WDFW Announces Puget Sound river closures for 2012

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

  1. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    I can't take the time to research this now but I remember when I was a kid ( 60's & 70's), fishing the skagit on the last day, and fishing lake shannon on opening day of trout season, which was in april. I don't remember when that changed( there are some really foggy years in there). Back then Barnaby slough hatchery was going strong.
  2. Ringlee

    Ringlee Doesn't care how you fish Moderator Staff Member


    Here is the hatchery smolt releases on the Skagit from 1978- 2008. The 2000's had some of the highest plants seen (excluding 1997). I haven't seen the data prior to this so I can't answer your pre 1979 question.

    1978 358,955
    1979 308,321
    1980 194,697
    1981 245,393
    1982 271,793
    1983 370,017
    1984 336,417
    1985 298,357
    1986 136,096
    1987 264,376
    1988 286,833
    1989 127,032
    1990 196,893
    1991 157,842
    1992 364,161
    1993 366,591
    1994 354,122
    1995 289,052
    1996 328,461
    1997 583,720
    1998 445,434
    1999 449,302
    2000 463,460
    2001 273,712
    2002 513,330
    2003 529,821
    2004 466,100
    2005 517,000
    2006 511,560
    2007 235,010
    2008 174,000
  3. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Now add in the return data for that same set of years..................
  4. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Kerry -
    I could only easily find the following

    Year % return
    1983 2.09
    1984 2.16
    1985 2.38
    1986 2.64
    1987 2.04
    1988 0.63
    1989 3.13
    1990 1.10
    1991 0.86
    1992 0.55
    1999 0.92
    2000 0.63
    2001 0.05
    2002 0.78
    2003 0.30
    2004 0.46
    2005 0.24
    2006 0.39

    Tight lines
  5. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    If by making "the sacrifice" means eliminating fishing, then no I agree we won't. Why should we if the other much larger issues affecting wild stocks (hatchery for that matter) are going to remain unchanged? When we see the commercial's and tribes stop fishing, I'm almost certain sport fishers would sign on as well. Asking the those who represents maybe 1% of the declining numbers to stop fishing is a fools play, and it will not change the course.
  6. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Well Sean, at least I have been involved hands on at trying to make a difference and that's apparently more than the words you have offered up. As for conflicting, all of the projects described were sponsored by WDFW and the regional Biologists.
  7. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Fishing has nothing to do with recovery or nonrecovery of wild steelhead. In my opinion to even recover half of the wild fish that once swam in the Skagit river most of the dikes on the lower river will need to be removed and give at least some of the valley back to the river. This will never happen. Replant the land along side the river with native tress and vegetation from the mouth of the river all the way up. This will never happen. Do the same with her tributaries, major and minor. This will never happen. Remove the five concrete plugs in the system that stop the natural flow of the river and prevents needed sediments and other nutrients to flow with the river. This will never happen. Remove most of the development along the river including farms and other forms of polutions. This will never happen. Remove the hatchery. These are the types of sacrifices I am speaking of and this is an imcomplete list by far. Losing some fishing opportunities is minor.
  8. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Thanks Curt. The low percentages that your research show should make the point I was after clear. What the hell happend in '89? By far the best year of any and still only a 3% return (not knowing what might consitute a banner year). I did some quick calculations and found that the average return for 18 years was 1.18%. Throwing out the high and low came up with 1.13%. This doesn't seem like a very good average to me.
  9. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Don't look at it as a monolithic structure Kerry, there are lots of things that could be done that are not that far out of reach. You could set back dikes below Mt.Vernon and restore saltmarash in the estuary, there are lots of good tribs in the upper river that could be rehabed and in the middle river as well. Steelhead are very adaptive, if they weren't they wouldn't have survived the last million years in this geograghy. Obviously we will not see historic numbers of old, but I believe they can return in good numbers. I just hate to see someone with as much knowledge of the river as you give up. I hope you don't

  10. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    The idea of a setting back the dikes is not new. It was studied a few years back and the money amounts it would take to do such a thing is very high. We will never put that much money into saving steelhead. They even pitched the idea as a viable flood control measure, which it is, and still made little progress. A huge undertaking would involve many land owners and municipalities. Right out of the idea box it was challenged by many of the towns and a lot of affected land owners. Personally I think it is one of the best ideas out there but it will never happen.
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Chris -
    As Kerry said the idea of setting back the dikes below Mt Vernon and doing esturay work has been around for sometime and there has been some estuary restoration. This a great idea and such work will pay significant benefits for Chinook salmon but will do virtually nothing for steelhead.

