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bushwhacker
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Worth a read and consideration. Direct link to the paper: http://online.fliphtml5.com/xjqqa/fmsu/

http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/2016/12/wsc-releases-paper-on-cnr-fish-handling-impacts/
WSC Releases Paper on CnR, Fish Handling Impacts

We teamed up with retired WDFW scientist Dick Burge to examine how CnR handling practices can impact mortality levels and the potential steroid-hormone changes in fish that damages eggs and fry development.



Wild steelhead are renowned for their tenacity when hooked, for the epic places in which they swim, and for their role as bellwethers of healthy watersheds. Anglers from across the globe chase these prized fish, and for many of us hooking one is a direct connection with all that is wild.

Yet wild steelhead have declined precipitously across their native range, and fisheries have been greatly limited. Thankfully, the adoption of catch and release angling has reduced the harvest of these iconic fish, allowing for more sustainable fishing opportunity. But emerging science is showing that even "CnR" fishing can have mortal impacts on steelhead and other salmonids, particularly when bait, barbs or improper handling are involved.

The WSC believes it is critical to understand the impact of CnR on steelhead, so we teamed up with retired WDFW scientist Dick Burge to examine how handling practices can impact mortality levels and the potential steroid-hormone changes in fish that damages eggs and fry development.

The intent of this paper is not to take away fishing experiences from anyone, but rather to suggest some changes that will improve the overall health and productivity of our fisheries for all anglers. By incorporating small changes to our handling practices, we can help these wild fish populations recover and increase the opportunities for anglers to connect with prized wild steelhead wherever they swim.

Read the Paper
 

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Does not seem very science based. Comparing wild steelhead CNR mortality rates to brown trout, hatchery steelhead handled at the hatchery, etc.... pretty much everything but the actual subject matter (hook and line caught and released wild steelhead). Also the words used in the paper suggested that they really had no concrete data. For instance the word may was used 12 time, suggests was used 5 times and various other ambiguous words suggesting they did not know for sure, were used frequently in a relatively small document.

It sounded exactly like their agenda that was pushed on Olympic peninsula steelhead fisherman during the rule changes that took effect last July.
 

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Make my day
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So let me get this straight. The only data mentioned that was truly relevant was the snider creek brood stock program. And they don't provide a link to it. Don't talk about what kind of control group was used. For that mater, how do you get a control for studing weather handling fish causes 15 to 23% higher mortality?
 

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Buenos Hatches Ese
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Does not seem very science based. Comparing wild steelhead CNR mortality rates to brown trout, hatchery steelhead handled at the hatchery, etc.... pretty much everything but the actual subject matter (hook and line caught and released wild steelhead). Also the words used in the paper suggested that they really had no concrete data. For instance the word may was used 12 time, suggests was used 5 times and various other ambiguous words suggesting they did not know for sure, were used frequently in a relatively small document.

It sounded exactly like their agenda that was pushed on Olympic peninsula steelhead fisherman during the rule changes that took effect last July.
Hmmm, and how exactly do you think they should perform that study on wild steelhead? I think they used the next best alternatives that they could. I would take their specific numbers with a grain of salt but the general conclusions seem to be legit. There have been lots of studies done over the years about the link between oxygen deprivation and mortality among salmonids, this is nothing new. It's kind of hard to argue against playing them quickly, not dropping them on the rocks, not holding them out of the water, etc. etc.
 

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bushwhacker
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Hmmm, and how exactly do you think they should perform that study on wild steelhead? I think they used the next best alternatives that they could. I would take their specific numbers with a grain of salt but the general conclusions seem to be legit. There have been lots of studies done over the years about the link between oxygen deprivation and mortality among salmonids, this is nothing new. It's kind of hard to argue against playing them quickly, not dropping them on the rocks, not holding them out of the water, etc. etc.
Yup. And what's more, WSC is one of several groups currently funding a new comprehensive study on impacts to wild steelhead, including mortality, specifically from CnR angling on a British Columbia river system that sees a lot of steelhead and a lot of angler attention.

There is more to come on this issue, and more science is needed. But just saying the science is not complete (which the paper clearly acknowledges) does not mean the science to-date is not relevant or worth consideration. Such is science.
 

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The suggestions to handle fish carefully are intuitively logical. Few would argue otherwise. The best information I know of for survival post hook-and-line angling are the anecdotal accounts from the wild broodstock programs. These are the only cases I'm aware of where the utimate fate of fish that were angled is known. Those programs didn't have CNR angling as their objective, but fish were live caught, subjected to harsher treatment than run-of-the-mill angling, held for weeks, then live or kill spawned, with live fish being released back to rivers, and egg to fry to smolt survival documented. In all cases I'm aware of, the mortality rate was very low.

The next best case that comes to mind is something like the Skagit fishery, where a CNR season operated for over 30 years, alongside some directed and targeted steelhead harvest, and zero indication that fishing had any impact on steelhead production whatever, with escapement also having no adverse effect except at the lowest levels. The logical conclusion is that the CNR fishery was little more than background noise in an ecological and management system of dozens of variables.

