Where your Race matters... [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Where your Race matters...

Scott K
10-31-2002, 02:53 AM
How I was explained to about a race of animals (or in this case humans) was this: In the UK in small mining town communities, you tended to find a lot of people who were "height challenged." The places where mining took place offered shorter people the oppurtunity to have an advantage, namily in the the mines and caverns which made it uncomforatable for taller people to work in. Hence taller people found work in other fields, as well as the communities which had populations of shorter people, bred offspring which carried on their genetic traits, namily the family was short. Hence you had a race of people who were fit and adapted to work more comforatably in the mines.

If you think about it though, this type of thing doesn't happen over night. Especially in situations where it's not about a job, as I mentioned above, but more so about life or death. Those that could do this survived, those that couldn't, didn't survive. Quite simple. Not "those that couldnt' work here, went somewhere else, and those that could, stayed."

So we have races of Wild Steelhead. Perfectly adapted to survive in most cases in their home rivers. They may have morphological adapations, basically: body characteristics. Notice how Some races of Steelhead are more streamlined than others? For instance I notice that Summer Steelhead more times than not are longer than their more robust Winter run counterparts of the same river. Might this not have something to do with resistance to a barrier? Or jumping ability, namily a longer fish has more "kick." Summer Steelhead, even as juveniles, have even been found to have a higher proportion of fat reserves than winter run juvenile counterparts from some of the reading I have done, if I recall right.

It's difficult to accept that a race of fish has gone extinct, at least for me in particular. Yeah I could go on living my life completely oblivious to this fact, and it won't hurt me, but when you think about how much evolution went on to get that race of fish to where it is today, or was, before it went extinct, and then it is lost. It really is disheartening.

And it's not just about Steelhead. Pick a creek. It probably has it's own race of Coho Salmon. Maybe these Coho salmon spawn at the same time as all other Coho Salmon, and they all look the same, but they are still of a different race. They still have traits unique to them. We may never know what they are, but they are there.

On this topic, I have given a fairly vague example regarding Steelhead.

I was wondering if anyone in here could pick a race of Steelhead, Salmon, or Trout, and tell us about it (that's if you feel confident enough to tell us about it from what you know). What makes it unique. What you know about the river that maybe made this race what it is. Tell us something we may not know. (For example, the Large Skagit Winter runs and the cobble spawning grounds they utilize, or something along the lines of why certain Steelhead races migrate at certain times, why they hold here til this happens, why they spawn here, or when they spawn and why, etc)

10-31-2002, 03:36 AM
...and it is those traits that develop a certain 'race' of fishermen.

Take for example the fabled Deer Creek Summer Steelhead. Obviously I cherish this race of fish for many of their differnt qualities and will protect these fish to my best ability and fight for their survival etc. etc.

But the qualities of this race and the waters they inhabit have evolved a race of fishermen that have provided us with such a storied and colorful history.

These fishermen were some of the greatest characters to ever cast a fly in the waters of America, they were some of the most treasured authors and philosphers of our time and they were some of the best fly tiers...many of which created patterns that are staples of any steelheaders flybox today.

I guess I consider the old timers of the Stilly to be their own race of Steelheaders...a very mighty race at that! :)

10-31-2002, 07:06 AM
And then you have the Toutle / Green fish, who prove out the resiliency of nature despite Mt. St. Helen's epic eruption two decades ago. The difference is that pumice is all-natural and 10,000 years later it grows some mighty fine potatoes. Siltation that could choke a sucker still isn't as bad as a dam or destruction of the gravel beds at the headwaters which join in from sister Mt.Rainier's drainage system.

Many of these races I know of I fear to mention on line. So I won't :devil:

Most of these races I can think of have been abused by bad management practices. Sometimes entire tribs have been converted into hatchery holding pools, Soos Creek on the Green for instance or Blue Creek on the Cowlitz, the list goes on and on.

