New OP rules

Bruce Baker

Active Member
Perhaps wise fisheries scientists (@Smalma, @Salmo_g, @BDD, @anyothers) could weigh in here and explain the process of a species becoming listed as endangered. This thread indicates some (many?) OP rivers aren't meeting escapement requirements (goal or requirement?). I don't know if these rivers that aren't meeting "escapement" requirements is fact or impression or legend but it does seem that steelhead numbers are severely depleted and I'm ignorantly leaning towards "it's a fact". Some posters have used the term "extirpated" or "nearly extinct". I don't think there's much debate that steelhead numbers are way down, "on the brink".

Everyone seems to blame WDFW for so many of our fisheries problems (at times, me too: guilty as charged). I don't think a decision to list a species as endangered comes down to WDFW since ESA is a federal law (NMFS? USFWS?).

I'm clueless as to what happens to tribal fisheries of ESA listed fish, especially on tribal land. All of us do know what ESA listings mean to sport angling.
Does this help? -- https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf
 

Cruik

WFF Supporter
IMHO, it is a step in the right direction with all but a couple of aspects. First, that would be the "fishing from a boat" portion. There is a problem with that in that now we will see the banks degrading, trails along the river everywhere, trails through the woods, everywhere, ad hoc parking spots all along the river, and more and more. It may reduce the number of fishermen at first but eventually most will be back. All you have to do is look at Alaska's rivers. The banks have been so devastated that several have metal walkways along the banks to compensate for the loss of bank integrity. Even then, the guys step off the walkways and move down the banks to get "first shot" at the fish. Of course they aren't supposed to do that but it's done regardless. Then there is more loss of banks and so on and so on. I also don't think that the emergency regulations take into account the economic impact that the changes will have on communities like Forks. Those folks are probably ready to revolt. The emergency regs have to take into account all aspects. I've fished the Hoh and other rivers from a boat and done very well but always release the fish and along the float there are areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. That may be a good thing from the environment standpoint but I can imagine it won't take long until fishermen find a way to get there. Again, all IMHO.

If you're referring to the walkways on the Kenai, I think that's distinguishable in a lot of ways, including angler volume and concentration. But the biggest difference is probably bank stability given that the Kenai flows out of a lake and maintains a more more constant water level.

An increase in foot traffic through the woods and the formation of footpaths doesn't even fall in the "con" category for me. But then again, I'm biased because I never fish from a boat. Out of selfishness, I love this reg because it seems like every time I bust my ass into a spot, I see a carousel of nymphers/bobberdoggers sitting on their keister and fishing at mach 5 to make it 15 miles to the takeout and/or overtake the boat in front of them. Nothing wrong with it, but it beats the hell out of my fishing ethos efficiency-wise and makes my pre-wired "it's not fair" neurons stand on-end.
 

BDD

Active Member
Perhaps wise fisheries scientists (@Smalma, @Salmo_g, @BDD, @anyothers) could weigh in here and explain the process of a species becoming listed as endangered. This thread indicates some (many?) OP rivers aren't meeting escapement requirements (goal or requirement?). I don't know if these rivers that aren't meeting "escapement" requirements is fact or impression or legend but it does seem that steelhead numbers are severely depleted and I'm ignorantly leaning towards "it's a fact". Some posters have used the term "extirpated" or "nearly extinct". I don't think there's much debate that steelhead numbers are way down, "on the brink".

Everyone seems to blame WDFW for so many of our fisheries problems (at times, me too: guilty as charged). I don't think a decision to list a species as endangered comes down to WDFW since ESA is a federal law (NMFS? USFWS?).

I'm clueless as to what happens to tribal fisheries of ESA listed fish, especially on tribal land. All of us do know what ESA listings mean to sport angling.

Buzzy you should not put me in the same category as Smalma or Salmo g. Troutpocket maybe. The link Bruce posted is spot on. I have followed ESA listing petitions in the past, when they were evaluating on whether to list Westslope Cutthroat a few years ago. They obviously found listing unwarranted; I think it was the right call.