Sg
 

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The Dude Abides
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Does not seem very science based. Comparing wild steelhead CNR mortality rates to brown trout, hatchery steelhead handled at the hatchery, etc.... pretty much everything but the actual subject matter (hook and line caught and released wild steelhead). Also the words used in the paper suggested that they really had no concrete data. For instance the word may was used 12 time, suggests was used 5 times and various other ambiguous words suggesting they did not know for sure, were used frequently in a relatively small document.

It sounded exactly like their agenda that was pushed on Olympic peninsula steelhead fisherman during the rule changes that took effect last July.
Agenda. Yep, we have an agenda. A faking fishery that is healthy.

Quarrel and find fault. It totally helps.
 

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I agree with releasing all wild steelhead, handling them with care and no barbed hooks but beyond that the rest is a joke. It's funny how what they think is best for the fishery is exactly what was implemented this year.

WDFW afraid of a lawsuit? Probably played a factor.

Bait caught steelhead having a far higher catch and release mortality? Doubt it. I have talked to countless steelhead fisherman about this who have caught thousands of steelhead and they all said they could count the number of fish hooked in the gills or tongue on one hand.

These are not trout in a lake that suck down power bait. They are non feeding fish with river current involved that pulls the offering back towards the corner of there mouth.

But hey what do I know. When you finally have an awesome day swingin flies make sure and call it a day after hooking one or two. That's the responsable thing to do according to the WSC.
 

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Even an inch of water is vastly better than a fish flopping on gravel or the deck of a boat (the latter being extremely common prior to the adoption of the oft hated "Sparky's Law" which requires that fish to be released not be completely removed from the water.

Think of the water as a mattress. If you've ever slept, or tried to sleep, on the bare ground, you know that that first inch of camp mattress is the most important and beneficial. Every inch thereafter adds more benefit - up to a point - but the incremental benefit of each additional inch of mattress thickness or water depth is less and less, until no further benefit is gained, and the depth - safety threshold flatlines. If water depth of two feet isn't readily or easily available, don't worry, but if even one foot is not handy, then consider that you should handle the fish ever more carefully as the only suitable place to bring the fish to hand becomes more shallow.

I think intuition on fish handling is pretty reliable, except when that greater care causes you to take ever more time to get the landing, handling, and release executed. Time spent handling the fish matters, and more time is not good for the fish. Slightly rougher handling to accomplish a quick release is generally not a bad trade off.
 

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JT -
I have fished bait for winter steelhead and have been around quite a few winter fish that have been caught on bait. Over a number of years kept track of where fish were hooked (critical versus no-critical locations). Based on that experience am comfortable with the following observations.

Regardless of the bait used when caught with bait while plunking the frequency of fished hooked in critical areas (likely to produce mortality) was elevated. I agree that drift fishing with eggs on fresh run fish they were not hooked in critical areas any more frequently than with artificial lures. However when kelts were being caught the frequency of critically hooked fish sky rocketed. When using sand shrimp/prawns (especially if the angler "fed the bait to the fish") the frequency of critically hooked fish was higher than with eggs and significantly higher than artificial lures. Fishing with bait divers (regardless of the bait used) or unweighted presentations the number of critically hooked fish was also quite high.

The other fact to consider when discussing the use of bait is the impacts on juvenile fish (especially in the summer) or adult resident rainbows (summer and winter).

Curt
 

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Yup. And what's more, WSC is one of several groups currently funding a new comprehensive study on impacts to wild steelhead, including mortality, specifically from CnR angling on a British Columbia river system that sees a lot of steelhead and a lot of angler attention.

There is more to come on this issue, and more science is needed. But just saying the science is not complete (which the paper clearly acknowledges) does not mean the science to-date is not relevant or worth consideration. Such is science.
I understand that WSC is mostly a volunteer organization, but I would be very interested in how much you guys are investing in a study on CnR mortality. Is it a summer/fall fishery or a winter/spring fishery?

Thanks
 

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JT -
I have fished bait for winter steelhead and have been around quite a few winter fish that have been caught on bait. Over a number of years kept track of where fish were hooked (critical versus no-critical locations). Based on that experience am comfortable with the following observations.

Regardless of the bait used when caught with bait while plunking the frequency of fished hooked in critical areas (likely to produce mortality) was elevated. I agree that drift fishing with eggs on fresh run fish they were not hooked in critical areas any more frequently than with artificial lures. However when kelts were being caught the frequency of critically hooked fish sky rocketed. When using sand shrimp/prawns (especially if the angler "fed the bait to the fish") the frequency of critically hooked fish was higher than with eggs and significantly higher than artificial lures. Fishing with bait divers (regardless of the bait used) or unweighted presentations the number of critically hooked fish was also quite high.

The other fact to consider when discussing the use of bait is the impacts on juvenile fish (especially in the summer) or adult resident rainbows (summer and winter).

Curt
Yes Curt I agree that fish can be hooked deep while plunking with bait or if fishing bait divers. However, very few people fish that way anymore for winter steelhead. I would say that easily 90% of winter steelhead fisherman that use bait drift fish or float fish. That being said if the steelhead runs are in that bad of shape to where bait can not be used it should probably just be closed. I think fishing bait in the summer has the largest impact on wild steelhead due to smolts as bycatch.
 
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