WDFW Announces Puget Sound river closures for 2012

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Wild Steelhead Coalition, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. With all due resect, the WDFW sportfishing rules have little to do with either the decline or the restoration of these fish. Although I generally agree with WSC on all the issues WSC commented on, none of them really make a difference.
    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  2. No comments from me. I have given up. I am the complete definition of apathy and I firmly believe WDFW is a completely disfunctional organization. No comment I make will do any good. To much money and politics involved for the average guy to overcome. We will be limited to plunking from the bank for humpies in a few more years.
     
  3. I think the WSC is well intended and I too love the noble idea of returning things to the golden years. However, I really think their quest is at the expense of the community at large not having a sport fishery. Hatchery fish, while not the "pure quarry" some feel are the only fish worthy of pursuing, can continue to provide a sport fishery that offers a reasonable opportunity to catch fish.

    WSC is basically asking this and, very likely the next 2-3 generations, to give up fishing for steelhead. And with all of the other related factors we know influence the long term survivability also not being curtailed, there is no assurance it will yield any different end game.
     
  4. Charles, you are absolutely wrong. They are mandated by the state to conserve our fisheries. Read the state legislative mandate, specifically paragraph two that states:

    The department shall conserve the wildlife and food fish, game fish, and shellfish resources in a manner that does not impair the resource.

    Here's the full mandate: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=77.04.012

    Whether or not they fulfill that and what their definition of 'conserve' may be in an entirely different story...

    Curious to know if all individuals that have given up on trying to make a change to enhance our steelhead fisheries, are you all out still using the resource?
     
  5. What sportfishing rules change would make a difference for Pget Sound Steelhead?

    Mandate or not, it's not in any way a sportfishing rule issue. Sportfishermen are not and never have been the reason for the decline of PS steelhead stocks.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  6. Freestoneangler, we're sorry you feel that way. Our mission is based on enhancing and protecting wild steelhead runs first and foremost. We can only hope that through this restoration, it will yield a sport fishery...

    If you take a moment to read through the comments we submitted to the WDFW about their 2012-13 Rules Proposal, you'll see that we are not in favor of simply closing rivers without the proper data to support these proposals, as stated in our comments #8 and #10.

    Check them out here: http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/p...-sport-fishing-rules-proposals-for-2012-2013/

    Let us know if you have any further questions and thanks for participating in the discussion.
     
  7. What resource? The rivers are closed because there is no more "resource" left.
     
  8. I agree that sport fisherman are definitely low, low, low on the list of factors that harm a fishery. And we can probably both agree that it does little good for the WDFW to just close a fishery because it is in decline without a proper recovery plan in place, correct?

    So did you take the time to tell the WDFW to simply look beyond closing sport fisheries as a way to protect and rebuild steelhead runs?

     
  9. if sportfishing is allowed gillnetting is allowed so sportfishing needs to end sorry...
     
  10. Skyrise -
    Something to keep in mind is that our river systems and the various salmonid species are parts of very complex systems that interact in complex and often poorly understood ways. In recent years slamonid production on the Sauk took a big hit from the impacts from the 2003 flood. The massive amounts of sand/silt the wshed down from Glacier Peak were a huge negative. Using steelehad an example of impacts resulting from the flood was the early emergence of the steelhead fry. Typically the peak emergency of Sauk wild steelhead fry from the gravel occurs in early August however for the 5 years or so after the 2003 flood those fry were emerging from the gravel in early July. This was likely from lower oxygen levels in the inter gravel flows requiring the fish to "hatch early. Obviously emerging at less developed stage has survival implications. In addition on a large snow melt systems like the Suak/Skagit coming out of the gravel early means the fry are entering the river while the flows are still at high levels which also has survival impactions. There are similar kinds of impacts on all the main stem spawning salmon.

    Matt -
    We do see ups and downs of the various salmonids abundance with each species seeing different "good" and "bad" times. A decade ago there were lots of chum on the Snohomish and now it seems they are declining but the pinks are increasing. Part of the problem is as humans we like the status quo; especially if that is a condition that we like. When we put habitat lost on top of the ying and yang of the various species abundance we see that both the high and low swings in abundances are lower. We can expect to see are populations continue to vary, but probably not when and hwo we would like.

    Charles -
    Keep in mind that those BC streams with their smolts migrating north are not interacting with hatchery smoilts in Puget Sound yet tehy are doing as poorly as the Puget Sound steelhead. Another factor to consisder is that the survival of the PS hatchery steelhead declined even more than the wild fish.

