Cowlitz wild fish

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Dan Page, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Are you saying un-clipped fish realize they're wild don't return to the hatcheries?
     
  2. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Similar situation on the Green and why we tried to set-up the trap and truck above HH dam in the early 90's. Awesome sections of water for them, but the return trip not so good. As pointed out, it does sound like the out-migration through PS is the primary difference.

    Agree that w/o hatchery stock, we'd just be talking about steelhead fishing and the classifieds section will have some killer deals on swing rods.

    What is the current status on the proposed dam on the Skykomish? Latest info I could find was from November.
     
  3. Phil Fravel

    Phil Fravel Friendly

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    Salmo-g

    Is there any data on timing from when Farm raised fish pens were introduced in British Columbia and the decline in Puget Sound Steelhead
     
  4. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    I don't chime in much anymore but I did want to chime in to address the idea that steelhead fishing must be closed in Washington if no hatchery fish are planted. While this has been the case de facto in Puget Sound and the east side, it does not have to be the case. The statewide steelhead management plan clearly states that fisheries may be permitted in wild steelhead gene banks when those wild stocks are meeting management objectives. Obviously where fish are listed, it also requires a NOAA permit. In the lower columbia region, the Wind River has been open to a catch and release fishery for summer steelhead despite an ESA listing and no hatchery plants since the late 90's, but only in years when it exceeds 500 fish. This was enabled by WDFW seeking and receiving from NOAA a permit to conduct that fishery based on high quality population monitoring data that suggested such a fishery would not have significant adverse impacts on the stock. The SF Toutle has no winter hatchery plants but it remains open until March 15 providing a winter fishery for wild winter steelhead, and historically, when abundance was greater, was open later. As genebanks are rolled out in the Lower Columbia, it has been publicly stated by the department that they plan to keep those rivers open with at least the current seasons, subject to the recommendations of their steelhead workgroups, and provided wild populations are meeting management goals. The keys to having such fisheries are 1) the wild population is meeting management goals--either historic escapement goals, or goals based on high quality defensible current data; 2) WDFW realizes there is interest in a watershed in a fishery targeting wild fish, with or without retention opportunity; 3) WDFW has sought and received permits to conduct such a fishery.
     
  5. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Wow, we all should stop and listen to ourselves... it's simply amazing that decisions about whether fisheries are open or closed are being made based on numbers like these.

    (no offense intended Tom... the example you gave just makes the point).
     
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  6. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    The fishery is opened when 500 or more fish are present because 20 years of high quality adult and smolt monitoring data has shown that once adult abundance reaches 500 fish, smolt production stops increasing more than negligibly. This suggests that with the current habitat conditions and fitness of the population, 500 fish fully seed the watershed. Because there is uncertainty in abundance estimates, spawner-recruit analysis, and fishery impacts, the fishery is managed to be very low impact (c&r and selective gear and open for only a couple months in the fall). There have been some years where abundance was high enough that the population could have withstood greater impacts. The Wind research has been very instructive because what it suggests is that if we want more adult fish, we need better smolt to adult survival--better ocean survival, less loss of steelhead to direct and indirect mortality in mainstem fisheries (treaty, sport and commercial), and better survival in their short stint in the hydrosystem as smolts. Given current habitat, increasing adult escapement will not, on average, have any effect on subsequent returns once you are above 500 fish plus or minus some buffer for uncertainty and random chance.
     
  7. Phil Fravel

    Phil Fravel Friendly

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    500 sounds real small.

    Question Tom. If more fish were aloud to spawn then perhaps more smolt would reside in the smaller creeks and streams perhaps for a year or two before going to sea. Allowing a broader period of time for outward migration. Then likewise for a broader period of time for return.
     
  8. Phil Fravel

    Phil Fravel Friendly

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    Was that 500 only for the Green River section of the NF Toutle?
     
  9. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    500 was in reference to the Wind, not the NF Toutle/Green.
     
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  10. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    I think Tom answered this question before you asked it.

    " because 20 years of high quality adult and smolt monitoring data has shown that once adult abundance reaches 500 fish, smolt production stops increasing more than negligibly. This suggests that with the current habitat conditions and fitness of the population, 500 fish fully seed the watershed."

    A hard concept to wrap your head around, but more fish does not always equal more fish. At some point there will be a saturation point, or what is called "carrying capacity" is reached. And, despite our wishes that this be a constant number year after year it will never be. Watersheds are dynamic systems, ever more so with man's involvement and presence.
     
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  11. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    No, that is not what I said.

    You asked "Why only the Cowlitz...why not the S rivers as well?"

    There is no dam on the Sauk, NF Stilly, Sky, etc. for hatchery fish or wild fish to try and navigate through on their way to where they are going. Hence, no collection point to separate marked and unmarked fish for 'trucking'.
     
  12. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    So steelhead watershed's are dynamic systems with both habitat and carrying capacity trending downwards... why then do you support fishing over conditions like these? When the example given get's to say 250 fish, to fully seed the (further deteriorated) watershed, is that the new acceptable number? How about 100 or 50?

    Do you think that this same discussion, held 20 to 30 years ago, would be anticipating numbers like 500? Will the discussion 20 years from now be using 200 as fully seeded... let's fish them? Seems to me if one truly cares about the species survival, they make the ultimate sacrifice and stop fishing them all together...and devote their time and energy to getting that done as opposed to pushing for ways to fish them.
     
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  13. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    Define survival. At what point can we consider them "survived"?
     
  14. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    How about you answer my question first. If 500 is the carry capacity for this example as of today, but that changes to 200 in say 2020, is that the new acceptable number? How about if that number goes to 100? It appears to me that you think it's fine to simply re-stripe the reference line for the period in which you want to have the discussion.

    It also seems to me that your want to fish outweighs your intrinsic sense not too. I say that because I honestly don't think anyone on this forum wants to be the one saying "I caught the last one". I like to have my cake and eat it too... just haven't quite figured out how to make that reality.
     
  15. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    They did a twenty year study and 500 is the number they came up with. I don't know what the number will be in the future - it might be 200 or with the results of this study, stream restoration, responsible fishing, it might very well be 10,000! I don't know and neither do you

    Where is your study and the number you came up with?

    I want to fish responsibly and you want all of us to stop fishing entirely. Feel free to follow your knee jerk reaction. No one is stopping you...No one is forcing you or anyone else to fish where they don't feel that it is prudent. Follow your 'feelings' where ever they take you. But if you want others to hop on the bus you'd better have a destination.

    So again, define survival. When can we determine that they have survived?
     
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