    The reasons for the above helps illustrate the complex and differrent needs and interactions of the various species and the river's habitats.

    The typical Skagit female steelhead will put 6,400 eggs in the gravel. By the time the fry from those eggs reach the smolt stage two or more years later less than 1% will have survived. Those same smolts will spend just hours to a day or two migrating through that lower tidal portion of the Skagit - in effect that lower river is just the highway between the freshwater and marine water rear areas.

    During the freshwater rearing stage steelhead with their extended rearing period require very diverse habitats due to the different conditions (summer/winter etc) and fish sizes. The best hope for improving the habitat quality for the steelhead (an overall steelehad productivity) would be the restoration of the natural river processes. I hace to agree with Kerry; just don't see society willing to invest the $$ need. However that does not mean that the wild steelhead are doomed; just that thier potential has been and will continue to reduced . Maybe we need to adjust our expections for the population.

    Tight lines
  12. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Really? No benefit to steelhead. Perhaps not direct but with a more diverse and natural habitat thats support multiple species should benefit all species that inhabit the river. Could there be relationships between chinook and steelhead that we are not aware of? Are there some mutually beneficial interactions between different species? Restore the river with all species being considered. I realize that you pretty much say the same thing. I just want to put some emphasis on the entire river ecosystem.
  13. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    I going to add one more thought to the ideas of dike removal or setback. Many in Skagit Valley realize the dike system was built without enough setback. In many areas of the river is it very problematic. One area quite noticeable if you look is what is called the 3 bridge corridor between Burlington and Mt. Vernon. You can see from the freeway the considerable dike "hardening" done by the Army Corp of Engineers this past summer. This type of operation is performed on a regular basis all along the Skagit dike system to prevent the river from eroding the dikes to badly during high water events. They know in such areas such as the 3 bridge area the dikes need to be moved further apart and there is talk of doing this. Again money is the big issue. My reasoning for bringing this up is what I think would be one of the best things to happen to the Skagit is to have a major high water event that takes out many of these dikes and floods the valley from Sedro Woolley to La Conner. Put 4 or 5 feet of water over the valley and I bet it gets somebody's attention.
  14. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Maybe dike set back is an unrealistic expection right now, but a few years ago so was dam removal, and it seems to be happening. there is still plenty of room for improvement on tribs and main river restoration all the way up river. In some rivers the majority of seelhead spawn in tribs so that might be a good place to start.

    I agree we need to adjust our expectations, but that is not to say we should except the status-quo.

  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    As you suggest I'm all for an ecosystem approach to both management and restoration. My point in the post about dike set backs below Mt Vernon and in the estuary is that if your priority is restoring habitat for steelhead the place to focus your efforts is not the lower river (marginal benefits at best). Now dike setback up river (Burlington upstream) would be another story for steelhead.

    Tight lines
  16. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member


    I would like to see the dike setback increased for as far up river as we can go. As you know the idea is not new and the last time it surfaced with any real consideration was after the 2003 flood. There were some limited studies done but with dollar amounts in the 100s of millions the idea did not float for long. Yet, cities like Burlington were and possibly still are looking at things like ring dikes for flood protection which would not be cheap either. I have watched for years as the valley struggles with flood control and protection and there is way to much in fighting and hardly no cooperation. I don't see anything changing anytime soon. Thus my statement that I think the best that could happen to the Skagit River would be for it to have a massive flood that inundates the valley with 5 to 8 feet of water.

    Although I remember the '90 flood when dikes protecting Fir Island failed and it was covered with 3 feet of water. Many of the farmers claimed they were wiped out, their farms covered with silt left by the flood waters which had destroyed their crops. Yet for the next couple of years they had bumper crops. You would think they might put 2 and 2 together and perhaps some did but the end result was not to figure out how to let the river flood land and bring new soil and nutrients but raise the dike levels and harden those that failed. With all of their beavering they survived the '03 flood which was much larger. Why is this so hard for people to understand? It is events like this that cause me to believe nothing will ever change.
  17. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member


    Your points are well taken. People want to pay high quality lip service to habitat protection without taking any substantive actions that actually improve habitat productivity and capacity. Burlington continues to seek additional flood protection from the Baker hydro project even though it already provides 7 or 8 times the required amount. How much flood control is enough? Maybe when the Skagit Valley is as paved over as Tukwila in the lower Duwamish.

