If the run estimates figures are even close to being correct they can not afford to lose 300-600 fish from a C&R mortality rate of 5-10%.

How do you figure? And this assumes every fish in the population is caught once, an extremely unlikely outcome. And the studies that examine steelhead caught multiple times found that those fish survived to spawn just as well as the others.

Let's say the run is 5,000 adults, and every fish is caught once, which isn't likely, and the incidental mortality rate is 10%, resulting in 4,500 spawners. If one examines the Skagit escapement records since 1978, subsequent runs are just as likely to be good with 4,500 spawners as with a larger spawning escapement. Remember, spawner - recruit analysis doesn't even support the present escapement of 6,000 for MSH.

Why form visceral conclusions when you could form rational ones based on logical analysis?

Sg