Steelhead mortality

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by generic, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Charles -
    I agree that the ESA listing was a mistake. It has been obvious for year's that the factors limiting Puget Sound steelhead has been production issues - freshwater habitat and poor marine survival. Further it was equally clear that any listing would be ineffective in addressing those issues. That left only things like harvest and hatchery reform to worked on which of course limits mainly the recreational fishers without doing much for the future of the resource.

    It remains my opinion that we anglers have no one to blame but ourselves for this situation. Most anglers were to apathic to get involved and the remained used the current PS steelhead status as an opportunities to use pseudo science to advance a social agenda - that was CnR/WSR fisheries. It is now a little late to be crying about the outcome.

    There could be an opportunity to address some of your concerns if the Feds were to re-consider what allowable fishing impacts could be allowed on individual PS steelhead stocks. As part of such a process would an evaluation of the various factors (inlcuding hooking mortality) going into the determination of any new allowable impacts. In theory that could be done by an individual or a group but I seriously doubt the feds would look at any proposal that did not address the whole area as well the whole determination of those impacts. Because of the desire to perform any evaluation on the whole the best course for putting forth a "plan" for new allowable impacts would be from the co-managers. I do not see any relief coming in that direction for at least a decade, maybe several decades or potentially never.

    In the mean time we get to live with what we wanted.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  2. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    It seems highly logical to me that poor marine survival and the constant and consistant influx of hatchery smolts are connected.

    The X that marks the hex here is that no agency has taken any other action but to restrict sport fishing. Part of this is apathy, the other is that we haven't had enough retirments at the upper levels. Organizational inertia dicatates that dogmas remain the same (see sentence #1).

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  3. Jim Darden

    Jim Darden Active Member

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    Charles.....loved your comment!!!....the typical netting (or electroshock)tagging/measuring operation is a lot more traumatic than a simple catch and release. Maybe we should ban these studies by WDF.....
     
  4. generic

    generic Active Member

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    No kidding....cause getting zapped stresses every muscule in your body. And basically, that's all a fish is - one big muscule. :ray1:
     
  5. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    iagree If you plan to keep any fish, knock them stiff. Do not leave them gasping on the bank or hooked to a stringer.

    As for C&R mortality, really hard to say for sure. If we're only considering single, barbless flies, in typical water temps, and reasonably quick to hand, gentle handling, I would say 1% or less. I think temperature plays a larger factor than extended time on the line or harder than usual handling -- but that's just my opinion based on what I've experienced. About 5 years ago, I floated the Big Hole in late August the last day the river was open to fishing. Water flows were really low and temps were up. I did not net any of the fish caught that day, rather turned the hook w/forceps while they were in the water. Two fish that day did not survive even with quick catch and release...I buttoned things up and simply enjoyed a row down the river after that.
     
  6. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I have no problem with studies being done. The Skagit DNA study was excellent. The defacto C&R study that was done with it was even more telling though. In fact fruther studies using radio transmitters could be quite helpful in determining what the major causes of mortality are in the sound. I honestly think that the department leader don't care. It may lead to some uncomfortable conclusions and actions.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  7. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    The last department public meeting I went to they readily admitted they had no idea what happens to steelhead from the time they leave the river on. They also said that steelhead are not making it out of the sound to the open ocean. Something is happening to them in the sound. Sounds like a local issue to me, not an ocean one, and I think you are correct, they don't want to know.
     
  8. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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    Charles, Thanks for clarifying. It seems the only psuedo science going on is the political wills of leadership misguiding the science in the agencies. IMO, this in turn is the continuing loss of public faith to manage the resource for the long term. Many of the management schemes seem to be reactive once something goes south rather than proactive to be preventative. But, again, this is my Internet opinion :)
     
  9. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member

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    You cannot electrofish adult Salmonids. The electricity can explode their spinal cord and effects adult fish more than juveniles.

    As for the Skagit Study, that is an exceptional Catch & Tag mortality rate, if 1 fish dies. Natural Pre-spawn mortality is higher than that.

    The Skagit Study is between Seattle City Light, Skagit Co-op, Skagit Tribes, and WDFW with funding by NOAA.

    Are you saying that biologists and regular anglers have the same C&R Mortality rate and handling skills?
     
  10. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I found it remarkable that so few fish dies. After all a radio transmitter the size of a flashlight battery was shoved down their throat. I gotta believe that the average angler can be less damaging to a fish than that. Kudos to the team of samplers for having such a low mortality rate. Very impressive.

    Go sox,
    cds
     
  11. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

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    I can report similar experiences. A couple years ago I bonked a fish hard with a rock, at least 3 times, and then cut it gills and actually behind the gills to bleed it. Since I was leaving after that fish, I put the fish down and got my rod ready to leave. I walked back to the fish, which still was lifeless. I held it upside down over the water to finish bleeding it before bagging it. I lost my grip and it fell into the water. As I reached down to grab it, it woke up and swam away, with its vital organs hanging out. And it swam away as if nothing was bothering it. Tough SOB it was. And if you have ever been gear fishing with a guide, they bonk the steelhead or salmon and cut the gills and throw them in the storage bin. And they will flop around 10 minutes later. So the fact that this happened does not imply he is not respecting the fish.

    wayne
     
  12. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    If they admitted they have no idea whathappens to them once they leave the river, how do they know they aren't making it to the ocean?
     
