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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my second attempt to post this report. My previous post disappeared, tho' my profile shows the post as having been successful. So, if this shows up twice, you'll know why.

Anyway, it's been a very long time between fishies. Went out very early yesterday morning and fished the gravel bar immediately above, and within sight of, the Sultan bridge (Does that bar/pool have a name?)

Here are the details:

Date/Time: Monday, 16 June, 5:15AM

Water: moderately clear, 52 degrees, flow was just under 4000 cfm.

Weather: clear, no wind.

Equipment: 14' sage, Rio Windcutter, moderate sink tip (3 ft/sec). 6' Maxima (brown) leader tapered from 30lb to 8lb (This is a very, very stiff leader). The fly was a skykomish sunrise tied on a 3/0 Alex Jackson spey hook - A very big fly, hence the very stiff leader.

The fish took the fly *immediately* following the first mend. Now, I've never had a steelhead take a fly that soon so I'll elaborate just a bit on what exactly I was doing.

Because of the water depth, I was casting almost straight across river, instead of the normal down and across 45 degree angle. This, the theory says, should give the fly a little more time to sink so that the fly would be at the proper depth for more of the swing. Anyway, I made a good cast with a nice little reach mend so I didn't have to make an on-water mend right away. But when I did, wham!

She took it pretty hard. Other steelies I've caught sorta tightened the line and didn't really run until they felt the prick of the hook. This babe took off right away - Arguably the most thrilling hookup I've yet experienced.

I honestly didn't expect to catch any fish. I had an appointment in Bothell at 9:00 AM and thought I'd get out on the river for some casting practice with the little sage. I'd been fishing my 16' T&T all winter and really needed to renew my relationship with this rod.

Oh, and thanks to the gear guy who took the picture for me. He was pretty cool. He even asked if I minded him stepping in above me, he never crowded me, and offered to take the picture for me.

Cheers,

Michael
 

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Nice! That gives me some hope for next week!

The area across from the bridge over the Sultan river is called Cracker Bar and the area above the bridge over the Sky is called Wallace flats, great water.

What did the gear guy do when you released the hatchery fish?
 

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Good work! I drove out the Sky last Friday to the Cracker bar, but counted 38 rigs at the parking lot on the left hand side of the road, and 15 rigs at the Cracker Bar parking lot. There was a guy fishing the run I wanted to fish, so needless to say, I turned around and drove to the Snoqualmie. I'm hearing a couple of reports of fish here and there on the Sky, might have to sneak out next week and see what I can find. Thanks for the detailed report!

worldanglr
http://www.worldanglr.com/

Calling Fly Fishing a hobby is like calling Brain Surgery a job.
-Paul Schullery
 

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Sky Report - C&R'd a 10-12lb Hatchery Hen

Good to see you are back and that is a very nice fish.:beer1
 

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Beauty of a fish Michael!

We need to get out and do another float with the pontoon boats. I live in North Bend now, so I don't have to worry about crack heads breaking into my hotel room in Everett any more :thumb

Scott
 

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Very nice fish indeed, Mike, a real beauty. A big, flashy, over-sized fly like that was apparently just the ticket. What a thrill when they hit hard like that and make an instant run for someplace else. It's thrills like that that keep us so addicted.
Bob :thumb
 

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I guess I'll have to be the skunk at the garden party.

Nice fish and nicely written report. Congratulations and good job. I'm sincerely glad for you, and don't mean the following as any kind of personal reproach.

But why did you release the fish? I hate to put it this way, but releasing a hatchery hen likely poses every bit as much risk to the wild population as bonking a native.

Having said that, I'll admit that in the past I have released hatchery steelhead out of zealous obsequity (I think I just made up a word) to the C&R ethic, but I like to think I know a little better now. Hatchery fish should probably not even be in the river. While that position may provoke some legitimate controversy, I think most everyone now agrees and understands that the hatchery fish should at least be kept off the wild spawning grounds as much as possible. One way to help do that is to kill every hatchery fish you encounter. That's what they're there for, and according to reliable reports, they taste perfectly nice. If you don't want to eat it, I'd wager you could give it away at the Cracker Bar before you got back to your rig. To be frank, putting it in the trash would be better than putting it back in the river.

It seems to me just about everyone here would never think twice about carefully releasing every wild fish we catch. I would go as far as to say many of us seem to approach that subject with an almost religous conviction (we certainly spend as much time debating the hows, whys, dos, and don'ts as any group of kvetching Talmudic scholars). Likewise, I urge every angler on this board to consider ALWAYS killing every hatchery steelhead or salmon you hook. It's just as important.

But again, nice fish.:thumb
 

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Ray, you may have something here and the jury is still out as far as I am personaly concerned. I just don't know. I have fished with Mike and I can tell you he is a fine sportsman and I doubt he would kill any steelhead for any reason other than starvation. Nor would I.
But isn't that fish a beauty? Maybe it will hang out all summer in the river and provide several thrills for others. You just never know.
It made my feel good to see the eyes of the fish pointing straight down which is proof positive that his lights are still on.
Like you, I seriously question what these hatch jobs are all about. When I was a commercial salmon fisherman (12 yrs.), I caught exactly two steelhead on the high seas.
So it can't be for the meat fishery that these fish are raised.
And as a sport fish, I think they leave much to be desired as well. A big school up at Marblemount on the Skagit was fished by a contractor who said fish were even bumping into his legs. Being down on the Grand Rhonde, it took me several days to get up there. All fish were gone. No one fishing. When the contractor was there, it was shoulder to shoulder.
Don't know. Still thinking. But man, that's a beautiful fish!
Bab:dunno
 

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Sky Report - C&R'd a 10-12lb Hatchery Hen

Wow, nice fish! Finally someone hooks up along with a great pic. Steelies are in I'm guessing. Next month is when I get to Steelie fish again. Waters are still kinda high, but its good to get out and throw some BIG flies.
Peter ><>

"Follow Me and I will make you fishers of Men" Matthew 4:19
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
>What did the gear guy do when you released the
>hatchery fish?

