Wild Steelhead Broodstock Programs [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Wild Steelhead Broodstock Programs

03-28-2003, 08:57 PM
We have several rivers here in Oregon that are currently switching over from out of basin hatchery plants to wild broodstock programs. I would be interested in some of your opinions on this program.
Good? Bad? Let me know :)

03-30-2003, 12:09 AM
Stew, I guess what seems to be lacking to me on many of these broodstock programs is the lack of ability to communicate the following information: 1.) What are the long/short term goals of the program, 2.) What will success look like? 3.) Is the program to jump start a depressed run or is being developed for harvest opportunity? 4.) Is the program truely needed? It's funny how no one knows how to answer these questions.

Here in Washington the planted winter fish are chambers creek stock which return much earlier decreasing the chances that there will be wild/hatchery spawning interactions. WA also has the tribal issue if we have all these returning hatchery fish from broodsock programs the tribes will want to exercise their right to harvest the later returning hatchery fish which in turn impacts the later returning wild fish.

It was interesting at the last WSC meeting Bob Gibbons, steelhead manger for WDFW, said that clubs come forward offering how they can help. Bob said the department would respond "Gee it would be really great if you group could help do redd counts or spawning surveys on the wild fish" Many of the clubs come back and say "We want to start a broodstock program" Seems to me the real agenda goes without saying that some just want to go fish or fish closed waters. :rolleyes:

03-30-2003, 08:07 AM
My first reaction, which I decided not to post, was "if you have wild fish, why screw with them?". The very best thing we can do for a healthy run is to allow mother nature to take care of her own as she has for millenia. If we artificially increase some numbers via brood programs, what have we really achieved?

I could see a crisis-level recovery program as being rationalizable but for rivers with wild fish, we should just let them be and do everything possible to protect their ability to procreate their species on their own.

You can look at many examples where this has been successful. Even the lowly Green River in King County - which has been shut off to lower river fishing during wild fish months for decades, now has a surprisingly strong native fish population that no one can touch nor should touch. No brood program just a hands-off policy when it matters. I watched a significant improvement occur over the years I lived within a few miles of it. There may not be effective means of measurement in place but the natives are coming back, believe me. I fished catch and release up to the closure for 12 years straight. But that's just an urban river called the Green known more for a Renton truck painter than it's fishing...

My point is across all potential wild fish rivers we should stop prioritizing commercial Indian and sport interests and start managing the resources for sustainability on nature's own terms.

Worry about whether the wild fish will get to their natal gravel beds, and whether the places for them to reproduce and continue the cycle will be affected by what we do instead of how many we can infuse into a river artificially to support some political, social, or commercial need.

I wonder how much time, money and effort we've put into building a dream spawning channel? Something that a fish in their right mind would never pass up to opportunity to stop and lay eggs? What if we protected this streambed from siltation and let the alevin wiggle into the flows of a natural river system? Probably squat, it's all gone into concrete, pellets and aquatic pesticides.

Sorry about the rant, .02, etc.