Netting on the Sound

All the fall kings are of hatchery origin, the natives are springs, and they haven't been fished on for 30 yrs. The N. fork springs are comming back pretty well but the S. forks are lagging, a few years ago they were down to 100 spawners.
Yeah, no native falls but natural spawners... maybe considering the amount the tribe dumps in to fish on. The tribes have subsistence fisheries on the springs, targeting the N Fork (Kendall) fish but who knows what they're intercepting, including other species (steel) when fishing below the confluence. There are definitely more N Fork springs than S Fork but the majority are hatchery brood stock (clipped and/or tagged) with few naturally returning spawners. But as I'm told it takes time (decades) for brood stock programs to show any colors. Skookum hatchery (Lummi-run) used to have a decent S Fork broodstock program going but cut it a while ago for BS reasons and now are struggling to reestablish it using captured juveniles and raising them to adulthood at Kendall. Stop by Kendall and ask to see the progress... very interesting. I would venture to say that there are currently well under 50 spring chinook returning to spawn in the S Fork, some of which are strays... N Fork springs? hatchery falls? who knows.

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Steve and others present the issues very well. I have another observation. Many argue that the NA's shouldn't be using mono nets, using too many nets, etc. Every time we go in that direction to argue it takes us away from a major issue: us.

It's my thought that non-NA's are pretty much in charge of protecting, preserving and RESTORING spawning habitat. Our history and performance in that area is horrible. We non-NA's can't go around pointing fingers unless we put ourselves at the top of the list as having had huge negative impact on native species.

I would think that building relationships with all consumers of the resource, getting aggressive with habitat issues, and take responsibility for ourselves. Maybe, just maybe, we'll increase populations of native fish.

What am I doing trying to write at this time of the morning? I don't know if this even makes sense. Time for more tea.


Active Member
karl, karl, you think you 'in charge' person is going to move up and down the various river systems removing shopping plazas, housing developments and assorted other people environments??????? ain't goin'to happen, now, tomorrow, next year or in this century, in other words never.

while your point is well taken, the immediate focus MUST be on allowing the ever diminishing 'wild' fish free access to their spawning river of choice. that translates to the abolishment of non selective harvest methods by everyone who chooses to fish.

the indians are major vilotators of escapement as well as over harvest. ever try and find just what their quota might be or just how many fish were actually harvested??? indian secret! the historic and efficient methods employed by their anscestors were fish traps. simple, effective and they would actually allow an accurate count as well as a proven means of releasing, unharmed, non clipped fishes. this, obviously, means the non indian commercials would also have to get rid of their nets, no free passes here.

in fact, the very best solution would be to close down the entire harvest for lets say a decade and see what happens. you willing???
Karl-It sounds like you're suggesting some large changes to our contemporary culture, and what we value. All we can do (in our small FF group) is keep up the dialogue, and work on ourselves as individuals, I'm not sure if the majority of the population is up for it though.

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Fellas, I worked in the Ecological Section branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a few years. I was able to preserve some wetland areas in Florida and Georgia that are now more important and valuable than they were 30 years ago due to encroachment of humans. We are the source of the problem in habitat destruction. We are the source for the solution. It is important that fish returning to spawn have suitable habitat, otherwise it's pointless.

Neither Georgia or Florida have marine or estuarine hatchery systems for fin fish.

Guess why?
Fellas, I worked in the Ecological Section branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a few years. I was able to preserve some wetland areas in Florida and Georgia that are now more important and valuable than they were 30 years ago due to encroachment of humans. We are the source of the problem in habitat destruction. We are the source for the solution. It is important that fish returning to spawn have suitable habitat, otherwise it's pointless.

Neither Georgia or Florida have marine or estuarine hatchery systems for fin fish.

Guess why?
I think what you are saying is important, however, it is only one piece of the puzzle for us here in the Northwest. One thing you don't point out is that there is not wide scale gill net fishing in Georgia or Florida.

We have to go to a more selective means of fishing, then have increasing runs of wild fish returning to the rivers, continue habitat improvements for them to successfully spawn and get some nutrients back into the river for smolt to surive on.
Ah, the bi monthly thread against netting. In the time it takes to read 10% of the posts you all could have called your state senator to do something about it. Venting your feelings on this website may make you feel better but it isn't going to get anything done. Call or write your electeds, especially those who are up next for re-election.



Active Member
Johnnyrockfish touches on an important point however if folks want to affect the situation on the Nooksack or elsewhere we needed to understand the situation.

The issue on with the Nooksack coho and Chinook is not a question about MSY or selective fishing. Rather something much more insidious management decision(s). Decades ago (1960s0 to facilate intense fishing it was deemed appropriate that basins (Nooksack/Samish and South Puget Sound) be managed for hatchery fish. Because of the high productivity of the hatchery program those areas were subjected to intense fishing (maybe as a high as 90% expliotation rates) to harvest the abundant hatchery fish leaving the wild to fend as best they could in face of that pressure driving to the edge of extinction.

The result of the this heavy exploitation resulted in the tiny coho seen today. The constant pressure of intense gill net fishing selected for smaller fish (more likely to squeeze through to contribute to the next generation). The same reason so many so coho are seen in South Sound. Secondarily that heavy pressure also resulted in the bulk of the natural spawning coho/fall Chinook were stray hatchery fish rather than naturally produced fish.

