfishing only, whatever)
    a. These are feel good changes that the data shows does not do a single thing for the fishery
    3. Some alternative approaches that may help
    a. Introduction of spawning gravel to sections of the rivers (they have been doing this successfully in CA for years)
    b. A fund dedicated toward repairing the riparian zones around our stream banks (stamps, launch fees, whatever) – I am very skeptical about putting money in governments hands though!

    Anyway, its just my 2 cents!

  4. Scott,

    You're a jewel! You collected information, analyzed it, and formed conclusions supported by the data. Are you some kinda' scientist or somthin'?

    If you examined additional and different information on hatchery steelhead effects and broodstock programs, your conclusions would likely be different regarding those.

  5. scott,

    while its not documented in the published scientific literature, the wind river has made a considerable recovery since the state stopped passing hatchery fish above the falls. Obviously the correlation between this practice and the return of the wild steelhead (to a degree) cannot necessarily be interpreted as causation I believe it is a valuable case study. Plus some of our most robust wild populations left are in areas without hatchery programs.

  6. Thanks Will... I was not aware of the Wind. I'll look into it.

    If you are correct, then I would be one willing to take a look at a pilot program aimed at a single hatchery shut down for a period of say 10-15 years on a single river.

    ... with the provision in place that the excess money gets put into one of our other meat fisheries (maybe the Cowlitz), and that if the program does not show markatable increases in wild fish throughout the program, the hatchery is returned to a state "as was" before the pilot program began.

    In any case, it seems there is causation to persue the hypothesis further, but I would remain completely against widespread hatchery shut down until more data is collected and the unintended consequences are fully known and understood.
  7. No, no scientist here. Just someone that tries to leave “personal beliefs” on the door step and is very data driven in my decisions.

    I would love to see more information on broodstock programs as well if you have any references. The only parallelism I have to go off of is the program they enacted in the Upper Sacramento after the Cantara spill. The only reason they have a world class trout fishery today is because of hatchery practices that utilized the very small portions of wild fish that remained.

    Unfortunately, I was below the spill that day – not fishing, but I saw firsthand the devastation that occurred as the dioxin made its way down.

    I would like to believe (maybe its wishful thinking) that under the right management, the same methodologies could be utilized for our steelhead and similar rebounds would take hold.

  8. Tim,

    I don't care if sleds are used on the Skagit and have no qualms about folks fishing from sleds or other boats on the Skagit. I would like to see the no fishing while under power rule enforced on it though. Likewise, I don't care what kind of rod, reel, line, or lure a person uses. I simply want to see single barbless hook artificial lure in place. It is BS to say I want to prevent anyone from fishing unless they are fishing with a fly because nothing could be furthur from the truth. I've shared many a run with folks using plugs, yarn, spinners, corkies, etc. with no lack of enjoyment, this included sharing runs with folks in sleds.

    Likwise it is BS to say a person can't use plugs unless he is in a boat, and you know that.

    And as you already know, boats under power are not allowed on the Sauk currently, eventhough there are some who run their boats up the Sauk from the Skagit and then drift back down (including a few fly guides). The rule says no boats under power on the Sauk and that includes running up it from the Skagit. I'd like to see it enforced because the Sauk is not exactly a big river, that's all.


    You also know I don't care what kind of rod, reel, line, or lure a person uses and that I want to see a bait ban and single barbless hook artificial lure rules in place. And as you also know, a ban of fishing from a boat on the Sauk will provide a bit of santuary for the fish because not all the water can be effectively fished from shore or when wading. The runs are down, so this would help a few more fish get to spawn unmolested. I don't want to ban boats on the Sauk (as you imply), I simply want them used only for transportation and not fishing platforms just like on Oregon's Deschutes. You could still use your boat, you just coudn't fish from it. And you could use whatever type of gear you wished as long as you didn't use bait.
  9. Very well put scott...this is a "fishing website" god forbid someone fish!

    i got a chance to read over alot of those data files on the wsc page. Very nice to be able to find this sort of information on the web. I have to agree with your arguements... good analysis.

    I completely agree that "overall" sport and tribal have nothing to do with the entire system declining. However i still believe in special situations where wild fish populations are super low sport and tribal netting must be regulated to ensure those fish wont be completely wiped out... again not the overall case but still something that needs to be calculated.
  10. I think there may be another example of the resiliency of these fish and am wondering if there is anything to learn from it that might apply to the Skagit.

