Skokomish Steelhead?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Angler 77, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Angler 77

    Angler 77 AKA Scott Jones

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Messages:
    164
    Media:
    30
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Port Townsend, WA
    I've fished the Skoke, both with fly and gear, quite a bit. I know the stereotypical Skoke "fisherman" leaves something to be desired and I've had plenty of days where I was ready to swear off that river because of the crowds and lack of ethics, but It's still one of my favorites.

    In my un-educated opinion the Skoke is pretty healthy. There seem to be healthy wild populations of Coho, Chum, Chinook and to a lesser degree Cuthroat and Dolly Varden. For that matter the hatchery raised fish seem to be doing very well. As I understand Coho and Chinook young spend up to two years in a given river before they migrate out to sea so if they can manage to scratch out an existence in the Skoke why aren't there more Steelhead, wild or hatchery. I know there are some caught every year, but just a handful.

    Historically speaking was the Skoke always a poor Steelheading river?

    Am I wrong and there is a healthy run, just few fisherman, or few days the river is in shape to make it fishable?

    Do young Steelhead spend more time in the degraded canal before they head out to sea, therefore, getting a bad start?

    This is just a topic that's crossed my mind while out on the river. One way or the other I think I'll spend some time this winter fishing for the Skokomish River Steelhead.
     
  2. andycarey

    andycarey New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ashford & Olympia, WA
    At one time the Skok was a highly productive river. The headwaters are in what was called the "Shelton Sustained Yield Unit" of the Olympic National Forest. Under Congressional direction it was logged at a frightful pace; it had the highest road density of any forest in North America, I believe. It also had 6,000 road related landslides in just one area. When I fished it in the 80's I'd see fishing spawning one week and the entire gravel bed of the river shifted 50+ yards the next week after a storm event. Logging has been curtailed for a while; there's been quite a bit of watershed restoration effort. Simpson fought its way out of the agreement in court [they did most of the logging on FS lands in return for a sustained harvest from their cutover lands in the future] ... altho they seem to be going big time on their land now. Restrictions on use of bait prompted some cutthroat recovery pretty quick a few years ago. It used to be the combat fishing was mostly downstream of 101; I'm going to do some exploration this winter; catch records suggest someone's been taking 50 or so winter steelhead from some part of the river.
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,181
    Likes Received:
    1,262
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Angler -
    Take a look at :
    http://wdfw.wa.gov/cgi-bin/database...ort=sort&srchtype=within&job=search&wria=wria

    The stock reports will give you an update on the current status of the various stocks in the basin. The late fall chum and coho look pretty good but the rest of the stocks don't look so good.

    The coho abundance appears to be in the tribs which would support Andy's concern about the logging impacts on the main stem. Would expect that to most serious effect steelhead and chinook as they use the large tribs and main stem for spawning and rearing.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  4. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,830
    Media:
    162
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Somewhere you don't know about, WA
    Great website! The state lists the Winter steelhead as Depressed with lower and lower numbers returning. I have fished the river a few times and it looks good. Lots of water that looks promising but, To see numbers is a big discouragement. I might go hit it up during my winter break. It's close to home!
     
  5. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Messages:
    4,310
    Media:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,109
    Location:
    Olympic Peninsula
    Home Page:
    Why not give those fish a break?:confused:

    When I see the word "depressed" I kind'a figure that means there is a problem...low numbers etc. Why bother the few that are getting through?
     
  6. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,181
    Likes Received:
    1,262
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Bob -
    Interesting standard - would you apply the same to the sea-run cutthroat?

    The coastal cutthroat SASI inventory list 40 stocks of which 1 is rated as healthy, 7 as depressed and 32 as unkown. Maybe we should not be fishing them as well, especially in the salt where most on this site seem to think they were less tolerate to handling while in the salt and where there is uncertainity on about which stocks being fished on.

    Just playing devil's advocate but maybe something to consider.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  7. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,830
    Media:
    162
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Somewhere you don't know about, WA
    Unkown is a scary term. Do they really have no clue about the runs of fish?
     
