Skagit River Steehead

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

  1. inland

    inland Active Member

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    How do you convince a department that its mission needs to take a turn? Seriously, there isn't an anadromous river in the world that sees 5-6K wild fish back that is closed to C&R angling. Hell most of them are open to kill fisheries in the atlantic salmon world.

    One small yet important region:

    York River = about 2K returning fish. Kill fishery on MSW salmon. A popular one at that.
    Dartmouth = <1K fish. Kill fishery on MSW salmon.
    St. Jean = 1K fish. Grilse only kill.
    Bonaventure = 2K fish. Grilse only kill after decades of MSW kill.
    Petite Cascapedia = 1K fish.
    Grand Cascapedia = 2K fish (vies for the largest salmon in north america) after the tribal net moratorium. Grilse only now.
    Matapedia = 3500 fish. This is the fish killer's river in Quebec. Thousand fish a year, more or less, have been removed from this river since it was opened to the public in the 70's. The run remains between 3500 and 5000. Every year. As a trib of the Restigouche, the mouth of the Restigouche gets HAMMERED by tribal nets. No one knows for sure how many salmon never make it past. 3500 to 5000 fish end up in the Mat every year with the sport angler siphoning off their kill.
    Matane = 2K fish. This is the other fish killer river in Quebec.
    St. Anne = <1K fish. Grilse only.

    Those are the major river's on Quebec's Gaspe Peninsula. 99%+ pure wild and native atlantic salmon. Nearly ALL of them support tribal harvest in some form or another. These numbers are the average since the stocks collapsed throughout the atlantic after the 1960's. Some years are better. Some are not. Sustainable harvest on all wild fish.

    And here we sit with 5-6K wild fish (on average) returning to the Skagit and there isn't a C&R fishery with selective gear rules? That somehow the rec angler is the bad guy here?

    I realize Concrete or Rockport or Marblemount isn't Spences Bridge or Riggins or Kamiah where steelhead dollars are needed to get some spending money in peoples pockets, let alone stay in business for some- how do you get the river valley's businesses to speak up? Have them apply the pressure based on jobs and economic impact. Is so little money spent in the skagit valley by anglers that it doesn't matter one bit if we are there or not? I have always had to travel, so I have always spent money in the valley for the week or two or four I was there each year.

    The point about Ducks Unlimited by Chris. That is the perfect point. We shouldn't have to apologize for angling. You support D.U. so you can HUNT ducks. RM Elk so you can HUNT elk. You support washington trout so you can set up an occupy skagit movement? What happened to the CCA? Wild Steelhead coalition? Who is out there championing the privilege of fishing for the sake of fishing and not just going out to get a fish for the wall or freezer burn? (It looks like the occupy skagit is going to have to be this voice)

    Every person in WDFW and NOAA knows this spring fishery is acceptable. If this wasn't the case there would be NO fishing in most of California's north coast streams. Nor would there be ANY fishing on listed rivers even if there is a hatchery component. If angling is so darn dangerous, then remove the stupid hatcheries and close every listed river. All of them. I know, careful what you wish for. Seems a few PETA members are part of NOAA's management team. And WDFW.
     
  2. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    Finally! Some data that we can carry around in our hip pocket.
    Where can one procure the "Official" version of this?
     
  3. inland

    inland Active Member

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    WW,

    Each river has its own management body. ZEC Gaspe covers the first three. ZEC Bonaventure. ZEC for the Petite. Cascapedia Society for the Grand. CGRMP for the Matapedia/Casaupscal. Not sure on the Matane, think it too is a ZEC. Same with the St. Anne. There is the ZEC Pabos and ZEC Nouvelle. The Nouvelle offers salmon fishing on a population that is maybe a few hundred fish at most. I can't recall but I think they do allow grilse kill. Self limiting fishing pressure as there are so few salmon. But it does get fished and it has been improving all the while.

    Killed fish must be reported to the offices, which in turn put that data out to the public. Along with rod effort and rules for the various rivers. The rules have changed in recent years so my list of what is allowed for kill could be wrong. But it should be very close. Quebec Salmon (google) will give you some fun to look over the various numbers. CGRMP for the Mat/Cas.

    Rivers are snorkeled (most rivers are crystal clear) each year for fish counts. They have a very good idea of how many fish get past the nets. They will adjust the kill season if counts are coming in low.

