What happend to the steelhead in Washington?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by IHV2FSH, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. Okay, fellas, perhaps I'm a bit lazy in not wanting to do the research myself, but I thought I pose a question that I feel is silly, but I truly don't know the answer.

    What happened to the steelhead populations in Washington?

    Our rivers are raging due to the wet weather and most are toast for a while, so I find myself either a lot at the computer visiting steelhead forums and sites or re-reading books like "A Passion for Steelhead". It seems like not so long ago, Washington rivers were loaded with big, bright, solid, hard-fighting steelhead. The book is loaded with awesome pics of these gorgeous fish. But a good portion of the book is depressing, with an almost, "you should have been there, it was awesome" theme. The book wasn't written by some guy who could be my great great grandfather, it was written by a guy my age!

    Here in Northern California, we can attribute the decline to logging (coastal rivers), mining (inland rivers) or damming (both). Some is simply mis-management of the water resources... the tug for water between farmers and So Cal and environmentalists, especially during drought periods. Perhaps a bit of greed and overfishing, too. Of course, there are other factors undoubtedly, but the purpose is not to start a debate, simply to understand, in general, what happened to the steelhead in your rivers.

    You have so many rivers and so much water! I look at a map and see long stretches of rivers before being dammed, what appears to be plenty of habitat left. I never hear talk of rivers being "silted in" from logging but I know that must be an issue.

    I look at rivers on the map like the Sauk, Skagit, Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualamine, which seem to flow for miles before being dammed. I don't see that all are. So was it the dams? Was there not enough habitat left? Was it logging? And I never hear anything written about the fishing in rivers like the Green or Cedar just to the south?

    I'm self-admittingly uneducated on this subject. Anyone care to give me the unabridged history lesson?
  2. ok it went like this...

    (and in minor natural terms things like landslides)
  3. Logging, dams, urban development, commercial/tribal overfishing, poor management (managing for harvest and not abundance), ocean conditions, and severely increased angler pressure on the few remaining streams that have fish left.
  4. I don't have to add anything the two above me said it all.
  5. yur right, should have been swingin' flies for steelhead in the 60s-70s-80s, the pictures don't lie. good news is you can still find wild steelhead at your local fish market or select restaurants courtesy of our conservation minded coastal tribes who believe in killing the golden goose.
  6. Add contamination of the gene pool by stocking genetically different fish populations into river systems with the goal of short term increases in harvestable numbers of fish.
  8. they all packed up and moved to california.
  9. Uh, guys, according to our US senators, a former governor, and several high level appointees, especially in the Bush Administration, we're all a bunch of alarmists. The steelhead are doing fine--we have hatcheries. I'm in with the guys above.
  10. I blame Obama :thumb:.

    Not really, I vote dams. Below ever dam you can find massive bottem feeders which are sitting there eating everything that get chopped up in food sized chunks. In all actuality its a combo of everything listed above.
  11. Dams have nothing to do with the Puget sound's lack of steelhead
  12. Co-managers and MSY top my list. "The White Man"??? Who do you think is netting and selling wild steelhead from the Peninsula?
  13. I agree that they do not however dams are located in a in a few of water sheds that steelhead run. The sad truth about selling them is no one would sell them if people stop buying them.
  14. Have the runs in the Skykomish improved at all? If I recall correctly, which indeed I may not. Several years ago Chris and I were fishing the Sky having taken the boat out at Lewis St . We had a conversation with , perhaps it was even Curt, a biologist talking about the upcoming early closure. He said at the time that there was a grant or tribal money that was going to fund a study of the Skykomish native steelhead run. The story went something along the lines of the study is going to last 8 or 10 years and even if the fish population improved to the point the fish were overflowing into the Monroe prison they would not be re-opening the river late season until the completion of the study. Did that come true? Was that true? I never heard.
  15. Why doesn't anyone think that pollutants have as big or bigger impact as the other popular punching bags listed here? I have no proof but it seems that tons of lead + even more tons of mono line + new fancy fishing gear every year + giant jet boats + relativity small river = lots of chemicals dumped into an eco system over several decades has got to add up eventually.

    Every boat launch I go to on every river has at least some trash that I pick up without exception. Granted some more than others but it is a really bad problem, if the fish will take an artificial fly I'm sure they will eat some of this junk freely floating down the river as well.

    Plus I have been fishing for two years now and have NEVER had my license checked or even seen a game warden which just doesn't make sense, I mean they are out there somewhere right? This just seems like enforcement is very light if this is the case. In Texas when we would go dove hunting we would be checked at least 50% of the time.

    Any who seems like there is a garbage problem but I could be wrong.
  16. there is a garbage problem throughout the state and country. i think the non-litterers are a tiny minority with the amount i see everywhere along not only the roads, but trails and rivers. as for the garbage being the pollution harming fish, it is possible but there are far worse pollutants being dumped all over and draining into puget sound (marine survival being the main problem right now for puget sound steelhead).

    with the amount of chemicals pouring into puget sound from our yards, farms, and pavement and the many new chemicals coming out all the time... it wouldn't surprise me if this toxic stew is having impacts far beyond what we now know. you can only stretch a rubber band so far before it breaks. our fish populations are possibly at that breaking point after centuries of intensively destroying everything wild fish rely on.
  17. i dont think pollutants are effecting the rivers as much in the WA rivers i have fished. a little trash isnt gonna kill the run, think of the volume of water that flushes through these systems...

    puget sound though is a different story, and pollutants def play a big roll in that ecosystem.
  18. Just read an article in Nothwest spotsmans that talked about steelhead smolts making it through Puget Sound and out to open ocean. They tagged smolts were put in two rivers. The Green and the skagit. Both rivers had the same succuess rate. It's been awhile since I read the article but I think the numbers were something like 40 percent of wild fish make it to the ocean and 15 percent of hatchery fish. The follow up article is coming in the next issue that might give some reasoning to why the percentage of fish reaching open ocean is so small. I found it interesting that the issue may not be the rivers at all, but something greater like Puget Sound or the ocean. Remeber I am only talking about fish that make it to open ocean. I really have no idea if Puget sound has resident steelhead like the resident coho. Interesting article anyway.
  19. I remember back about 40 years ago when there was lots of fish in the river. You would see them in schools. Now you only see a few of them in the rivers.

    I was fishing the S/F of the Sauk at Monte Cristo Lake area. I was throwing flies and my father in law was using shrimp. There was a log under the water in the middle of the stream. My father in law would throw his baited shrimp out and it would drift along side the log. The fish would come out and suck the shrimp off the hook. Frustrating to say the least. But that was when there was fish in the river. The last time I ever hit that area there wasn't even any smolts around. There was at least 20 fish in that school.
  20. Who do you think is buying the wild fish sold at places like Pike Place Market? White Man, Red Man, it is way to easy to point fingers at one another when in reality we are all to blame.

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