Skagit bull trout

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Smalma, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Jonathan Tachell

    Jonathan Tachell Active Member

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    Curt you are a wealth of knowledge! I love reading your informative posts. It is absolutely amazing how much you know about our fisheries here in Washington. I hope to meet you sometime and maybe wet a line.
     
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  2. porterHause

    porterHause Just call me Jon

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    I agree with Jonathan T. Curt, awesome posts. Just out of curiosity, do you know why S.Malma (sorry, I had to make the connection), Dolly Varden is only covered under "similarity of appearance?" I thought they were in a similar situation to the Bull Trout. Or maybe that's the subject of a future article...
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    porterHause-
    The endanger species act provides for coverage under similarity of appearance in the following situation -

    "Section 4(e) of the Endangered Species Act authorizes a species to be treated as if it were endangered or threatened if it so closely resembles a listed species that law enforcement personnel would have substantial difficulty telling the two species apart. The similarity of appearance provisions can also apply to a subspecies or a population segment. Species listed under these provisions receive some but not all of the protections of the Endangered Species Act (Act). "

    Clearly when it takes detail genetic testing to separate the two species it would extremely difficult for the enforcement personnel or the lay person to tell the two fish apart. That coverage applies only to the Puget Sound/coastal distinct population segment (DPS). While this provisionis provided to insure that the listed fish gets the full protect (by avoiding confusion with the similar speices) it also has the unintended benefit of providing ESA like protection of Dolly Varden in the DPS without having to go through the expense and time of listing evaluation. I think you are correct in that if that evaluation were made that Dolly Varden would also likelbe listed.

    Curt
     
  4. BDD

    BDD Active Member

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    I have not read the bull trout bio that Curt wrote but look forward to reading it with much anticipation along with the rest of this thread.

    In the meantime, my head is still spinning from Curt's tale of a monster bull trout he caught. It was a jaw-dropping story! If I didn't respect Curt so much, I would have called him a liar, causing him to shoot me if we were in the old days. I'm glad I believed him and we are not living in the 1870s. :D
     
  5. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

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    curt, too much to read in one sitting. do have some questions.
    given the overall degrading of many upriver tribs (skagit area) do we know what kind of loss has occurred in bull trout populations ?
    and do you see a numbers drop for bull trout across their range in say Skagit county waters ?
    my guess is that they are down.
     
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  6. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast la flama blanca

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  7. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Curt,

    Here is a question for you. I rarely target bulls and usually they are a pleasant by catch while fishing for steelhead. I will target bulls at some spots of the river where experience tells me they will be present. Which brings me to my question. Are bull trout social? In other words, do they school together for whatever reasons? When I target bulls it is because I am in a section of the river that I know will hold several fish. Are they there because they like to group together or is it the holding area has the right conditions for multiple fish to hold in? I this regard they are similar to searun cutthroat. If you find one you are likely to find more.
     
  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Skyrise -
    The Skagit bull trout and their status demostrates how huge quality habitat is for robust fish popuations. As I have stated the key critical habitat (population bottleneck if you will) for bull trout is those headwater areas they use for spawning and early juvenile rearing. It has been estmated that 80% of that key Skagit basin (down stream of the dams) bull trout is located in the North Cascade Park or a wilderness areas - in short the vast majority of that habitat is about as good as it can get.

    25 years ago it was felt that harvest (over fishing by most the recreational fishers) was a significant factor in limiting the native Char populatons in the State. As an outgrowth of that concern there regulation changes to address those concerns. Prior to 1990 on the Skagit native char (bull trout) were consider a "trout" and were included in angler's trout limit. In 1990 on the Skagit limits were established specifically for the bull trout. The new limit was a 2 fish daily limit with a 20 inch minimum size limit. The 20 inch size limit was picked to insure te vast majority of the char would have the chance to spawn at least once prior to entering the fishery.

    At the time of that change there was only one char spawning idex in the basin (3.5 miles of the South Fork Sauk below Monte Cristo). In the three years prior to the regualtion change a total of 27 char redds (9/year) were counted. With the regulation change there was an also immediate and postive populaton response. In the decade following that regulation change the counts in that index jumped from 9/year to 50/year. At the start of the second decade (at least until the 2003 flood event) the counts jumped again to more than 150 redds/year.

    It seems pretty clear that the reglation was indeed successful in addressing a dominate factor limiting the population and withhealthy habitat the population responded very positively to the change. That kind of response is far too rate with the region other ESA listed populations (Chinook, steelhead or bull trout in most other basins) where they are clearly limited by compromised habitats.

    Curt
     
  9. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Kerry -
    Don't know if I would call bull trout social but they do form some pretty large aggregations. I think they form such groups because of the number of fish in the population and the attraction of the collection location to full fill their needs In this respect they are very much like sea-run cutthroat though I often find bull trout in much larger aggregates than I do cutthroat.

    Like with the cutthroat an angler with practice and an understanding of the fish's behavior/needs can learn to recognize and take advantage such collection points. Bull trout form such aggregate so consistently that when I encounter a spot that experience tells me will consistently hold fish at those conditions I expect to catch multiple fish and if I don't I evaluate my approach/presentation. With some notable exceptions unlike the sea-run cutthroat bull trout do not give away they holding spots and the angler needs to "test" the water to find those spots.

    Whether chasing steelhead, sea-run cutthroat or bull trout this ability/skill to read the water to effectively use an angler's time on the water is invaluable.

    Curt
     
  10. bushwacker

    bushwacker Member

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    I've had more experience in encountering them than catching them, but I've found a river full of spawing bulls far back in an eastern BC river, so full of westslope cutthroat that I couldn't get a fly down to the arm-long bulls before a cutthroat grabbed the fly. I also met a couple of Idaho biologists walking down a road, extremely high, near the Bitteroot Idaho/Montana divide, coming into Kelly Creek from Superior who were surveying Bull trout. I gave them a ride back to their rig and they were finding Bulls in tiny little streams an near seven thousand feet.

    What an amazing fish!
     
  11. skyrise

    skyrise Active Member

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    curt, thanks. i always throw that questions out whenever we get into the Dolly/Bull trout talk.
    i know of areas (or used to know) where bulls where targeted and kept. in the Skagit/Sauk basin.
    do not know if this is still going on. but i would think it is not good for Bull trout survival.

    is it true that most bulls out migrate down stream in the early spring ? going out to the sound and return during the late summer ?
     
  12. Nailknot

    Nailknot Active Member

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    Thanks Curt- cool stuff!
     
  13. kjsteelhead

    kjsteelhead Member

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    If you like fishing for Skagit bull trout and would like to see their spawning habitat better protected, check out americanalps.org.
     
  14. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    KJ -
    I'm familiar with the American Alps Legacy proposal having read the proposal several times and studied the map. Without getting into the pros and cons of the proposal (probably best for another thread) I don't see where if enacted that the proposal would provide better "spawning habitat" protection for Skagit bull trout. Virtually all the spawning occurs outside of the areas within the proposal.

    Curt
     
  15. Birdsnest

    Birdsnest Member

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    How do the populations of bull trout in theSkagit River system compare to Olympic Peninsula rivers like the Hoe, Quinault, and Queets? Given that these rivers are glacial fed and the upper portions are in ONP, it would seem that these rivers would have high populations.