The merits (or lack thereof) for a wild steelhead retention tag

#1
I should preface this by saying that I don't support wild steelhead retention, but I've been considering ways to "re-think" the current system so that all parties are offended (or not offended) equally. One of the most intriguing options, at least in my mind, is the creation of a Wild Steelhead Retention Tag that would have to be purchased separately from a standard Washington fishing license. I can't find any place that currently implements such a system, so information on its effectiveness is pretty much nonexistent. Perhaps something currently exists for species outside of steelhead?

In effect, a standard license WOULD NOT permit you to kill a wild steelhead on any of the currently open rivers. In order to retain a single wild fish per year, you'd need to purchase the tag (or endorsement) separately. I'm not too sure what would be a "fair" price...perhaps in the $50-$100 range - it's obviously a delicate line where you are able to recruit people to comply with the system or drive them towards just taking the illegal approach. In this case though, if they choose to not comply they really aren't doing anything outside of what is currently standard practice. Maybe it's a totally nutty concept, but it seems to be relatively straightforward.

This would have a couple of benefits as far as I can see:
1. Relatively easy to implement.
2. In a perfect world, funds raised could be used for increased enforcement, research, conservation, etc.
3. It would reduce the number of "impulse" kills. I.E. some guy catches a 40" wild buck and decides he wants to bonk it just because he can at the moment. If he doesn't have the tag, he might rethink the option of killing it in the heat of the moment. This would be one of the biggest positives in my mind.
4. I think it would start to create a sense that the killing of wild steelhead is less of a right and more of a "privilege" you have to pay for. It does this without totally eliminating the practice altogether though. The guys that want to kill what is effectively an endangered species should have to pay for the privilege.

Any other advantages/disadvantages you can think of other than "guys are just going to break the law anyways"?
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#5
Just curious: how many wild fish are retained reach year by sportfishers.

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk
Jason,
Here are some stats for you.
Realize this doesn't cover every river open to wild steelhead retention. These numbers are also only from anglers who are asked during creel checks.
Since not all take-outs are monitored or anglers interviewed, your guess is as good as mine what the real harvest numbers are and what actually gets recorded on catch cards.
You can also look back on previous years via the WDFW website.
SF
http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/creel/steelhead/2012archive.html
 

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
#8
I should preface this by saying that I don't support wild steelhead retention, but I've been considering ways to "re-think" the current system so that all parties are offended (or not offended) equally. One of the most intriguing options, at least in my mind, is the creation of a Wild Steelhead Retention Tag that would have to be purchased separately from a standard Washington fishing license. I can't find any place that currently implements such a system, so information on its effectiveness is pretty much nonexistent. Perhaps something currently exists for species outside of steelhead?

In effect, a standard license WOULD NOT permit you to kill a wild steelhead on any of the currently open rivers. In order to retain a single wild fish per year, you'd need to purchase the tag (or endorsement) separately. I'm not too sure what would be a "fair" price...perhaps in the $50-$100 range - it's obviously a delicate line where you are able to recruit people to comply with the system or drive them towards just taking the illegal approach. In this case though, if they choose to not comply they really aren't doing anything outside of what is currently standard practice. Maybe it's a totally nutty concept, but it seems to be relatively straightforward.

This would have a couple of benefits as far as I can see:
1. Relatively easy to implement.
2. In a perfect world, funds raised could be used for increased enforcement, research, conservation, etc.
3. It would reduce the number of "impulse" kills. I.E. some guy catches a 40" wild buck and decides he wants to bonk it just because he can at the moment. If he doesn't have the tag, he might rethink the option of killing it in the heat of the moment. This would be one of the biggest positives in my mind.
4. I think it would start to create a sense that the killing of wild steelhead is less of a right and more of a "privilege" you have to pay for. It does this without totally eliminating the practice altogether though. The guys that want to kill what is effectively an endangered species should have to pay for the privilege.

Any other advantages/disadvantages you can think of other than "guys are just going to break the law anyways"?
While it seems a good idea, I doubt the revenue generated would even cover the cost of issuing the permits. Also, one of the biggest individual angler reasons why you should be able to retain these fish is they want meat and it should be something that is part and parcel of paying for a license. If that reason is considered, then putting a hefty price on something that you already pay in terms of licensing seems pretty unfair. If you want to start to deal with this, change the retention policy rather than adding more cruft to already confusing regulations.
 

KerryS

Ignored Member
#9
I could see something like this but I would see it working better if it were done in lottery fashion similar to some big game hunts. If you want to harvest a steelhead you enter a lottery along with everyone else that wants to harvest one. WDFW then draws a certain number of names and issues a harvest permit to those whose names were drawn.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#11
Those numbers are on river creel checks. If you've ever been out on the OP and met Talkin Tom, he does some of the creel checks. Great guy by the way.
I'm not sure exactly how how many people do creel checks out there, but with the lack of WDFW funding I doubt many.
The catch cards data gets collected after they are turned in. That is a crap shot as well in my opinion. If a person doesn't record there wild fish or fails to return their card the data is less then complete.
The latest sports catch numbers on the WDFW website are from 2009. It is almost 2014. Do you think they are a bit behind in posting data that might be helpful to the general angling public?
http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/harvest/
SF
 

Charles Sullivan

ignoring Rob Allen and Generic
#12
Make a card to puch for every fish whacker that we punch. I have never seen anyone kill a wild fish. I rarely fish the OP where it is legal. I would have a hard time keeping my temper if I saw it in person. I think we should be able to Tanya Harding oe fish whacker per year.
cds
 
#13
Make a card to puch for every fish whacker that we punch. I have never seen anyone kill a wild fish. I rarely fish the OP where it is legal. I would have a hard time keeping my temper if I saw it in person. I think we should be able to Tanya Harding oe fish whacker per year.
cds

I've seen more than I'd care to see, but it is what it is, and it's almost impossible for me to know whether they are breaking any laws or not when I see them (unless it's before Feb 15th). I actually think there are quite a few guys who do just kill one wild fish a year simply because they can. There's always bad apples though.

Anyways, it's always interesting to consider alternative methods that might be more effective than the current system. I'm not sure about the actual cost or revenue of the system...it would probably be around a break-even proposition. The lottery idea is interesting as well, but probably would cost even more to implement and require more hand-holding than an endorsement.
 
#14
I could see something like this but I would see it working better if it were done in lottery fashion similar to some big game hunts. If you want to harvest a steelhead you enter a lottery along with everyone else that wants to harvest one. WDFW then draws a certain number of names and issues a harvest permit to those whose names were drawn.
I think that is a great idea.