    The fish counts are a phone call away (however I am not sure you can reach them this time of year, so an email with patience will work). At least they should be. Some are listed on the web. Some are not. These rivers are meant to be fished. They are marketed and they and the river valley businesses make it LOUD AND CLEAR....We WANT your money.

    These 'public' rivers are the best managed in the world. There is more demand than product. Problem solved. There are those that don't have or want to spend big money. Problem solved and you will catch fish. Fish for fun only? Problem solved. Take a fish home? Again we can do that. Some semblance of a local community managing their river, with state oversight of course...might as well dream as we know this is impossible for the USA...this would be the answer to our problems.

    Wild fish here have little to no voice. Hatchery fish have a voice because they have dollar signs. Local management bodies have a bottom line. It gives the wild fish (of Quebec and other places) a value that guvmint can put on a pie chart.

    I hope there is a way to get enough cats herded up, or ropes pushed to get a consensus and make a real difference. Stop going after saving wild steelhead. We need to go after saving steelhead fishing. Be it bait or fly. Boat or foot. Even kill in some instances. Otherwise we will save our wild steelhead right to extinction anyway. Rivers must have anglers just like Ducks Unlimited protects the hunters desire to kill ducks to save ducks. Anglers need to fish to have a reason to give a shit to conserve fish and opportunity. Even if we just want to fish for fun.
     
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  4. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Nice point made here. I was in the cafe in Lyman the year they eliminated the catch and release season. It was mid-April. Talking to the owner at the time and I told them their parking lot should be full of pickups pulling boats and the restaurant should be full of fishermen eating breakfast. She looked at me with a puzzled look wonder what I was talking about. They had no idea what was happening with the Skagit River. They had no idea why the fishermen had stopped coming to their restaurant. I don't know how much business they lost because of the closure. I am sure it was at least a little bit significant. The issue is they did not know what was driving that portion of their business. Some of the business owners further up river have a little better understanding but I doubt they know that much. If you talk to any of the guides working the Skagit today, they will tell you they make their money off doing eagle tours. Hardly anybody makes money from fishermen anymore. I am not much of a numbers guy but I am sure we are talking tens of thousands of dollars gone from the upriver economies because of the river closure.
     
  5. Chris DeLeone

    Chris DeLeone Active Member

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    I talked with Grace Haven Cabins (the old Cab-in the woods) place and they are very aware of the economic impact of not having a CnR season. I could touch base with them and get a hold of the Camber of Commerce for their area, I think it would be a good start. We should also reach out to that areas state representatives. If we can prove other parts of the country/state don't have these stringent regs, good science backing us and an additional revenue stream for area business - we could get some support from that end.

    I think it would be a Marblemount to Lyman target to focus on.

    What do you guys think about having a meeting in the first weekend of January say Friday night the 4th, Saturday the 5th or Sunday the 6th - just a thought
     
  6. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Never mind.
     
  7. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    Excellent!

    I'm not meaning to sound crass or uncaring, but I've been having a bit of a conundrum these last few seasons. For what, exactly, have we been trying to save these steelhead for. Is it so we can smugly sit by our fireplace and know they are there, even though we never get to see one?

    The fish were here first, but we are all here now. This is why we will never see 'historic' sized runs ever again. Welcome to the new normal.

    There are several ways to reduce fishing pressure.
    Restrict fishing days.
    Restrict fishing methods.
    Restrict fishing areas.
    Reduce the number of fish - that's right! Fewer fish means fewer fish getting hooked. Yup, I know it sounds crazy but let's think it through here.

    Suppose,(hypothetically) for instance, that in any given season...say 20% of the returning fish are hooked by C&R anglers. I have no idea how many get hooked, and as you will see it doesn't really matter what the actual number is to make my point.

    So let's say one year the run is 2500. 20% of that is 500 fish. (Now I can tell you that 2500 fish will flat disappear in the Skagit/Sauk system but let's just assume we have a bevy of crack anglers and go with the 500 fish.) What...the current thinking is 3% mortality on C&R fishing. (If they say so...) Anyway, that equals 15 fish . Let's say we mange to hook every dadgum one of them, 3% of 2500 is 75 fish. So somewhere between 15 and 75 fish is what we gave up our catch and release season for in '09'

    Was it worth it?

    Did it really make a difference?

    What is the value of a steelhead that is not angled for?

    What is it for one that is?
     
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  8. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    The south toutle is only getting about 400 fish per winter.... No conservation minded angler should be going near it....
     
