Skagit River Steehead

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

  1. ChrisC

    ChrisC Active Member

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    When I read WDFW's arguments for rejecting the many reasonable rule proposals that were made by well intentioned individuals and groups, the agency comes across as arrogant and yet self contradictory. For example, the agency's response to Curt's recommendation that that the Puget Sound Stream Strategy be extended for "all waters that are open for targeting steelhead at anytime of the year would be managed under selective gear rules (SGR) during winter or summer seasons."

    http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/comments/original.php?id=DFW481118

    WDFW's response is emblematic of a self righteous, yet flawed bureaucracy:
     
  2. ChrisC

    ChrisC Active Member

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    [WDFW's response] The stream strategy was intended to provide protection for juvenile steelhead. At this time, that protection is considered sufficient to continue to allow anglers to pursue other opportunities. Bait is an important tool for catching salmon. This rule would reduce salmon catch and would reduce the removal of hatchery fish from rivers. Broad application of selective gear rules would unnecessarily reduce diversity of opportunity.

    Reasons not recommended for further consideration

    Salmon, goes through the North of Falcon process
    This proposal deals with salmon. Salmon seasons are set through the Pacific Fisheries Management Council/North of Falcon process.

    Can anyone (other than the WDFW bureaucrat who wrote this) make sense of the agency's response to a proposal that had the intent of steelhead protection (which itself stated at the very beginning of its response) and yet later makes the case that the proposal is salmon related?

    I can't make any sense out of it as it reminds me of the classic line "never argue with an idiot... he will beat you with experience".

    I don't hold any hope that WDFW will manage in a more enlightened approach - William's example of how CA's DFG manages the Eel is a great reminder of what the WDFW is not capable of.
     
  3. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    You now know why many of us have given up working on fish related issues. Some call it angler apathy. I see it as one will only bloody one's head against the brick wall for so long.
     
  4. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    WW,

    As you see in Curt's and Chris' posts, the feds and state combine to dream up this crazy shit. And when contrasted to SW WA river regulations and CA, it demonstrates the lack of any continuity between regions. No one (except a few die hard CNK anglers and some tribal reps) is saying that CNR seasons on steelhead are inconsistent with recovery. From my perspective there just is no CNR advocacy at the agency level. Almost every one I know who works in fish management (called harvest management) assumes that the purpose of managing fish and fishing seasons is to establish regulations for the harvest of fish, not for catching them and letting them go. We are too small an interest group to invest the work necessary to accommodate CNR seasons as recovery planning procedes. And since there is no steelhead fishery of consequence in PS at this time, no one who would be charged with working on it has any incentive to take it off the back burner and move it forward.

    Kerry,

    Occupy Skagit. I like it.

    Sg
     
  5. inland

    inland Active Member

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    I don't think SW WA can be included as an example. Every river has a hatchery component that overlaps the ten or so wild fish returning. Which fits with dept. ideology.

    Cali is the real example of why washington (and visiting) anglers are getting the shaft. Hatchery programs closed on several rivers, tribal nets (admittedly not co-managers), bait and barbless hooks. Not one day was missed once those fish were listed. No one can even begin to claim the Eel isn't more degraded and still in more trouble than the skagit or sky. Not one day was missed. The river is far more depressed, historically, for wild winter steelhead then the skagit is right now. Not one day was missed.

    One department has an ideological difference about C&R fishing.

    The problem has nothing to do with the feds. It is the state of washington. I don't care who you can call and get the person in charge on the phone faster. Washington has repeatedly said they do not support fishing on wild populations of fish unless there is a direct harvest season. If there are not enough wild fish to directly harvest, there had better be hatchery fish available, or there is no season. Period. This is why the skagit is closed (which brings up the question- how the hell did Smalma get those mid March and April C&R seasons passed?). And why the state is doing nothing to get a season in place. It goes against their ideology. Not the feds. It isn't the feds dragging their feet. I am sure the co-managers aren't helping as this goes against much of their ideology as well. Fish are for food not fun. The bullshit about 'foregone opportunity' is exactly that. Another ploy to ensure that no wild fish are released for fun by the recreational angler.

    Pachyderms are freely roaming the halls and offices of WDFW brass...
     
  6. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Talked with some, ahem, "experts" about the discrepancy between PS, SW WA, and nor CA. They wonder why the SW WA and nor CA regulations aren't more like the PS regs.

    Inland, it appears it is the feds as well as the state.
     
  7. inland

    inland Active Member

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    SG,

    That I am not surprised. Based on what happened on the Penobscot, not in the least surprised. However the difference between norcal and PS...ideological differences. Cali has had a few rivers with no hatchery plants, certainly no hatchery overlap with wild release for some time. And not what appears as a 'disdain' towards the hook and release angler.

    Oh well. Better to spend my time and money in Idaho, Oregon, Canada (both coasts) and Scotland. These areas seem a little more angler friendly then WA.

