Skagit River Steehead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Andrew Lawrence, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. ChrisC

    ChrisC Active Member

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    That's noble but ultimately ineffective. Somehow you missed all the earlier references that the C&R fishery is not a material factor in determining the long-term health of the Skagit. Habitat and land management particularly along the lower river are much larger factors (along with ocean conditions) on steelhead population recovery. Where do you think the river advocacy and awareness that is supported much in part today by gear and fly fisherman, and the businesses that support them will come from when we have an entire generation unaware of PS steelhead? How would steelhead be treated any differently from the snail darter in land use planning if its regarded as "yet another creature that only enviros care about".

    The current one-size-fits-all PS steelhead management plan we have today is diabolic in how well it can effectively marginalize the species in one generation in terms of awareness and advocacy - a plan that effectively makes the WDFW and the Feds act as an agent of the Pacific Legal Foundation.
     
  2. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Our steelhead fisheries have been a mess for quite some time now, yet we haven't lost any support within the gear and fly fisherman community seeking ways to protect them. Some could argue the levels of support have increased -- even as fishing opportunities have declined. There are still enough other fishing opportunities in the state to keep the sport from going extinct... and BTW, why I advocate hatchery fisheries on certain systems as they provide that opportunity.

    I didn't miss the comments about C&R not causing any detrimental effects. Compared to other contributing factors, I would agree it is a lower risk...but risk nonetheless. Not all will handle fish correctly, some fish will take a fly or lure deep enough to cause mortality and some fisherman will simply not follow the rules -- which is much easier to do when the river is open to fishing. I experienced seeing the later on several occasions years ago on the Green in the canyon area where enforcement is difficult.

    It's all about trade-offs and each of us must make up our own mind about whether having the pleasure of fishing for wild steelhead, when they are being challenged by the many other factors we do not have as direct control of, outweighs the benefits of not doing so...the option we do have control over.
     
  3. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Freestone,

    Data?

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  4. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    LOL,
     
  5. 808steelheader

    808steelheader Member

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    It seems to me that while the historic steelhead numbers projected through Mr. McMillan's, Mr. Gayeski's, and Mr. Trotter's analysis of commercial catches and cannery records could not be considered totally accurate due to many variables, they still reflect conservative estimates of what steelhead run sizes were based on what data they had available. It is then possible that actual historical run sizes were even larger than what is projected in the studies.

    So aside from habitat losses and population growth, what part do you think years of hatchery plants in the Skagit have played in the decline of it's wild steelhead? I apologize if you have already answered this question. I'm just wondering since other's have mentioned some examples such as the Wind where removal of hatchery steelhead has resulted in the wild run rebounding. I live in Oregon and fish a stream that is no longer stocked with hatchery fish by ODFW and the wild winter run is doing quite well, so I wonder why the Skagit would be different, besides the fact that it is a large river system?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Best Regards,
    Todd Hirano
     
  6. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Speaking a bit out of turn here, but I would love to see some information on the size of the river, and its steelhead return numbers that you are allowed to fish over.
     
  7. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Todd -
    A major factor on the Skagit that may separate it and its steelhead from other basins (especially those outside of North Puget Sound) is it hydrograph. The flow patterns are driven by snow melt run-off and until many basins the highest average daily flows are not during the fall/winter flood period by druing May and June. Those high run-off flows continue well into the summer dropping significantly in early August. Those high flows select for a fry emerge timing of early August which in turn means a concentrated spawning in May with a peak mid-month.

    After much consideration my opinion is that planting of hatchery steelhead in the Skagit basin has had very little to do with the decline in the wild fish abundnace. Those declines have been driven by freshwater habitat lost and declining marine survival.

    I had prepared a more detailed response but I recieved an error message when I attempted to post it.

    curt
     
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  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Regarding the Wahl and McMillian catch graphs - let's for a moment assume that they indeed represent accurate depictions of the run timing of the periods.

    The first thing that struck me was that similarity in the shape of the early portion of the two graphs though it is clear that Mr. McMillian caught a lot more fish after March than Mr. Wahl. It does stand out that in the early period only a single fish was caught after April while in the recent graph 12% of the catch occurred after April. Further In the early period (pre-hatchery) the "run" stretched out over 6 months with 97% of the "run" happening in the core January to April period. While the late period (post hatchery intoruduction) the "run" stretched out over 8 months with 87% of the "run" in the same core period. Looks like the "run" is more diverse today than pre-1950.

