Elwha River Hatchery Steelhead

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
I was wondering if anyone knows what they are doing with all of the hatchery winter steelhead that they have been planting in the Elwha. Is the Elwha tribe fishing them in the lower river, are they being sold once they reach the hatchery or are they being passed upstream? Also, does anyone know if they are marking these fish? They have been planting a lot of fish for a while now.

Stocking reports on the WDFW website only go back to 2015 now and I did not see anything for 2018. That does not necessarily mean they did not plant fish though.

2015 plants - 194,795
2016 plants - 93,958
2017 plants - 175,000
 

steelyeyedguy

Keep casting, just keep casting
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: Michelle Dunlop, Public Affairs, 360-902-2255
OLYMPIA – The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Olympic National Park, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have agreed that it is necessary to extend the fishing closure in the Elwha River for another two years, from June 1, 2019 to July 1, 2021.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater....Know Grizzler
If I recall correctly, there was supposed to be a weir in place to separate hatchery from wild fish, but that isn’t happening from what I’ve heard.
Please correct me if I’m wrong on that.

It is a real shame that a possible once in a lifetime opportunity to see how wild fish could recover was blown on the Elwha.
The quicker the numbers rebound with hatchery supplementation, the quicker the harvesting can begin.
SF
 

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
Yeah I know that they extended the fishing closure. I am just curious what they are doing with all of these hatchery fish. Are they chambers creek fish or brood stock? I have not heard much at all about the hatchery operation and what they are trying to accomplish with it.
 

steelyeyedguy

Keep casting, just keep casting
Yeah I know that they extended the fishing closure. I am just curious what they are doing with all of these hatchery fish. Are they chambers creek fish or brood stock? I have not heard much at all about the hatchery operation and what they are trying to accomplish with it.
As far as I’ve heard it’s a brood stock. John McMillan would know he’s working with the tribe
 

doublespey

Steelhead-a-holic
The tribal hatchery is very low on the river, in the first couple miles, and the fish are destined for either tribal consumption or sale. Very little sportfishing as those first few miles are on tribal land. The better spawning habitat is miles upriver, so I personally doubt that there will be significant introgression with wild steelhead.
 

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
Yeah I know the hatchery is on the lower river and I am not really concerned about introgression with hatchery fish. I was just trying to find out some more details about the hatchery program itself and the purpose it is serving with no fishery available. It makes more sense if they are using brood stock and selling the returning adults. Thank you for the info.
 

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
They should get plenty back. Especially if they are brood stock fish being raised by the tribes. Even if they get a poor return with 100,000 smolts released I would be very surprised if less than 200 fish make it back to the hatchery. Now if the WDFW was running the hatchery with chambers fish it might be a different story.
 

gt

Active Member
If I recall correctly, there was supposed to be a weir in place to separate hatchery from wild fish, but that isn’t happening from what I’ve heard.
Please correct me if I’m wrong on that.

It is a real shame that a possible once in a lifetime opportunity to see how wild fish could recover was blown on the Elwha.
The quicker the numbers rebound with hatchery supplementation, the quicker the harvesting can begin.
SF
you are correct! the deal was 'we the people' would spend millions building a new hatchery for the LES as we needed them to sign off on dam removal. in turn they were to operate a weir separating clipped from unclipped, passing the unclipped upstream and keeping any clipped fish they encountered, either for tribal use or on the open market.

the tribe decided it was too much work to operate the weir and now we have no control over what is headed up river, a real opportunity lost but typical of the tribal mindset.
 

gt

Active Member
They should get plenty back. Especially if they are brood stock fish being raised by the tribes. Even if they get a poor return with 100,000 smolts released I would be very surprised if less than 200 fish make it back to the hatchery. Now if the WDFW was running the hatchery with chambers fish it might be a different story.
historically, a 1% return for hatchery smolts is considered 'good'. native fish usually have a 5% return rate. no i can't quote the source but it seems to be pretty well documented over time.
 

Thomas Mitchell

corvus ossifragus
WFF Supporter
Thanks for asking Jonathan. I've wondered the same thing.

Very interesting news about summer runs coming pretty soon.
 

Gyrfalcon2015

Wild Trout
Sort of wondered if this beautiful sequel story of rebound would be Godfather II, instead, we got Godfather III : \

The whole world is watching how this dam removal would play out and, ofcourse, bullies and pawns played it out, and it looks rigged (sorry, cannot shake the mafia music).

Greed, chest thumping, one-upmanship, and payback. And nearly back to square one-with probably ruined headwater trout fishing that was fun (I am greedy, too!)
 

Jonathan Tachell

Active Member
historically, a 1% return for hatchery smolts is considered 'good'. native fish usually have a 5% return rate. no i can't quote the source but it seems to be pretty well documented over time.
Yes It is usually around a 1% return rate in Puget Sound (or at least it was until recent years), which would be 1,000 fish returning. I was just saying with most of the rivers getting poor returns this year I would be surprised if they did not get back at least 200 fish. That would be enough for the following years brood stock.
 

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