East Fork of Lewis to lose Hatchery Fish

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by VancouverFisher, Nov 1, 2013.

  1. ctcooney

    ctcooney New Member

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    I think you guys are reacting to Sg's response to my post about CNR being off the table. I didn't say it was a problem or that we have a right to CNR wild fish and the comment I sent to WDFW reflects this. I was merely reflecting on some changes to the only river I've had a chance to fish when I'm in town, changes that I fully support and that I hope set a new example for recovery efforts.
     
  2. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    My comments were intended to point out that hatchery stocking programs that don't return enough adult fish to support a decent fishery are not worth the expense. And then, considering that we know hatchery programs don't benefit wild fish, even though they may also not do nearly so much harm as alleged by some, there is no ecological justification and really no social or economic justification either.

    The downside, from a recreational angling point of view - and I try to consider as many reasonable points of view as I can, unlike Rob - is that when a stream has no hatchery run, and the wild run is depressed below minimum spawning escapement levels, then that stream is removed from the list of streams available for fishing. Ecologically this should be good. From a social and economic perspective, having fewer places available for fishing is never good.

    I said that this should be good ecologically because I can't document any benefit a hatchery program provides to a wild fish population. And it normally causes some harm simply because there is more fishing going on, and it's impossible to say that fishing is good for fish, when one considers the fish's point of view. However, much of anti-hatchery effort that is going on is poorly supported, or unsupported by evidence, while there is much evidence where wild stocks have done well in the same systems where hatchery programs existed. This ain't an easy nut to crack, and simple black and white answers tend to be more simple than accurate.

    Sg
     
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  3. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    I just do not agree that in light of all we have done to our rivers and our fish that resource exploiters have a reasonable point of view. That's probably not a feasible political view it is none the less the truth. With all the destruction we have caused it is unreasonable to expect to be able to do more exploitation.
     
  4. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    I just do not agree that in light of all we have done to our rivers and our fish that resource exploiters have a reasonable point of view. That's probably not a feasible political view it is none the less the truth. With all the destruction we have caused it is unreasonable to expect to be able to do more exploitation.

    Rob can define how a CnR angler exploits a resource?
     
  5. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    As Salmo G pointed out in no way could angling be considered good for our wild stocks. I have nothing against catch and release fishing at all but we need to approach situations like this with the mindset that restoration needs to take place first. We are talking about small populations of fish. Like it or not even with our best efforts there is some mortality associated with catch and release fishing even with single barbless hooks and artificial lures.

    The Wind river is a perfect example the last few seasons it has been open for a short fall season with all the standard precautions. This year it had to be closed because the population of fish did not return sufficiently. I only suggest that until The EFL is deemed to be able to withstand a catch and release season there is no reason for it to be open to fishing. Even if that means it is never open again. That goes for every river with small populations of fish.
     
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  6. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    Interesting - so eliminating the hatchery stocking and stopping all angling on the EFL or any other system for that matter is "restoration"??
     
  7. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Math matters.

    I believe the benefits of CR outway the negatives.....even with some rather small populations.
    Catch rates will always track run sizes.
    Mortality from CnR is well studied and very low.
    The only people I have ever seen lobby for steelhed are anglers.

    I respect those who want to be conservative with the resource. I believe conservatism must include the interests of CnR angling.

    Math matters.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
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  8. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    My concern is that "restoration" is a one chapter book in the sense of recovery. We have seen this on a few systems here in WA -

    Wenatchee - we can only fish this system if hatchery fish have high numbers to get them out of the system - Not because the native fish are in good numbers "to support a CnR fishery"

    Skagit and PS systems - we have had good numbers of wild steelhead returns - but the state and Fed so far have zero interest in a fishery that could and can "withstand" a CnR fishery. In most cases the state doesn't really know how many fish are in the system (see Nooksack) - if flows are too high or they are underfunded in getting boots on the ground to gain that knowledge - they don't know

    Once we lose these fisheries (or our exploitation as you put it) - its an act of God to get them back - try getting an underfunded WDFW to put together a plan/report to the Fed to allow a low mortality CnR fishery on a river that has been closed for a number of years. When you look at it - with some detail, no other restoration is being done - very little habitat will improve, nothing will address the commercial take prior to these fish entering the Columbia or in the Columbia, no studies on the true mortality of a CnR fishery. All that seems to be done in the name of "Restoration" is - Stop the Hatcheries and with that stop angling. Then they sit and watch, no investment and we hope they come back in good numbers - when they do. Try getting government to approve of your exploitation of that fishery on some Sunday afternoon.
     
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  9. ctcooney

    ctcooney New Member

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    I think the EFL is a unique basin, if not in the PNW generally than at least in the SW part of the state. As I see it the reason for its classification is that it has remained relatively unschathed from the problems of development and timber harvest that many other watersheds are dealing with. This is the reason that an experimental program fits the EFL but might not fit other basins. I think it's apples and oranges to compare it to the Wenatchee or PS systems.