Speaking of the new OP rules, I called into WDFW's 1:00 PM Zoom call today and found both the presentation by James and public testimony interesting. In my opinion some of the public comments are just plain silly; I'm really glad I don't have to deal with that. While a lot of people thanked WDFW for the opportunity to speak, it really is a thankless job; no matter what decision you make, there will be people unhappy about it. I knew a lot of folks that called in; either people or guides we have sold boats to, people I sat on committees with, or just people I have fished with over the years. It was interesting hearing their comments.

As if 2 1/2 hours of listening to steelhead talk was not enough, after the WDFW meeting was over, I listed to a 2 hour podcast on the plight of Thompson/Chilcotin steelhead afterwards, put on by the BCWF. The take-home message was that inshore predation by pinnepeds, followed by ocean competition from other salmon (pink, chum, sockeye) and ocean productivity rounding out the top three likely contributors; with predation being the highest by far.

After 5 hours of listening to steelhead talk today, I have come to the conclusion that they are in trouble.
 
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MileHighFlyGuy

Active Member
IMHO, it is a step in the right direction with all but a couple of aspects. First, that would be the "fishing from a boat" portion. There is a problem with that in that now we will see the banks degrading, trails along the river everywhere, trails through the woods, everywhere, ad hoc parking spots all along the river, and more and more. It may reduce the number of fishermen at first but eventually most will be back. All you have to do is look at Alaska's rivers. The banks have been so devastated that several have metal walkways along the banks to compensate for the loss of bank integrity. Even then, the guys step off the walkways and move down the banks to get "first shot" at the fish. Of course they aren't supposed to do that but it's done regardless. Then there is more loss of banks and so on and so on. I also don't think that the emergency regulations take into account the economic impact that the changes will have on communities like Forks. Those folks are probably ready to revolt. The emergency regs have to take into account all aspects. I've fished the Hoh and other rivers from a boat and done very well but always release the fish and along the float there are areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. That may be a good thing from the environment standpoint but I can imagine it won't take long until fishermen find a way to get there. Again, all IMHO.
Are you saying that fishing should be closed completely, or that it should continue as is, or what?
 

Smalma

Active Member
Buzzy-

While hardly an expert on the situation with coast steelhead I have some concerns. We are told that the status of those fish is such they remain above that bright line of potential ESA listing. Many of those stocks like those in Willapa Bay have had stable populations levels they have also been chronically depressed (below escapement goals). The Puget Sound steelhead experience provide warning signs for the future coastal steelhead.

Like those coastal steelhead a couple decades ago it regardless of management actions more and more stocks were more frequently failing to meet escapement goals. In hind sight it is clear that those failures were being driven in large part by declining productivity of those stocks and decreasing resiliency of those populations. While current stability of many of the coastal populations are probably enough to avoid ESA listing the concern is that much like the PS steelhead the situation will worsen driving their status towards an ESA listing. With declining productivity and resiliency even marginally decreasing survival issues (for example declining freshwater habitats or marine survival) we may start seeing the declining population trends that continue in spite of fishing reductions that could lead to an ESA listing petition and potentially even a listing.

At a minimum the current situation should be a warning that the future may not be a rosy as previously thought.

curt
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Buzzy-

While hardly an expert on the situation with coast steelhead I have some concerns. We are told that the status of those fish is such they remain above that bright line of potential ESA listing. Many of those stocks like those in Willapa Bay have had stable populations levels they have also been chronically depressed (below escapement goals). The Puget Sound steelhead experience provide warning signs for the future coastal steelhead.

Like those coastal steelhead a couple decades ago it regardless of management actions more and more stocks were more frequently failing to meet escapement goals. In hind sight it is clear that those failures were being driven in large part by declining productivity of those stocks and decreasing resiliency of those populations. While current stability of many of the coastal populations are probably enough to avoid ESA listing the concern is that much like the PS steelhead the situation will worsen driving their status towards an ESA listing. With declining productivity and resiliency even marginally decreasing survival issues (for example declining freshwater habitats or marine survival) we may start seeing the declining population trends that continue in spite of fishing reductions that could lead to an ESA listing petition and potentially even a listing.

