Spring Steelhead in the PACNW

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Great Lakes Man, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    You might want to tell that to the upper Skagit tribe. I have shared water with thier gill netters in March below Hamilton. I seriously doubt that there are many hatchery fish that low in the system in March and I am sure they know that also. Will they stop if the sport season is closed? Pfffffft! I have also watched them net around Fabers in April. I would think the likelyhood of catching hatchery steelhead in April is not high. They may justify it by saying this is where a large number of hatchery fish are released but, you make your own judgement. Let me say I have only seen this once a few years ago.
  2. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

    Didnt the tribes step up and stop netting for a year or two around the 85/86 seasons when we switched to cnr or something along those lines?

    I swear I read that somewhere when I was researching the old Skagit rules back in the mid 80's heyday.
  3. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    LOL :beathead:


    Unless MIT invented a special net that only targets hatchery steelhead I think they probably catch whatever is in the river, sell what they legally can, and keep what they can't legally sell for the family and friends or restaurant black market.

    It is not hard to understand my friends: One pull of these nets is possibly equivelent to your total lifetime impact on our steelhead runs and sometimes 10X that!

    I have fished the mouths of our local rivers and seen the Tribes fishing there.........IT IS NOT PRETTY!

    I have seen days when the nets close around a bubbling cauldron of hundreds of steelhead. I would never have even thought that many were in the river considering my hookup rate; which brings me back to my most important point in this post and I must reinterate: One pull of these nets is possibly equivelent to your total lifetime impact on our steelhead runs and sometimes 10X that!

    Furthermore, there used to be steelhead runs every month of the year, especially December and Feb.........I wonder where all those wild fish in those months have gone????

    Answer: they were converted to $$$$$

    At some point people must understand that netting ripe fish in the rivers is INSANE! Those fish have been through thousands of obsticles and survived, they are the lucky ones....don't net them for the table, leave they to spawn.

    And as far as our impact with C&R, I will copy and paste it again: One pull of these nets is possibly equivelent to your total lifetime impact on our steelhead runs and sometimes 10X that!
  4. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked


    I'm going to open a Bald Eagle Hatchery so people can hunt them or harvest them for comercial use.
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Jeremy -
    The Sauk first had its CnR spring season in 1980 and the Skagit followed in 1982.

    The mid-1980s saw some very good wild escapements and the CnR fishing was very good - lots of fish and few anglers. The big driver for those increased escapements were some of the best marine survival (smolt to adult return rates) seen in the last 30 to 40 years

    However the Tribes were fishing fairly hard at that time. If memory serves me correctly the wild catches in that era was in the 2,500 range with the split roughly 60:40 in favor of the recreational fishery.

    I beleive that a decade or so later in response to expected poor returns there was a couple years where the tribal fishery was stacked early in the season - a fairly common strategy in Puget Sound. During much of the 1990s there was minimal tribal effort though some exteneded seasons due to the combination of both low abundances and prices.

    Tight lines
  6. the fanz

    the fanz Member

    Why is it that the tribes are always brought up? I rarely hear a word about crappy logging practices or the insane developement that stretches from the sound to the cascades. Instead of being pissed off at all the poorly maintain logging road culverts that have blown out and filled the sauk with sand some of you choose to play blame the native. Its f---ing pathetic. We need to start addressing ways to support those that are trying to mitigate the damage done by the ever increasing floods which are destroying salmon redds and flushing every bit of nutrient left behind by the decaying fish out to the ocean.
  7. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Everyone here knows the other problems. Many of us, including me volunteer to restore such culverts and slides whenever we can.

    As significant or insignificant as those problems are, you have to admit that no matter what you do to help steelhead and salmon, when there is a net across the river it isn't going to do jack shit.

    I said it thrice and I will say it again: One pull of those nets is possibly equivelent to your total lifetime impact on our steelhead runs and sometimes 10X that!

    Don't chalk all the talk against Natives netting as the old racist/prejudice crap...In fact, I would say part of the problem is the liberal nature of our area, and how those that speak against Native's netting the rivers get labeled as ignorant racists.

    Have you been there and seen it? I have seen Natives pulling nets while so drug from a jug of liquer they fell in the river. I have seen man and wife have drunken fist fights in front their kids while on board a boat netting the river.......I have seen some seriously fucked up shit near the mouths of our rivers. IT IS NOT PRETTY and I wish I could help those people and our steelhead.
  8. the fanz

    the fanz Member

    Yes I have seen the netting...hell, in Alaska I make my living off of it. As for behavior, have you ever fished at blue creek. The tribes may be one of our best bets for insuring a future with a viable fishery. They have the laws and now the cash to deal with the government.
  9. BDD

    BDD Active Member

    Tell them what? I never said they didn't net in March or April. And I certainly believe that there are relatively fewer hatchery fish at that time. I did imply that I would be dissapointed if they have a season targeting later arriving wild fish when their escapement numbers are questionable in acheiving.