    I have given up on ever getting to fish the Skagit again during the spring. Truly hope to have to eat those words.

    William
     
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  8. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    With 230,000+ smolts released, surely that has an impact on wild Steelhead, and is an awfully pitiful return.
     
  9. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    Yes Chris you are correct - but what else it tells us is that something is happening to both Hatchery and Wild fish somewhere in the Salt-chuck. This is where/or my hope is the next logical step in research should be. It would be nice to see some of our environmental fish organizations take the lead and put pressure on the Feds and the State to study these issues.
    It would also be nice to see them put pressure on the Fed and State to explain why - if recreational CnR fishing has little impact on returns, why are they not letting us fish - as Inland has noted they can in SW-WA and in CA. If they stood for some PS angling opportunities - like some did on the Coastal PA streams, my thought is they would get much more support from anglers and increase their memberships. In my mind they are the natural voice of the angler and it would be nice to see some of that in their mission statements.
    Im a member of Ducks Unlimited and they do support hunting and those opportunities and they don't apologies for it - its funny to me that the environmental fish groups take a different approach - you would think they would follow the lead of a group like DU.
     
  10. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

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    Has to be something within the PS system itself. The rivers to the north, and to the south seem to be doing "better". Has anyone done a sampling on all those fish eating birds? What percentage of steelhead smolt they eat compared to salmon etc?
     
  11. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    TFG - Yes most of us up here have come to that conclusion, it could be a number of things - Net Pens, Predators, loss of estuary habitat and pollution in PS.
    In my opinion the bottom commercial fishery really took a toll on PS habitat (ell grass) and with the number of Hatchery fish they pump out (over 200,000) as Chris noted - that probably brings more predators around to chase those little guys and they may not have anywhere to hide out and the loss of that ell grass could effect whet they eat out in the estuary as well. This is all just DeLeone speculation - I been too busy with a wife, kids and a job to really check that kind of stuff out. But yes - something is fucked up in PS and the Salt.
     
  12. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Salmo g,

    I have also noticed this discrepancy, and while it seems that quite a few SW WA rivers with E.S.A. listed species remain open (the Kalama River comes to mind) while Puget Sound tributaries close earlier and earlier, the fact that the South Fork Toutle closed 2 weeks early this past spring in order "to protect wild steelhead" did not fail to raise my brow. Anyhow, it might be a sign of things to come.

    Regards,

    Andrew
     
  13. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Chis,
    Native fish Society is relatively new to the P.S. region, until a couple of years ago there was only one guy up here, but our numbers are growing. Hopefully we can garner enough support to put that kind of pressure on the state, it's definately something I am working toward. Undoudtedly Puget Sound is sick, below is a link I posted some time ago about man made outfalls into P.S. http://pugetsound.org/policy/stormwater/outfalls. This would be a good place to start. One thing that continues to trouble me is the lack of early fish in many of the Puget Sound systems. I know there are still decent #'s of wild fish in the Nooksack in March, and 6,100 in the Skagit is pretty good, so if it's ocean conditions or P.S. why would it effect early fish more than late fish? I know it is conventional wisdom that the bulk of the runs are later, but I have seen #'s that contradict that convention. Tribal catch records from the 30's-50's and sport catch records from the 50's that show a sizeable portion of the runs were Dec. Jan. and Feb. So if that is true, what has happened to those fish. The line on the graph is on a downward trend, and has been for a long time and it's in danger of droppng completely off the chart. Ocean conditions surely play a part, but can it explain the precipitous decline we have seen over the last few decades?
     
  14. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    Chris - are you sure those numbers from the 30's-50's did not include hatchery fish unmarked? I've been fishing around here for a while - grew up here and fished as a kid. What I remember is in Dec and Jan you got/fished for hatchery fish - our Wild fish started to show in February and gain steam through March and April - some years you got more fish in later Feb and less in April - it was just how the run came in and how strong it was.

    "The line on the graph is on a downward trend, and has been for a long time and it's in danger of droppng completely off the chart" - Chris, No, the trend heading up the past three years and with 6,185 coming back last season from a low in 2009 of 2,502 its not dropping completely off the chart. They are not the numbers from 1982 to 1989 I get that, but we will see this season how many return off of that poor 2009 year - if we get 5500 or even 6000 fish back - CnR on that 2009 low return year had little impact on the returns. We will see.
     
  15. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    The rivers in queston were chosen( Nooksack being one), because there were not hatchery plants @ that time. Yes there has been a bump upward, that give one hope. But overall, the trend is downward. I would love to see a CnR fishery on the Skagit and the Nooksack, I love to catch Steelhead as much as the next guy, I'm just not sure how to get there. Geater minds than mine have pondered that question to no avail. Maybe WW is right, "Occupy Skagit"