Steelhead outlook

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by papafsh, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Piscivorous,
    Last year 79 wild steelhead were harvested out of the Hoh based on WDFW creel surveys. Four of those fish were kept illegally in C & R waters. Over 600 wild fish were released by anglers. The total number of anglers surveyed was over 2,800.
    The previous year 262 wild fish were kept and over 600 released based on creel surveys of over 2,700 anglers.
    It looks like angling pressure was about the same. The number of wild fish kept was reduced but the number of fished released was nearly the same. Also remember that creel surveys don't always count every angler or fish taken on a given river.

    I still don't like the fact that this state allows folks to keep wild steelhead. They caved in to pressure when they overturned their decision on state wide C & R for wild steelhead. If the Hoh is closed this year, you can bet the Hoh tribe won't reduce their netting schedule.
    The state also needs do a better job of monitoring in season catch rates. They need to work with the tribes to schedules net fisheries based on quotas, not seasons. Last year the Quinault tribe reached their quota nearly two months early on the Chehalis, yet continued to fish do to the fact they had a season netting schedule in place.
    Based on the way things are headed, the future of wild steelies in Washington doesn't look real bright.
    Brian
     
  2. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    This thing about closeing rivers to fishermen on the OP. When they closed down the Wenatchee,Chiwawa,Entiat,Nason creek,and numerous rivers and creeks. Those people over there didn't complain and they didn't lose anything that I heard of. But they left it open for Whitefish, which is something I don't understand. Those fish over there will hit whitefish flies.

    Just had to add this and get it off my chest.


    Jim
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Must be December - steelhead seem to be on lots of folk's minds.

    John -
    Currently there are no hatchery steelhead planted above the Cascade River.

    Stonefish -
    I could not agree that more that inseason steelhead monitoring would be very desirable however that is very expensive information to get.

    Do you have any ideas for money sources or other programs that should be reduced to pay for the creel census?

    Fishing on quotas are not with problems. Immediately following the Boldt decision managing on quotas. The 1976/77 winter season provided a clear indication of the potential issues with quotas. The pre-seaon numbers were generated using the recent catches and a quota was established for both the tribal and sport fishery (there was a creel census in place so that in-season info was available for the managers). By late December the tribal fishery had caught its "quota" and was closed. By Janaury 9th the sport fishery had also caught its "quota" and the harvest fishery was closed though a CnR fishery was allowed to continued - for many the first time sport anglers had a chance to fish such a fishery though effort was very low (not many interested in that type of fishing then).

    In this case the actual run size wasin roughly twice the pre-season forecast and many hatchery fish were left uncaught to spawn in the wild. The black lash from the fishers quickly lead to developing alternate management approaches. As I have mentioned before most management approaches have some risks and what one is comfortable with is a risk management question.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  4. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Curt,

    Since the Green is listed at making 80% of the target (unless the 1700 is a typo), is it going to be open for the C&R season?

    William
     
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    William -
    There hasn't been CnR seasons in the past on the Green (King County) so would not expect one this season.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  6. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    It seems that only the Skagit and the Sauk get to have that season. That's on the North sound rivers that is.

    Jim
     
  7. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Curt,
    It seems money is always one of if not the biggest issue in fish management.
    As far as money sources go, here are my suggestions. Not everyone will agree with them. Will any of these ever happen, who knows?
    Have the state allow non-tribal gaming operations provide the same gaming opportunities that tribal operations offer. This would make the playing field in the gaming arena level. From increased gaming proceeds, earmark a certain percentage of proceeds dedicated just to WDFW funding rather then going to the state general fund. I'd also support a special state lotto game directed a producing funding for WDFW. Scratch off three steelhead and you're the winner! lol
    I'm also very willing to pay higher license fees for the right to fish in this state. Also, increase the cost of out of state licenses, which I think are to low at this time.
    My last one, get the state out of the retail liquor business. The state loses a ton of tax opportunities by the way they manage that area of business.

    It should be easy to monitor in season tribal catches, provided they give accurate catch data to the state. In season monitoring of sportsfishers would be a very expensive proposition.

    Based on the current state of our salmon and steelhead runs, if fishing was set up on a quota schedule, how often do you think that sportsmen would meet their quota of 50%?
    Would tribes be willing to go back to a quota based system?
    Thanks for your input.
    Brian
     
  8. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Brian -
    Assuming that the runs were larger than the escapement goals under quota systems I would expect that the steelhead sport fisheries would get their share less than 1/2 of the time. The reality is that quotas would be based on pre-season forecasts which are never precisely right. As a result quotas would be met when the forecasts were either right on or less than the actual run sizes (1/2 of the time). The quotas would not be met when the actual run size were less than the predicted forecast.

