Great News For Wild Steelhead [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Great News For Wild Steelhead

02-06-2004, 11:28 PM
OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted new sportfishing rules for the 2004-05 season that include a two-year moratorium on retaining any wild steelhead caught in state waters.

The moratorium, adopted on a 5-3 vote, will require anglers to release any steelhead caught from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2006 that is not marked as a hatchery fish by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar.

Drawing from a list of 463 proposed changes - 336 of them submitted by the public - the commission also adopted new handling requirements for releasing salmon and steelhead that cannot be retained, additional protection for Columbia River sturgeon and fixed starting dates for recreational crab fishing.

Commissioners also declined to take action on several proposals, including one to ban treble hooks in saltwater fisheries and another to prohibit the use of motorized vessels on the Satsop and Wynoochee Rivers.

Commissioner R.P. Van Gytenbeek of Seattle initiated the discussion about requiring the release of wild steelhead by calling for a permanent ban on wild steelhead retention. When that motion failed, the commission considered and rejected the idea of a six-year moratorium before scaling it back to two years.

"In this case, I think a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all," Van Gytenbeek said. "A lot of people in this state are concerned about the decline of our wild steelhead stocks and I think a moratorium gets us started down the right path."

Commission Chair Will Roehl of Bellingham did not share that view, noting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is currently working on a new comprehensive plan for steelhead management, tailored to specific stocks.

"I can't support banning retention of wild steelhead on rivers where stocks are healthy and returns are strong," Roehl said. "I don't think this broad-brush action is warranted, but that appears to be the will of commission."

When releasing steelhead or salmon that cannot be retained under state law, anglers will have to follow new handling procedures approved today by the commission. Measures adopted by the commission prohibit completely removing salmon or steelhead caught in lakes or streams from the water or pulling them into a boat in Puget Sound prior to release.

To provide greater protection for Columbia River sturgeon, the commission extended the closed area below Bonneville Dam approximately two miles downstream to Marker 85 from May 1 to July 31. All sturgeon fishing - whether from a boat or from the bank - will be prohibited in the expanded closure area, where the fish tend to congregate.

In addition, the annual harvest of sturgeon for personal use was reduced from 10 fish to five statewide, and sturgeon seasons recently developed in conjunction with Oregon were adopted as permanent rules for the 2004-05 season.

Recreational crabbers, meanwhile, can expect greater certainty in the timing of their seasons in the coming year. For the first time since 2000, the commission set opening dates for each marine area rather than relying on tests to determine when the crab have finished their molt.

Improved data on molting periods provided by WDFW allowed the commission to set opening dates this year for crab fisheries in all 13 marine areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast, Roehl said.

"We're pleased that we've reached this point," Roehl said. "Now we have the data we need to protect the resource, while allowing people to plan their vacations."

In other matters the commission:

∑ Clarified rules prohibiting snagging, making it illegal to hook and retain a fish (other than forage fish) to the rear of its gill plate.
∑ Adopted a three-month catch-and-release fishery for trout and other gamefish on the Cedar River in King County.
∑ Adopted permanent regulations banning retention of canary rockfish and prohibited spearfishing for any species of rockfish.
∑ Set new daily hours (9 .m. to 1 p.m. on days open to shrimp fishing) for designated Puget Sound shrimp districts such as Port Angeles Harbor and Discovery bay. It also extended the Port Townsend Shrimp District north of the Port Townsend ship canal to include Kilisut Harbor.
∑ Extended the Octopus Hole Conservation Area in Hood Canal to include the adjacent tidelands.
∑ Set new hours for harvesting clams and oysters on a number of beaches and set new bag limits and seasons for rivers and lakes throughout the state.

These and other measures adopted by the commission will appear in WDFW's 2004-05 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Brian Simonseth
02-06-2004, 11:47 PM
Thanks WSC:smokin:

02-06-2004, 11:54 PM
I think some tears will be shed by the night's end...

I think I need to go enjoy a couple Mack & Jack's in honor of what transpired today.

Thank You!

Leland Miyawaki
02-07-2004, 12:11 AM
Savor the victory boys. Now let's make it permanent!


02-07-2004, 12:19 AM

that cohiba I have been saving is gonna taste mighty sweet tonight:cool:

And like Leland says lets make it permanent!


02-07-2004, 12:52 AM
This is the most biased and idiotic decision the commission has ever made.

It is resource allocation based upon political favoritism and has no basis in conservation reality. There is nothing to indicate that over harvest has caused the current declines of the inland steelhead stocks. Those rivers where no harvest and in some cases no fishing is allowed have equally reflected the current steelhead cycles.

The coastal stocks have been showing a trend towards increasing numbers despite somewhat extreme harvest pressure.

They have lied and blindsided us with their public statement that the total ban on steelhead harvest would not be considered this rule cycle.

Washington and Idaho are now the only two places in the Pacific Northwest with a total prohibition on wild steelhead harvest including stocks with adult returns as much as twice that required for spawning escapement.

Thanks to the scumbags in the Wild Steelhead Coalition I will never again purchase another fishing license in this state!

I'm outa here - Plunk

02-07-2004, 01:17 AM
I rather like this ruling and I raise my glass in a toast to the members of the WSC as well as the members of the commission that voted for this measure.

beau purvis
02-07-2004, 06:56 AM
It is about time. something I staarted doing as a college kid in the 60's. only took our brilliant leaders 40 yrs to realize.My thanks to everyone involved!!!! Beau

02-07-2004, 08:27 AM
Congratulations to the WSC who by the way is not some elite political force but it's you and it's me, and it's America - a country forged by it's people. And in America we look after our national treasures, and by God the steelhead is such a treasure - not meat.

To my dear friends and former neighbors in the pacific northwest if there is one thing that I have been enlightened to since my move to the birthplace of our nation - that is our incredible history since the pilgrims fled from religious persecution and landed not far from where I live. And one town over, an admiral built a wooden ship 40 years before Lewis and Clark and sailed around Cape Horn and up the pacific coast to discover a river which he named after his boat, the SS Columbia. It's all about individuals who hold strong convictions despite the odds and opposition, despite old thinking with deeply buried roots in incumbent positions, to believe in the face of non-believers, and to in their own way change the world.

For a steelhead angler, or any true sportsman this is no less of a day than any that history can compare. For the first time in our history we've have acted to turn the tide on the damage we've done for centuries against this national treasure, the wild Washington state steelhead.

In recent years striped bass along the east coast were gravely endangered and a rare sight for recreational and commercial anglers in the 80's. Such a moratorium was put in place and the stocks rebounded to healthy levels, it was a complete success. The vigil is held by groups like the Coastal Conservation Association and countless others today to make sure we do not fall back into the abyss. Two years may not be enough to solve the problem but it will provide enough feedback to extend the study to a full life cycle, which I believe is critical to measuring it's success for the statistical types who are the majority in these things. My one comment would be why two years and not life-cycle? Number of years is a human decision, this can not be measured in human terms. The study should be implemented and measured in terms of the steelhead's life cycle.

In any case - Ryan, the officers of the WSC and my friends in the fraternity of the steelhead... it's a good thing I can type this out, because I sure can't talk with this lump choking my throat.

The fish in the logo I designed swims upon an infinity symbol. That's not just graphics, that is a deeply rooted dream of mine as a dedicated Washington steelhead angler. I am proud to be a small part of this and to those who carried this out I am indebted to you for having fulfilled a huge step forward toward this dream we share.

02-07-2004, 09:15 AM
Very cool!

02-07-2004, 09:26 AM
I want everyone to take a moment and thank Rich Simms, Jack Berryman, Dick Burge, Jeff Johnson and the rest of the WSC BOD. They would not keep quiet on this issue when many people, myself included, were advising them to let the fight rest and focus on other issues. They kept fighting and fighting and fighting. This victory is for thye fish but the people mentioned above are to thank.

Way to go guys!

And Plunk, don't let the door...