    We have all heard stories of the remarkable recovery of the Steelhead in the Toutle after the eruption of Mount St. Helens. As stories tend to be embellished as they are retold, it would be interesting to hear from those in the know what the facts of that recovery were in respect to timeline, and river closure.
  11. WW,

    St Helens blew in in 1980. The SF Toutle peaked in steelhead abundance between 1986-1988. Fortunately the 1980s were the high marine survival years. The river went back in the toilet relatively speaking in the 90s and remains there most years, with a bright spot here and there. However, your point of resiliency is right on. The run recovered in part because it was closed to fishing and therefore closed to harvest. The main reason it recovered is because freshwater and ocean conditions were favorable to survival.

    Closing a PS river that is currently experiencing poor returns can't be expected to perform as the SF Toutle did for the simple reason that similar environmental conditions don't exist.

  12. FYI - on the Sauk river there are no restrictions regarding fishing from motorized boats during the "general season". When "selective gear" rules go into effect on March 1, the rules change to "no fishing FROM a boat with a motor". In other words, a motorized boat can still be used for transportation - you just can't fish while IN the boat. The fact that jetboats are not, in general, run up past the first bridge upstream from the confluence with the Skagit, is a "courtesy" that has been followed by most "local" boaters for at least the 25 years I've been here. The only river locally that has an actual "no motors" rule is the North Fork Stilly.
  13. Rayne,

    Selective gear rules definition clearly states on page 26 of the rules pamphlet, "No one may fish from any floating device equipped with an internal combustion motor, except where specifically allowed under Special Rules for individual waters." It doesn't say boats with motors can be used to access the river and then a person can fish from it when not under power. It clearly means fishing from a boat with a more on it (i.e. "equipped with an internal combustion motor") is not allowed.

    Therefore, those who use boats with motors to go up the Sauk after March 1st, are not following the law since boats with motors on them can't be fished from, and there is no exception to whether or not the motor is being used or not, the rule says "equipped with", not "in use". And I for one would like to see this enforced.
  14. Sauk or the Skagit??? Because for the Skagit it does say that you can fish from one, just not while under power.

  15. FT -
    If it were that way. Teh reality is that WDFW can only regulate the time, place, and matter of how we fish. They can not regulate how we get to the water - you can drive a truck or SUV, hybrid or even a power boats. Thus a person using a power baot to access water is not violating a WDFW rule (time, place, and matter of fishing).

    Now the Counties can regulate speed limits and the use of power boats on waters in their counties and do so on a number of waters.

    tight lines
  16. Curt,

    Thanks for clarifying that for me. I realize I was greatly misunderstanding what WDFW can regulate.


    Every year I see multiple folks backtrolling under power during the March 16th to April 30th C&R season. This is expressly forbidden in the rules, but I've never seen it enforced. I've seen WDFW law enforcement check licenses and gear of many in powered boats, but not once have I seen a ticket issued for backtrolling under power in that time period, even when the gamies witnessed boats backtrolling under power when checking people on shore. I'd love to see it enforced.
  17. I'm not sure if one can come to this conclusion as there is not a non-harvest control study to compare this one to.

    However, for the moment let's assume your conclusion is 100% correct. My next question would of course have to be this: Why are there closures to sportfishing? What purpose does it serve?
  18. Kerry,

    My comments are tongue in cheek...I'm showing how ridulous it is to make rules singling out particular gear I said above a few times, for every unnecessary and ridiculous rule to ban gear fishing, there is an equally unnecessary and ridiculous rule to ban flyfishing...that's why I pointed out a few times above that those types of rules are...well, ridiculous.

    Fish on...

  19. Actually, that's not true. There's a great non-harvest river in the south puget sound called the Nisqually. No sport SH season and no tribal SH neetting. Additionally, not *all* rivers are treaty rivers, and as such have no commercial netting on them by the tribes (Grays, Naselle, Kalama, etc). Their wild runs (even with no catch and kill for wild fish on those rivers) pretty much trend with the North PS rivers.

    Additionally, the closures to sport fishing are often associated with catch and keep fisheries. In those cases, harvest is managed specifically to prevent over exploitation (or the limitation of such).
  20. The Nisqually is not the Skagit, which has the second largest average flow in the state. For another comparison I would refer you to Bill McMillen's article. It is a long read, full of figures and history. Or at least what history is available. I found what he had to say of the run in 1953-54 particularly interesting.

    "Additionally, the closures to sport fishing are often associated with catch and keep fisheries."

    But again, if as it was suggested that harvest has no affect on the health of the runs, why on earth is the C&R season in all likelyhood to be closed?

    Something's not right here. Either it's the data, the conclusion, or the management practices.

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