At a minimum the current situation should be a warning that the future may not be a rosy as previously thought.

curt
Thanks Curt - this helps me understand the process better.

Patrick
 

Buzzy

Active Member
Buzzy you should not put me in the same category as Smalma or Salmo g. Troutpocket maybe. The link Bruce posted is spot on. I have followed ESA listing petitions in the past, when they were evaluating on whether to list Westslope Cutthroat a few years ago. They obviously found listing unwarranted; I think it was the right call.

Speaking of the new OP rules, I called into WDFW's 1:00 PM Zoom call today and found both the presentation by James and public testimony interesting. In my opinion some of the public comments are just plain silly; I'm really glad I don't have to deal with that. While a lot of people thanked WDFW for the opportunity to speak, it really is a thankless job; no matter what decision you make, there will be people unhappy about it. I knew a lot of folks that called in; either people or guides we have sold boats to, people I sat on committees with, or just people I have fished with over the years. It was interesting hearing their comments.

As if 2 1/2 hours of listening to steelhead talk was not enough, after the WDFW meeting was over, I listed to a 2 hour podcast on the plight of Thompson/Chilcotin steelhead afterwards, put on by the BCWF. The take-home message was that inshore predation by pinnepeds, followed by ocean competition from other salmon (pink, chum, sockeye) and ocean productivity rounding out the top three likely contributors; with predation being the highest by far.

After 5 hours of listening to steelhead talk today, I have come to the conclusion that they are in trouble.
Interesting commentary on the Thompson/Chilcotin steelhead decline: Nothing on incidental capture during chum netting? So many factors for which there's not much man can do anything about.
 

Steve Saville

WFF Supporter
Are you saying that fishing should be closed completely, or that it should continue as is, or what?
I'm saying that I don't mind the barbless hooks, the selective fishery, the release of rainbow trout, and for this year, the shortened seasons. I don't like the number of rivers covered with the blanket regulations and I don't like the non-fishing from a boat portions. I think that in particular will create habit issues with bank degradation, trash, and unwanted trails into and along the rivers.
 

BDD

Active Member
Interesting commentary on the Thompson/Chilcotin steelhead decline: Nothing on incidental capture during chum netting? So many factors for which there's not much man can do anything about.

There was some talk of fishing; gill nets and seines were mentioned. And the Albion test fishery. But I dont recall the First Nations chum fishery mentioned at all.
 

Smalma

Active Member
BBD -
I only listen to the first hour and 1/2 of the wdfw coastal zoom conference call but it is clear that folks have a poor understanding of the WDFW statewide steelhead policy



look at table 2 on page 16. The 10% impact allowed on under-escaped stocks is impacts from all fisheries; not just sport fisheries. That includes not only steelhead directed fisheries (tribal or recreational) but also incident impacts in non-steelhead fisheries such as impacts from spring Chinook fisheries (again whether tribal or non-treaty).

WDFW has long ignored parts of their own steelhead policy. Just one example the policy was adopted in 2008 and was to be updated in 5 years - still waiting.

Curt
 

Cruik

WFF Supporter
I went back to this looking as I planned future trips. I'm not sure I understand the "updated closure dates for listed rivers." It just looks like the vast majority (all of the rivers I spot-checked) have the same closure dates as they always (at least for a while) have had. Is there a meaningful difference? If only a few rivers have earlier start dates, why bury them in a restatement of all the closure dates? Is the difference the "until further notice" part of it? Because if that's the case, are we just talking about closing the Memorial Day-June 30th period for rivers that have the same "Winter" season listed that they always had before the next regs are due?

Shaking my head a little bit at this part of it...
 

Cruik

WFF Supporter
April 1 closure is earlier than usual by 15 to 30 days on many of the coastal rivers.

fb
Thanks. You're right. It's an early closure for the Quillayute tribs, Main Chehalis, and Naselle. Wish they'd just say that, though, instead of restating the closure date of all the coastal streams, even the ones they aren't changing.
 

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