02-07-2004, 12:07 PM
Way to go guys.

Fish politics are passionate, hard to deal with and very frustrating. That you stuck with it and realized this success is an inspiration to all of us involved in this fight. Congratulations and keep up the good work - there is more to be done.

Tyler Kushnir

Steelhead Society of B.C., Director.

02-07-2004, 01:37 PM
Sparkey. Didn't he lead the petitioning for the wild fish handling changes?

02-07-2004, 03:56 PM
Great news !


Leland Miyawaki
02-07-2004, 09:17 PM
The stars must have aligned for this one.

We now have mandatory statewide wild steelhead release and also a way through "Streamwatch at Eyes in the Woods" at: to help with enforcement. If you are serious about your love for this precious resource, now is the time to commit. So far these discussions on this and other boards amount to "preaching to the choir." The release of wild steelhead needs to be forced onto the masses. It doesn't do us any good to pass rules and laws without the means to enforce them. So get with your fishing clubs (I know I will with my club) and learn to report and prosecute poachers. If you don't belong to an organized club, I'm sure Eyes in Woods would accept members of this group as an organization.

We won, now let's make sure it works.


02-07-2004, 10:02 PM
Originally posted by DLoop
Sparkey. Didn't he lead the petitioning for the wild fish handling changes?

I do not think I can take the credit for the new handling regulation although I have seen it referred to as Sparkey's Law on a few differant occasions. :D

On Bob's Board about a year ago, I brought up, on a couple differant occasions, that I would like to see a change in the current regulations regarding the handling of wild steelhead.

About a half dozen or so people sent in regulation proposals that were similar to mine. I also stood up for the proposal and defended it when it came under fire (and recieved many nasty emails).

BUT, there were others that brought up similar proposal ideas prior to when the proposals were due, there were others that defended the proposal...and there were also others that testifed and sent in letters on behalf of the proposal as well.

02-07-2004, 10:29 PM
This is excellent news. I had thought the wild steelhead release issue was dead this regulation cycle.

Rich and the rest of you guys in the WSC who wouldn't let it go, THANK YOU!!!!! Likewise, thanks to the commissioners who voted in favor of the 2 year wild steelhead release.


There are many rivers with documented depressed wild steelhead numbers, the Stilly, Sky, Sno, Nooksack, and Skagit to name just a few.

02-09-2004, 10:43 AM
I am not sure I agree with this law. I don't like blanket laws like this one. I would rather see the same type effort put forth to protect those runs that are in imminent danger of extinction instead of a state wide law. The majority of steelhead fishermen already release wild fish and most of the rivers in this state already have mandatory release of wild steelhead. All this rule has done is drive a wedge between the sportsmen of this state and in the long run could do more harm then good.

North Island
02-09-2004, 11:02 AM
Good Work,
I enjoyed very much reading the account of your politicians, and the response from this forum. The fact that you get your govt. to address these issues is very inspiring to me. Now if we can only get similar responsibility north of the border.


02-09-2004, 02:39 PM

Most of the rivers have mandatory release simply because the health of stocks has declined to the point where WDFW cannot justify it. Unless it is changed in the last year, the emergency release regulations are emergency restrictions only. This may have changed as I know Curt was trying to get it so last year.

Regardless, the North Sound rivers were deemed to have healthy stocks (and thus harvest) right up until the emergency closures in the fall of '01. At that time, the health of the stocks was determined to be so poor that they could not even withstand the incidental impacts of a CnR fishery.

While I do not believe that harvest is the "great satan" in declining runs, it is surely a lesser one. As the Sky, Stilly, Sauk and Skagit runs try and fight their way back to recovery, I can only imagine that the decendants of all the harvested fish from the "healthy" years would be a welcome addition.

As for driving a wedge, maybe in the short run. Look at how Idaho and BC sport fishers have embraced CnR. They won't stay mad for long.


02-09-2004, 03:54 PM

I hope you are right but as things look now the WSC has acquired many new enemies because of itís support for this rule. I donít see that as a positive. As I stated before I donít like blanket rules like this one but I will continue to support catch and release of wild steelhead. I think through education and awareness virtually the same thing could have been accomplished with out all of the ill feelings.


02-09-2004, 04:08 PM
Kerry -

I don't understand, why are people feeling antagonism against the WSC, and who is the group on the other side of this "wedge"?

I just don't get what the problem is.


02-09-2004, 04:25 PM
Well it seems most people who oppose this are thinking that this restriction will make it easier for more restrictions to be imposed on anglers (basically total shutdown). I do not agree with that mentality as this has not happened in BC and Idaho. Like Sinktip says people are quick to forget and just move on.

From the people I have talked to and read online who oppose this are busy pointing their fingers at the tribes, netters, poachers, etc. However, it seems reasonable that since this fight has been won we do indeed have our house in order to go after these other problems.

Those who release wild steelhead are in the majority in this state and last time I checked that is how things in this country are supposed to be run. Majority rules (unless you are running for prez :) )

I for one would love to see this go to a public statewide vote via an initiative. I think we would have no problem winning....

This ruling has really got me excited about grass roots campaigns and feeling bad about not giving as much as I could to the cause. That will change in 2004.


02-09-2004, 05:27 PM

You are right on the swelling of the ranks of enemies of the WSC. I am not sure that they are new though as many lined up against the WSC two years ago. Even so, there are many friends out there both new and old.

The WSC swung for the fences and connected. They used the department's own data and talked science with the commissioners. Or at least all of them but the one that refused to meet with them. They got there ammunition in order and played the political game. Despite the "backroom betrayal" BS that many of those opposing this decision are claiming, the WSC did it the old fashioned way by working the system. For that they should be commended.

Is their target area larger now? You betcha. This was a huge victory but now they need to keep the momentum going on those other issues like habitat that have an even greater impact on the health of steelhead runs. The next two years will determine if the WSC thrives or goes down as a one issue organization. Based upon what we witnessed last Friday, I expect only the best from them.


Leland Miyawaki
02-09-2004, 05:43 PM
From what I have been able to gather, the majority of fisherfolk are in favor of wild steelhead C&R. They are only a little apprehensive of giving up their fish to someone else, ie. tribes, poachers and the "unknown." They will embrace and forget if the runs can be increased. These two years are a little short but it can be done.

It's going to take extra care by all of us to make sure we release with speed and care Ė meaning we should take our photos with the fish in the water (especially if you're going to post Ė photographic proof of lawbreaking)!

Also, the C&R rule has the potential to create many more lawbreakers. We need to be vigilant and do what we can to stop the increased poaching, particularly on those rivers where there has been a kill season.

Come on WSC, get "Streamwatch at Eyes in the Woods" to our next meeting. Remember how much Curt Kraemer was for it last year.


02-09-2004, 06:39 PM
As I said earlier in the thread this is great news. Sinktip is right about BC. The change to Wild Steelhead Release was not without a fight. The first couple of years saw a major decline in licenses sold, however that did not last long. The fisherman returned to the fish they love.

I must say that for the most part, there is at least a generation of BC anglers that wouldn't dream of killing a wild steelhead. The concept is part of the steelhead ethic in BC, I hope this is the start of a similar mind set in Washington State.

A question comes to mind, what effect (if any) does this development have on the closures on the Sky and Skagit in the spring?

02-09-2004, 07:44 PM
Juro -
The antagonism is really pretty easy to understand. What would have been your reaction if the situation had been reversed? Suppose that the Bonking Society of Washington has proposed opening the entire Quilleyutte system downstream of the Park year round, 2 fish wild fish limit, no annual wild fish limit and no bait restriction. Their justification was that the escapement has been 4,000 to 6,000 above the established escapement goal. We all had testified against the rule change, WDFW staff recommended against it. At the final hour of the final meeting for approval any proposed regulation changes one of the commissioners thought it was a good idea and they voted to considered the change and adopted that change.

