March 8th closure of more OP rivers ... Yikes.

Hendodesign

Active Member

Looks like a few more rivers just got added to the list of early closures. This has been a weird season. The rivers around Forks and the S rivers are about to get a lot more crowded. I took a trip last weekend out to the Sauk and Ive never seen so many guys working runs.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Man if the two open S rivers get any more pressure, it’ll be pretty pointless pretty soon. I’ll be getting out on weekends but I’ll only fish the first run....too much traffic after first water gets covered IMO.
 

Hendodesign

Active Member
Man if the two open S rivers get any more pressure, it’ll be pretty pointless pretty soon. I’ll be getting out on weekends but I’ll only fish the first run....too much traffic after first water gets covered IMO.
I got there at 7am and still couldn't find untouched water. I was swinging to fish that had already said no thanks. Im about ready to just switch back to early spring trout fishing.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Oof. That’s rough when you wake up good’n’early and still get pipped. I might have had first crack at the run I chose, but 6 dudes in boats floated it while I fished and there were 4 guys behind me. Killed my drive to go looking for another run with that kind of pressure around. I’m saving full days of fishing for weekdays, when I might be able to find rested fish.
 

Gilly

Member
Help me understand: rules change based on catch counts (which should be down because of no boat fishing) but is there other data? Only creel surveys? Gill net data? I’ve worked weirs and collected data on upstream migrants but I don’t believe those exist on these rivers. Redd data is later. Lots of questions and the sustainability of anadromous fish paramount, just hope decisions are based on quality, replicable science, not something else. Thanks for your time.
 

SmokinAces

Keepin' It Reel
Help me understand: rules change based on catch counts (which should be down because of no boat fishing) but is there other data? Only creel surveys? Gill net data? I’ve worked weirs and collected data on upstream migrants but I don’t believe those exist on these rivers. Redd data is later. Lots of questions and the sustainability of anadromous fish paramount, just hope decisions are based on quality, replicable science, not something else. Thanks for your time.
Based on nothing
 

Hendodesign

Active Member
Shouldn't have been opened in the first place with the pre season forecast of 2,000 fish BELOW the escapement goal.
Which makes me wonder why they opened it up with restricted regs only to close it down quickly? I thought the updated regs were a bit of a happy medium to keep the season going? Too many folks still catching wilds from standing in the water vs. from a boat?
 

Shad

Active Member
Today is a typical, dark, sort of rainy early March day in Western Washington. You know, the kind of day where, if the river's not blown or heading in that direction, we go fishing for winter steelhead. I can't fish today, so I'm left to sit here and stew in my thoughts. Realizing that I'm already done for this season took my mind to some rather dark places. A few lowlights:

This is very likely the (official) beginning of the practical end of (non-tribal sport) fishing for wild, coastal steelhead in Washington. Considering that we've had relatively good ocean conditions for the past 2-3 years (and highly restrictive fisheries a lot longer than that), yet we still can't make escapement, there's not much reason to believe we'll see fishable numbers again. The habitat is certainly not going to improve....

Why the hell are the Quillayute and the Hoh staying open? Making the only rivers that have any chance of making escapement the only game in town is a poor conservation strategy.

Why does the QIN absolutely hammer the Queets? To their credit, they didn't schedule any gillnetting on the Chehalis, the Humptulips, or the Quinault past January. Meanwhile, the Queets has 4-day gillnet windows throughout March, and the tribal sport season remains open (limit 1 wild steelhead). The Queets has been chronically under-escaped for years now, despite having the most pristine habitat on the coast. The only significant harvest pressure on wild Queets steelhead comes from the Tribe. Why do they do it, and why does the State agree to it?

