WDFW Announces Puget Sound river closures for 2012

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Wild Steelhead Coalition, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,726
    Likes Received:
    2,322
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Chris -
    As Kerry said the idea of setting back the dikes below Mt Vernon and doing esturay work has been around for sometime and there has been some estuary restoration. This a great idea and such work will pay significant benefits for Chinook salmon but will do virtually nothing for steelhead.

    The reasons for the above helps illustrate the complex and differrent needs and interactions of the various species and the river's habitats.

    The typical Skagit female steelhead will put 6,400 eggs in the gravel. By the time the fry from those eggs reach the smolt stage two or more years later less than 1% will have survived. Those same smolts will spend just hours to a day or two migrating through that lower tidal portion of the Skagit - in effect that lower river is just the highway between the freshwater and marine water rear areas.

    During the freshwater rearing stage steelhead with their extended rearing period require very diverse habitats due to the different conditions (summer/winter etc) and fish sizes. The best hope for improving the habitat quality for the steelhead (an overall steelehad productivity) would be the restoration of the natural river processes. I hace to agree with Kerry; just don't see society willing to invest the $$ need. However that does not mean that the wild steelhead are doomed; just that thier potential has been and will continue to reduced . Maybe we need to adjust our expections for the population.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  2. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,430
    Likes Received:
    4,406
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Really? No benefit to steelhead. Perhaps not direct but with a more diverse and natural habitat thats support multiple species should benefit all species that inhabit the river. Could there be relationships between chinook and steelhead that we are not aware of? Are there some mutually beneficial interactions between different species? Restore the river with all species being considered. I realize that you pretty much say the same thing. I just want to put some emphasis on the entire river ecosystem.
     
  3. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,430
    Likes Received:
    4,406
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    I going to add one more thought to the ideas of dike removal or setback. Many in Skagit Valley realize the dike system was built without enough setback. In many areas of the river is it very problematic. One area quite noticeable if you look is what is called the 3 bridge corridor between Burlington and Mt. Vernon. You can see from the freeway the considerable dike "hardening" done by the Army Corp of Engineers this past summer. This type of operation is performed on a regular basis all along the Skagit dike system to prevent the river from eroding the dikes to badly during high water events. They know in such areas such as the 3 bridge area the dikes need to be moved further apart and there is talk of doing this. Again money is the big issue. My reasoning for bringing this up is what I think would be one of the best things to happen to the Skagit is to have a major high water event that takes out many of these dikes and floods the valley from Sedro Woolley to La Conner. Put 4 or 5 feet of water over the valley and I bet it gets somebody's attention.
     
  4. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2006
    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    1,193
    Location:
    Bellingham Wa.
    Maybe dike set back is an unrealistic expection right now, but a few years ago so was dam removal, and it seems to be happening. there is still plenty of room for improvement on tribs and main river restoration all the way up river. In some rivers the majority of seelhead spawn in tribs so that might be a good place to start.

    Salma,
    I agree we need to adjust our expectations, but that is not to say we should except the status-quo.

    Chris
     
  5. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,726
    Likes Received:
    2,322
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Kerry
    As you suggest I'm all for an ecosystem approach to both management and restoration. My point in the post about dike set backs below Mt Vernon and in the estuary is that if your priority is restoring habitat for steelhead the place to focus your efforts is not the lower river (marginal benefits at best). Now dike setback up river (Burlington upstream) would be another story for steelhead.

    Tight lines
    curt
     
  6. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,430
    Likes Received:
    4,406
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Curt,

    I would like to see the dike setback increased for as far up river as we can go. As you know the idea is not new and the last time it surfaced with any real consideration was after the 2003 flood. There were some limited studies done but with dollar amounts in the 100s of millions the idea did not float for long. Yet, cities like Burlington were and possibly still are looking at things like ring dikes for flood protection which would not be cheap either. I have watched for years as the valley struggles with flood control and protection and there is way to much in fighting and hardly no cooperation. I don't see anything changing anytime soon. Thus my statement that I think the best that could happen to the Skagit River would be for it to have a massive flood that inundates the valley with 5 to 8 feet of water.

    Although I remember the '90 flood when dikes protecting Fir Island failed and it was covered with 3 feet of water. Many of the farmers claimed they were wiped out, their farms covered with silt left by the flood waters which had destroyed their crops. Yet for the next couple of years they had bumper crops. You would think they might put 2 and 2 together and perhaps some did but the end result was not to figure out how to let the river flood land and bring new soil and nutrients but raise the dike levels and harden those that failed. With all of their beavering they survived the '03 flood which was much larger. Why is this so hard for people to understand? It is events like this that cause me to believe nothing will ever change.
     