Would you be a big fan of the Bonking Society? I think not! Also I suspect that you might have issues with the Commission. That is exactly what happen with the WSR issue. Was WSC and their allys wrong - of course not however it may not be the best way to win friends.

Tight lines
S malma

02-09-2004, 08:36 PM
Isn't there plenty of "brats" over there for the "Bonking Society" to take home?

Was WSC and their allys wrong - of course not however it may not be the best way to win friends.

I can tell you that the WSC has won a friend in Idaho and they can expect to have my strong support in the future.
Take care, MJC

Todd Ripley
02-09-2004, 08:38 PM

We both know that if we were looking to just make friends we could have chosen a much different field to play on rather than the anadromous fish management field!

Fish on...


02-09-2004, 09:32 PM
I like the path Sinktip proposes, and I, for one, would be more involved in WSC if it expands beyond WSR as a point issue. I'm glad to see it pass but ready for the broader (and local) battles that will insure wild steelhead survival. WSC has a team of winners and could grow to an even more influencial force. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.

02-09-2004, 09:42 PM
The main opposition to this new policy (About Time!) , seems to be from those who fear it will lead to closing of Hatcherys, and reduced opportunity for harvest of those fishes. They seem to believe they have an inalienable right to Hatchery fish, and also only begrudgingly accept some restrictions on Wild Steelhead,while tribal netting continues. For them, this issue is an elitist, class warfare type proposal, and has grown out of Cn'R fisheries , created (of course)solely so Fly Fisherman can stand on spawning gravel and fish. (I had heard this one before, as I am sure others have) As I understand the process, the proposal was scaled back from 6 to 2 years. My question is this, given the typical life history of Steelhead, and the fact that we will see no improvement in returns in such a short span (save 1/1 life histories), was this a tactical error? Would not a 6 year ban have 'proven' the theory more effectively, (Including more life histories, allowing for a more pronounced and widespread rebounding of stocks, as opposed to a few stocks, or portions thereof containing the 1/1 history.) It is simple too short a period to see any real results. Am I wrong here, I just wonder. My fear, after just 2 years , opponents of the ban will simply say there has been no improvement, and so the ban should be rescinded. While that argument would not hold water , in the end, it would 'Play in Peoria'.
I thank all who were involved with the effort to win this battle. I have killed one wild steelhead in my life, 22 years ago this month . It has turned into my own personal 'Curse of Ruth' The fish was 25 lbs, from the Soth Fork Calawah River. I killed it, and haven't caught one larger since ! Let that be a warning to all !! :)
While the fish is long gone, and the rod and reel retired years ago, I still have the fly, and a picture of some funny looking kid w/ a big grin.

02-10-2004, 12:35 AM
Something to ponder!

The basic argument in support of the year round WSR requirement was that there are no "healthy" wild stocks of steelhead in the State of Washington and the change was needed to: 1) rebuild the depressed runs and 2) Protect those few remaining quasi "healthy runs" from sliding to depressed status. Essential there are no harvestable fish.

Then doesn't it follow that fishing impacts on wild steelhead should be limited to the lowest possible impacts associated with a WSR fishery while targeting hatchery steelhead or other species that can support fishing impacts. It would then follow that there should be no CnR fishing where these same wild fish are targeted.

That would mean that steelhead fishing (including any and all CnR season) in much of Western Washington would close about mid-Febraury when the abundance of Chamber's type winter run ends and remain closed until the hatchery summer steelhead become abundant, say mid-June.

If some one doesn't support such conservative seasons aren't they say that the above support arguments for this landmark change in management were not valid?

Are the vocal supportors of this decision still going to fish this Spring? and if so how do you justify that with the stated status of the resource?

This is just a sample of the issues we anglers that are passionate about wild steelhead will be wrestling with over the next couple years.

Tight lines
S malma

Tight lines
S malma

02-10-2004, 12:49 AM
Originally posted by Nailknot
I like the path Sinktip proposes, and I, for one, would be more involved in WSC if it expands beyond WSR as a point issue. I'm glad to see it pass but ready for the broader (and local) battles that will insure wild steelhead survival. WSC has a team of winners and could grow to an even more influencial force. It will be interesting to see how things evolve.

Nailknot, What other issues do you propose? And more importantly are you willing to sacrifice some fishing time in order to accomplish them and support. You are right there are many issues, and your organization (I assume you are a member, might even know eachother) is trying to work them to the best of our ability, but only so many people to work on them. WSR was a point issue at hand to be worked on, that might benefit the fish, while trying to keep up with the ESA fiasco on the Columbia, current instream flow legislation, working on the steelhead summits, developing the WSC policy on Hatchery Reform etc. ? I am sorry if I sound turse, but the "I' ll get more involved if it expands beyond WSR" is like getting a half hearted pluck that won't come back.

PS: Could use some help at the WSC Booth at the flyshow.

02-10-2004, 01:01 AM
Word around the campfire is that because of the WSC's presence at a recent Washington State House of Natural Resources Committee hearings, the stronger more favorable version (to the fish) of the Instream Flow was passed onto the House.

The Senate at the present time is considering a weaker version of the Bill (that the Governor supports).

The WSC also spent a good amount of time dealing with the recent tangle net fiasco on the Columbia. They tried (and are still trying) their hardest to keep the endangered steelhead from suffering a negative impact.

Hmmmm...I would say the Wild Steelhead Coalition is much more then a single-issue organization. However, when you take on an issue as large as wild steelhead release and fight for 3+ years to get it implemented, that issue will be the first thing that comes to find when you think of that group. That is what has happened to the WSC but like I said, they are so much more then a single-issue organization.

Come to a meeting, send some emails to current Board of Directors, visit the website and most importantly, get involved and then you will see that the WSC is sooo much more then a single-issue organization.

02-10-2004, 09:55 AM

It is your job to close the runs if they are not healthy to fish. You will not get any flack from this side if you do it with good science. But if the department and a few pols want to play the lets get even game and close all of the C&R season you should change the science you use now. State wide C&R in my opinion and many others will not do much good in increasing numbers of returning fish but by god having this law shows that we the sportsmen are very concerned about what has happened to our Steelhead. Hey and if you decide to close it down I hope you close the entire river systems down year round and pull the plug on the hatcheries.

I was against the WSC bringing this back to the table I thought they would just piss off the commission after the commission put 20 something positive things on the agenda dealing with steelhead. But after reading all this crying from the bonkers about wild steelhead release I am so damn proud of the WSC.

WSC you have made more friends than enemies but the enemies you have made can be very dangerous so watch your back and I hope you help watch the backs of the commission too, they are going to need it in the future. There was never going to be unity between those who want to eat wild steelhead and those who want them released so WSC stand your ground and you are going to need to get real tough in the coming weeks.

Good Luck.

02-10-2004, 10:49 AM
There was never going to be unity between those who want to eat wild steelhead and those who want them released

Is there something special about eating "wild steelhead" versus a hatchery fish when the river conditions are the same? I don't really remember the former being more of an epicurean delight over the latter versions more mundane taste, but then again it has been a very long time since I ate a wild fish.

Leland Miyawaki
02-10-2004, 11:00 AM
I believe Lisa Pelly's term as commissioner may be up this year. If hers and any others are up we will have to make sure they are replaced by good people who champion the fish. I'm sure many of you remember the campaign waged to keep Pete on the commission.


02-10-2004, 12:36 PM

What it really comes down to is a rights issue. It is the same thing we see with a certian segment of society that believe my right comes first be damned with what is best for the society as a whole. Many of the kill crowd claim they do not kill wild fish and I'm sure that they don't. But because the law had said it was OK to kill on certain rivers at certain times of the year many do kill and they had the right to do so. That's no different than everyone having to fish a C&R season as long as it is law. The WSC and other concerned groups felt with the backing of what many feel to be good science that this kill fishery was wrong. They went to the commision in a perfectly propper maner and convinced the commision that there should be no kill season state wide.