  8. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Messages:
    4,310
    Media:
    1
    Likes Received:
    1,109
    Location:
    Olympic Peninsula
    Home Page:
    Curt, I dont fish for them myself half as much as I did a few years ago. Most of my guests are first timers, often with very weak skills, and most present little threat to the sea run cutts we fish for. Yes, I think about this every day and it is one of the reasons I dont beat the drum as loudly as I could about guiding for them, or steelhead.
     
  9. Florian Leischner

    Florian Leischner o_clarki

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Messages:
    201
    Media:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Olympia, WA.
    I agree with Bob's standard. Fishing pressure doesn't help depressed stocks. There is not only mortality direct (i.e. harvest, by-catch, poaching, or the dreaded C&R "Oops - sh*t-f*ck") but also unnecessary stress that might make it value to pre-spawn mortality due to predation, disease, etc.

    Using SASSI as an indicator of stock status is a joke ! It defines individual stocks pretty well, but using it as a document to determine health of a stock, ESPECIALLY cutthroat, forget it. The co-managers have never cared about getting information on that species and should not pretend that they have any. Case and point was shown at the Cutthroat Conference in Port Townsend where there was pretty much no information given on the status of cutthroat. There is more information in Les Johnson's most recent cutthroat book, even if mostly anecdotal, on stock status than WDFW has ever published. 32 out of 33 Coastal and Puget Sound stocks are unknown stock status !!!! Please, we can do better than that. Where is my licence money going ? Oh yeah, that stupid resident Blackmouth program ! ....
    Sorry for that rant, I guess I had something to get off my chest. That feels bettter, now.

    I will continue target South Sound Cutthroat because that is one of the healthies species around; but the SASSI didn't tell me that.

    Back to original topic: Skokomish steelhead.
    Steelhead in Puget sound / Hood Canal are doing terrible overall, hence the pending ESA listing, especially from the Skagit south. The further south you go the worse the picture gets. Probably a Puget Sound or Ocean habitat issue, or maybe Ocean harvest.


     
  10. Hoglipstick

    Hoglipstick tailing looped

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    B.I., WA and Superior, MT.
    A few factors that may also be playing a large part in this equation
    1) the entire Hood Canal from the is suffering from oxy depletion and I am surprised that the Coho's still make it back into the Skok because the area of the bay from belfair (the Union River) up past the Great Bend a considerable distant is almost completely dead (I'm not being dramatic here, from seafloor to tide crest, it's damn near dead), and supports very little marine life).
    2) the river (skok) is heavily netted near the mouth. Since the steelhead in the Skok (WR) traditionally come in earlier than most OP rivers, the bycatch from the chum netting wipes out almost all of what is left of this run. I have seen nets strung all the way across that river, so lack of net laws (such as they are) enforcement may also be a factor.

    I have heard that both of these issues are being addressed now, but must admit, I will remain a skeptic until I see otherwise

    P.S. I have seen huge quanties of smolt in that river almost every year, but very little makes it back to spawn.
     
  11. Angler 77

    Angler 77 AKA Scott Jones

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Messages:
    164
    Media:
    30
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Port Townsend, WA
    Ask and yee shall receive. Thanks a lot for the responses guys:thumb: .

    The depressed status of the Skoke Chinook is interesting considering you are allowed to keep one a day, wild or hatchery,from the beginning of Aug. through the end of December. Of course you won't have a chance at catching fresh Kings through the last of the year, but for a couple of months the river is pretty full of Kings. Why allow such a liberal take on Chinook?

    For that matter, why continue stocking Steelhead in the fashion they do now when they (as pointed out by Smalma's link) routinely don't reach the escapement goal of 1400. A sport fishery of 50 Steelhead doesn't seem to make sense for how much money must be spent to produce them.

    Close down the Steelhead hatchery, eliminate the use of bait, don't allow sport Steelhead fishing and spend the money saved from the hatchery on improving habitat so that maybe the remaining wild fish will have a better chance.