Finally, how many dark, wet winters will I survive before I go insane? Steelhead fishing has sustained my sanity through many a winter and spring. What will I do now? I'm already getting tired of sitting around and posting pointless commentary about the tragedy of it all....
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
Realizing that I'm already done for this season took my mind to some rather dark places.
I've been reading this thread and it is depressing. I don't know those waters well, but all the same I feel for you folks and the fish.
I pulled this out because I understand the "realizing that I'm done for the season" and "what will I do" comments. I realized a couple years ago the whole fishery was pretty much a bust over here anymore. Two winters have gone by now since I touched one. Just not worth it other than to be out. Were down to 200-500 fish, depending on the year, and 70% don't even enter the systems till after the 4/15 closure.
It's not the same but, we decided yesterday were going to focus more on walleye, take the kids on the boat and make use of those dams for something other than bass fishing. Luckily I've got the grand kids and for a few years I can focus on them and trout fishing as a suitable substitute this time of year.
I really hope they figure it out. I'd like to be able to take them out with a chance for the most majestic of fish when they get bigger and stronger.
 

Shad

Active Member
I've been reading this thread and it is depressing. I don't know those waters well, but all the same I feel for you folks and the fish.
I pulled this out because I understand the "realizing that I'm done for the season" and "what will I do" comments. I realized a couple years ago the whole fishery was pretty much a bust over here anymore. Two winters have gone by now since I touched one. Just not worth it other than to be out. Were down to 200-500 fish, depending on the year, and 70% don't even enter the systems till after the 4/15 closure.
It's not the same but, we decided yesterday were going to focus more on walleye, take the kids on the boat and make use of those dams for something other than bass fishing. Luckily I've got the grand kids and for a few years I can focus on them and trout fishing as a suitable substitute this time of year.
I really hope they figure it out. I'd like to be able to take them out with a chance for the most majestic of fish when they get bigger and stronger.
All good thoughts. I've gotten back into chasing searun Cutts in the Sound, but late winter is kind of a down time for those. That should improve soon, with the emergence of chum fry....

You mentioned "figuring it out." For sure, steelhead are a tougher nut to crack than salmon. Salmon are food fish, so they're doomed to be harvested at every opportunity. Not hard to understand how that results in perennially low returns; indeed, that's by design. Any escaped spawners beyond the basement-level escapement goal is deemed a wasted or forgone opportunity.

Steelhead are classified as gamefish, which exempts them from management models that seek to harvest every available fish, and also from non-tribal commercial fishing. Further, non-tribal sport anglers are no longer allowed to harvest wild steelhead in any fishery. Why, then, do their numbers continue to decline, despite such low harvest pressure?

I think it comes down to the fact that the bare minimum number of spawning salmon it takes to provide the fisheries we want is not enough salmon to support the ecological systems in which they are the keystone species. Dead salmon represent a critical nutrient contribution to our relatively sterile streams. Over the years, we've reduced that nutrient load significantly, and I believe it's reached a point at which there's simply not enough left to sustain the ecosystems. Degraded stream habitat is a major, limiting factor, but my observation has been that habitat is used as an excuse for irresponsible overharvest, more and more as returns shrink.

It's been said that "God don't make no junk." There's a very good reason our rivers had so many salmon in them when white settlers first showed up here. For us to assume that was just God being a bad businessperson and being inefficient is the height of human arrogance. Of course, nobody really believes that, but when economic factors are considered, science tends to get "bent" to suit market needs....

I really believe we could make an immediate, meaningful impact on all our endangered runs by reducing commercial harvest of salmon by even 10%. Seems like it's worth a try to me, but then, I don't work in an industry that requires me to harvest fish to sustain my livelihood....
 

skyrise

CCA, Hatchery Wild Coexist
Oof. That’s rough when you wake up good’n’early and still get pipped. I might have had first crack at the run I chose, but 6 dudes in boats floated it while I fished and there were 4 guys behind me. Killed my drive to go looking for another run with that kind of pressure around. I’m saving full days of fishing for weekdays, when I might be able to find rested fish.
Maybe we have forgotten what it used to be like back in the 70’s - 80’s when you left in the morning not knowing if the spot or run you decided on would have 1 or 2 guys or ugh more. If we chose a certain run for the morning you just expected there would be guys there because that usually meant fish were being caught in that area. Of course you had 50 times more places to choose from but there were always someone around. I think about the Springer season down on the Columbia, if you have trouble sharing water down there then you best stay home.
I would trade what we have now in a nanosecond for the busy, guys everywhere like it was in the 70’s. Had a blast back then & got to know some good folks on the river.
 

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