This is just plain politics and it is the American way. The bonkers have the right to reverse it by going through the propper channels or however they choose. The only reason any of us are fishing Steelhead is because of politics. Everyone of our Sound rivers should be shut down because our Chinook and Steelhead should be on the endangered list. But through the fairness of democracy the developers, commercial fishermen, native americans, sportsmen and who knows how many other groups did not want give up their part of the pie and were able to convince all goverments involved not to put these fish on the list. Power wins and we are proud of the WSC and the power they found through hard work to win this one for the fish this time around.
There is not a person in the NW that needs to eat wild Steelhead to survive. I fish weekly for flounder, sunfish whatever is leaugle and what I'm told by the state is plentiful because I'm broke and I get by just fine without bonking a wild steelhead which is not plentiful. The F&G have been telling us that these fish could be killed on certain rivers so people could eat them The WSC convinced the commission otherwise and that is power of democracy at work.

02-10-2004, 01:10 PM
Rich- no terseness taken :) I am a member, yes. I understand WSC is currently involved in a number of issues but the public perception has been on WSR. Now that WSR is done (sorta) will be great for these other issues to rise in awareness among members etc. Personally I'd like to see more regional focus on regs like C&R year round above Bacon Creek on the Skagit, Eastside Steelhead stream closure after Dec 31, etc. But maybe those are sportfishing issues not Wild Steelhead issues. How WSC evolves in regards to sportfishing vs. strictly conservation is what I meant by my "interesting to see how things evolve" comment.

If we lose the C&R seasons will be tragic. Not so much the losing the fishing as losing the interest of a lot of potential steelhead allies. The temp closing of these seasons a few years ago is the primary genesis of the WSC if I'm not mistaken?

02-10-2004, 08:59 PM
First off I'm here as a private individual - hence the pseudonym (also Dollies are a pretty neat fish).

Second I was not proposing that the state close any rivers but rather questioning the consistency of practicing CnR fish on populations an individual angler thought was not "healthy". An individual angler's choice based on his/her personal ethics.

You stated: "...close the runs if they are not healthy to fish. You will not get any flack from this side if you do it with good science."

How do we define a "healthy run" in this new context? For the last 20 years the State and Federal courts have used runs above the MSY escapement level as harvestable levels. In addition the state has allowed CnR fisheries that target wild steelhead (for example the spring catch and release season) on runs whose escapements were expected to be at least 80% of MSY. Now without any harvest fish for the recreational angler how do we (you and I) define a healthy run? Is it still one over MSY? or some other standard? Under what conditions should any fishery be allowed to target wild fish?

Note: WSR has been a management tool used to target co-mingle hatchery steelhead or other abundant stocck will minimizing the impacts on the wild population by requiring the release of any caught. Those that supported this change have essentially argued that with the possible exception of the Quilleyute system there are no healthy wild steelhead stocks in Washington. Given this new paradigm should we have any fishery that targets wild fish? If so under what conditions - still use the 80% of MSY? Another standard?

If CnR fishing is continued to allowed under the current (old?) standard the critics of this change would have some reason to view it as "fish grab" for a select user group.

I don't have an answer for these question but am suggesting that we need to serious consider them and clearly establish new guidelines. It is my understanding that the State's Steelhead Management Plan will be under review for the next couple year and that will likely be the place for such discussions. The success of the excerise will depend on bring together a diverse user group that has been strongly polarized.

Tight lines
S malma

02-10-2004, 10:26 PM
Sorry for playing "Columbo". I was always very impressed when he scratched his head and played stupid to get directly to the crux of the issue. Which I feel my question did, it is now and always was about bonking, as suspected. It's not about the tribes, thats a bunch of BS, in fact they should be the next target (screw Boldt) :p

Shutting down C&R:
If these wild stocks are hurting, why have a kill fishery? We already shut down a long list of rivers that are known to be down runs early. I assume these are the runs that require it.

Besides, if the fisheries that have been open during these months were healthy enough to permit killing them up to now, they are certainly healthy enough to stop killing them. Eliminating the kill is a huge improvement no matter how anyone spins it.

All of this "opposition" is a thin veil over old thinking in modern times, no appreciation without a fork and plate. The change is timely and a major step forward for stewards of the resource.

As I said in my first post, my only complaint is that the term for this is too short - it does not allow for life cycle to determine what the actual effect will be. If anything, this moratorium is not long enough, meaning no disrespect of course. I would hate to hear the powers that be say it failed because the results could not be measured.

Has this decision made things better? If only wild steelhead could talk...

02-10-2004, 11:12 PM
If CnR fishing is continued to allowed under the current (old?) standard the critics of this change would have some reason to view it as "fish grab" for a select user group.

Smalma, Just what "select user group" are you talking about? Maybe I missed something but I didn't read anything about any gear restiction being added. The rules are the same for all anglers no matter what angling method they chose. I don't see this rule any different then a slot limit where only a certain size fish can be kept.

02-10-2004, 11:41 PM
I have to agree with Mike.

If the fishery remains open, everyone (regardless of interest group) still gets to 'grab' em. Just that everyone has to let them go. Fair and square. :smokin:

If people are howling about catching them and letting them go, do they really appreciate having them around?

02-10-2004, 11:58 PM
MJC/Juro -
You both are correct of course! All fishers would still have access to fish however there is a sizeable group of the steelhead fishers out in the fishing world who feel that those that preach CnR only are elitist fishers and have attempted to force their select views on them and their fishing. Whether that is the case or not is really irrevalent.

Failure to recognize that difference in views just indicates how deeply the divided the steelhead fishing community has become.

Tight lines
S malma

02-11-2004, 12:33 AM
All, I appreciate all the acknowlegements on the WSC work, but I also want everyone to be sure to acknowlege the other groups and individuals who also took time to attend the testimonies and write letters, i.e. FF Steelhead Committee, Trout Unlimited, WFFC etc. It wasn't just the WSC. If the opposition wants to target the WSC, so be it, they can target the other supporters as well.
Personally, I have no time to worry about perceptions about the WSC, just what is reality about it.

Personally, Maybe this "cease fire" will finally get wild steelhead managed as a true game fish and not a food fish.

Please write the Commissioners and the WDFW supporting and thanking them on their decision, allowing them opportunity to take a harder look at steelhead management plans.

Smalma, I always appreciate your input, you make our membership think- that's important and I will always take that as support. I hope you recommend ideas for the WSC to work on in the future that you can fully embrace and support. Thanks!

02-11-2004, 02:20 AM
however there is a sizeable group of the steelhead fishers out in the fishing world who feel that those that preach CnR only are elitist fishers and have attempted to force their select views on them and their fishing. Whether that is the case or not is really irrevalent.

Over here where I live there are a sizable group of hunters that think that it is perfectly all right to tag someone else's game, use spotlights, party hunt, kill more than one legal animal, ect...

That doesn't mean it is alright. I say the same applies to the sizeable group mentioned in the above quote. We are not preaching catch and release only, just only "wild fish".

02-11-2004, 09:51 AM

Like Rich said your ideas and thoughts are always well respected and someday I hope you will become a member of the WSC. You would be welcomed by all members I'm sure.

Yes there is division amongst steelhead fishermen. Steelhead are political and that is unfortunate. But there is unity by steelheaders. Over the years the unity for WSR has been increasingly growing and maybe now it is at 52% or maybe 60 or 70% who really knows but we all must realize the numbers are increasing yearly for release of wild steelhead. It is unforunate that all steelheaders can't unite as one group we would be that much stronger. But seeing that steelhead are politics we will never satisfy everyone. The WSC and other user groups did their science of which they believe in and worked so very hard to get their convictions not only heard but get their beliefs for better wild steelhead management on the books.

If one waits for everyone to come on board then nothing will get done that is the way of democracy. Good politics is work hard, win one, don't kick the oppostion while they are down, move on and only look back to protect your flanks. From what Rich Simms said in his earlier post I think the WSC is learning this at a fast pace. And I'm am sure that the WSC would welcome any group or state agency no matter what their convictions are to be a part of the summits that take place each year with the goal of saving wild steelhead.

