Wild Steelhead Coalition - Membership Meeting - Wed, May 4 at 6PM

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Chris Scoones, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,317
    bellingham wa
    Ratings: +565 / 0
    It is true that we don't have any idea regarding historic survival rates in the sound. There is nothing we can do about this though. We should try to find out when and where they die now, given that we seem to have the technology to do it. Also given that the hatchery fish come back in lower numbers per smolt than the wilds and they hang around longer in PS, it seems to me that the PS mortality is additive in nature and not compensated by the big ocean. If it isn't then why are we adding hatchery fish to compete for limitted resources on the high seas?

    With regards to repeat spawners and 3 salt fish. Why would good big ocean conditions favor 3 salt fish. If the fish were getting large enough to spawn in 2 years, why would it be worth it to fatten up another year? 1 in the bag is worth 2 in the bush right?

    I don't suspect we'll have as many repeat spawners as long as the tribal kelt, er, I mean spring king season continues. One thing that was learned was that the fish hang around up high after spawning for a bit and then they jet to the ocean in less than 3 days. Where does that fishery take place?

    As far as the salmon fry goes, they found that pink salmon was the major forage when they were abundant. I don't recall what they said about eating Kings. The steelhead fry didn't eat steelhead though. Who knows what they eat in the PS? Is what they eat there a limitted food source. Are they competing with wild fish there? Are they attracting predators there to the school comingled with wild fish? Do they contibute to disease given that they came from a confined feeding operation? None of these questions are asked or solved but we throw hatchery fish in anyhow and then get real concerned with hooking mortality which seems to approach zero when spey rods and GP's are used.

    The early spawners appear to be rebounding. It's attributed to the clipping of wilds and mandatory release. This could be the case. It could also be the case that the early fish smolt a little earlier and never have to deal with the hatchery fish impact in the sound. Returning early would be an advantage in this situation. Hatchery fish all smolt and leave in the same week. This week coincides with the week that the bulk of the wild fish leave.

    I know that hatcheries allow for the limitted season we have. To be honest though, I'd gladly give up those couple of weeks to see what would happen if we stopped planting them in the PS streams. If my non-existant hooking mortality is too much, and at present it officiallly is, I can not see how hatchery impacts are acceptable even if they to are non-existent.

    If one wild smolt dies at the hands of a hatchery fish that is more damage then I will do because I'm killing 0 fish. We just don't kill them with our thundersticks. Hell the researchers shoved battery sized transmitters down their throats and all but one lived to spawn. This is with a rather large sample size too.

    Great to see the people who made it. If any of you see a guy with a Red Sox cap at a meeting like this it probably is me. Say hi. I assure you I'm as much of a prick in person as I am on the internet. I do make up for it by picking up more than my share of the bar tab though.

    Go Red Sox,
    cds
  2. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,837
    Marysville, Washington
    Ratings: +716 / 0
    Charles -
    Regarding the two -three-salt question. Whether the fish returns as two or three salt fish it hugely important; why else would see the diversity in the steelhead populations that we do?

    To some specifics regarding the Skagit winters runs. Having the diversity of multiple year classes retruning not only lends stability to the numbers of spawners retruning each year (less flucation in the numbers of spawners due to a weak run class). In addition there are advantages for the returning adult to being large. A larger male is often more successful in "battles" to dominate the spawning. A 3-salt Skagit female typically will have 30% more eggs than a two-salt. Of course those advantages are off set by the increased mortality of spending time in the ocean and the longer generation time. Such is the nature of the give and take of the natural selection process.

    To may comment about that the marine survival may be more than just what is happening in Puget Sound based on what appears to be a reduced percentage of older fish in the returning adults. Let's take a hypothical population where 1/2 the first time returning adults were 2 salts and 1/2 3 salts. If the increased marine mortality seen recently for Puget Sound was happening in just the first few weeks the smolts are in the salt I would not expect to see much of a change in the ratio of 2 and 3-salt fish in the population. If however that increased mortality was occuring through out the time fo the fish we would expect to see poorer survival of those fish that are exposed to that increase the longest. The result being a reduction in the portion of 3-salt fish in the population. Would also expect to see similar changes for th repeat spawning rate. None of this negates the importance of what is happening in the Sound itself but does underlines the need to look at the larger picture.

    Tight lines
    Curt