Methow Shutdown

Thanks for the reply.
So it seems unclipped hatchery fish are being considered wild fish when it comes to counting encounters and when it should be shut down.
Seems like voodoo management to me.
Just my opinion but all planted hatchery fish should be clipped. If there aren't enough true wild fish to open it up, it shouldn't be opened.
What is the goal of planting unclipped hatchery fish? Hope that they spawn or just to make the wild numbers look better so they can open it up?

I don't fish the Methow and I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers of those that do. I know many here really enjoy fishing it.
In this day and age, I just don't understand the planting unclipped hatchery fish.
I don't fully understand the logic either other than ensuring some get back to the hatchery for broodstock. But it seems the number of unclipped hatchery fish in there is pretty damn high.
While I see benefits in increased angler education, I'm not sure it's as worthwhile a solution as simply using excess funds to increase enforcement (as stated by others before me). People don't pay attention/follow the regulations because there is little to no chance of being caught or punished. If you increase those odds, folks will start to tread a little more carefully and/or educate themselves before venturing into unknown territory. The truly malignant repeat offenders will be quickly eliminated from the picture, and the "uneducated" will learn quickly what the regulations are and comply. Fisherman like to B.S....word will spread quickly that the "fish cops" are out in force and people will pay attention.

I'd also be willing to bet quite a few of the guys that are habitual offenders don't even have fishing licenses...trying to get them to take an online course before getting a license won't solve that problem. If anything it will make it even less likely that they might "see the light" and buy a license.
When we did Occupy Skagit last year the WDFW enforcement officers were there and they liked having "eyes on the water" - that is in the form of other law abiding anglers. Our rivers need that kind of activity to keep the folks breaking the law on point and honest. People are more likely to follow the law if being watched or feel the perception of being seen

A responsible wild fish CnR fishery in the Columbia basin, Skagit or on the OP has nothing to do with recovery of that fishery - the CnR fishery has little impact. What I would like to see is the ecco fish groups, independent anglers and the state really put together a study on the mortality of a wild CnR fishery. Do it for fall CB runs and our winter fish here in the PS and on the OP. This hoping for more hatchery fish to keep CB fishery open does us as anglers no good and really works against what we want - Fishing Opportunity. Looking over 30 years of of data on the Skagit shows what we really all know, a wild fishery has good return years and poor return years - Marine survival is the key to each years returns.


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
When we did Occupy Skagit last year the WDFW enforcement officers were there and they liked having "eyes on the water" - that is in the form of other law abiding anglers. Our rivers need that kind of activity to keep the folks breaking the law on point and honest. People are more likely to follow the law if being watched or feel the perception of being seen
I agree completely. After a recent talk with a WDFW officer about this issue, it makes total sense. If you see an offender, call 911.

Sitting here on the forum complaining about people mishandling fish doesn't do much. Reporting offenders, however, does make a difference.


5-Time Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
I do plenty of both
Good man. It was interesting how the WDFW guy said to just call 911 first, not the department or anyone. Just 911.

Also said a barbed hook and one fish is a $550 fine. You want a fast way to teach someone the regs? Boom. (barbed w/o a fish was $87 or $97 cant remember...i think 87)


Evan, I'm curious if you try to educate people who submit their fish pics to the company you work for? It would seem to be poor business practice but good for the fish....?


Active Member
Not really. The public would learn that the money made from selling those fish is going back to funding the hatchery programs that made them. That makes a lot of sense from an economic standpoint.

I have worked as a fish tech bonking surplus fish in Marblemount for sales and I don't think anyone there saw selling those fish as anything but a way to pay the bills for growing more fish including some stocker rainbows for lake fisheries that will never see a river or provide nutrients to anadromous fish.

In addition, to declare that the few fish hatcheries have in surplus is a significant portion of the in river nutrients is a stretch. The monumental humpy runs definitely create at least a couple orders of magnitude more nutrients on rivers that support them than any hatchery fish. And the humpies feed very little within river ecosystem. Humpies are actually incredibly valuable for this purpose and more of them is a good omen for in river nutrients. If only they ran every year. ;)

There are far greater "travesties" than selling a bunch of ripe surplus hatchery turds.
Not going to dispute your opinion as I helped distribute surplus coho from the Marblemount for several years, many years ago. However, here is an example for you to consider.