    Personally, I would feel more connected to the resource if I were allowed to keep CNR fishing the river (despite the fact that I have yet to get even the slightest of nibbles) than if it were totally off-limits, but my view isn't what matters. As Sg said, in an ESA listed basin there can't be "take" without hatchery mitigation, and in the long run with a good deal of healthy habitat and active steps to make it better, it might be one of the first to be de-listed on the lower Columbia. Then we can all bitch about the guides clogging up the runs and puffy brim flat jackets taking over.
     
  10. Rich Simms

    Rich Simms Active Member

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    "Once we lose these fisheries (or our exploitation as you put it) - its an act of God to get them back - try getting an underfunded WDFW to put together a plan/report to the Fed to allow a low mortality CnR fishery on a river that has been closed for a number of years."

    This is exactly why we need to take proactive steps now to enact changes on the Olympic Peninsula streams before we lose those as well. But CnR on those streams are not without sin by the amount of fish being handled during season. Proactive change is hard to achieve since the problem stems that everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.
     
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  11. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    "Personally, I would feel more connected to the resource if I were allowed to keep CNR fishing the river (despite the fact that I have yet to get even the slightest of nibbles) than if it were totally off-limits, but my view isn't what matters. As Sg said, in an ESA listed basin there can't be "take" without hatchery mitigation, and in the long run with a good deal of healthy habitat and active steps to make it better, it might be one of the first to be de-listed on the lower Columbia. Then we can all bitch about the guides clogging up the runs and puffy brim flat jackets taking over."

    CT - I agree with you in some sense - not all systems are the same and anglers are much more connected when they care about a system or fishery.
    But with any restoration the folks restoring the "project" tell you what comes after restoration. The state and fed have not done that to my knowledge. What are the other "active steps" we should expect, what are fishable numbers (Summer and Winter), how do you measure progress, what other levels of restoration come after this, will the commercial fleets in the Columbia suffer the cost recreational anglers are giving, what is the process of opening the river back to fishing, how long will that take.

    I just see us as concerned anglers not asking the right questions or demanding the proper procedures definitions from our government on these fisheries issues. Most of us re like Rob - we want the best for the fish, think we are a major issue in recovery and give up fishing - then we hope the runs come back - when they do, we are blown away of the process it takes to get back on the water for just a simple CnR fishery on fishable numbers of a system
     
  12. aplTyler

    aplTyler Inept Steelheader

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    A big issue that doesn't get noticed by many folks is that the EF is not prime habitat. The vast majority of rivers in the PNW are mere shadows of themselves when it comes to habitat, but the East Fork is presumed by many folks (including several out-of-towners I've run into fishing this week) to be in great shape.

    When you walk through Lewisville Park or check out the series of waterfalls, the habitat looks beautiful, but it's a mirage of sorts. Gravel mining operations still ongoing (thanks Storedahl), logging, and development have resulted in a river with extreme temperature issues. In the summer, the river regularly rises over 74 degrees with 80 degree water temps not unheard of... Needless to say, many of the EFL fish will hang in the North Fork to cool off for large chunks of the summer. These temps also greatly affect juvenile fish. Check out Friends of the East Fork for more info on the issues facing the watershed.

    I love fishing this river more than my "home" river, the Washougal (which also is a habitat nightmare overall... thanks logging, 43 previous channel spanning splash dams, etc), and I'll miss fishing it dearly. I want to see more wild fish in the EFL, but I suspect it'll take much more than just removing hatchery fish. As Salmo said, there is no simple answer to salmon recovery...
     
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  13. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    Some things you might find interesting. The Washougal was clearcut completely! 3 permanent dams plus splash dams, forest fires, mining and a paper mill pumping toxins straight into the river.
    during the time all that was going on the river was estimated to have had 2500 wild summer steelhead. The habitat now is vastly improved now when compared to what it was and still no fish.
     
  14. ctcooney

    ctcooney New Member

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    Well, at the risk of being naive I do think that the upper river can nurture some strong populations in the long run if the lower river can be helped out. Fuck storedahl's all day long. I think you're selling what's upriver short though, lot of habitat and there really isn't much human interference aside from no trespassing signs.
     
  15. aplTyler

    aplTyler Inept Steelheader

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    True... very similar to the EFL minus the mill. You are right about the great habitat improvements on the Shoug... Wild Summer populations are on an upward trend on the river (nearing the 1,000 fish mark), and the work that LCFEG has done in the watershed is fantastic. I know Friends of the East Fork and Fish First are doing lots of projects on the EFL and once again, I hope to see the fish come back there.

    Found some EFL Stock info if you'd like...

    https://fortress.wa.gov/score/species/population_details.jsp?stockId=6763 (Summers)
    https://fortress.wa.gov/score/species/population_details.jsp?stockId=6770 (Winters)

    Summers looking to be doing much better than the Winter fish... credence to the idea of the upper watershed being in better shape than the lower. I hope the Yacolt Mt. Mine expansion doesn't happen up there. Interesting stuff.