    Are we seeing an increase in late fish rather than a reduction in early fish? Why would we see an increase in late fish? One thing that we could consider is that early last century there were intense in river gill net fisheries (non-treaty) targeting spring Chinook. From that ear there are records of catches in May being roughly 10 times the total wild spring Chinook runs we see today. Did that netting "wipe out" the late steelhead and that they are only now recovering?

    Who knows.

    On the other hand while the graphs are interesting are they merely a reflection of the angle'rs fishing and the opportunities they had? If so they are meaningless in a discussion of potential run timing changes.

    BTW -
    Since 1998 how many of you have caught a wild steelhead in the Skagit in May?

    Curt
     
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  9. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    If someone has caught a wild Skagit steelhead in May "legally", they would have to be fishing below the bridge in Mt. Vernon. I have done a bit of fishing below the bridge in May and haven't even seen a wild steelhead down there let alone catch one.
     
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  10. 808steelheader

    808steelheader Member

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    I apologize, I probably should not have made this statement as I don't have any scientific data to prove my assumption. The rivers I fish are among many med/small streams that due to economic reasons is no longer stocked by ODFW since the late 1990's. I believe there are many such streams in WA as well where stocking was eliminated as well. So, in reality, it could just be the perception of me and others who fish these quiet streams that they producing more wild steelhead since the removal of hatchery steelhead.

    Todd
     
  11. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Charles,
    Still looking for that ignore button I see. There's plenty of data being thrown about. I provided some in other posts (Occupy thread) if you care to look. What data is needed to support taking the most conservative approach and not allow C&R? Answer -- there isn't, which is what you are having difficulty understanding. If you are among those that are willing to introduce risk to satisfy your personal need, by all means, fish.

    Other than what we don't no about released fish mortality rates, it's obvious that C&R does not introduce any other risk... yeah right. Not everyone is an upstanding WFF member.
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/angler-abuse-on-the-skagit.80084/
     
  12. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    You mean the risk that a federal and a state biologist have both said doesn't exist? Or is there some other risk that I missed?
     
  13. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Do you know for certain that all released fish survive? Are you certain that poaching will not happen? I'd like to know who the state and federal biologists are that can answer yes to both of these questions.
     
  14. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I decided not to use it because someone needs to refute the mistruths. Your latest is:

    Other than what we don't no about released fish mortality rates, it's obvious that C&R does not introduce any other risk... yeah right. Not everyone is an upstanding WFF member.
    http://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/angler-abuse-on-the-skagit.80084/[/quote]

    We do know quite a bit about mortality rates on C&R fish. Here's a really well done study.

    http://nativefishsociety.org/conservation/documents/CR survival of winter sth AFS 2005.pdf

    Another telling Defacto C&R study was the genetic research done in the past few years on the Skagit. Over 100 fish caught, a radio transmitter shoved down their throats and only 1 died.

    As for your link, I can't figure out how it factors into this discussion. Don't have a legal season because some people will break the law? People may target salmon during steelhead season?

    It's humorous that you so often defend hatcheries to provide fisheries and you are opposed to C&R for Skagit fish. Hatcheries have known detrimental impacts to the success of wild fish spawning. They also have unknown and unquantified (unstudied truthfully) potential impacts in the salt, especially near shore. Additionally, by having these hatchery fisheries there will be C&R of the early wild fish, which you oppose. Then your gonna chastise other people for not taking a conservative approach? Real honest.

    What has been consistantly stated is that the Skagit wild run exceeeded it's consevative escapement floor goal last season. It could do that every year and there is no possibility of a season. We'd like to see a change in the management paradigm to allow us to C&R the run when it starts to do this consitantly. This would be shown by having preseason forecasted run sizes exceeding the goal.

    At the heart of the argument is that the Skagit population is not threatened by itself. It's been lumped in and is being managed with rivers whose runs are threatened. We'd like to see it managed based on it's run not on the Green's et al.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  15. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Freestoneangler,
    Angling is a blood sport. We know that. In C&R fishing there will be fish deaths, it's called incidental mortality and the Skagit run is healthy enough that there is no risk to their future viability as an intact run.