    I said less than 1/2 of the time for the recreational fisheries due to the relative in-efficiency of that fishery. Once the tribal fishery removes its quota the recreational fishery may not be able to catch its full share out the left over run size.

    But a more important issue is that if strict quotas were used (without buffers for management error) we could expect on healthy runs (above escapement goals) the goal would be achieved or exceeded only 1/2 of the time.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  9. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    Curt,
    Thanks for the info.
    Brian
     
  10. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Regarding Skagit wild winter steelhead goals -

    Kerry is correct in that the understanding of what might be an appropriate goal for the Skagit basin has changed of over the years. A little history.

    Escapement goals for steelhead are relatively new. Work in the late 1970s suggested it that 8,000 spawners would make abundant use of the spawning and rearing habitat (Phillips et al, 1981). To my knowledge that was one of the first attempts to set an escapement goal for steelhead on the west coast. Prior to Boldt the recreation just fished seasons and what was uncaught spawned. The thinking was that the sport fishing could not over harvest wild steelhead and that hatchery and wild fish were inter-changeable.

    In 1984 the Department of Wildlife attempted to establish escapement goals for all the winter steelhead basins in the Boldt case area. The attempt was based on the estimated amount of rearing habitat and what informatin was available about steelhead productivity and rearing densities. Much of that information was from the Washington coast. None of that information came from systems as large as the Skagit so some abritrary adjustments were made on the amount of habitat that steelhead could use in the main stem Skagit. From that model DOW suggested that an appropriate escapement would be 10,300 wild origin spawners (note all the goals were wild fish based). To have establshed management goals the federal courts require co-manager agreement. The co-managers did not agree on that 10,300 goal.

    Rather there were year to year agrees on management objectives. For the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s the agreed to objective was to limit wild harvest to 2,500 wild steelhead. That level of harvest provide more than adequate access to the hatchery steelhead while producing an array of escapement that would provide insights into what MSY goals (court mandated) might be. Having system specific production information (called spawner/recruit curves) are by far the best way to develop data supported escapement goals. In the early/mid-1990s the constant harvest number was replaced with a harvest rate or exploitation model that used a rate of 16% or roughly the rate at which repeat spawners are found in the population.

    That Skagit data is:

    Escapement ------- Recruit/Spawner
    2,982 ----------------- 1.34
    4,308 ------------------ 3.39
    5,288 ------------------ 2.01
    5,757 ------------------ 1.69
    7,732 ------------------ 1.57
    8,603 ------------------ 1.26
    8,903 ------------------ 1.92
    9,609 ------------------ 0.90
    11,098 ----------------- 0.57
    13,194 ----------------- 0.42

    Recruit/spawner means the number of adults returning per parent spawner. For example R/S of 2.0 would mean that an escapement of 5,000 would produce 10,000 fish.

    As you can see from the data above those escapements in the neighbor hood of that 10,300 number do not replace themselves (have R/S of less than 1.0). Those escapements below 6,000 have an average R/S of 2.1; those between 6,000 and 9,000 have a value of 1.6 and those above 9,000 a value of 0.6.

    Using that information the MSY escapement levels has variously been estimated to be bewteen 2,800 and 4,800. An interesting spawner/recruit relationship using the above data was developed by a consultant hire by Washington Trout (Reed, 1997). In her report she recommended that an escapement level of 8,000 spawners would produce the highest level of minimum spawning stock size. Further it was recommend that if you "want to maximize the number of avera recruites to provide maximum diversity of the spawning stock ....the best management strategy would be at an escapement level of 9,000 spawners." And finally if you "want to maximize harvest, then the best management strategy would be at an escapement level of 4,000 spawners".

    The 4,000 spawners would be what is commonly referred to as the MSY level.
    With the crash of the various steelhead stocks in the Puget Sound area the co-managers got together and agreed to an escapement goal. They opted for a goal of 6,000. They also agreed to retain the cap on the total harvest rate; thus insuring on years of good survival large escapement will continue to be seen giving the managers the opportunity to continue the evaluation of stock recruitment relationship.

    It is this chance (lowering of the goal) of the escapement goal that Kerry and others refer to. Note it is the first time that the co-managers had agreed to a goal. Further this is 150% of what Reed estimated MSY to be for that stock. It can hardly be argued that the managers are attempting to harvest down to the last fish. In fact I would argue in the world of steelhead management in Washington it is a pretty conservative approach.

    I realize that the above is data heavy and I hope it is not too confusing.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  11. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    Curt,

    Wonderful information. I knew you would come through. As a layman I find some of this information "heavy" but for the most part it is understandable.