As for my beliefs that there are some out there that will use this change in policy to get even by doing away with the C&R season on Steelhead. They come from simply reading and hearing what is going around and you yourself brought up a perfectly legitimate concept. If the runs are not healthy enough for a wild steelhead kill season then are they healthy enough for a wild release season. It is a good question and an important one and I hope your new and upcoming policies will address that with good science and conviction on behalf of wild steelhead as first priority.

02-11-2004, 10:39 AM
This thread is one of the reasons I love this board - divergent views discussed without resorting to a FlameFest!

And one of the big advantages is that we're not really enemies - just have different perspectives on how to get to the same goal.

I've enjoyed reading Smalma's comments because it's always good to be hear valid criticisms of our actions.

I think there is a real association between flyfishers, elitists, and C&R. This seems to be, at least in part, because much of the money to support C&R comes from donations from flyfishing groups and benefactors. Lets face it - it's a hell of a lot cheaper to gearfish than try to keep up with the costs of being a trendy speycasting flyfisher. The Cheapest speyrods usually rival the more expensive driftfishing and floatfishing rods.

So we've got cultural issues at play here. The rich once again depriving the poor? But look at the WSC - gear fishermen working alongside flyfishermen (and women) for the good of the fish. Still, something that we'd be best be rid of (C&R and association with rich flyfishers).

To borrow a Juro-ism, we (sports fishermen) are custodians of an amazing resource. The WDFW does their job, but their biggest limitations come from their political vulnerability and lack of funds. Most that I know of that have fought for wild steelhead release are neither rich nor elitist - they're just putting the welfare of a valuable natural resource first.

That being said, we still have the argument that "if the runs aren't strong enough to support a kill fishery, they should be closed". As others have already said, this is a good point. And I think it should be noted that the WSC never objected or fought against the C&R season closure on the Snohomish system because this was based on best science that indicated a seriously depressed spring run.

But there's also - as anyone in the WDFW will tell you - a balancing act between maximum usage of a resource without endangering the run. The Commission's ruling on a statewide 2 year no kill regulation on Wild Steelhead only nudges the pointer on a sliding scale further toward less impact on wild steelhead and more restriction on the sports-imposed mortality on those fish. As OC said, it's not about "taking my toys and going home" (if you won't let me kill wild steelhead, then we should just close the rivers for all fishing).

If we accept that C&R is a valid use of a resource and would seem to provide maximum "sport" with minimal wild steelhead mortality, the the only question is the minimum escapement necessary to support such a season.

Just a few thoughts - keep it going!


02-11-2004, 12:23 PM
and I would welcome anyone, no matter what their view to sit at my table and talk about this until Linda runs out of coffee (not likely) or the sun comes up.

The rich once again depriving the poor?

Depriving the poor of what? No one is saying the poor can not bonk a fish to eat. They just can't bonk a fish that has it's adipose fin. In my view the rich versus poor theory should be challenged at every opportunity. The politicians use this same nonsense to try to divide us all the time. As to DS' precept that spey (fly) fishing is more expensive then gear fishing, I don't buy that in all cases either. Over here on the Clearwater there are one hell of a lot of gear fishers sitting in jet boats. The cost of those boats and the rigs that pull them will buy one hell of a lot of spey (fly) tackle. The coffee pot is on. Take care, MJC

02-11-2004, 12:52 PM
Over here there are a number of spey fishermen sitting in jets boats too. The no-good elitest snobs. :D

Sorry DS, that was too good to pass up.

02-11-2004, 02:03 PM
We couldn't find OC, so buzzing you was the best we could do! :devil:

BTW, any luck?? Between Tyler, Poul, Sparkey and myself, we tallied a big goose egg. On cracker got a nice nate and I saw 1 dolly caught by a flyfisher, but other than that every gear/flyfisherman had the same sorry tale

MJC, I wasn't suggesting that the perception was valid. In fact, I think on your side of the hills they probably ~do~ spend more on boats, gas, etc. My jet rig is like a Shuttle Craft compared to some of those monstors running up and down the Snake! But even if you drive an F350 and tow a 23' jetboat, the guy driving the Land Rover is still an elitist!



02-11-2004, 02:10 PM
Nope, seeing you and Spark was the highpoint for my outing.

02-11-2004, 02:32 PM
I agree this level of discussion is what makes our community unique on the web. Also I never once thought that Smalma's comments were anything but helpful, the perspective is valuable in staying focused on the prize - successful protection of the runs. If the 'steelhead nation' is divided then it does not help the cause, indeed.

I would like to make a point though, a fishery that is not healthy enough for a kill fishery is not necessarily unfit for C&R fishing.

If this was the case, then the entire history of the regulation system for managing spring native steelhead runs has been faulty for decades.

I think it's been very successful in protecting the runs while maintaining the highest sense of value for the species. This is in fact the very nature of how we have helped these runs over the decades, and we can largely attribute their survival and in some cases their recovery to C&R regs. Perhaps more importantly this has dramatically increased the number of stewards for the resource who emerge from the passion of interacting with this natural treasure.

In fact I can think of no stronger force in society to create a sense of protection for wild fish than C&R fisheries when managed correctly.

With all due respect, comparing a kill fishery to a C&R fishery in terms of the damage done to the species is ludicrous!

Thank you WSC!

02-11-2004, 03:10 PM
I wasn't talking about your "car topper". I was talking about a 25' "BOAT" with 4 to 6 guys in the back and a couple standing on the bow drift fishing or pulling plugs. In another life I fished some bass contests and I know what some of that "gear" cost. I will admit that spey tackle is not exactly "cheap" unless of course you shop at the Red Shed but a lot of those gear guys aren't pauper's either. As for the Land Rover I've never seen one parked in front of my shop. No "beamers" either. I do have one customer that drives a Lexus, but he is a logger so he can't be an elitest. Take care, MJC

02-11-2004, 04:32 PM
Hey MJC you have had my new Volvo in front of your shop and you didn't complain once. Not even with the broken tail lights, rusted roof rack on top and the bumper sticker that reads, never mind it's not something I should print on such a family site. :smokin: Mike you are tolerant of many.

02-12-2004, 02:17 AM
Yeah, I agree with MJC. Since I'm on both sides of the fences gear wise. I agree my spey rods were worth a bit more. But some of these rods these guys are using (and I have some too) are running upwards to $300 a rod now. Plus, relining is more frequent. Misc gear is alot more (talking about plugs running $5-7 each, not including guys buying jigs running the same as flies). Plus, if you look at the amount of rods most gear guys take with them, it's astonishing. Normally I have at least 4 gear rods on hand, for certain aspects. Yet, I only have maybe 2 fly rods on similar trips. Plus, you have a great deal more gear guys, so those costs really add up. Then, add guys who troll as well, and whammo. You have a pretty big setup cost. My standard trolling gear for salmon/steelhead on main stems will run about $35 from first swivel to the lure at the end. One snag and it's ALL GONE. Now many can claim that with a snag up of a fly. :D Not that I'd want to (I cried when I lost that setup on the Chehalis a couple years back, luckily retrieved it at low tide).