    Joking about what? Your first four paragraphs aren't worthy of responding to because they are based on too much emotion.

    But you are corrrect, steelhead do return every month of the year. The Skagit used to have a great run of smaller, early returning wild fish. But they have been greatly reduced by overfishing from mixed-stock fisheries by tribes, commercials, and sporties. Tribes and commercials sold some and kept some converting that into cash and food, respectively. Same with the sporties, lots of fish were kept and eaten, and lots of guides made money from clients. What is your point?

    As a sportfisher, it is my belief that recreational fishing on the resource can provide the most economic benefit by practicing CnR but not every one thinks that way.

    I don't know what you find so amusing about my post but will attempt a response. If there was commercial sale of bald eagles, I'd rather have them be of hatchery origin than birds from the wild. Same idea with steelhead. That being said, if the tribes are to net the river, I'd prefer it be during a time period when they are most likely to catch hatchery fish rather than wild fish.

    Cup-my mistake, I thought you were referring to early returning hatchery fish and that is where the intent of my response came from. After re-reading your post, you were referring to the later returning wild fish and I do feel it would be a shame if the tribes elect to fish on returns that are not expected to make escapement. Hence my comment about bad PR for them.
  10. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    :clown: I guess I am just pissed about losing my two favorite places to fish this year.

    My favorite stretch of the Nooksack is closed for good this year and now the Skagit/Sauk!?!?!...............UGH!!!!!
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    The fanz-
    While I agree whole heartly that habitat degradation is a huge problem on most of our Puget Sound the massive amounts of sand in the Sauk is not the direct result of that degradation.

    There has been two large pulses of sand in the Sauk - one during the summers of 1987 and 1988 and the other in the fall of 2003. Both are directly related to the retrerat of the glaciers on Glacier Peak. During the late 1980s summers and the low snow packs the Choclate glacier had receded to a point that were expsoed beds of glacial tilt that was subject to large erosion events as the melting ice flowed across those beds.

    The October of 2003 flood event was even more damaging. After decades of retreating glacials there were massive amouonts of loose material on the top of the mountain. Other than occasional outwash event that was not a huge problem. Typcially by the time our fall floods rolled around the mountian top would be covered in several feet of snow buffering the fines from erosion. Hoewver the timing of the 2003 event was such that it occurred prior to any significiant snow fall so all that material was there waiting to wash down the mountain. It was further compounded by the flood being a massive event - more than a 100 year flood. I recall reading that as much as 21 inches of rain fell on top of Glacial Peak in a 24 hour period. The combination of more than a 100,000 cfs flows and many millions yard of sand washing of the mountain resulted in massvie damages and adverse impacts on the fish populations. Particualrly hard hit were the pink and bull trout populations.

    Tight lines
  12. the fanz

    the fanz Member

    Thanks for the info...On the middle stretch of the ,sauk below the suattle, there are major blow outs where streams that flow through clear-cuts have eroded so deeply they have taken out the skant barrier of trees left to hold the bank, dumping huge amounts of sand into the river. I don't know what the legal distance is but it did not take into consideration that rivers don't stay in one place. Good fishing to you all...I'll be back in mid feb., hip deep..rod in hand. Until then, I've got surfing lessons in Sri Lanka and cold beer waiting for me in Thailand.
  13. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    thefanz -
    Know those spots well - watcherd them for decades and a buddy and I would speculate when the things would blow. On the flats above the river there was a very large beaver pond. As the river eroded to west it was only a matter of time until that dam would let go and it did casuing the gully you see from the river. In that case it is more of a natural event (to be sure aggrevated by man's activity) of the natural migrating river claiming some old river channel including.

    Just to make it clear I'm not a fan of how this country has been logged or even the current fish and forest rules. In fact it is especially true in basins like the Stillaguamish logging impacts are a major factor in the decline of its fish resources. But I'm also careful to attribute blame only when it is warrented.

    Tight lines
  14. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

    I find it amusing that it is perfectly fine to wipe out runs of wild fish and use the harvest of hatchery fish as a loophole or some sort of crutch to prop up greed and disregard for the fishery. If I tried to do the same with bald eagles I'd get my ass thrown in jail for a long time. I'm just laughing at the hypocrisy of it all not you or your post. :thumb: What else can we do? I'm about 5 cold ones into a sixer so I'll post a bit more tomorrow or so. I Don't want to offend any one with my liquor nutts. Especially here. There are a lot of good people hanging around, including yourself man. :rofl:
  15. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Jason B,

    I don't dislike you and hope from the PM exchanges you understand that. However, in regards to this discussion and the Treaty fishing impacts on Skagit steelhead, you are flat out talking out your ass. If what the treaty nets pull out of the Skagit equals your lifetime steelhead impact or 10X that, you're a much worse angler than I thought. I have no problem whatever with allegations about the effects of fishing by tribes or anyone, just so long as you get it accurate.