    I bring up the idea that if needed the "co-managers" could and in my opinion would lower excapements for the explicit reason of allowing native (co-manager) gill netters to net in the Skagit during the winter steelhead migration. Obviously this is purely my opinion and I have no evidence that the "co-managers" would lower the excapement number for this or any other reason.

    One more thing. I know that the river has been irreversilbly changed by man in the form of dams, developement, etc. but I still think it could adjust its own escapement levels if left to do so.
     
  12. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    Curt- Great Post! Filled with lots of valuable information which I am sure many here have not seen before. I have a few quick questions from various posts of yours on this thread:

    1. You said, "Many of the smolts are released further upstream on the Skagit than what is typcial for many of the Puget Sound streams. There are indications that the farther hatchery smolts travel on their out the lower their survival. More predation?"

    -Skagit system has the largest bull trout density by a probable order of magnitude of any puget sound system, has anybody tried to quantify a predation rate on hatchery steelhead smolts?....I imagine it is higher than the rate on wild smolts because the hatchery smolts are maladapted to predator avoidance and are released in large aggregations.

    2. You said, "Do you have any ideas for money sources or other programs that should be reduced to pay for the creel census?"

    -Sure, cut hatchery budget cuts....stop stocking hatchery fish in basins without collection facilities.


    3. Last question- I am assuming you are familiar with the methodology used by the biometrician to establish the escapement options...care to comment/ critique these methods?

    -Tom
     
  13. CaddisMadness

    CaddisMadness Fly Fishing in Patagonia: A Trout Bum's Guide

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    Very informative, thanks!
     
  14. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Kerry -
    Glad you found the info helpful.

    Not much I can say about your trust issues.

    Regarding the altered habitats -
    I'm not sure what you mean by the river adjusting its own escapement if left to do so?

    The river's capacity is fixed by the amount and quality of habitat available to the fish. As our acgtivities affect the river and its habitats both the amount and quality of the fish's habitat is reduced. This in turn reduces such population parameters we may look at or measure - carrying capacity. MSY escapement levels, etc. The reduction in productivity also means that say fishing impact rates at MSY are also reduced.

    An illustration from one of chinook populations. Currently with the relatively poor marine survival MSY for a population might be 6,000 which would be expected to produce a run of maybe 10,000 meaning that one could fish at a 40% rate. That same habitat 200 years ago might have had a MSY level of 20,000 and at that level one would have expected a return of 80,000 allowing a fishing rate of up to 75%. In this case the historic MSY excapement level is higher than the current carrying capacity of the system in fact the allowing harvest would have been several times higher then current run size with no fishing (carrying capacity).

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Tom -
    Cuts -
    Cutting hatchery production to acquire funds is a commonly proposed solution. Of course the beauty of such an approach is that without hatchery fish on many systems there would be no fishing therefore there would not be a need for creel surveys - that must be what the politicians call a "win-win" situation!

    An aside - if there hatchery stock is a segrergate stock why would there be a need to have a collection facilty? Prehaps a better criteria for looking for hatchery cuts is to look at those areas with the lowest survival rates. The problem with any type of cuts is that they nearly always raise a political storm of protest.

    Predation -
    I probably should have said a longer exposure to predation?

    Regarding the potential predation on the smolts by the large population of bull trout. The first place to look at is whether the smolt survival in relation to the nearby basins is declining faster for the Skagit than elsewhere. To my eye that does not appear to be the case.

    Something that I looked at in more detailed is the expected survival of chinook measured at the smolt trap. On the Skagit there is a very good correlation between high flows (floods) and the survival from egg to smolts. In fact that relationship can be used to predict the expected outmigration based on the number of female spawners the previous fall and the level of the high flows while those eggs were in the gravel. As I recall that relationship has a R square of about .85. With the gradual increase in bull trout abundance since 1990 if predation by bull trout were a major factor in the survival of the juvenile chinook one would expect that those predictions would become poorer over time (the error due to the predation by bull trout). The reality is that predictive value of that relationshios still holds today - in other words the bull trout don't appear to be reducing chinook survival.

    I agree that on the surface that doesn't make sense. I know that the bull trout are eating fish including juvenile chinook. In fact one of my better flies in the late winter/spring is a chinook emerger (a imitation of newly hatched chinook fry). After some head scratching I have been forced to conclude that most the fish that eaten by predators were destine to never survive to produce an adult fish. The fish that the bull trout are eating are likely those that were injuried or sick and not likely to survive. They were likely going to consumed by some one, just now the bull trout are getting more of the prey. If that theory is correct then the impact from having more bull trout in the Skagit is not in a reduction prey but rather a probable reduction in competing predators. --- Something to think about.

    Tight lines
    Curt