Where have all the Chum gone?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by davec, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Jamie Wilson

    Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    Interesting - I would never thought of it in terms of grazing - I have animals that graze. Sheds a new light for me.
     
  2. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    yeah but the sports guy were C & R the hell out of them at swift creek & the powerlines, I'm not sure if this helps the survival rate when your fishing them on spawning Redds
     
  3. DimeBrite

    DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

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    No doubt that the heavy chum netting in Puget Sound back in 2008 set us up for a disappointing 2012 run. 2012 should have had a very healthy run of fish on the Skagit, Sky, and Stilly. Some say "bad ocean conditions", but that is code for bad fisheries policy. Too bad the chum had to be sacrificed to revive the summer chinook fishery in north Puget Sound. Those smelly chum and their river nutrients won't be missed,... except maybe by the dollies and bald eagles.
     
  4. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    chums are a tough species to manage. They also happen to be the last thing that makes commercial guys in the PNW any money at all. They can't really fish for anything else.

    Seriously we chase chums for fun, just to get kicks by torturing something, maybe put one or two in the smoker. For commercial fishermen its their job. Its how they put food on their table. Lets maybe stop demonizing them.
     
    Daryle Holmstrom likes this.
  5. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

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    agree with most said here. the cycle does seem to be down. but so should the netting have been greatly reduced the same.
    a some what bright spot, is that i have seen areas on the sky that were empty for the last 5 years had some good numbers of chum this year. fingers crossed. the sky being very hard hit for a while now.
    also did count some chum on the skagit this year in areas i did not see them last year.
    so maybe its slowly picking up.
     
  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    It's always nice to see a bright spot, but the Skagit chum escapement was the second or third lowest on record. Lowest ever for an even year run I think.

    Sg
     
  7. Evan Burck

    Evan Burck Fudge Dragon

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    If you want a real eye opener, go just a few miles north to the Squamish in BC, and see how many chums fill up that river. Absolutely blew my mind to see that.
     
  8. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

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    chum management is super hard, even in season, first of all they spawn super low in the river systems so its hard to have in season counting. In season data is generated most places by commercial catch rate, aerial surveys and the like, combine this with crazy mixed stock fishery politics and its a super tough job. The good news is that chums are pretty prolific, and small years can result in huge returns.

    We had a ridiculous chum escapement in the Susitna river drainage this year, likely due to the super poor king run resulting in no commercial fishing. It made the trout fishing awful you couldn't get a drift without snagging 10 chums.
     
  9. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    The state has managed Skagit bay chums pretty closely for a long time, with one day here or there and many years no openings at all, Everett bay too for that matter. Now Bellingham bay is a entirely different story, with a 5 day a week schedule in Nov. This is not a new phenomena, I started fishing in the 70's and we fish until Dec, and let me tell you the fleet is a mere shadow of what it was then. To many other things going on to lay the blame at the feet of commercials.
     
  10. Runejl

    Runejl Josh

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    So then what are our limiting factors here.

    I don't remember ever seeing "Keta" (Aka Chums) being sold in the grocery store until the last 5/6 years. These fish are getting to the Grocery Store somehow. My guess is Tribal- not commercial is taking the majority of the Chum to market.

    I feel like there is plenty of spawning habitat out there.

    I know that the we lose reds every year on the Nooksack to a December flood/highwater event.

    Are there hatchery plants of Chum on the Northfork of the Nooksack?

    Or do we just say that Marine Survival is to blame?

    The point is, what are things that could be changed? No hatchery plants, continued river restoration and ... Limit Commercial/Tribal Harvest. Not much that can easily be done about Marine survival.
     
  11. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Runejl,

    Chum salmon being sold with a "Keta" label has occurred for well over 20 years. Chums in local markets come from both PS waters and AK. Chum salmon abundance varies widely according to both freshwater and early marine and usually not as much to later marine, survival. Floods routinely whack good populations down for a cycle or so. Marine survival varies with forage abundance that seems affected by seasonal temperatures in the Sound and sea surface temps in the ocean.

    In some cycles, a forecast of a large run that in fact is small results in over-harvest. That can typically be corrected in a single cycle, but it also contributes to the ups and downs we observe with chum abundance. And yes, there is plenty of chum spawning habitat out there, and production is good when the eggs don't get hit by flood scour.

    What are the things that could be changed to reduce some of the swings? One would be to adopt more conservative harvest management than MSH, but the co-managers are wedded to it as near as I can tell. Conservation with less than maximum use is not their intent.

    Sg
     
  12. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Josh,

    When I was a teen ( 40 yrs ago), working in a resurant we served salmon steaks, and they were chum salmon ( ocean bright), and they were actualy pretty good. There are big chum hatchery programs in S.E. AK, that is likely where the "Keta" (indian name), are coming from. Most of the puget sound fish are bought for eggs. I remember seeing that there were some planted chum in the N.Fork, but I think they consider that run "natural". I looked back at the numbers for the nf and there were some big runs in the 90's, 94 was 50k, 98 was 80k. but from 86 till then and after was form 15k to 30k.
     

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