    The Skagit tribes have typically fished steelhead in December to target hatchery fish. That doesn't mean they never fish in other months. It means that the overall fishing effort in other months is less, and fewer fish are caught. In most years the tribes have avoided netting when the wild fish are most abundant. However in some recent years the Upper Skagit Tribe in particular extended a low level of fishing effort into February and March, in part because the projected run size was greater than the spawning escapement goal. And by law, they are entitled to half the surplus production, which are any fish over and above the escapement goal. The number of steelhead was not great, and I asked the Upper Skagit fisheries manager (whom I've been acquainted with since he was in junior high school) why else he would bother with such a small effort, catch, and season. This I kid you not, he said he also did it just to piss off guys like you and others who rant incessantly and erroneously about the Tribe's fishing, pure and simple.

    The upshot is that there is no cause and effect correlation between the Skagit tribes' steelhead fishing and the stock status of Skagit steelhead. And I'd be surprised if you can find an informed fisheries biologist who will say otherwise.

    Oh, and those early timed small native steelhead I think you alluded to on the previous page of this thread, they were gone by the time the treaty tribes began targeting steelhead after the US v WA decision in February 1974. So if you can get your story straight, speak on, otherwise please STFU; you're wasting bandwidth.


    Salmo g.
  16. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Salmo G,

    I understand your points and maybe I am pulling too much experiences from other places, but I have seen nets being pulled low in the rivers, mostly the Nooksack, and they were chalked full of steelhead.

    I have never killed a wild steelhead intentionaly in my life and all swam off strong and I am thankful for that.

    I find it hard to believe that when I see a net with say 20 wild steelhead in it, that it is anything near what my lifetime impact from catch and release fishing.

    Furthermore, some tribes get it right. I am not saying that this is a Native thing. It is a commercial fishing thing. There good guys and bad guys.

    I have seen the Nooksack get RAPED with nets. I haven't seen it as much on the Skagit but it is a much bigger river with a lot more areas to fish.

    And hey, I have no problem with you disagreeing with me or thinking I pulled that out my ass. I understand this is a heater of a topic......

    How am I supposed to act calm when I see a net full of steelhead..............WTF!?!?! Answer me that!! How do I pretend all is well when I see a net full of RIPE ADULT steelhead.........

    Makes it all seem like a game.

    So maybe the tribes get unfairly blaimed.....what about us C&R fishermen?

    Do you really think the impacts of C&R fishing to steelhead mortality is greater than the net fishing?
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    Thanks for taking my comments in stride. I not familiar with the situation on the Nooksack, and it may be different than on the Skagit. Since accurate escapement estimates are seldom available for the Nooksack, it may be impossible to know. However, I think WDFW has systematic index escapement counts for selected Nooksack tributaries. Checking with WDFW /LaConner on the stock status would be a more intelligent action than running off in a post online.

    How often do you see a net with 20 wild steelhead in it? My experiences with tribal fishermen on the Skagit suggests that 30 in a day would be outstanding for drift net fishing or the number one set net spot on the entire river. A typical set net may average 4 or 5 wild steelhead a day on the Skagit, and that's being generous.

    I think if you try getting your facts straight, that will have a calming effect on your emotions. I've never seen a net FULL of ripe adult (wild) steelhead. If I did, I know I'd rather see them free swimming in the river, but I also know that the total catch isn't going to have a measurable effect on seeding the river with fry if the spawning escapement goal is otherwise achieved. That's the way ecosystems work. Get a book on the subject; read up on it and inform yourself; you might find that you feel better.

    Comparing or contrasting the tribal net fishery and your CNR fishing is an exercise in getting your mind wrapped around a hopeless and useless axle that means little to nothing ecologically, and legally you haven't a leg to stand on, and legally the treaty tribes have you by the short and curlies. Like I wrote above, Scott had his brother out driftnetting the Skagit a few seasons ago just to piss off guys that act like you. The Tribe gets blamed by people like you for impacts that don't happen, so why not why not go for the entertainment value of seeing you blow your cork? I thought it's a poor reason, but didn't otherwise have any good answer.

    It doesn't matter whether treaty net fishing or non-treaty CNR fishing has a greater impact on the wild steelhead population. What matters is whether the spawning escapement goal is achieved. If it is, then seeding for another generation is secured (barring environmental disasters). Sometimes it won't be because the forecast will over estimate the actual runsize, and too many fish will be harvested. That's a risk associated with every fishery, and the only known remedy is to never allow fishing. That hasn't been socially acceptable, so it is the business of fishery management to manage that risk so that on average, escapements are made, and surplus fish are available for harvest. Thus far, that is what society overall wants, whether you do or not. When you represent all of society, you can change the rule. Meanwhile, treaty tribes have variously chosen methods for managing their share of steelhead resources. And since they carry the hammer, what you or I think is irrelevant.