But, being quite fluent on both spectrums here (I'm hardcore fly and gear, not elite to either) I can sum up alot of what some misconcieve here. Most of the guys who are peeved the most aren't "bonkers" like you all would like to believe. Alot of them (myself included) are more pissed about "forgone opportunity". It has been claimed by the Quilyutes I do believe (been a long time since I've read the article) and have heard it's possible the Hoh tribes are going to request it as well. I grew up on the Puyallup Indian Reservation, and I've seen first hand what one net can do compared to 100 sport fisheman on the bank. I know alot of the netters from the Puyallup Tribe (grew up and went to school with most of them). I've seen what damage can be done with them. I think this whole thing would've been ALOT better rec'd IF this restriction went with banning nets at same time. Especially if the tribes are alloted the "forgone opportunity" then the sword will cut both ways. I'm sure a few nets will more then makeup for what we would've caught. Personally, almost all the guys I know who are bitching the worse on the gear side haven't kept a native steelhead in at least 10-15 years. I know I haven't kept a wild steelhead since they first started implementing the regs to release wild steelhead (think it was in the early 90's, know up until 88 there were no regs for it at all). I haven't kept a wild steelhead since, and I've caught some very nice fish that were legally "keepers" by state guidelines. Last one was a couple years ago before my injury kept me sidelined. A nice big nate buck of around 27#'s (per taped measurements which I don't trust much) on the lower Duc. I released it with no qualms. I know alot of guys who are the same. And, the majority of the gear guys are. Just like any sport, the bad apples seem to be more viewable then the good ones. Why fly guys get bad rap. The snobs seem to draw a good majority of the attention. I get the crap on both sides. My gear buddies give me hell for using flies, and my fly buddies give me hell for using gear. It's a no win for me.

I just think that things would've went alot smoother if nets would've been attacked first. Just getting a reg that allows us to "point the finger" as so many have said isn't the key. You'll just get another finger pointed back at you by those you are :tsk_tsk: to. They're within their legal right, and is guaranteed by the Boldt decision. Especially since they have Sovereign Nation status, not sure really how much the federal gov't can truly do. Since they are their own nations. I just think in long run this decision has divided the fishing groups up more now then ever. We've been divided so long now, and only getting worse. I for one am like all the rest of the "gear guys" that so many like to trash on. I feel why not just shut the rivers down to steelheading when there is more likely going to be natives in the system? There are months that are proven to have more nates in it then others. Why harass them at all? This is the point that most want to get out. If you're gonna do a blanket effect, why not just shut it down all together to ALL fishing. Why harass these fine creatures if you're planning to save them (if that's the case). Yes, a bonked fish is one that has NO chance to spawn. But why even try and add even a small percentage into that mix (since there is CnR mortality rates). One dead fish is too many. So I feel if we're trying not to kill wild steelhead, then stop fishing for them. That's what is in the best interest overall. But I know too many who would not give up that right (and that includes flyfisherman as well). I've purposely stopped fishing some rivers for that reason. I mostly fish rivers that can normally sustain a CnR fishery. Mind you I will bonk a brat. I do eat fish, and do like tablefare. I just don't stock my freezer for a lifetimes supply of fish. Just enough for eating throughout the year.

Well, hope that helps. I even did it without flaring up. :D But hope I explained some of this. I've spoken to NUMEROUS gear guys since this has been enacted (well over 100 easy). This has been a consensus. They're more worried about "forgone opportunity". Most don't mind themselves losing keeping a nate, though I admit there are some that do. But for most part they don't like giving up our share of the harvest for the tribes possibly getting it (which is highly possible). Hope Brian is able to find out if certain tribes are trying to find out if this is the case. Would really be a slam in the face if WSC did all this work only to find that they rivers are netted twice as hard and stripped twice as fast (like I've said, I've seen and know guys who use these nets and they take fish out faster then you could ever imagine).

02-12-2004, 02:46 AM
SH69 -

With all due respect you took a lot of effort to try to explain the perspective of disapproval for what has been accomplished and it's appreciated, yet I can't help but feel it's like saying our right foot should have been fixed before the left when both feet were broken.

IMHO if those people can't accept that a positive move has been made on behalf of wild steelhead, that if going after nets would have been better, why don't they take the WSC's example and pour a similar amount of tireless energy and dedication to go after the nets instead of pissing on an accomplishment of historic proportions by someone else?

I for one would be all for it. But for folks on the sidelines to complain about the way the game is played after the goal is scored is what they call "Monday morning quarterbacking".

We would all like nothing better than for people to take action against the nets, in fact the letters we are writing to the BC government are attacking just that on behalf of the wild steelhead of the mighty Thompson, which THANK GOD is a C&R fishery.

.02 / FWIW

02-12-2004, 09:30 AM

Some of your points are valid. A dead wild steelhead is a dead wild steelhead period. If mortality is at 10% in wild fish release that means 1 in every 10 fish should die. A couple guys go to the OP and float the Hoh. Their intention is to C&R, they release 12 wild fish over a two day period of the float. That is a little over 1 fish statistically dead between them for the weekend fish.

Two other guys go over to the Hoh float the weekend. They catch 12 fish over the two days of fishing but they each keep a wild fish on the first day and they each keep a wild fish on the second day. They have kept 4 fish and released 8 fish over their weekend. With 10% mortality rate for release and the 100% mortality rate for the bonk that's almost, just a nose away from 5 dead fish for the same amount of effort as the guys who fished total wild release and statistically killed 1.2 fish. By the way there are many drift boats on the OP rivers on weekends what maybe 20,30 or more, guides and private. How many times have you herd or witnessed at the ramp we got 6 fish today. Often very often.

It will be up to the State of Washington to come up with a sound procedure to say when a river can not be fished even with wild release. If a river can afford 200 dead wild fish lets say as an example and when it reaches that 200 fish limit the state does shut it down. If there is a kill season on that river then the season would be over rather quickly. With wild fish release only and the same amount of pressure as if the river had a kill season the fishing season would be longer for all fishermen to reach that same 200 fish limit and many more fish would be hooked and the enjoyment of battling a wild fish would be shared far longer into the season by all fishermen. It is without question that those who want to kill intentionally wild fish are the selfish ones in this argument.

Hey if none of this makes sense or is totally ridiculous please punch holes in my argument will you.

02-12-2004, 09:58 AM
I won't make this long but I do want to say that FO is being used by a large number of people that are unhappy with the recent decision. It sure sounds good but doesn't hold much water.

I have seen reports that for some time the US attorney generals office has been of the opinion it does not apply. In 2002, I was present when the Washington AG's office presented an opinion to the WDFW commission saying it was not an issue and should not be used as a threat to WSR policy.

If you would like to know more on this, I would suggest checking out the WSC whitepaper from 2001. I believe it is still available on the WSC web-site.

02-12-2004, 10:29 AM
Thought folks might be tired of this topic however another thought:
From the Everett Herald this morning:

"As for the science behind it," he said, "commissioner Russ Cahill (in Olympia) told me it was pretty much a matter of whose biologists you believed. Our (state) people told him that even on a down cycle in the natural flux of things, we're easily meeting our wild steelhead spawning escapement goals on those (Peninsula) rivers. Biologists for the proponent groups, on the other hand, told him the runs are declining, period. With no clear consensus, he said he was forced to vote conservatively for the resource."

Certainly it is easy to understand why someone would accept the science of almost anyone over that of the agency professionals. It has been clear for some time that as some as an angler catches his second steelhead they are expert on all things related to steelhead and steelhead management. - sorry had to vent.

Back to the topic at hand - yes the escapement on the Quilleyute has declined that last 3 or 4 years (still over 10,000 or 167% of the MSY goal). However it should be noted it has declined from the recent historic high. Does any really expect that any anadromous salmonid can be maintian populations at historic highs that result from all the survival factors aligning precisely as needed. If that is the expected manangement strategy then we anglers are in for a rough ride and considerable time on the bank.

A couple of examples. the mid to late 1980s show historic wild winter steelhead escapements on the East side of Vancouver however in the 1990s the escapements fell to less than of 1/10 of those escapements. This was under wild steelhead release and in many case no hatchery fish. Clearly additional restrictions are needed - ie close the water until those high escapements return.

The wild coho escapement on the Snohomish systems has fall nearly 30% the last 2 years from that seen in 2001 (2001 escapement 260,000 with 2002 - 165,000 and 2003 - 180,000). This population has been the most robust in Puget Sound, in fact one of the largest on the US coast. Appears that all in-river coho fisheries should be wild coho release. It might be appropiate to consider complete closure of all marine areas as it is a mix stock fishery and why put unnecessary impacts on the wild resource. (Oh, if anyone is interested the MSY escapement goal is 70,000).