    To the Samish.
    1) While it is likely that some Skagit fish enter the Samish (and Samish fish the Skagit) the Samish abundance seem to vary somewhat independently from the Skagit.
    2) The smolts from up and down the North American coast all smolt pretty much at the same time (peak outmigration in mid-May).
    3) Don't know which direction the Samish smolts migrate.

    WSC -
    yes and yes

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  11. Well that mission hasn't worked out real well now has it.
    Exactly.
    You are preaching to the choir here Jonathan. For ten years on this site, we have read the well meaning discussions of "let's save our fish". We have emailed, gone to meetings, wrote letters, begged and pleaded only to find our efforts reduced to the status quo. Decisions have been made with what could only be submission to lobbyists and their financial backers. Dysfunctional practices is an understatement. Your enthusiasm is commendable. The result is the same every time this conversation comes up. No results.

    The decline of our fish runs is not a big surprise here. It was inevitable. It will get a lot worse. Acceptance is the first step to solving all our problems. Fuck it. I am going fishing. Somewhere.
     
  12. ak_powder_monkey,

    Since you like to call the C&R mortality figure you used of 5% (studies I've read put it at 2%-5% with most saying 3%) need to be based on the harvestable surplus for a river, what about the Samish being closed for yet another year when it will exceed it excapement goal? Yet despite exceeding the escapement goal (which by your definition means it has a harvestable surplus and can therefore have a C&R fishery), it is closed to all fishing.

    I also find it interesting that you didn't address my question to why not allow C&R on those years anadromous abundance is down, but not allow for bonking wild fish. Since we know the relative abundance of the steelhead goes up and down and is not static (eventhough many would like to believe it doesn't change from year to year) and we know that C&R has virtually no impact on wild fish populations, why can't there be C&R encompassing both the lower abundance years and the years with high abundance.

    WSC,

    Why is there no C&R on the Samish when it exceeded escapement both last year is will exceed it again this year? And why isn't WSC advocating or making noise for a C&R on the Samish (or other rivers that exceed escapement)? It appears your agenda is geared at eliminating hatcheries to the exclusion of other issues.
     
  13. Curt,

    Just out of curiousity, how were bull trout on the Sauk River and its tributaries affected by the habitat loss that you described. I would imagine that it must be pretty substantial considering that the Suiattle and Whitechuck Rivers seemed to be pretty hard hit.

    Regards,

    Andrew

     
  14. WDFW conducted a C&R mortality study on the Samish. Guess what the mortality was? 15% C&R mortality for Steelhead. This was a relatively small sample size and the Hooton study is much more comprehensive, but the study was conducted on the very river people are debating on if it should be opened or not.

    I don't know where you are getting you data for the Samish exceeding it's escapement goal this year, but this is WDFW's view on the Samish this season.

    WDFW Emergency Regulation Change Email November 24

    Action: Closes the Samish River to all fishing.

    Species affected: All species of fish.

    Location and effective closure dates: The Samish River from the I-5 Bridge to the Hickson Bridge will close Dec. 1. From the mouth to the I-5 Bridge will close Jan.1, 2011.

    Reasons for action: Hatchery steelhead releases in the Samish River were discontinued after spring of 2008. The closure will reduce incidental hooking mortality on wild steelhead, which are expected to return in numbers well below escapement goals. Puget Sound steelhead are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

     
  15. Am I misunderstanding? Or does someone think the Samish should stay open for CnR when all the other rivers are closed? Think what that place would look like if it was the only steelhead fishery around.
     
  16. WSC -
    Your statement regarding WSC's comments to this years regulation proposals -

    "...you'll see that we are not in favor of simply closing rivers without the proper data to support these proposals, as stated in our comments #8 and #10."

    seems to represent a "flip-flop" from WSC earlier positions. I seem to recall that in the push for wild steelhead release that the position was that there should be no harvest without the "science" to support that such harvest is appropriate. Now it seems that there should be no closures unless supported by the proper "science".

    I all for using the best science for all our decisions and that there should be a constant effort to upgrade the science used. However with any uncertainity the burden of proof should be on the fishery/fishers and not on the resource.