He said, "Well, let's see if I can get one like her." Had he asked me for the fish, I would probably have given it to him.

Cheers,

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
>We need to get out and do another float with the
>pontoon boats.

That would be great. I had a great time. In addition to the Sultan-Ben Howard float, the Stilly has a number of really great floats early in the season. Drop me a line.

Cheers,

Michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sky Report - C&amp;amp;amp;R'd a 10-12lb Hatche...

Hi Ray,

You advance an interesting and widely accepted point of view. However, since you raised the issue, I also have some thoughts to share.

>But why did you release the fish?

Because I always release fish if I'm not going to eat 'em. I even release dogfish caught while mooching for salmon.

>I hate to put it this way, but
>releasing a hatchery hen likely poses
>every bit as much risk to the wild
>population as bonking a native ... While
>that position may provoke some legitimate
>controversy.

I agree with the last sentence - That the effects of hatchery steelhead on a river's ecology is a "legitimate controversy".

>I think most everyone now agrees and
>understands that the hatchery fish should
>at least be kept off the wild spawning
>grounds as much as possible.

I would agree completely if, by wild, you mean native. However, native fish are very, very rare - If not extinct in most Western Washington drainages. Today, almost all wild steelhead (in the lower 48 states) are descendents of hatchery fish - many not more than a few generations removed.

Now, is the loss of native steelhead to be regretted? Yes. Is the loss of native steelhead bad from a fisherman's point of view? Not necessarily. The theory advanced by some, and with which I agree, argues that with enlightened hatchery practicies, hatchery descendents are more vigorous (i.e., exhibit greater genetic variation) than their native counterparts. This is a good thing and means that these 'wild' populations are less sensitive to environmental insults such as the slide that virtually wiped-out the stilly's population of native steelhead.

Like you, I have reviewed much of the science (esp the genetics) underlying this issue and have arrived at a somewhat different (tho' not entirely opposite) conclusion. In a nutshell, the ecology of mixed populations of hatchery and wild steelhead is not yet well understood. For example, one theory holds that hatchery fish may be necessary for the long term health of the wild (as distinguished from native) steelhead population in some river systems.

Therefore, bonking a hatchery hen, while probably not harmful to the population, certainly should not be done out of the belief that killing hatchery fish is a "good thing." Hence, I will kill a [hatchery] fish if I'm going to eat it, or I will give it to someone who will. Otherwise, I will release it. I have found no scientific support for the idea that killing a hatchery hen benefits the wild population. Nor have I found support for the opposite conclusion, that releasing a hatchery hen has a *net* detrimental effect.

I would be delighted to engage in an offline discussion of this issue with you (or others). I have a great deal of respect for your knowledge and experience and I wouldn't be surprised if you provided me with information I've not yet considered. That would be very cool.

Cheers,

Michael
 
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Sky Report - C&amp;amp;amp;R'd a 10-12lb Hatche...

Michael,

First off, congratulations on your fish. I am glad that they are starting to be picked up here and there. Many of us were beginning to wonder if the summer hatchery fish had been swallowed into the same void their winter-run cousins had.

I do have to take exception with some of what you have written though in response to Ray's post on killing all hatchery fish. First off, you are totally off the mark on native fish being extinct in most Western Washington drainages. This is simply not the case and I am curious as to what data you have to back that statement up.

You go on to state, "Is the loss of native steelhead bad from a fisherman's point of view? Not necessarily. The theory advanced by some, and with which I agree, argues that with enlightened hatchery practices, hatchery descendents are more vigorous (i.e., exhibit greater genetic variation) than their native counterparts. This is a good thing and means that these 'wild' populations are less sensitive to environmental insults such as the slide that virtually wiped-out the stilly's population of native steelhead."

Wish all due respect, what are you smoking? Once again I would be curious to see the data you are basing this dubious conclusion on. Might I suggest looking at smolt to recruit survival rates for hatchery fish to show how robust your vigorous clones are.

I am not surprised that you have adopted these fringe opinions on wild fish management. After all, I fondly remember your past long and eloquent defense of aquaculture and how great it is for anadroumous populations. I am sure that the European salmon stocks that have been decimated by aquaculture could have been saved by enlightened hatchery practices and their more vigorous offspring. To my way of thinking you are simply another in a long line that think they can improve on nature. Sadly, the report card for those attempts is not very pretty.

sinktip
 

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Sky Report - C&amp;amp;amp;amp;R'd a 10-12lb Hatche...

This ought to get interesting.

I have to agree with sinktip on this one.

I would like to inform Michael that the Deer Creek steelhead have made a tremendous come back from the threat of extinction. Their populations have not been supplemented with hatchery fish and have returned to over half of their original numbers in just 10 years time. All of this is primarily due to some great work repairing damaged spawning habitat and fixing failing and poorly designed drainage culverts while adding more culverts to help prevent further siltation of spawning grounds. There is no reason not to expect this trend to continue unless someone decides to build a hatchery on Deer Creek.
 

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Wild fish in CA

First of all, I have to say congrats on a nice fish!

Second, I would also have to take exception to lower 48 wild steelhead populations being descendants of hatchery fish. There are plenty of coastal drainages in CA and Oregon that have never seen a hatchery fish and have distinct subspecies (if I may call it that) uniquely adapted to the local watershed environment. I don't want to name rivers but there are several that come to mind in that regard.
 
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