Steelhead Meeting in Olympia

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Coach Duff, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

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    My fishing partner Marty Leith just is leaving Olympia and called me. He said today's meeting went well, with well thought out dialogue and some good ideas. He got the general feeling that it has finally been realized that it might be time to say goodbye to hatcheries. :beer2: However, our co-stewards and co-managers did not attend. I guess in reality they don't have to. They have their 50% guarenteed no matter what happens. This isn't positive or negative commentary from my end, but matter of fact. Curt, Farrar and many of the boys were there as was young Atlas and others. Join in when you want boys. Tight lines Coach
     
  2. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    Duff,

    As Marty told you, I was there. Good to see folks like Marty going to stuff like that, no affiliation, no comments, just came to listen and learn because of how much he loves steelhead. Thats impressive.

    I dont have a ton of experience with the bureaucratic process but it seemed productive to me. There were alot of passionate folks testifying on the behalf of wild steelhead and we all seemed to be on more or less the same page. Overall it was a cooperative and civil dialog and the folks on the commision seemed to be glad to hear from us, especially after the heated nature of the early morning session (lower columbia chinook allocation). Like I said in the other post, it seems the department is beginning to place the health and stability of our wild steelhead runs at the forefront of their priorities. I doubt it will happen over night and it will take much vigilance from the conservation community but I think we might see some good come out of this Steelhead Management Plan. There is talk of starting some "wild steelhead management zones", areas with relatively intact diversity of wild steelhead, reasonable abundance and reasonably good habitat may see a phasing out of hatchery programs. I am a bit concerned that the state will simply shift hatchery production to an integrated program. Wild Broodstock isnt actually much better than a segregated program and may pose a more substantial risk because it encourages reproductive interactions between wild fish and the broodstock hatchery fish. I brought that point up during my testimony.

    I'd like to thank everyone who came, I was really moved by the number of people who made it a priority to drive down to Olympia on their saturday morning and say their piece for wild steelhead. Hopefully some good will come of it, I'm optimistic.

    Will
     
  3. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

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    What rivers in Washington Will, have never been planted or have had broodstock or hatchery programs, have a decent number of wild/native fish and can be recovered naturally? In your opinion. Duff
     
  4. Les Johnson

    Les Johnson Les Johnson

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    Marty is a member of the Washington Fly Fishing Club and an officer for the year 2008.
    As for rivers that have never been planted, it would be difficult to say. Over the years I'm sure that stocking has been done in most of our rivers to some extent, except perhaps some of the OP rivers but I'm not even certain about that. It doesn't mean however that we shouldn't begin managing them for recovery of wild fish.
    Cheers,
    Les
     
  5. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    Duff. Obviously I'm not in the drivers seat on this but a lot of rivers would fit the bill. Skagit, Sauk, Nooksack, Upper Sky, Hoh, Quilleyute, Queets, Hoko. There are literally dozens of rivers with the potential to support robust populations of wild steelhead. Pretty much every river has been stocked with steelhead, but that doesnt necessarily need to be a qualification for a wild fish management zone, especially considering the minimal amount of introgression that actually takes place. You'd probably want to talk to someone with a PhD in fisheries for a more specific answer. I wont even have my BS for another few months.

    Will
     
  6. Zen Piscator

    Zen Piscator Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.

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    The John day is one river that has never had any influence from hatchery fish in the spawning areas and supports a healthy run of wild steelhead. I realized this is in oregon but it should count as local water as it is a columbia trib.

    Joseph creek on the ronde also supports upwards of 2,000 wild steelhead in washington, it has never been stocked.

    Those are the only two I know about for sure, I know there are others however.
     
  7. Coach Duff

    Coach Duff Banned or Parked

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    There aren't many rivers that really fit that criteria if you dig into records young JEDIs. There are a few, but not many.
     
  8. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    My only problem with this scenario is that won't this lead to no fishing for us unless C&R is better embraced around here?

    I would hate to think that we wouldn't be able to target steelhead until there are killable numbers of wild fish and wouldn't that be the case most of the time?
     
  9. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    I think the state would manage those watersheds as C&R wild fisheries, which would presumably open if they felt the wild stock could sustain the mortality associated with a C&R fishery. Obviously that is where the uncertainty would lie...how much mortality it acceptable?
     
  10. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    Yes, but there are STRONG anti-C&R groups in Washington.

    If there was no possible steelhead retention at any time of year, I think they would call for zero fishing targeted towards steelhead.
     
  11. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    I don't think anti-C&R groups will really play into the equation that much. Besides there would still be plenty of rivers with large scale hatchery operations, just not those with the best chance of supporting a good wild population. It works fine in other places, look at Oregon and California. They have a good number of watersheds in Oregon that are managed as wild C&R fisheries with great success. We don't need to reinvent the wheel here, we just need to do more to protect wild fish...period
     
  12. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    I doubt that you will see the return of wild steelhead harvest on the s rivers in your lifetime. I know I won't.
     
  13. Jeremy Floyd

    Jeremy Floyd fly fishing my way through life

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    I agree Kerry.

    I don't feel bad in any way because of not being able to kill them though.
     
  14. Steve Buckner

    Steve Buckner Mother Nature's Son

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    I attended the meeting on Saturday and was happy to hear Will Atlas, Tom B, Rich Simms (and the WSC et al), John Farrar and others give testimony on the plight of the wild fish. I was glad to meet these folks, and for me, to see Will and Tom B. take the time and energy to speak gives me some hope that the next generation of folks will be willing to fight this fight.

    When I first arrived, the conference room was full from the previous meeting, a discussion about the allocation of salmon for the commercials. They were so busy fighting over who would get to kill the last Columbia chinook that their meeting was ajourned, and was going to reconvene after the steelhead meeting. This years run will be less than 10% of what existed historically, and yet the WDFW and the commercials are still having discussions on this? What a crock of shit.

    For those who didn't attend, the board is made up of a variety of folks, some who look like they've not been out of an office in years. Beureucracy at it's finest!

    My own comments to the board were that the laws needed to be stricter to protect wild steelhead, and IHMO, we need to immediately change the regulations to NO kill for all wild steelhead. Additionally, I believe we need to close the OP rivers to C&R fishing as well as guiding. As a C&R fly fishing guide who has worked on a few OP rivers, I've seen the decline first hand. The numbers of returning fish the WSC lists shows the decline as well.

    Although we fly fishers would like to think that we're not causing the demise of the last wild steelhead, the sad reality is that we are having a detrimental impact, albeit, not to the extent that the nets and the intentional harvest does, but an impact nonetheless.

    Washington has a population of over 6 million, with a few million more to be added within the next few decades. Currently, 5 of the 7 distinguised steelhead stocks are now ESA listed. So where are Washingtonians who live in/around Seattle going to go when their own rivers are in such poor shape that the season is closed? The OP of course, and those rivers will not be able to sustain that pressure.

    Hopefully, we as steelhead anglers will value the fish enough that we're willing to give them a chance to survive, for their survival is far more important than our selfish pleasure of pursuing them. IMHO, even C&R at this late point in the game is too much pressure given their continual decline. Without some serious changes, these fish will go extinct within our lifetimes. We don't have the luxury of waiting another 5, 10 or more years for the killing to stop. We already have rivers in and around Puget Sound that have passed the point of no return. Sad indeed.
     
  15. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    Amen Brother Steve! iagree