Similar with the recent floods it is unlikely that the Snohomish pink returns will not be up to the 2003 levels in 2005. The 2003 escapement was 1.3 million or 10 times the escapement goal of 120,000. Shouldn't fishing for all pinks be closed through all Washington waters until runs return to those in excess of 1,000,000. Should be noted that in prior to 2001 the highest escapement (going back to the 1950s) never exceed 250,000.

I feel that the management standard has been placed quite high, which is fine as we all are willing to apply it consistently and live with it.

Just something for additonal thought.

Tight lines
S malma

02-12-2004, 12:43 PM
I have to catch 2 steelhead to be an expert?

02-12-2004, 12:45 PM
No bait selective rules C&R, all wild fish, in all westside waters, unless "emergency opening" if run size is, what... 25% over? We need to figure out a way to make C&R more palatable to more people or we'll stay in this catch and kill vs. close the rivers cycle (which is maddening). Won't the sportfishing industry in WA get behind a C&R ethic for salmonids?

I think Curt is raising valid points. We should all be walking this path with eyes open to potential repercussions.

02-12-2004, 02:22 PM
Certainly it is easy to understand why someone would accept the science of almost anyone over that of the agency professionals. It has been clear for some time that as some as an angler catches his second steelhead they are expert on all things related to steelhead and steelhead management. - sorry had to vent.


Is that what it comes down to? It was my understanding that the data that was used was the department's own data. Maybe there was a difference in opinion on interpretation of the data. Should that be off limits too?

Since you felt the need to vent, please give me the same chance. My vent is against those in WDFW that seem to be taking the stance that "we are the professionals and we say we are doing a good job of manageing the resource so how dare you question us". Well first off, there are some of us that don't feel that overall the resource has been managed well. And secondly, I wasn't aware that the only biologists that were qualified worked for WDFW.

You seem to be alluding that only selective data was used yet you selectively use data to make your point. Is it not true that the OP has rivers that have not met escapement goals in recent years but still have a sport wild fish harvest?

I value your input and respect your ability to play devil's advocate. In the past your input has been taken to heart and acted on. You told the WSC to work within the system to achieve their aims. That is what they did. Now I see you venting against it.

You made it clear a few posts ago that you were writing as a private citizen. If so, then stop riding the fence and tell us what you really think.

Was the commissions decision a good one: yes or no?

02-12-2004, 06:59 PM
You totally misread the point. And your example was good, but not a good comparison. It would be like saying we repaired an ingrown toenail first instead of removing a cancerous growth. Nets vs. Anglers is like comparing fully automatic machine guns vs. single action rifles. They both can do damage, but one is on a case by case basis, where the other can strafe a whole area at once. And when I say nets, I mean commercial and tribal. It's an overall effect with them all. I've personally seen FIRST HAND how fast a net can strip a run of steelhead and salmon. I've been there when the netters come in (since alot of them were friends growing up). I've seen more stripped in 1 net then what you could get out of a river full of fisherman on most rivers. Yes, there are fisheries where sports fisherman do their share, but alot of times these rivers they don't take commercial fisherman into consideration for what is being taken. Yes, the sportsman may take more out certain big rivers then tribal nets, but you add those commercial netters and they really tip the scales. And forgone opportunity isn't something I've just heard. I've heard it used for years, especially from some of the local tribes I grew up around (benefit of actually living on the Puyallup Indian Reservation). It's a possibility, and something we could see in the end. Unless you work for the Gov't, or actually are part of the commitee who decides this, you have no basis to judge.

For one, I don't have any problems with releasing wild steelhead. I have for well over 10 years now (can't remember when it was implemented). If it's the law, I'll abide by it. I'm just stating the point of view of the masses. I was trying to get the point across to most of you. Seems that most will claim they have "roots" in gear. But I have a feeling most may have dabbled, but not truly knew what they were doing. There are quite a few, if not more, gear guys who are as engulfed in using gear as their are fly guys who are engulfed in flyfishing. They take their sport with a passion and take as much pride out of gear they use as those of you who take pride in their flies you use. Neither person is better then the other. Neither is more of a sportsmen or conservationist as the other. Just that per capita, there are more fly fisherman per percentile who are fish conservationists then gear. But gear has been the standard for steelhead and salmon in the NW for quite a few years. So you'll have alot more guys using it. But not all are bad guys. Which, problem is that there are breakdown in the masses of "gear guys" as well. So having them decide is as tough as what is seen on here as "fly vs. gear". Funny thing is it is brought up by alot about "attendance" at meetings. Alot of us (myself included) used written statements and emails instead. Those do count as well as someone standing up at a meeting. I agree, just not enough people do their part (I'm on the mailing list for reg changes, and have been on that list for about 20 years now). So I review, write my feelings, and send to the state the moment I get my packet in the mail each year. I do my part. I do my part on conservation as well. Probably more then alot on here when it comes to stream cleanup rehab. I do it all on my own, and during the short "off season" during may and the slow time in june on the rivers I frequent. No rods, no tackle, just bags, my boat, and lots of garbage.

I for one think it's fine as LONG as all the bases are covered. Yes, forgone opportunity has been brought up. But what could be decided in court may go against WSR. I knew PLENTY of guys who thought the Boldt Decision would never have happened. Though, we all know where that lead. You just never know what could happen if it goes to high court. In todays world, you never know how a court could decide. I just hope that WSC had every I doted and every T crossed before they did anything. I just don't want to see any repercusions that could happen because of this decision.

02-12-2004, 09:05 PM
Sinktip -
Fair enough questions - I will try to deal with them the best I can. You are correct in that I tend to be a fence sitter, especially when attempting to supply information and to get folks think a little bit. However at your request I'll jump off the fence.

First I in no way meant to cast any question on the abilities or dedication of the folks that prepared the information used in WSC's presentations. I know most of them and they are to a person are very talented. As a group they far outstrip what every limited knowledge I may think I have about the resource. My frustration was directed at that large segment of the steelheading public that feel based on their on the stream experience have all the answers. While you might be surprised I occasionally feel more like a punching bag rather than a biologist concern about the resource.

Second - you are right I did encourage WSC to work within the system towards your goals. I congratulation WSC and its supporters - you have played the game well and appropriately.

Do I feel that the recent commission decision was a good one?
The short answer is NO. The resource is no more sercure in my opinion it was last week. Not one depressed stock of steelhead has recieved any additional protection, the steelhead angling public has been further polarized, and a dangerous management precedent may have been set.

Some detail on my concern or issues with the decision -

1) I do not like blanket bans- While they can provide the best assurance for the resource (complete closures for example) they also often result in unnecesary reduction in fishing opportunities. An example- On this site there has been some discussion of the excellent bull trout fishing currently being enjoyed on the Skagit. The state wide general bull trout regulation is a prohibition of fishing for Dolly Varden/bull trout. State wide there are only a few locations where targeting bull trout is legal, certainly less than were the harvest of wild steelhead was allowed. Without exception to the general rule that outstanding fishery would be lost - I'll it to each of you to decide whether it fits you personal ethic to target bull trout or other species by mis-representing your target species.

A steelhead example - currently in the state of Washington the steelhead populations in the major of the state is ESA listed (all of the Columbia). Using the logic used by the commission in its recent ruling to have a blanket regulation to provide protection for the weakest one could easily argue that steelhead fishing should be closed entirely statewide. How can anyone who supports the blanket mandatory WSR statewide argue against such a position? In fact why aren't the supports lobbying for such a change?

