Steelhead Science?


Active Member
To my knowledge I don't know of any published papers of research done on the methow on this subject-there may be/probably is data on this that has been collected by NOAA since the listing a few years ago but I don't think it has been published in any journals. I know there was a paper published on this subject that took place on the kalama, which is a columbia river trib, so that is definately comparable, but I can't find that citation.

The methow situation is perhaps more complex than others because of the degree of genetic introgression that has occurred between wild and hatchery fish. In the case of several washington steelhead streams, little introgression has occurrred though, making its prevention that much more important (i.e. the need to bonk brats).


Active Member
TomB you are becoming the search engine for crettke....he needs to do a little exploring himself. You do have the goods....that's for sure.
I'm always impressed when I open up one of these threads and see some well researched and thought out reply. You are definitely someone who takes this stuff seriously and I think it's something to be proud of. There's a lot to be said for someone who takes the time to think a little harder about something.
Jason Rolfe
Thanks Tom, ive spent numerous hours looking into the Methow stuff and have found nothing but it sounds like that might be because there is nothing, which is hard to believe. Im no expert in navigating the NOAA sight but i did spend some time trying to find anything but failed. If you are ever interested in finding any information regarding whirling disease or cutthroat hybridization send me an email and i could get you all the sources you need, its the least i could do to pay you back since i am getting a bad rap for asking the question and supposedly not researching for myself. If i find the info and do the project i promise ill put your name in there, thanks again.


Active Member
For the NOAA stuff, you might try contacting employees because alot of the data is on computers and in reports that aren't accessible really.
Crettke, Tom B has given you a good start on the hatchery vs wild stuff. There is a ton of literature out there on that. My library is at work, so I don't have specific papers/citations at hand, but suggest you look at the American Fisheries Society website for recent publications in Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. and in "Fisheries" from AFS. Look at Journal Table of Contents. There has been some very recent discussions in AFS publications about the role of hatcheries in either impacting or potentially aiding recovery of threatened populations. Can J Fish. Aqu. Sci. table of contents might also have some interesting stuff. Other sources would be a web search for "CRITFC AND Methow", and "USFWS AND Steelhead AND Methow". If this is for college/university, your library should have a literature search engine to allow you search the peer reviewed journals at no charge.
The regs that prohibit taking fish out of the water before release just make physiological sense to reduce stress and post release mortality.
As Curt said, it may be a leap of faith to use studies from different from different watersheds to draw conclusions about your local watershed. However, at some point short of studying EVERYTHING about every population, some leaps of faith need to be made....and I'm sure he's merely playing devil's advocate.

I don't know of any previously published stuff specifically dealing with steelhead in the Methow and I work here (though primarily with Chinook). WDFW, Yakama Indian Nation, Douglas Co., etc. have been working with steelhead for a while now, and are looking at comparisons between wild and hatchery survivals. The ultimate goal of course, is to compare survivals between hatchery and wild fish, as well as hatchery progeny which have HxH, HxW and WxW parentage to test for significant differences....and specifically compare those to survivals of actual wild fish....which is tougher to do since you must have techniques which are statistically sound (read: large sample sizes) or there will be someone there with an agenda telling you your numbers are crap.

Right now, this means capturing wild fish in rotary smolt traps as they outmigrate as smolts, inserting thousands of passive integrated transponders (PIT tags) into them, and calculating survivals from release, down stream through the dams, and back up the dams in 1-3 years.

WDFW took this project over in 2003 and is just beginning to see returns from the initial releases. I'm not going to overstep my bounds and report the results from something I don't directly do but will chime back in when there's something solid (and no longer preliminary) to report, and that should be fairly soon.
I fished the Methow last week with Jackchinook and he bonked a hatchery buck, when cleaning it he found a PIT tag and he explained how they are able to track this fish as a smolt through all the dams down the Columbia and then all the way back through Wells dam as a adult.
Pretty amazing technology. To me something like this would produce some very solid data.