Stop extinction of UMPQUA WILD STEELHEAD

shawn k

Active Member
The north Umpqua doesnt have a winter hatchery run. Only the south fork does and they run earlier than the wild fish. If you catch a hatchery fish on the north Umpqua you are urged by the Steamboaters to give it the wood shampoo.

Will Atlas

you bring up a very important question, and certainly it seems you have put alot of thought into your position. I respect that, and I can see how in a situation where pressure was relatively light and most anglers opted for C&R, harvest is the lesser of two evils compared to a massive hatchery operation. That being said, do you have any data on the current exploitation of wild how many are harvested. It doesnt take much for steelhead to be overharvested. I'm not an oregonian, its not by business to call those shots, that being said, not matter where I fish I will never kill a wild steelhead.

Pete, I don't see how C&R will induce more hatchery steelhead being released into the system. I don't know specifics, but there was never any mention about increasing the hatchery brood, only eliminating the harvest of wild steelhead. Therefore, you get a reduction of hatchery steelhead, no reduction in native stock and altogether a stronger, more genetically diverse, spawning population.

The regulations called for the potential of 5 wild fish per season, but now this would in turn, give the anglers 5 additional hatchery fish per season. The wild fish are left to breed and over time the hatchery fish numbers might decline and then the entire system will be one wild population that will solely be a C&R fly fishing only watershed. BRILLIANT!!!
You are right, there is no proposal for increased hatchery fish in the current regs change proposal, but watch out, it just may happen. Try to understand that ODFW's directive is to provide opportunity for recreational sport and harvest of fish and wildlife. Understand that Oregonians love them some harvest, just like everybody else. They will fight for it tooth and nail, and there are many more of them than C&R guys like us. If you take away wild harvest from the North Umpqua River (no wild retention) the business owners, fishing guides, and locals will still want some fish to harvest. What will be the compromise? No wild retention = new hatchery programs. I'm not just talking about the Umpqua basin, it can happen anywhere. Seriously, what do we all want in the end? We want healthy rivers, with wild fish that all user groups can enjoy, Right? One thing I do know is that not many rivers with a hatchery program anywhere can provide that.

First of all, you do have a say in this, these fish don't know political boundaries, they belong to all of us, including those that wish (unfortunately) to eat them. Second, in regards to killing wild steelhead; me neither.... never have, never will. (Unless in man vs. wild situation... ie impending death).

The most recent exploitation data I could find quickly was from the North Umpqua in 2000-2001. 1,248 wild steelhead were harvested out of a total of 8,216 wild fish that crossed Winchester Dam. (1248/8216) * 100 = 15.19%.
Is that too much?? The Bios don't think so due to exploitation rates varying between 15% and 35% having occurred over the last 20 years and the strongest return to the North Umpqua in that same timeframe occurred during winter 03-04, with almost 13,000 wild steelhead crossing Winchester Dam. Is it just that we have not yet seen the impending decline of wild steelhead populations after 20 years of harvest and counting??? I kind of doubt it.

I guess what irks me are the taglines and soundbites " Stop Extinction of Umpqua Steelhead" or emotional lines about the brutal, bloody, killing of a wild fish. When we argue on the basis of misguided emotions, it makes our whole side look bad. We need to go at these things with a clear head and armed with the facts. Show me some data that limited sport harvest (15-25%) of wild fish has diminished any healthy stock into extinction, don't just tell me you cried when you saw a fish get killed for someones family to eat. We need to know what the repercussions are if we get our wish, because it might just hurt worse in the end. Sign the petiton please, but don't just assume that if you do we have reached the pot at the end of the rainbow. NO NEW HATCHERIES ON HEALTHY RIVERS.

Anyway, here is ODFW's recommendation after the BA was done in 2005 to allow retention on the mainstem Umpqua, you can find the .pdf and all the data online so you can decide if the bios were justified in supporting the proposal to allow retention:

"The population of the North Umpqua winter steelhead is very robust. Data collected in the lower Umpqua River and South Umpqua has lead us to believe the Umpqua River population is tracking the North Umpqua in productivity and abundance. Habitat conditions in the Umpqua Basin are relatively stable, and should continue to produce a sustainable population of winter steelhead in the next 10 to 20 years. Habitat productivity and its long-term sustainability is the greatest concern when the Department was evaluating the health of the winter steelhead and impacts from increasing harvest of wild winter steelhead.
The winter steelhead fishery in the Umpqua Basin was 2 fish per day, 20 per year (wild or hatchery) until 1999. This fishery did not cause a decline in the health of the North Umpqua winter steelhead population. The proposed fishery of 1 fish per day, 5 per year is further restricted than past bag limit of two fish per day basin-wide. The highest exploitation rates were calculated to occur on the North Umpqua stock. These estimates are probably high due to the fact that punchcard data has been shown to over estimate harvest. The North Umpqua counts at Winchester Dam are real-time data, and are very accurate. Any signs of decline in the winter steelhead population in the North Umpqua will be quickly determined.
The Department recommends that the Commission adopt the fishery proposal of 1 wild fish per day, 5 per year on the mainstem of the Umpqua River. This fishery should be defined as the Umpqua River and Bay.
Future Monitoring
The Umpqua Fish District will continue to collect monitoring information on the health of wild winter steelhead populations in the Umpqua River watershed. The use of established long-term monitoring sites such as Winchester Dam (1946-present) will allow an annual data point looking at adult returns. Additional traps such as Smith River Falls, Nonpareil Dam, Canyon Creek Fishway, and South Umpqua Falls will be monitored to continue to evaluate the health of the winter steelhead run into the Umpqua Basin."

Respect to all who signed up so far - and to those who have chosen not to also. We all have our personal take on a situation.

from the front page today at

Were trying to protect a once great run of fish in the South Umpqua that is fading fast and being targeted unnecessarily. Preliminary public hearings on the issue are on July 19th, with public comments being presented to the Commission for a decision on August 3rd.

Thanks, all

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