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  9. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    A steelhead that never sees a fly is just as important as one that is caught and released five times and makes someone's trip of a lifetime. It is thinking that a fishes value is only measured in human terms that puts the fish in so much peril.
     
  10. Creatch'r

    Creatch'r Heavies...

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    I don't understand why we can't go near the puget sound rivers feb-April to fish over wild winter steelhead on the move in a dynamic river system, but we are allowed to punish wild summer steelhead sitting at the mouth of deer creek for 2 months every summer. Why is it ok to CNR a devastated run of summer fish without issue but the same river closes when the winter natives show up?
     
  11. Klickrolf

    Klickrolf Active Member

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    Rob, that's exactly why OUR (PNW) steelhead management is the antithesis of economics!!! I agree, a steelhead that never sees a fly is just as valuable as the one that takes a fly but the one that takes a fly adds alot of value ($$$), dollars to the equation.

    As Inland demonstrated! Make the fish more valuable and you'll get more of them, simple economics. A fish with no economic value has no voice because it has no value...a closed river means no added value and no attraction for a fisherman who wants to go fishing, regardless of gear.

    The fish that never sees a fly or lure cannot contribute to the local interest in keeping it going. Humans manage fisheries around the world, only the highly valued fisheries survive. The Canadians have learned this and therefore have fish to fish for. Decentralized rule making is the key. Closing steelhead fisheries de-values steelhead.
     
  12. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Simple- WDFW's mission is to provide harvest. Not just fishing. There are hatchery fish around. It is the ultimate stupidity IMO. Put hatchery fish in the river, doesn't matter how shitty the wild run is, pound away. It is no different then having a season right now on the Skagit. The most depressed wild stock is the early portion. All but destroyed. Yet that is when the factory fish are in, so you fish away to your hearts content.
     
  13. Derek Day

    Derek Day Rockyday

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    I think this is on the right track. Another important aspect of this issue is the role that the Puget Sound Partnership and the Salmon Recovery Council are going to play in writing the Steelhead Recovery Plan. If you take a look at the membership on the Salmon recovery council--you'll see that we're probably going to get the shaft. I think that there will be room for us to put pressure on PSP to get better representation in regional and local planning processes. Right now you have buisness and agriculture (MBA, WWAAG) and environmental (Washington environmental council, Futurewise and Long live the Kings)--who the hell thought WEC and FW would be a good fit? We have a strong interest in seeing other buisness interests--guides, local CoC etc, and more environmental groups that actually do work in salmon recovery. http://www.psp.wa.gov/downloads/SALMON_RECOVERY/2012ListofRecoveryCouncilmembers.pdf

    In the salmon recovery plan that PSP is writing, they will be "Assuring integration of harvest practices", I'm not even sure what they mean by this, but it sounds like promising place to slip our agenda into the fray( it could just be carving out space for the tribes though). Furthermore they plan to set up 3 wild steelhead management zones with no hatchery releases and no rec fisheries. Not the Sol Duc model that allows for recreational fisheries. This is something we should really put up a stink over. I'm not sure who will actually be implementing these different aspects of the plan/planning process, but I'll ask around/do some sleuthing and see what I can find out.

    If we pulled off the occupy skagit, we could make a strong case/provide some political cover for DFW to ask the legislature for money to do better mortality monitoring, which the agency will be looking for funding for in the next few leg sessions.

    I would love to meet up with people and do some thinking. I'll be in the Valley the 19th-24th and would love to get together, on the river or over beers. I would also be willing to make a trip up from Olympia if a broader meeting were scheduled for the 4th, 5th or 6th of next month. Either way, count me in.
     
  14. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Just tell me that all this crazy talk isn't happening just because pot became legal in Washington. UP THE REVOLUTION!!

    Following on Inland's posts, maybe we need legislation to create ZEC Skagit, something we pay for (and fund some part time effort at WDFW - it then makes the agency "invested" in the scheme) that manages and monitors steelhead fishing on the Skagit. Maybe via a "classified waters" license like on the BC blue ribbon rivers. $20 a day to fish the Skagit?

    Sg
     
  15. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    I keep reading through this thread and the Occupy thread and I keep coming back to this post by Salmo.
    Especially this comment:

    "virtually 100% of the fisheries biologists knowledgeable about WA state steelhead agree that harvest is not the limiting factor for PS steelhead"

    Is there any chance that this type of statement is in any official document that has one of these biologist's name attached to it?
    Is there any chance we could have one by April?