  13. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Wayne,

    I guess it depends on one's definition of respect. The ethics of angling tradition dictates killing one's catch after bringing it to hand. Laying it on the bank or in a creel to suffocate is inconsistent with that tradition. However you can do what you want.

    Chris,

    It's an inference that has been drawn because coastal steelhead populations that don't have to traverse Puget Sound or Georgia Strait, but migrate directly into the ocean, are experiencing far higher smolt to adult survival rates. As best as can be known, juvenile steelhead migrants are being lost at a high rate between river mouths and the western end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

    Sg
     
  14. ten80

    ten80 Active Member

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    I carry a stout knife that will dispatch a fish quickly when inserted into the spine right behind the head. Heart keeps beating long enough to bleed the fish and there's no flopping around or mouth movement. I'm of the opinion that a dead and gutted fish kept in the river has better meat than that of a fish allowed to generate a lot of lactic acid while thrashing around on a stringer or flopping around on a riverbank.
     
  15. generic

    generic Active Member

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    I thought about what you mentioned earlier, about the humane way of harvesting a fish. At first I thought you were "off your rocker", because after all...I am killing it. Then it got me thinking, "Maybe I should be more intentional and take the time and kill them with a bonk.". So I did a little research of my own, and came up with my final solution.

    Did you ever play that stupid game as a kid where you would crouch down, hold your breath, then stand up real fast? You'd get all tingly and light headed, and if you did it really good, you would pass out for a few seconds. I call it a stupid game, because it's essentially asphyxiation. It made a come back here a few years ago, where high school kids were doing this for a free "high". They called it the "Chocking game." They didn't do it cause it was painful, but it "felt good...kind of like when you get high." It kind of peaked in '05-'06.

    A lack of oxygen to the brain causes the body to "tingle", and if it's too deprived the brain shuts down. Scientists have come to the conclusion (based on this type of info) that drowning has the same affect - depriving the brain of oxygen, causing the same sensation, and eventually shutting down or "fall asleep". No pain, just cerebral shutdown.

    So, with that given information it's easy to conclude that the fish are experiencing the same sensation when they are out of water. Rather than a painful blow to the head, that may or may not kill them the first time - leaving them out of water simply allows them (or their brains) to "fall asleep".

    Maybe whacking a fish on the head stuns them, but they are lying there it pain not able to move much. Letting them lay there may "seem" inhumane, when in fact it's the painless way to kill them. :ray1:
     
  16. Wayne Kohan

    Wayne Kohan fish-ician

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    Sg,

    Maybe you misread my post. I bonked the fish and bled it and cut it open with the intent of killing it. It was not my intent to let it flop around, which by the way, it did not do. It did not move till I dropped it i the water. I believed it to be dead. I did not disrespect the fish.

    Wayne
     
  17. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    The wdfw gal who seemed to be in charge said steelhead are not making out of the strait. Something is happening to them before they get out of the sound. What it is she did not know. Like I said sounds more like a local issue than an ocean survival issue but everyone says the low returns are because of low ocean survival. I would say it is because of low Salish Sea survival. Probably more smoke and mirrors by the dept. to lessen their responsiblity. Or maybe.....they were doing this............http://bakke-nativefish.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-agencies-defeat-public-initiatives.html wdfw would never do anything like that.
     
  18. generic

    generic Active Member

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    Is it possible that they tagging fish and not able to find them outside of the sound?
     
  19. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    Off topic but I'll roll. Having chased pelagics for a long time, the only humane way in my eyes to finish the fish is a knife properly placed into the brain. Allowing fish to suffociate is stupid.

    Charles...Thanks bro'. See you soon. Thanks for your comments Salmo and Smalma as well as others.
     
  20. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    The data showing that steelhead smolts are experiencing high mortalities on their way out of Puget Sound is from smolts radio tagged as they rivers. There are arrays of hydrophones in the sound and straits. The data shows that 50 to 60% of the smolts do not make to the array in the middle straits. While there amy be some issues with the placement the arrays. Clearly lots of smolts are dying shortly after reach marine waters. What is not known is whether that high mortality is normal (has always been high) or something new.

    Additional information that may indicate that the mortality problems continue outside of the straits is that the marine survival of wild steelhead smolts from the NE coast of Vancouver Island (Keogh River)
    are doing as poorly as Puget Sound fish. Those smolts don't migrate to the salt via Puget Sound. In addition age information from some local wild runs seem to indicate the portion of 3 salt and repeat spawners in the population is decline which would indicate that the mortality is continuing once the fish reach the high seas.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     

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