The return to Priest Rapids Hatchery was estimated to be 40,000 adults this year. You need 5,000 for brood stock and perhaps another 5,000 for food consumption (prison and food banks) and tribal allocation. That leaves 30,000 low quality fish, untreated with chemicals (e.g., formalin) essence, the perfect fish for nutrient enhancement (NE). Even though NE ranks high upon the priority list, guess how many of those surplus 30,000 are destined for NE? None, that is how many. While PS may be fortunate to have returns of pinks and chum to help with marine derived nutrient distribution, the east side streams, all of them have multiple listings of ESA fish, don't have that luxury. So what happens to those excess, surplus carcasses that are not needed? They get hauled off to the rendering plant to make pet food. I don't know about you, but I think it is a travesty to have those carcasses wasted on pet food when the east side streams are screaming for additional marine derived nutrients. And why were none of those 30,000 fish allocated for NE? Because the government did not want to jeopardize the upcoming contract renewal with the fish buyer, valued at several hundred thousand dollars a year for the entire statewide contract. In comparison, the habitat restoration efforts alone in the Wenatchee, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan basins is valued at millions annually, let alone the cost of hatchery supplementation programs. It is not that I would mind selling those unwanted, surplus carcasses to make use of them by the rendering plant for pet food. However, the buyer should pay fair market value for that product and only recently has the government increased the value of that contract to approximately $600,000. In my mind, that is not paying for the true value for a business to make a profit off a public resource...I feel NE is a better use of this resource.
Evan, I'm curious if you try to educate people who submit their fish pics to the company you work for? It would seem to be poor business practice but good for the fish....?
Always a really tough topic. I typically just point them to our submission rules which points these things out.

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
the problem with enforcement is they are few and far between and when they are around they tend to cut people some slack... myself included. i have always thought that they don't need to be at a particular area all the time, but randomly hit the fisheries that need extra enforcement hard and enforce absolutely every rule by the book. if this happens enough people will realize that the while the likelihood of being checked is low, the punishment if caught is high.

hell, i slow down on certain sections of road specifically because of past speed traps even after years of not seeing cops in those specific places. targeted, strict enforcement works far better than the current efforts that at least on the coast, target boat anglers far harder than the river fisheries that imo have more poaching.

imagine a random bi-monthly sting on the quilcene, quillayute plunking bars, methow, and any other seasonal fisheries. enforcement seems more visible during non-ESA listed halibut seasons than ESA listed steelhead and salmon seasons... and river fisheries do not require a 100K boat and gas.


Active Member
While there is little doubt that there are significant benefits from having lots of salmon carcasses in our rivers the sad reality is that given the current habitat and hydrograph conditions of those rivers the benefits of those carcasses to anadromous fish is much less than expected. Most of our waters with the simplification of their habitat and volatile hydrographs have lost the ability to retain those carcasses and the potential nutrients that they represent.

Given the spawn timing (and post spawn death) of many of our salmon that unless the nutrients from those carcasses are incorporated into the aquatic food web quickly it is not available to most juvenile anadromous salmonids. Most of those juvenile fish do not have access to those nutrients until the following year. Fish like chum, pinks and Chinook fry are not in the river until the next spring while juvenile steelhead and coho behaviors are such (for example moving into the substrate to overwinter with dropping temperatures) have little access to those nutrients in the fall/winter and again must access those nutrients the following spring.

That is not the case for some of the larger fish (resident adult rainbows, whitefish, bull trout, etc) which are actively feeding year round and thus can take immediate advantage of loose eggs and deteriorating carcasses. For those that spend time on our rivers in the next few months think about how often you encounter or see juvenile fish behind the spawning salmon?

If having a significantly higher bio mass of carcasses was the answer to rivers producing more juvenile steelhead then rivers like the Snohomish and Green would not have the steelhead problems they currently are experiencing. In the last dozen years the Green has several thousand tons of pink carcasses added to the system every other year that did not exist in any meaningful numbers in the previous 50 years. Since the Spring CnR steelhead fishery was closed in 2001 on the Skykomish the annual biomass of salmon carcasses has been in the 2 to 8 million pound range compared to an average of less than 1 million pounds for the 20 years before 2001. Yet somehow in both systems the wild steelhead population remains depressed with carrying capacity much less that seen in the 1970s and 80s.

Hope the meeting on the 17th is productive for you.