    Insert sarcasm here:
    "Boy I just fixed a river, that was easy. Why couldn't anyone else think of this".

    It sure would be nice if my crack pipe scenario was just that simple.

    By the way you're right about netting practices on the Skoke. I've not fished many netted rivers so my scope of experience isn't that broad, but OMFG I've seen some horrible raping of that river!!!:beathead:
     
  12. andycarey

    andycarey New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ashford & Olympia, WA
    So, in sum, the Skok is a microcosm of PNW anadromous fish crisis: dam (on N. Fork, used to entirely stop the flow of water); logging (& attendant activities like roads in the 40s-80s) that disrupted river hydrology; pollution (Hood Canal); excessive harvest (sport, commercial, tribal); state fisheries management (mis-management? with emphasis on hatcheries & chum); farming (with levee contstruction & probably some wetland draining) in the Skok valley ... anyting else we can do to destroy the fish? abc
     
  13. TomB

    TomB Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,637
    Likes Received:
    74
    Location:
    seattle,wa
    You pretty much summed it up...the 4 lethal H's as they are called....harvest, hatcheries, habitat, and hydropower.
    -Tom
     
  14. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Messages:
    8,563
    Media:
    6
    Likes Received:
    2,872
    Location:
    Your City ,State
    77,

    Wild steelhead were nearly extirpated from the Skok by two proximate causes. The North Fork dams eliminated access and flow in the NF. The South Fork, as related by Andy, was fanagled by Simpson Timber Co. such that they were able to harvest at private forest land rates (as fast as they could cut) on public National Forest land. The land slides and sediment transport devastated natural fish production in that fork and most of the main stem. So the Skok has relied mostly on George Adams hatchery and the Shelton trout hatchery, and WDFW and the tribe have treated the river pretty much as a hatchery wipe-out fishery, with relatively small numbers of fish needed for hatchery escapement. The wild chum population is doing pretty well, altho many are from hatchery production, as are the vast majority of all chinook and coho.

    Things have changed. Simpson is being kinder to the landscape. Tacoma, which kept the NF dry (except McTaggert Creek) from 1932 to 1988, when Tacoma began releasing 30 cfs, and then in 1998 increased that to 60 cfs. Coho salmon responded positively to this and have done well, and sea run cutthroat are doing OK there as well. A few wild steelhead are making it back, but not enough to constitute a fishery.

    For whatever reason, Hood Canal rivers get the lowest % returns on hatchery steelhead plants and were discontinued a couple years or so ago. I think last year was the final year for typical two salt hatchery winter steelhead returning. Or maybe it's this year. You can call region 6 to check. Consequently, even the 50 steelhead (from a 60,000 smolt plant I was told) won't be available to catch in the Skok any more. Truly, it's just not worth the cost. Those fish can be stocked in another river system where they will experience higher survival rates.

    The Skok offers a unique and interesting and productive fishery for chinook, coho, and chum salmon for those who can stomach the crowds, litter, ahem - the trailer trash behavior, the blatant snagging, and the treaty Indian fishery. Steelhead fishing is less than an afterthought, although the wild run might stand a chance at rebuilding. Cutthroat fishing is likely to be more productive in Hood Canal than in the Skok for its limited trout. If you'd like to catch a steelhead, I'd have to suggest you try another river.

    Vast numbers of smolt occur in the Skok in the spring due to hatchery releases. Natural production is important, but makes up a very small % of the total salmonid production - except for chum.

    Sincerely,

    Salmo g.
     