    The Corps of Engineers approves adding even more rip rap to the Sauk River (the last best), and NMFS HCD (Habitat Conservation Division) allows it saying that the amount of rip rap permitted isn't enough to call jeopardy. Apparently there is no cumulative adverse effect of adding more rip rap as long as the individual treatments are not too large. As a practical matter this amounts to the Corps and NMFS saying they want the last best habitat in the Sauk River to be as degraded as the poor habitat in other sections. I'm amazed that things like this don't get targeted for lawsuits.

    Habitat protection and restoration is more about lip service than about fisheries recovery.

  18. Brazda

    Brazda Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge

    The Idea of closing the steelhead fishing in Puget sound rivers to those that care for them the most is totally ironic. The entire problem is caused from LACK of action by the agencies we pay to take care of them, there final action is to close it off to the citizens that pay for the management, of the fish they care for the most. Loosing Steelhead fishing in Washington is like loosing Tarpon fishing in Florida, Salmon fishing in Alaska, Redfishing in Louisiana, Trout fishing in Montana and so on and so on....None of those fisheries are in similar trouble but have the same issues with developement, logging, habitat etc...the difference is CO management, Fish Farming and NON Native species interaction.
    A few points....:
    Anglers begged for catch and release in the 80's it took 10 years to get it.( Lack of action!)
    The bolt decision has only been in effect 40 years, ONE generation and we have nearly no fishery. (CO=Management)
    Non native species have been planted (Bass, walleye, there own terrible hatchery programs) by the WDFW and have a horable effect on Native fish...(WRONG action!)
    Aqua culture and the desease it spreads is a REAL issue, the best fisheries on the planet CAN NOT survive an epidemic disease! (ALLOWED by Management!)

    Until they use the technology developed on the upper Columbia and find out WERE the steelhead are actually being killed they will never return to there prior run sizes.
    It may take the gutting of agencies responsable and rebuilding the entire theory of fish management.
  19. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

    Amen Brazda!!!!!!
  20. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Brazda -
    I understand and appreciate your passion however it might be more effective if your arguements were fact supported.

    Florida tarpon and Louisiana redfish are different critters than our steelhead and face differetn problems.

    Montana trout fishing is great however the majority those "named" fisheries are directed at non-native species - rainbows and browns.

    Wonder how the fishing would be in Washington if this State had a similar population (people/square mile) or portion of the its land mass in an undeveloped state as Alaska?

    Co-managemetn/Boldt is the issue. Without a doubt that decision has had a huge impact on the quality of the recreational fishery. However NMFS at the time of the PS steelhead ESA listing determined that fishing impacts in the previous decade wasn't much fo a factor. In fact have since determine that level of impacts does not represent a significant risk of future extinction.

    Anglers begging for CnR to get it - I think not - every PS steelhead CnR season came from Dept. of Wildlife desks with minimal support or interest from the angler community. Yes theose seasons became very popular but that approach was lead by the managers not the users

    On PS rivers the use of wild steelhead release as a management tool was similar as the CnR seasons. The first wide spread use of that approach on those rivers was those dread "fin cards" in the mid-1980s. Those were met by a near angler revolt. Public meetings held were attended by more than 300 folks and except for less than a dozen people everyone was against that approach. BTW of those supporting that tool the majority wore Dept. Wildlife hats. Again it was the managers leading.

    Today it has become fashionable to champion the resident life history of o. mykiss and the regulation changes needed to protect those fish - stop lkilling them mainly using the tool of selective gear rules. In the mid-1980s Dept. Wildlife attempted to apply that approach across much of the State. In this case the managers lost due to angler backlash that force legislative action ban that approach.

    Don't like the current State policies on steelhead mangement? - we had a chance to shape those policies in a very public process. Yet once again the angling public was largely absent.

    I could go on but the point here is that as anglers we probably have exactly the opportunities we collectively have worked for. Our apathy has greeted every opportunity to make a difference and I see little hope that it will be any different at the next opportunity.

    Rant away folks say it is good for the soul. However when it comes time for placing blame I suggest we start by collectively looking in a mirror.

    Tight lines