Skagit River Steehead

Smalma

Active Member
WW-

In the May 2007 Feds ESA listing decision for PS steelhead in the Federal Registor -

http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Publications/FR-Notices/2007/upload/72FR26722.pdf

they said -

"We observed that previous harvest management practices likely contributed tothe historical decline of Puget Sound steelhead, but concluded that the elimination of direct harvest of wild steelhead in the mid 1990s has largely addressed this threat."

Curt
 

skyrise

Active Member
and to throw another poker in the fire.
there is the Elwha river. boy the future looked bright on that one for awhile.
are they still going to plant hatch turds in there ?
 
and to throw another poker in the fire.
there is the Elwha river. boy the future looked bright on that one for awhile.
are they still going to plant hatch turds in there ?
The law suit filed by Wild Fish Conservancy et al to prevent the stocking of Chambers Creek steelhead in the Elwha is still proceeding. Preliminary injunction to prevent release of steeelhead in 2013 has been filed and should be before the courts any day now, as is the request for summary judgement regarding violation of ESA. See http://web.mail.comcast.net/service... final.pdf?auth=co&loc=en_US&id=263020&part=2
 
Chris to your seocnd question.Just a note on my personal experience, Nov through jan very very few native fish on the Sauk, late Dec on I would see more and more natives on the upper (above rockport) skagit with the 1st two weeks of jan usually the beginning of some good #s on the upper river. This was mostly the eighties/early ninties when I would be drifting both rivers from mid nov on running my trapline. by the middle of dec I would normaly be done beaver trapping & just fishing rather than trapping with some fishing earlier. In my opinion early natives were very rare on the sauk while the upper skagit early run was some of the best...in part due to the lack of pressure on the upper river then as most would be fishing from just above rockport on down. Most years i would have the sauk all to myself except for a few locals. The only early fish I would bump were usually hanging out right below where the Darrington sportsman club used to release smolts they had raised. I always thought I would find an early native run then...no pressure & 5-6 days on the water per week as long as the river was not pushing logs but I never did bump them. It is possible they just shot up above clear creek quickly as I did not float above there but seems like I would have hit a few

Again staying with the Skagit example - Stilly Stalker stated that the early returning wild winters were the fish that tend to spawn i head water areas; somethng that seems to be commonly held by lots of anglers. The thinking goes that to reach those areas the fish need the time to migrate the distance required to reach those areas as well as to get past some significant migration obstacles. Assuming that is the case the areas in the Skagit basin where we are most likely to find such habitats would be in areas like the upper South Fork of the Sauk where the wild winter steelhead spawn 110 or more miles from the salt water at an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet and above a pretty narly set of cascades (immediatley below Monte Cristo Lake); hard to imagine a situation that would be more likely to select for an early returing adult. Other locations that might be used by those early fish would be the upper portions of the Suiattle and Whitechuck basins.

Curt
 

skyrise

Active Member
one thing that i don't get. why do they put 116,000 winter & 74,000 summer steelhead in the green river? the numbers that are reported for smolt plants are crazy. the Walla walla system gets 255,000 planted ?
but if there were no plants as said before, no p/s rivers would be open.
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
So...there are several threads going on and I'm trying to keep up. As a part of that I tried to get a handle on all the players. I'm sure that I have missed some of them but here is the list I have so far:

  • WDFW – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • NMFS – National Marine Fisheries Service
  • WSC – Wild Steelhead Coalition
  • HSRG – Hatchery Scientific Review Group
  • WT - Washington Trout
  • SCAPG – (WDFW) Steelhead and Cutthroat Avisory Policy Group
  • PSHAAC – Puget Sound Hatchery Action Advisory Committee
  • PSP – Puget Sound Partnership
  • PSSRC – Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council
  • PSMFC – Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
That is quite the list of acronyms...astonishing really!
I hate to do this but I have to foist one more on you guys:
  • BB - Bureaucratic Bloat
If I had to list, in order of importance, the number of obstacles to a C&R season on the Skagit I would put BB at the top.
I have no idea how many people are associated with those agencies and in positions within their respective agency to actually be a part of, or influence a decision, but I suspect it may be in the hundreds.

What we need is a Fish Czar.
Or overwhelming numbers.
 

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
WW,

I don't share your opinion on the difficulty. What is needed more than anything is for the run sizes on the Skagit to exceed 6,000 for a few years consecutively. Bob Leland told me that it did last year. The number he gave was 6,4000. Admittedly, is was the 1st time I'd heard that estimate.

After that it really comes down to WDFW and NOAA/NMFS agreeing that there are fish above the goal and that a season can take place. The mechaism for that is an approved steelhead recovery plan that allows for the season. MAny of the other groups you list are advisory in nature or really have no say at all.

Overwhelming numbers of anglers will certainly help in pushing WDFW to advocate for a season provided run sizes allow for it.

Remember to that the pre-season run size estimates are based on previous returns. They don't take a number of factors into account. So this years will be below 6,000 for sure . However, given last years numbers, if we have another above estimated count this spring we may start to see the preseason forecasts exceed the estimate.

Go Sox,
cds
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
I understand how that works Charles and the process which involves shutting down what has the least amount of impact is flawed. In fact an argument can be made that C&R fishing has none or negligble impact at worst.
I know you are a recent arrival here but I would like to mention the Deer Creek fish as a shining example of what I mean. These fish were at one time almost to the point of being functionally extinct...down to just a few hundred adults. And yet fishing continued on a C&R basis every summer and still does to this day.

It is the process that I am most interested in changing. I can understand that it is a management tool, but why does it seem to be the first tool to come out of the shed? Especially on the Skagit!
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
To be more specific, tying the season to escapement is what needs to be done away with. In the case of Deer Creek the fish responded to their habitat destruction with reduced numbers. This is of course to be expected; habitat, habitat, habitat, that is the mantra. The Deer creek watershed is now carrying as many steelhead as it can support.

The Skagit is in a similar state. We are seeing the new normal carring capacity of the system and it's not likely to change much. Will it fluctuate? Yes, just like any other system whether it has been impacted by man or not. Chasing arbitrary escapement numbers to establish a C&R season is the part that is flawed. First, the escapement isn't figured until after we would like to have our season. Our season is currently tied to 'projections'. How ludicrous is that? Incidental mortality of a C&R season has never been proven to be a limiting factor in the viability of the entire run. NMFS made their decision because the numbers were in decline. WTF did they expect? More people and their accompanying activity means less animals - it always has. That's all they got? Thanks for coming...
 

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
WW,

I agree with many of your points. However, there is always a difference between what is and what you think should be. If you always act based on the world being what you think it should be rather than what it is, your gonna be disappointed.

The structure is what it is. We can make the best of it. I appreciate your passion.

Go Sox,
cds
 

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
That's a decidedly tougher task.

I think it would be easier to lower the goal than to get away from using a goal a la most of BC. I am having a hard time understanding how you could go to a premanent season without delisting.

I wonder if the listing cold be amended and move to a watershed by watershed listing.

Go Sox,
cds
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
watershed by watershed listing
As I see it today, that is our play.

Here is another acronym.
DPS - Distinct Population Segment

Currently all of Puget Sound steelhead from the Elwah to the Nooksac, both rivers inclusive, are considered as a single DPS. We're talking more than 50 different stocks of summer and winter-run fish as per NMFS. Remove the Skagit basin from this DPS and we have more than a fighting chance.

The ESA defines an endangered species as one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, and a threatened species as one that is likely to become endangered in the forseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

Do either of these scenarios apply to the Skagit winter runs? Especially if you consider that the basin may full well be at its carrying capacity?