Hoh River Wild Steelhead Run Fails Again!

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Bob Triggs, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    on the coast the harvest directed at hatchery fish has decimated the most abundant portion of the run. never forget that the run sizes can never really be much higher without restoring the front end of the wild steelhead run on the coast.

    good habitat is useless if the hydrograph of that habitat doesn't favor late-spring spawning right now (tributaries, and non-snow melt creeks and rivers). also, in many cases earlier spawning fish means earlier emergence which allows those fish extra time to feed heavily before the rivers become very low and warm in the late summer/fall.
     
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  2. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    i also concur with those who want to see puget sound rivers managed on a river by river basis. there is no reason the skagit should not be opened if the run size is above escapement.
     
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  3. Derek Young

    Derek Young Emerging Rivers Guide Services

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    This would pertain directly to my post above, about changing the status quo, clinging to the "a fish is a fish is a fish" mentality that is the fuel for the problem painted by Salmo g.

     
  4. jake-e-boy

    jake-e-boy sans caféine

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    they are just not as "tuff" a fish as their wild cousins, so everything that causes the wild ones to suffer, typically, has a more drastic effect on the hatchery fish, plus they are dumb and get lost
     
  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Good question Daniel. The short explanation is that thing called "marine survival." It was not unusual as steelhead hatchery programs were developed in the 1960s and 1970s for returns to be exceptionally good in their first few years, for a decade, if not more. I have no idea if that coincided with a naturally occurring upswing in marine survival, or if other factors were controlling. Heck, there was even a story, although I've never been able to lay hands on an actual report, let alone scientific report, that the old WDG released marked hatchery (Chambers Ck) steelhead smolts in the Green River (King Co.), and when those fish returned as adults, fully 10% of the number of smolts were counted and estimated in the angler creel. Personally I think this was faulty analysis, but it was the "best available science" in that moment, and was widely used as rationalization and justification for maintaining and expanding hatchery steelhead programs. Steelhead hatchery progams made economic sense from a government agency point of view, and why would anglers complain or object, with results like that? For all I know, maybe the conclusion was so useful that way that it would have been counter productive to do an actual SAR (smolt to adult return) survival test using today's scientific standards.

    The upshot, however, is that by the early 1970s, shortly after U.S. v WA, it became useful to know how many fish really returned, both hatchery and wild, and sadly, it wasn't anywhere near 10% of the number of hatchery smolts being stocked. Since the 1990s it has become obvious that hatchery smolt quality has never been higher, and SAR due to marine survival has never been lower - in known history. It could be PDO; that is likely the most plausible explanation, although there are numerous outliers, or exceptions. The best monitoring to date indicates that neither commercial fishing nor tribal fishing is the cause of lower SAR. It appears to be environmental; in this case, the marine, or ocean, environment. And we don't know as much about how it works to effect survival in the way we know that roads, logging, agriculture, urban development, and pollution affect species productivity, capacity, and diversity in their freshwater environments. But since steelhead spend half their life in marine waters, it is every bit as important as freshwater.

    Sg
     
  6. NateTreat

    NateTreat Banned or Parked

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    That's where I come from. I guess I meant if one fish dies from being caught, that could affect the numbers a tiny bit. A teeny tiny bit. But like you say, not enough to make a measurable difference. When you see that the escapement goal in the system is a measly 2,400 fish, that boggles my mind. I know guys say not to compare it to PS rivers, but with the Skagit making returns of 6k fish without a fishery, even C&R that is pretty crazy.

    With hatchery fish 2,400 fish would be a giant return. Hatchery fish are necessary because their will always be the anglers that want to catch and kill. Some of our hatcheries are really too expensive to keep doing what they are doing. We should focus on the hatchery programs that do work, put numbers in those systems that support the catch and kill fishery, and let the other rivers wild fish runs rebuild. It's political, and I'm not a fan of politics.
     
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  7. John Hicks

    John Hicks Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits

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    If we (the sport fishermen) stop advocating for wild fish, they will die off. If we (the sport fishermen) do not educate those around us and those that we come in contact with, the wild fish will die off. I am constantly amazed at the ignorance of the general public, even with todays media saturation. It IS my job and duty to educate everyone that I come in contact with about the subject. I can hope that if I talk to 100 people about wild steelhead, 10 of them will come away with a better understanding and a different outlook on our wild fish. Of those 10 if only one has some sort of influence either monetarily or socially and does something about it, I have succeeded.

    There are those that say if I love them so much, why not stop chasing them? Well, in short, I am not that big of a person. I do however mitigate my damage by chasing wild fish by the least effective and thus least detrimental means. I will walk away from a great day at noon if I have had success. I have stepped out of the water and just enjoyed the fact that I can still stand in said water. To me catching is by far and away secondary to enjoying the fact that I don't hear a phone, or text, or I.M. or Tweet. I feel that I am not alone in this feeling.

    There are many sport fisherman, that if they walked away from fishing for these fish they would walk away from advocating for them as well. This is not a good thing for the fish. As only public awareness will save these fish. So if the impact of sport fishing on wild fish is minimal, I feel that the good far outways the bad. If we can educate those around us and eliminate the current demand for "Wild PNW Steelhead" the commercial fisherman and tribes would stop harvesting them.
     
  8. Itchy Dog

    Itchy Dog Some call me Kirk Werner

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    I think what makes the issue wild fish advocacy such a challenge is that the largest voice available to the cause— the general public—isn't aware and doesn't care. More and more people are so disconnected with the outdoors in general that matters facing fish aren't even on their radar. To the average person, Steelhead are steelhead, salmon are salmon. They don't care what the tribes are doing. Hatchery vs. wild isn't even something they're aware of. So as John mentioned above, the general public needs to be continually educated, 1 person at a time, in hopes of reaching a small number of people that may then start to care and then begin to gain momentum. Public ignorance and apathy are a huge obstacle that wild fish advocates must overcome before WDFW can be pressured to make policy changes that will really begin to address the matter. It may seem like a daunting task to enlighten the masses, but those who advocate for wild fish need to stay the course and not give up until the last wild fish is gone.
     
  9. FinLuver

    FinLuver Active Member

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    ...as long as that education is done with "truthful" science and not science made to fit a "particular" point of view, which is what is rampantly spread these day.


    and the reason why the masses don't give a rip. ;)
     
  10. 1morecast

    1morecast Active Member

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    "Angling experience is not a conservation issue". I disagree. When it becomes more important to hook or land a fish at any cost, angling experience becomes a conservaton issue.
     
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  11. juro

    juro New Member

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  12. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you talking about snagging?

    I don't think the importance of catching a fish to the angler changes any of the factors of mortalty, or the current management paradigm. Am I missing something?

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  13. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    ...and you have some "truthful" science to back up that comment? :)
     
  14. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    This explains why I don't catch many steelhead anymore, without the hatchery fish there are no dumb steelhead out there that I have the ability to catch!!!
     
  15. Creatch'r

    Creatch'r Heavies...

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    How many here fished the hoh last winter season and specifically how many where on the river in April??