    Andrew-
    As you suggestd the 2003 flood on the Sauk had a huge imapct on the systems bull trout. In terms of impacts (with combination of all that silt and high flows) that may have been a 200 year event. For the bull trout the timing (late October) could hardly been worst. The year's spawning was just ending and the majority of the eggs were at their most fragile stage; likley that few survived. In addition during that time of the year the young bull trout fry and parr spend much of their time in the substrate. With the massive amounts of bed load and siltation those life stages also took big hits. Essentially in just a day or two 3 year classes of bull trout were lost. It probably was alos the case that those adults caught in the headwater areas also had sigificantly elevated mortalities. The end result was there was an approx. 75% reduction in the number of spawners with a 3 year "hole" in the recruitment of young fish.

    The good news was that it happend in 2003 and not 1990. Folks may remember that regulation changes occured in 1990s (bag limit reduction and increae to the 20 inch minimum size limit). At 1990 on the South Fork Sauk bull trout spawning index only 3 redds/miles were being counted. In 2001 & 2002 those counts were up to 150 redds/mile so even with the huge flood related mortaltiy post event spawning counts were still well above 1980s levels. Since the 2003 flood spawning counts have been increasing and are now approahcing pre flood levels. Based on the numbers of sub-adult fish I'm seeing in the river next's first time spawners numbers may be huge. Other than the 3 year "hole" in the population structure which now expressed in the lack of the very large individuals the population has bounced back nicely. That relatively quick recovery is a testimony to the high quality they use for spawning and early rearing (wilderness and park land) and a relative robust management paradigm.

    Ringlee -
    If I recall correctly that 15% Samish CnR mortality was to the point of leaving the river however nearly all that mortality was after the fish had spawned.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  17. I couldn't agree more about how discouraging it is most of the time with regards to state policy. It's frustrating and at times seems impossible...but there are still steelhead in rivers. They ain't extinct (yet).

    But why did you give up? Obviously you and others that have called 'uncle' still read and post forum threads that discuss steelhead closures. Why is that?

    What would it take to get you and others back in the fight? Unless you've all given up on steelhead fishing entirely...

    Almost as discouraging as losing our fish runs is hearing fellow anglers that just say 'fuck it.'

    Bellows said it best: take a long hard look in the mirror if we want to see why our runs have collapsed.

    I hope I never become jaded and give up.

     
  18. Here's a good article written by Ted Williams, dealing primarily with the Elwha hatchery debacle, but it applies to the hatchery vs wild salmonid debate.......let's pull the plug on the hatcheries (especially at over $1,000 per hatchery fish kept!), close the rivers to ALL fishing for a period of time, and let Ma Nature do her work!

    http://www.flyrodreel.com/magazine/2012/january/kill-reborn-river
     
  19. Charles -
    Keep in mind that those BC streams with their smolts migrating north are not interacting with hatchery smoilts in Puget Sound yet tehy are doing as poorly as the Puget Sound steelhead. Another factor to consisder is that the survival of the PS hatchery steelhead declined even more than the wild fish.

    To the Samish.
    1) While it is likely that some Skagit fish enter the Samish (and Samish fish the Skagit) the Samish abundance seem to vary somewhat independently from the Skagit.
    2) The smolts from up and down the North American coast all smolt pretty much at the same time (peak outmigration in mid-May).
    3) Don't know which direction the Samish smolts migrate.

    Curt,

    I am not willing to assume that the Canadian rivers' declines are from the same issue that ours are. They have other potential issues that they are dealing with. Intensive fish farming, disease, irrigation (Thompson river), untreated sewage etc. Also I do not know how accurate thier run size estimates are. Their limitting factor could be far different from the S rivers limitting factor. Kind of akin to knowing that the Hamm Hamma run was demolished by nets. I wouldn't use it's decline in any argument regarding N. Sound rivers because it's decline is from this known factor.

    I do find it interesting that the 3 rivers that seem to have the best runs in the whole Salish sea are the Samish, Nokie and the Vedder. They are all located pretty close together. The Vedder has a robust hatchery component but they are broodstock fish.

    With regards to the difference in returns between hatchery and wild fish, my thought is that this only strangthens any thought that the hatchery fish may be a leading reason for the decline of wild fish. For instance, they may be more predesposed to a disease that they then spread to a hardier wild stock. They may alert predator to their location by virtue of their surface oriented behavior. These predators may find the wild fish in the same area that they otherwise would have missed. These are untested hypothisis' but they are examples of possibilities. Then there is the whole rabbit V. Hare scenario that never takes place because we constantly ram a shitload of smolts into the sound year after year, never allowing for a predator crash.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  20. Well you could have a fishery, but probably shouldn't
     

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