Finally the supporting arguements for this change was based on conservation needs: 1) rebuilding depressed stocks (I have pointed out how this change only affects those that are limited by harvest and that the previous rules had all ready addressed that issue) and 2) Prevent the decline of the few "healthy: stocks from falling to the depressed status - a valid concern though as I pointed out early it may be unreasonable to expect populations to remain at historical highs no matter management scheme we humans choose. Many (though not WSC) have taken this argument and attempted to "morph" it into a change in management of maximum sustained recreation (MSR). I find such "bait and switch" tatics disingenuous. That does not mean that I don't find that CnR fishing opportunites a valid management option. In fact I believe that an elegant argument can be made that it is the best tool to provide substantial fishing opportunity with minimal impact on the wild resource. I have successfully made that case serveral times. However for reasons unknown to me that postion was not included in the justication for the need of a change.

This is getting far too long however when take with my previous postings on this topic I think what my major concerns are should be clear.

It would be unfair for me to jump from the fence and critize the decsision without offering an alternative so I shall do so in a new posting.

On the plus side as I have stated earlier - for at least the next two years this highly emotion issue has been taken off the table and perhaps we can collective focus on other issues that may actually make a difference to the resource.

Tight lines
S malma

02-12-2004, 09:19 PM
Originally posted by Smalma
In fact I believe that an elegant argument can be made that it is the best tool to provide substantial fishing opportunity with minimal impact on the wild resource. I have successfully made that case serveral times. However for reasons unknown to me that postion was not included in the justication for the need of a change.

I have been surprised how little that point has been brought up eventhough I believe it is the reason that us, as steelheaders, pushed for this regulation so stongly.

I also believe, that this time around, (eventhough I was not involved with the science/white paper this year like I was two years ago) the WSC did not focus on the economic impact of wild steelhead fisheries nearly to the extent they did two years ago. This time around, the science/studies/arguments they provided to the Commission solely revolved around the declining numbers of healthy steelhead populations and the importance of all wild steelhead to all river systems.

With that said, I would like to say (and I think many members of the WSC would agree with me) that I believe fisheries that target wild steelhead populations that are not expected to meet escapement should be closed (eventhough the Wild Salmonid Policy allows for a C&R fishery over wild steelhead as long as the expected run size is atleast 80% of the escapement goal). Simple as that!!

02-12-2004, 09:49 PM
Hey SH69,

This is NOT a flame, but I have to chime in on the whole foregone opportunity thing.

Let me say first that i'm not a Native American. And I'm not a big fan of the Boldt Decision either. :rolleyes:

BUT to use this as a justification for not ending sports harvest of wild steelhead is silly. Everyone seems to think these Natives are the devil when it comes to wild steelhead harvest. Has there been even one race of wild steelhead that has been harvested to extinction where we can cite the Native's harvest as the primary reason?? There may be, but it's never been brought to my attention. Think you can say the same thing about our own race and it's management of fish and game in the United States???

We've already shown we're (US State Federal Local govt representatives) been untrustworthy - we've broken just about every fish/game related treaty we've ever made with the native americans. Maybe it's that we ~know~ how we've acted and assume they'll act the same way if given the opportunity?

I'm glad we've chosen to stop harvesting wild steelhead for 2 years!! Lets see how they treat it. They may go into shock - the greedy White Man actually giving up their "right" to harvest for the good of the resource. :whoa: And some of the key tribes might just step up right along with us.

No, I'm not glorifying the Native American culture. And I'm perfectly aware that they have their share of poachers and jerks - that's one thing we share in common. :hehe: And there are serious concerns about this blanket ban - I think Smalma targeted several. And he may be right - remember the old adage "Be careful what you ask for, cause you just might get it?" I believe its benefits far outweigh its shortcomings, but only time will tell.

My .02,


02-12-2004, 10:46 PM

Many thanks for the hop off the fence. I appreciate your honesty and your views. I even agree with most of them :D

You second post I find quite thought provoking. I hope you won't object to me moving it to its own thread. I think it lays the foundation for a very good discussion.


02-13-2004, 12:05 AM
I agree with Spark's points as well. I'd like to see C&R argued as our sportfishing future, providing us enhanced opportunities with minimum impact (relative). Economic and cultural benefits should have a real place in this argument. My worry with science based lobby is that we confuse and alienate many sportfishers who would and could join the fight. If the argument was framed as- we would like maximum sportfishing opportunity at minimum impact in all cases- and list benefits, would be much easier for most to relate. I don't mean to suggest that we all want maximum opportunity. But many of us do, within reason of course. No doubt there is fear and confusion among many about motives of WSC and WT regarding sportfishing opportunity. We're quick to say we side with the fish, but our power base may be with the sportfishers and evolving thinking as a political force benefiting all and increasing pressure on other "user groups" that impact these fish. I certainly see a possible future where we have given most if not all sportfishing opportunity and the runs continue into extinction due to other pressures. What a tragic outcome.

Not to get off topic but I just wanted to say for the record: this is the most enlighten and composed internet discussion re: WA steelhead mgmt I have ever read.

edit: i should post this on the new thread.

02-13-2004, 01:29 AM
If you reread what I wrote, I said natives and commercials. Not just natives. I used that as a reference since I grew up around them, quite literally as neighbors (not looking at a reservation). I saw how much they would catch in just one net, let alone dozens of nets on an entire run. Then, couple this with commercials and it's devastating. I'm not a podunk, redneck who touts "kill the indians". Actually am educated, with a science degree. Though, airframe and powerplant dynamics won't help steelhead much. LOL. I was using the Natives as a reference, I have virtually no ill will towards Native Americans. Grew up with them, played high school sports with them, partied with them, and grew up in general with them.

But as a species, human beings have been the final destruction of many species. I do believe, and this was from my college days and even recently on the discovery channel that thousands of species go extinct CONSTANTLY. Not just every 1,000 years, but on a constant. Some are caused by ALL man as a species. This isn't new just to the US. All of our ancestors have at one time or another been a part of raping the earth in one sense or another. Just what has been done recently is still part of an old rational. As a country, we are still young. Still in the learning curve, and paying for previous mistakes as a new country (dams, overharvest, etc). You can go through all parts of the world and find that. I was an exchange student in Germany, and what we've done here is nothing new to anything I saw throughout Europe. The town I lived near had a huge strip mine that was literally miles across. Pollution in the seas, runs of salmon that are being raped by trawlers. Etc. It's nothing new. Luckily, we do have a chance to turn things around. Though, sometimes some damages can't be reversed. I just hope that the WSR regulation helps and not hinders. Hope that it was all thought out before hand and any repercusions that may result. That it's a definite that there is no "forgone opportunity". Also, why would they only do a 2 year moratorium. Almost like it's planned to fail, since after 2 years you shouldn't see much of a change. Now, a 6 year you would see something. More of a waste at that point, since they would do this and after 2 years see no difference. It has helped for 2 years, but then what? Have they planned to do a complete study at the end of those two years? Takes more then just shutting down retention on the what, 5 or so remaining rivers that have retention of steelhead in WA state. And that was only on like small sections of those rivers in fact (usually below Hwy 101). Especially in the rivers in question affected by the WSR (which is mostly the Hoh, Quilyute system, etc). I do believe there isn't any other river outside the OlyPen that has wild steelhead retention. These are the rivers I've almost exclusively fished the last 25+ years with my Dad (he has over 50 years fishing them). Have watched the ups and downs. Would be nice to see the rivers come back. But would like a solid game plan. Is a step, but hoping it's a good one. Have not heard, or read enough info to say if it's a good thing or not. Like anything, I take anything political as a sales pitch (which regs are part of politics). Once I see the final product, then I'll say yea/nea. Until now, I'm up in the air on it. I've jumped to conclusions in the past. But have found, through history books especially, stuff like this is NOT a quick fix. And 2 years is far from enough time to make any headway, or find if it's a success.

Todd Ripley
02-18-2004, 03:07 PM
Hey, all,

I'd suggest going over to Piscatorial Pursuits and reading the various threads there on the'll get a much better feel for the wider perspectives of the steelheading community.

There is also a great discussion about Foregone Opportunity going on...Smalma has helped considerably in helping me get my point across by asking very tough questions.

Hop over and add your comments...

Fish on...