Of course that heavy fishing has been addictive to the fishers success in altering this archaic approach will have treat that addicition as well as assuring that natural selection processes be allowed to work their magic assuring that the naturally produced fish become productive in their habitats. I'm not sure that folks are willing to pay the price that would offer a chance of success.

Part of that price has to be habitat restoration; nutsack angler mentioned the situation with the spring Chinook in the basin. While they were not declared "secondary stocks" like they coho and fall Chinook they have experienced heavy fishing pressure and had their habitats severely degraded. While it is true that there are more North Fork springs now spawning that spawning population is mostly hatchery produced fish and every generation the natural spawners produce few natural origin adults; in spite in having several thousand spawners the number of natural produced adults can be measured in hundreds.

While may be possible to move back to a more "sane" management approach the way will be difficult and require a long term commitment. As often the first step in "recovery" requires understanding how we arrived at the current state of affairs.

Tight lines

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
No, there isn't a significant gill net fishery other than for shad, which is fairly significant. There was tremendous pressure to start gill net fisheries. Instead of allowing more gill nets, Georgia shut down the sturgeon gill net fishery. In addition, the commercial shrimp trawlers are a political force to be sure. They pretty much called the shots on access to the shrimp resources. But when sea turtle numbers were declining due to trawl net mortality, the State and Feds worked with the shrimpers to develop extruder devices for the nets. That has had great positive outcome on turtle numbers. The pressure then shifted to, surprisingly, nesting habitat and the need for the general public to step up. Guess what? The public almost didn't do it. Go figure.

The point is people worked together to protect and enhance fisheries resources. The Georgia marine fisheries people pushed for creel limits and minimum size limits on spotted sea trout and channel bass before the stocks could become depressed. This was supported by sport fisherpeople who wanted to protect their resources. The sportspeople of that State take an active role in their environment and related fish and wildlife.

Further, there was huge pressure applied to politicians to allow dredge and fill of marshes and bottomland wetlands for housing development. It was fishermen and hunters plus the Auduban and Nature Conservancy that went to bat to stop it. Richard Nixon signed the Clean Water Act and that was when the fun really started.

The point is, what do YOU do to help? Pointing fingers isn't a solution. Like I said earlier, there are people on this forum who are a h$%^ of a lot smarter than I and I'm sure they can come up with solutions. If not, then just enjoy what we have and know it will continue to decline.

I lived here in the 1960's. I worked as a creel clerk at LaPush for two summers checking sport fisheries. I saw first hand the open conflict between the State, the Feds and the Indians. The family friend that got me that job was well known to the many Quilleute (sp) Indians I met while working in LaPush. When I say they knew him it was not a good way. In my opinion, a huge opportunity was missed. I guess the court system proved that accurate.

I'm old enough now to know: in crisis you either pull together and solve a problem or you pull apart and nothing gets fixed. Let's see if there is a workable solution for the fishes' sake.


still an authority on nothing
That's a damn good piece of wisdom there Karl.

The part many of us have trouble seeing (and by us I mean sporters, commercials, and first peoples) is that the problem is caused by greed and solved by sacrifice.
No one seems willing to go there yet. from any side.
Karl... pull together? as gt stated the co-managers have no interest in revealing their catch. Co managers??? I pick my battles and I will point fingers especially when we're dealing with broodstock programs of ESA listed fish (an attempt at rehabilitation) that are being HARVESTED WITH GILL NETS... WTF does that say about co-management?


Active Member
interesting history lesson from the 60s smalma, disgusting, and still operational. addressing what can be addressed immediately seems to my way of thinking the first beginning step. that means selective fishing must be instituted. we can control that step, have the legal backing to protect already listed ESA fishes and it would make an enormous difference in escapement of non clipped fishes.

sure habitat is key, but no one here or anywhere in the world i know can get a handle on this and make a difference in any short term span of time. in the meantime the extinction clock is ticking on that river near and dear to you, right now.

or, as an alternative, shut down fishing, all fishing for lets say a decade and lets see what happens.


still an authority on nothing
here's a quote from 17 Sept Puyallup tribal news issue #96 after claiming that THEY closed the lower Puyallup :
"It was so nice to see our fishermen fishing without harassment, racial slurs, without the hindrance of catching someone in their nets. To just see boats and nets- wow, what a beautiful day."
-Nancy Shippentower-Games
Puyallup Tribal Council Member

co-managers, indeed.

Go Fish

Language, its a virus
Even though I love to catch and eat salmon I would
agree with gt on a decade ban of all fishing in Puget
Sound. Would it happen? Not likely....but it would be
a step in the right direction.

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.



Active Member
The Boldt Decision says non-natives need to split the harvest with natives. Doesn't it follow that if there is no harvest by non-natives then there can't be a harvest by the natives? Or when natives over-harvest, thereby violating the treaty, why is there no consequence? If a treaty is continually violated by one party, at some point doesn't the treaty become invalid/outdated/unenforceable? What is the utility of a treaty if there is no reason for one party to abide by that treaty?

All questions I'd like answered.

The resource is being raped and nets are Boldting the door.

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