  15. andycarey

    andycarey New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Ashford & Olympia, WA
    It will be interesting to see what happens as time goes by; the Olympic NF is practicing a kind & gentle conservation forestry, and, with the help of Cng. Dicks, got a fair amount of money for restoration a few years ago; the geologist et al. on the ONF did some amazing creative work on the roads. Simpson is now bound both by the much maligned Forest & Fish agreement (which does have some very good improvements to transportation mgmt; the main problem is that considerable time [decades] has been allowed to redress past problems) and its habitat conservation plan, in which a fellow by the name of Peterson came up with quite a thoughtful scientific approach to categorizing the geomorphology and hydrology of stream reaches and managing to ensure proper recruitment of coarse woody debris, etc. etc. etc. So, I hope we some improved habitat quality. The big question is will that be enough to overcome various fishing endeavors, Hood Canal pollution, hatcheries, and the extirpation and dimunition of various seasonal runs in the rivers. In addition, the Skokomish tribe had some pretty nice plans for restoring the estruaries (removing dikes etc.) at the mouth ... I hope they are ongoing (I don't know). I suspect that eventually the sr cutts might increase markedly; I'm not enough of a fish squeerzer (biologist) to know about the rest. abc
     
  16. Monk

    Monk Redneck

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    709
    Media:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marblemount, WA
    "I agree with Bob's standard. Fishing pressure doesn't help depressed stocks."

    Who's gonna fix the problem if no-body has an vested interest?

    I highly doubt someone C&Ring a fish is gonna crash the population.

    On the other hand, if it is closed indefinitely to fishing, no one will have a vested interest in the land and all the scars from the previous generation will remain.
     
  17. Angler 77

    Angler 77 AKA Scott Jones

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Messages:
    164
    Media:
    30
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Port Townsend, WA
    Salmo g, I always enjoy reading your informed responses. I don't have a specific, catch a Steelhead goal. If that were the case I might consider a different system or two. Relatively close to me are the Cowlitz, Skookumchuck, Wynoochee and Satsop. All of which I've caught Steelhead from. In fact I've caught a couple of Steelhead from the Skoke while fishing for Coho.

    The Skoke is the river I started fishing for salmon on. I'm not sure of the year, but I was told at the time that it was the first year it had been re-opened for retention for Kings. I think it was 1997 or '98. I started out gearfishing and have slowly evolved into flyfishing for these brutes. So this river is significant to me. I've had some great days and have caught some surprises. Maybe I've just spent too much time on the river to think that it might be worth a try for some Winter Steelhead.

    From my experience the Skoke is a river well worth the effort to try to restore.

    More than likely I will not get out to try my luck, mostly I was interested to find out what the informed thought.
     
  18. Florian Leischner

    Florian Leischner o_clarki

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Messages:
    201
    Media:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Olympia, WA.
    I get your point, but people usually don't give up on a species, especially if it is a steelhead. The Nisqually, for example, has been closed for any targeted steelhead fishery, for about 7 years, but yet, both the Tribe and WFW are working hard to try to keep this species from crashing into oblivion. I think the HammaHamma and Duckabush are a good example, were it recently was closed for steelhead fishing and a conservation hatchery brood program was establish to keep the last few wild fish from blinking out.

    Also, scientifically speaking, any harvest, even if it is less than 5% really doesn't help rebuild a depressed stock.
     
  19. Monk

    Monk Redneck

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2004
    Messages:
    709
    Media:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marblemount, WA

    Well, we are going to lose steelhead state wide one day. I don't care what anyone says. I do think that they have a better chance if there are passionate people waiting to take on the cause. If there were no fishermen, there would be no steelhead in washington. That is a fact. People would build their dream homes right on top of the river, logging companies would still be doing what they did in previous generations. As long as the habitat keeps getting ruined and people still kill these fish, they will become extinct probably in my lifetime. Sobering thought eh?
     
  20. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2002
    Messages:
    24,082
    Media:
    29
    Likes Received:
    3,022
    Location:
    Dillon, Mt
    Talking about homes right over a river. Well Woods Creek isn't a river but there is a house built over it. I was fishing the creek one day off of a bridge and the owner of the house invited us in to see the creek under the house. He threw a few crumbs into the water and the fish he was feeding were about two feet in lenght. The house is boarded up now probably from the rot of the water under the house.

    You can see the house from Pipeline road. Just cross over the bridge over the creek and look to the right.

    Jim