  7. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Messages:
    9,868
    Likes Received:
    5,443
    Location:
    Your City ,State
    Kerry,

    Your points are well taken. People want to pay high quality lip service to habitat protection without taking any substantive actions that actually improve habitat productivity and capacity. Burlington continues to seek additional flood protection from the Baker hydro project even though it already provides 7 or 8 times the required amount. How much flood control is enough? Maybe when the Skagit Valley is as paved over as Tukwila in the lower Duwamish.

    The Corps of Engineers approves adding even more rip rap to the Sauk River (the last best), and NMFS HCD (Habitat Conservation Division) allows it saying that the amount of rip rap permitted isn't enough to call jeopardy. Apparently there is no cumulative adverse effect of adding more rip rap as long as the individual treatments are not too large. As a practical matter this amounts to the Corps and NMFS saying they want the last best habitat in the Sauk River to be as degraded as the poor habitat in other sections. I'm amazed that things like this don't get targeted for lawsuits.

    Habitat protection and restoration is more about lip service than about fisheries recovery.

    Sg
     
  8. Brazda

    Brazda Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ellensburg, Washington
    Home Page:
    The Idea of closing the steelhead fishing in Puget sound rivers to those that care for them the most is totally ironic. The entire problem is caused from LACK of action by the agencies we pay to take care of them, there final action is to close it off to the citizens that pay for the management, of the fish they care for the most. Loosing Steelhead fishing in Washington is like loosing Tarpon fishing in Florida, Salmon fishing in Alaska, Redfishing in Louisiana, Trout fishing in Montana and so on and so on....None of those fisheries are in similar trouble but have the same issues with developement, logging, habitat etc...the difference is CO management, Fish Farming and NON Native species interaction.
    A few points....:
    Anglers begged for catch and release in the 80's it took 10 years to get it.( Lack of action!)
    The bolt decision has only been in effect 40 years, ONE generation and we have nearly no fishery. (CO=Management)
    Non native species have been planted (Bass, walleye, there own terrible hatchery programs) by the WDFW and have a horable effect on Native fish...(WRONG action!)
    Aqua culture and the desease it spreads is a REAL issue, the best fisheries on the planet CAN NOT survive an epidemic disease! (ALLOWED by Management!)

    Until they use the technology developed on the upper Columbia and find out WERE the steelhead are actually being killed they will never return to there prior run sizes.
    It may take the gutting of agencies responsable and rebuilding the entire theory of fish management.
     
  9. bhudda

    bhudda heffe'

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    2,900
    Likes Received:
    907
    Location:
    low holing
    Home Page:
    Amen Brazda!!!!!!
     
  10. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,726
    Likes Received:
    2,322
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Brazda -
    I understand and appreciate your passion however it might be more effective if your arguements were fact supported.

    Florida tarpon and Louisiana redfish are different critters than our steelhead and face differetn problems.

    Montana trout fishing is great however the majority those "named" fisheries are directed at non-native species - rainbows and browns.

    Wonder how the fishing would be in Washington if this State had a similar population (people/square mile) or portion of the its land mass in an undeveloped state as Alaska?

    Co-managemetn/Boldt is the issue. Without a doubt that decision has had a huge impact on the quality of the recreational fishery. However NMFS at the time of the PS steelhead ESA listing determined that fishing impacts in the previous decade wasn't much fo a factor. In fact have since determine that level of impacts does not represent a significant risk of future extinction.

    Anglers begging for CnR to get it - I think not - every PS steelhead CnR season came from Dept. of Wildlife desks with minimal support or interest from the angler community. Yes theose seasons became very popular but that approach was lead by the managers not the users

    On PS rivers the use of wild steelhead release as a management tool was similar as the CnR seasons. The first wide spread use of that approach on those rivers was those dread "fin cards" in the mid-1980s. Those were met by a near angler revolt. Public meetings held were attended by more than 300 folks and except for less than a dozen people everyone was against that approach. BTW of those supporting that tool the majority wore Dept. Wildlife hats. Again it was the managers leading.

    Today it has become fashionable to champion the resident life history of o. mykiss and the regulation changes needed to protect those fish - stop lkilling them mainly using the tool of selective gear rules. In the mid-1980s Dept. Wildlife attempted to apply that approach across much of the State. In this case the managers lost due to angler backlash that force legislative action ban that approach.