    Salmo g.
  18. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    You know more than me Salmo when it comes to this stuff so I believe you 100%. I will STFU.

    Still though, 4 wild steelhead a day is an infinately greater number than I have killed....currently at ZERO.

    When I can't even lift them out of the water, yet I can eat them in restaurant....

    When I can't even fish C&R when the rivers are being netted....

    I can't help but feel pissed off, or at least on the brink of insanity.....

    BTW, the fishing I have witnessed looks like sein netting. It involves achoring one end of the net and drifting it through the hole, than the free end is pulled tight to the bank and pulled back upstream from downriver. Is this what you call drift netting? I have seen a lot of steelhead taken this way on the Nooksack, and some on the Skagit.

    The Nooksack is a MUCH smaller river than the Skagit, and there are maybe 4 good holes that the arriving fish hold in before heading up river. Obviously the locals know these holes, I fish them, generations of Lummis and Nooksacks have fished them with nets. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. These holes at low tide usually are stacked, and no more than 60 feet across.

    The Skagit must have natural fish magnets like this near the mouth that all the netters know about. Even in a river that big, 90% fish are still passing through a naorrow band and holding in the best spots available to them. These spots are invisible to us, at first, but once you have fished down there long enough you will know where the fish are. Those netters must be utilizing all the information they can just like us. I would assume they are catching more than a few fish a day if they are out day after day.

    What about closing the entire Sauk and letting us fish the Skagit? That would make sense to me as the Sauk is the spawning ground for many of these fish and we can at least get a fly at them on their way upriver.
  19. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    That sounds like beach seining. It's not a technique I would think of for steelhead fishing. WDFW and some folks from the Skagit Tribes are doing a chum salmon tagging study on the Skagit River, and they use a beach seine to capture chums that are then jaw tagged. Maybe Lummi or Nooksack Indians use that method to catch steelhead on the Nooksack, but usually a combination of set nets and drift gillnets are more productive than beach seining.

    While the Skagit Tribes can impose a high harvest rate on fish as they move through the Skagit River, there are no 4 high percentage holes and it isn't like shooting ducks in a barrel. And maybe it's just the difference in the river systems. I don't know. In order to hammer the fish, the Upper Skagits need 30 to 40 gillnets or more, set out over a 20 or more mile stretch of the Skagit. Because it's so effective, they only fish more than two or three days a week when there's a really large run of chums or pinks; . . . or sometimes four days during a week of a strong coho run. Again, the upshot is to limit the harvest to the treaty share that is over and above the established spawning escapement goal.

    The good treaty fishermen are just like the sport fishing fraternity. About 20% of the fishermen (highliners) catch 80% of the fish. So yeah, the good ones use everything they learn to improve their catch.

    Why do you assume they are catching more than a few fish per day? Are your assumptions based on the same motives and values that influence what keeps a treaty fisherman going back day after day? It takes very little effort to set and tend a set net, and fishermen are allowed two. So it doesn't require a large catch to make it worth while. Besides, many of them just enjoy fishing. You go out even when you know you're likely to get skunked. Why would you think their motives are so different?

    What's the point of closing the Sauk and keeping the Skagit open? If the run size is less than the escapement goal, or less than 80% of the escapement goal if the WSP is still applicable, then the steelhead management plan requires that a river be closed, even to CNR fishing. That is why there hasn't been a CNR season on the Stilly and Sky for a number of years now.

    I'd love to have a steelhead season on the Nisqually River. It's only a 20 minute drive from my house. But it's unthinkable cuz the runsize has been in the 200 - 800 range for the last decade. As small as the impact of CNR fishing is, and I do believe it is small, it's simply not warranted when a steelhead population is so far below what is necessary to seed the river with the next generation of fish. While the situation on the Skagit is not so severe, the runsize has this year apparently simply fallen below that line that conservationists and WDFW have drawn in the sand and agreed there should be no fishing.

    It's quite alright to be saddened and disappointed, but much beyond that and it's beginning to look like whining that steelheaders should have it their way, without regard to the health of the fish population. This isn't about us. It's about the wild steelhead. Try to keep it in context, and you'll do OK.


    Salmo g.
  20. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Yes I realize that this is about the steelhead. I just get selfish when I am losing my two favorite fisheries in the same damn year.

    So the fish runs are fucked:

    Does this stop the logging and devolpment? NO

    Does it stop the netfishing? NO

    Does this effect anything or anyone BESIDES we sports fishermen who value these fish seemingly more than anybody else? OF FUCKING COURSE IT DOESN'T.....

    Slowly going insane :beathead: