"Why aren't Olympic Peninsula Steelhead . . .

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by miyawaki, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    David D.,

    The OP is not unlogged territory. Logging has been and continues to be the primary industry there. And just as it has in other parts of western WA, when the lowland timber was gone, forestry moved upslope, logging ever higher elevation timber. And that's where the real damage to stream habitat happens. Thanks to gravity, the effects of erosion and mass wasting are exponentially more severe, and long lasting. Reasonable estimates put Puget Sound area streams at about 10% of their historical productivity. It may be as high as 20% for many OP watersheds.

    Ocean conditions are whatever they are. And while harvest is obvious, both the state and the tribes are in agreement that most of the OP rivers are productive enough that there exists a harvestable surplus most, if not all, years. And productive enough means the productivity under existing environmental conditions, not historical or any other environmental conditions. Certainly we see this with the Puget Sound and lower Columbia River tributary populations, where harvest hasn't been a factor affecting population abundance for the last 20 or 30 years or even more. Yet those populations are currently at low levels of abundance. And that is because that is what the current status of productivity, capacity, and diversity is, combined with the effects of ocean survival. If that were not true, then by definition the populations would necessarily be at a different level.

    The OP, like rivers elsewhere, lost most of the early run component because of the introduction of hatchery steelhead. The hatchery winter steelhead run timing is early, and the fishing pressure that is focused on that run timing causes a higher harvest rate on early returning fish. Add that to the fact that early returning fish are in the rivers for a longer period of time before they spawn, and they are more likely to be caught and removed from the population before they can spawn than are the latest returning winter steelhead.

    Chris B.,

    The 1970s were not pre-hatchery steelhead on the OP. The hatchery stocking programs were well under way in the 1960s, although I don't have the numbers close at hand. Good quotes from Sid, but maybe that's because I've long felt the same way. And you're probably right about the Sol Duc hatchery spring chinook program. In hindsight, a mistake.

    Sg
     
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  2. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    my understanding was that the quillayute did not see hatchery steelhead plants until sometime in the 70's (post Boldt). i'll do some digging as i always thought the peninsula was far behind puget sound when it came to hatchery steelhead (although the 60's would be far behind)

    edit... there were hatchery plants in the 60's and a couple years of plants in the sol duc in the 50's. thanks for making me jog the memory files salmo.
     
  3. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    a serious question when it comes to productivity. if up to 60% of a watershed is protected inside a national park, how can the productivity be only 10-20%. I understand that the best rearing habitat is lower in the watersheds, but does that explain the entire loss of productivity vs. intact habitat?

    if our upper watersheds have the best habitat, can we ever really bring back any abundance if our hatcheries and harvest minimize the diversity necessary to fill those habitat niches? Do decreasing salmon runs make it difficult for species on the edge to recover if the rivers no longer are a salmon nutrient based ecosystem (queets spring chinook which spawn inside the national park but are critical even with minimal harvest)?

    maybe it isn't fighting over killing the last fish, but fighting over who gets to have a quality experience as the fish decline no matter what.

    jesus, imagine how depressing i would be if i drank ;).
     
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  4. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Who exactly are the enemies... are they those same desk-bound men and women with hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators that also enjoy our sport, the great outdoors, and who donate time and money saving endangered species?
     
  5. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    But for now- I won't be guiding anyone for winter run wild Olympic Peninsula Steelhead any more. Personally I feel that it has gone too far out here. The numbers of wild fish do not support sports fishing, not even a catch and release fishery. Not when we are talking about a "handful" of fish returning, and only a few thousand escaping the gauntlet of nets, boats and hooks to spawn. And according to the state's own observations, most of the escaped fish were caught and released by anglers too.How many times? So many anglers and guides will cite research that supports their claim that "Catch and release does no harm." I'm sorry- That is Bullshit. Not with the numbers like what we have here now.

    Kudo's to Bob for his decision to put fish above personal gain or pleasure. I hope everyone on this forum will take this same high road... tough decisions are, well, tough.
     
  6. underachiever

    underachiever members only

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    The way a lot of folks (not necessarily you) frame their standpoint on the matter, I think that's the primary thing they're concerned about.
     
  7. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    No, you can certainly pin that on me. The more I step away and look at this issue and start really looking at the data (thanks a bunch salmo g) I think the fishing pressure leads to blog rants like the original post more than what the numbers are showing.

    Most of us can agree that fishing pressure makes finding unmolested and aggressive fish more difficult. Plus, dealing with people with poor etiquette on the river does not usually lead to a relaxing experience for most personality types.

    - From 2003-2013 the Hoh missed escapement 5 out of 10 times
    - The previous 10 years the Hoh missed escapement 4 out of 10 times
    - The prior 10 years to that the Hoh missed escapement 2 out of 10 times
    - The prior 7 years to that (records end) the Hoh missed escapement 3 out of those 7 years.

    Besides one ten year stretch the Hoh seems to miss about half the time. I am not suggesting that this is good or we cannot do better, but looking back to 1976 things look much the same, except massive pressure and competition. I want to see larger run sizes on all of the coastal streams, but I also want to see some sanity to the pressure. The pressure is the reason I haven't fished the Hoh in the winter since 2009, not the run sizes. It sounds better to do it for the fish, but I'm not buying it if you fished 2001-2013 with no issues.

    Ask yourself an honest question. Would you feel the same way about the increased pressure and fishing experience if the Hoh met escapement every year for the last thirty years?

    There is hope. I think if Occupy Skagit is successful in getting fishing reopened when escapements are high that will release the pressure cooker. I also think the internet is changing in the way people react to hot-spotting. New technologies mature and I think you have already seen many guides back off the hype machine that they were a part of less than five years ago. People are starting to become more aware that internet conversations are not like those on the river or at the shop and are making changes in the way they report on their fishing. The reaction to old style reports isn't always pretty. I also think the internet will move towards more private groups like on Facebook or other new social sites than open access sites.

    We shall see....
     
  8. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I think that what we see with the coastal streams is that the run sizes are fine, actually. Escapements tend to be what the co-managers allow them to be, if they even get around to agreeing on something.

    I tend to fish elsewhere. This is not because I feel my effort will limit populations in any way, but because of the experience. This years spring trip should be a good adventure.

    Go Red Sox,
    cds
     
  9. jwg

    jwg Active Member

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    I appreciate that Sg and Curt continue to have the patience and passion to educate the rest of us.
    Jay
     
  10. Runejl

    Runejl Josh

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    Hey Chris Bellows,

    I am curious about what the escapement level was set at? Was escapement a benchmark that stayed steady over 37 years or did the state adjust it lower and lower as the runs diminished?
     
  11. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    I think I meant to imply the same thing in regards to logging that you are saying. Just didn't come out that way.

    Your statements regarding capacity make sense. Philosophically I think I'm still averse to the harvest of wild steelhead, but in this context I suppose I see some rationale. If the escapement is above capacity, then the extra fish "do no good" for the population. I mean one could argue ancillary benefits of the extra carcasses, baby fish, etc. but maybe not a direct benefit to overall abundance. I get that.

    As for the early components, if no harvest was allowed, the only mortality should be incidental regardless of the run timing of the brats. I'm not trying to crack the can of worms that is an argument about mortality from C&R, but I'm pretty sure more early returning wild fish would survive, if nobody could bonk them (and I know I am assuming people adhere to the rules....not always a fair assumption I know).

    I also realize this ship has probably sailed as most of the early returners seem toast at this point.
     
  12. troutdopemagic

    troutdopemagic Active Member

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    If memory serves, escapement for the Hoh has recently been 2000-2500 fish.
     
  13. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    I used the same number throughout... so if it has been lowered the Hoh missed even worse 20-35 years ago. The number is approx. 2400.
     
  14. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    Yeah, nature did such a shitty job of keeping things in balance before we came along.;)
     
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  15. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    Just to be clear, just because I can see where someone is coming from, does not mean I agree. Those "forgone opportunities" are still best left in the stream. IMO of course :)