    Don't like the current State policies on steelhead mangement? - we had a chance to shape those policies in a very public process. Yet once again the angling public was largely absent.

    I could go on but the point here is that as anglers we probably have exactly the opportunities we collectively have worked for. Our apathy has greeted every opportunity to make a difference and I see little hope that it will be any different at the next opportunity.

    Rant away folks say it is good for the soul. However when it comes time for placing blame I suggest we start by collectively looking in a mirror.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  11. Brazda

    Brazda Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ellensburg, Washington
    Home Page:
    All the same regurgitation we got for the last twenty years from the WDFW pointing the finger at nothing repairable, politics as usual. THe same thing they shove down our throat at those public meetings.
    With respect to your personal conviction and extensive volunteering of wdfw facts Curt I know you have the handbook down to a T and are very knowledgable on the DATA but that DATA has NOT gotten us any where but CLOSED FISHERIES.

    I have plenty of associates in all agencies of management and the real facts of the matter are not public!
    The public wishes are not always the same as the WDFW claims,, there have been plenty of managment decisions based on internal desires.
    No way will I even begin to throw those under the bus here.

    As for the mirror to look in,, we are,,, thats why we actively pusue better fishing with volunteering and MONEY directly to the resource. The Mirror is plainly in use as there are thousands of active participaters in fishery recovery on the PRIVATE side, more so here in the NW than nearly any other states in the union. I would bet that from the users on this very site there are Millions of dollars donated and volunteered towards Steelhead fishing alone. And you want to say its THERE fault for not looking in the Mirror.

    Those meeting on rule changes and decision process all turn into excuse factories of why WDFW does what it does and the changes that get made usually only FIT for the dept. and there budget process of what to cut cost wise. CO MANAGEMENT is a huge factor as well but there again UN REPAIRABLE excuses..I personally went to dozens of those if you stand up for an idea they shut you up with BS DATA and if you sit and listen its politics as usual. I quite going ten years ago and gave my gas money and time to private clubs and parties, all supported here on this site. To date in the last ten years I know its over 20K and growing.

    Curt with all due respect the facts of the matter are clear, politics wont fix it. Its time to get a grip on the PUBLIC policy and use what ever means Washington state has to reair this situation gone awry.

    Here is a question for you, Is there anything in the works of utilizing the smolt capture and pit tag process on the puget sound rivers in question to see exactly where the steelhead are suffering high mortality? Expensive but simple, let the DATA point the finger!
     
  12. Ryan Higgins

    Ryan Higgins Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2011
    Messages:
    830
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Malaga, WA
    No amount of angler management is going to restore runs that were destroyed by habitat alterations and loss. You can CnR every single fish, but without the habitat and recruitment of fish at sea, nothing will change. We need a better understanding of why the recruitment is so low from the sea to properly manage that, as well as habitat restoration and reclamation.
     
  13. Brazda

    Brazda Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ellensburg, Washington
    Home Page:
     
  14. Brazda

    Brazda Fly Fishing guide "The Bogy House" Lodge

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    383
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Ellensburg, Washington
    Home Page:
    Been a few years since I looked at this kind of DATA (not a hatchery rack angler so never followed) allways gets me thinking though...One thing I have allways been SCEPTICAL of was aqua culture,,,well what do we know that has begun in early 90's in puget sound and BC.........FISH FARMS! Disease ridden fish farms.
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,726
    Likes Received:
    2,322
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Brazda -
    I agree we desperately need changes in public policy for not only steelhead but our other salmonids - for the fish, the fisheries they support and the habitats that they require. Unfortunately the best course for potentail change requires people getting involved If folks become pain in the rear for the decision makers with well supported arguements there may be a chance. If we insist on shooting from the hip we will continue to see the status quo.

    Regarding your question -

    "Is there anything in the works of utilizing the smolt capture and pit tag process on the puget sound rivers in question to see exactly where the steelhead are suffering high mortalit..."

    To my knowledge that type of work with steelhead smolts (hatchery and wild) has been done on Hood Canal, South Puget Sound, Green river and Skagit river. To summarize what was found was thaqt approximate 1/2 or more of the smolts were not detected at the mid-strait's reciever array. Unfortuantely it is unknown whether that lost is an increase or how much of an interest from historic levels. What was of concern to me was the length of time it took the smolts to get that far.

    Regarding Puget Sound "Fish Farms" - this year is the start of the 5th decade of commercial net pen operations in Puget Sound. By the mid-1970s the industry was producing 350 metric tons of product.

    Tight lines
    Curt