I have a frequent argument with a young republican co-worker about the inherent value of such a race of steelhead. He argues it has no $$ value, so it has no value. I reply "if you have to ask, you just don't know". Next time it comes up, I just might ask him what the intrinsic value of his life is? :hehe:

10-31-2002, 11:46 AM
My favorite examples of this ability to adapt or perish,adapt and succeed exist on the West Coast of Baronof Island in the Gulf of Alaska.
The Cohos in the region are with very few exceptions making there first move into the freshwater on or about 20 September. The exception being this one particular River that has them in the estuary and making there way upstream as early as 4 July.
As for adaptive physical traits these are obvious to anyone who has been there,the tails (caudal fin) are 25% larger than normal the fish are never deep in body shape but always lean and rangey, they tend to be longer than there counterparts in the surrounding streams.
These adaptations make there life in this watershed possible without these adaptations they would not be able to make it over the first obstacle at tidewater! This river has an almost shear wall of rock nearly twenty feet high with one step partway up. In good flows the fish will time there jumps to this ledge around the period of High Tide. Once landing on the ledge they find this virtual fire hose stream of water and swimming with tremendous force make there way up the wall and into the pool above.
It is awesome to watch and there are usually large Brown Bears there to pick off the ones that knock there heads on the rocks. I have visited this spot frequently and at first I fished for the Cohos C&R but I gave it up as it became obvious that they needed all the horse power they had just to clear the falls. I still fish the spot for trout and char but just watching those magnificent fish swimming up that hose stream is reason enough to be there.
The second adaptation is an example of adapt or perish. A run of Sockeye salmon returned from the sea to find there home stream chocked off by a major lanslide and log jam barring all but the smallest of the run access to the river and lake above. The small fish over time became successful and a run now exisit that is refered to as "Two Fers" as in two for one they are actually slightly less than half the size of there neighbors.
Not really sure how long the adaptations took but in the case of the log jam old timers (Natives) talk like only 150 years give or take a decade or two.
The Coho spot I have to think this one is as old as the land and the salmon!

11-03-2002, 12:38 PM
Interesting topic!

Fish in general and steelhead in particular develop unique "races" or populations due to the intense selective pressures that individual fish are under in their envirnoment. It is unliekly that any but those best suited to their envirnoment survive.

For steelhead 99.9% of a female's eggs die before reaching adulthood.
The over-winter survival of parr is often less than 50%.
Smolt to adult survivals are typcially only around 10%.

With those kinds of extreme selective pressures only the luckiest and best adapted fish survive to pass on their unique genetic material. While humans tend to look at fish populations and individual fish characteristics as static the reality is that they are in a continued state of flux with selective pressure continually operating to mold populations to changing conditions. Because ever stream system is different ever population or race is different.

Northfork touches on an interesting aspect of the adapting populations. I have had an opportunity to visit with many of the old guard that developed with the Deer Creek fishery (Ralph, Ken, George, Walt, Al etc). Though crusty at times they were more than willing to share their knowledge and help to establish a code of behavior; in a word they were "gentlemen". Contrast that with today's anglers:
Often they are more than willing to low-hole their fellow anglers.
Will anchor themselves in the honey spot and dominate the fishing.
They aren't satisfied with a fish or two; even double digit days don't satisfy some of todays anglers - Rather than fairly sharing the water by either rotating through or moving on to new water they focus on racking up maximum numbers.

Even though the North Fork and its Deer Creek fish remain the questions are:
What are the changes in the angler's envirnoment that allowed the current "race" steelhead anglers with the above "undesirable charteristics" to develop?
Has the age of instant communiation and gratification become our "hatchery programs"?
Is there a lack of selective pressures on todays anglers?
Can the old envirnoment be restored or recoveried?
If so, are we willing to pay the price to restore the "old popualtion"?

Clearly todays's anglers are more than a product of our fish and streams.

Something to ponder!

Tight lines

11-03-2002, 02:28 PM
The reason anglers are the way they are today is because of greed among other things. Most people seem to only care about what they can take they never open up their mind and really think about the fish itself or the environment.

Whenever I catch a wild steelhead/Trout or salmon for that matter I take a minute while holding that fish laying on its side in the water watching it breeth. I think about what that fish went through during its life and the odds it was up agianst to get to the point it is now. I look at the fishes traits, collors, spots, body shape and I wonder why it looks the way it dose.

I yousto look at wild salmon diferently than steelhead but I dont anymore.

People have asked me why I have released wild fish and I tell them to look at the next wild fish they catch and think about what they fish has gone through, look at his characteristics think about whay the fish is the way he is.

If people think about the fish like this I think they have a hard time killing them so people just dont want to think about it. Thats the problem.

Most people are just greedy and never take the time to see the importance of that individual fish and what nitch it filled.

Ol Rich
11-03-2002, 03:26 PM
reflect the behavior in our society as a whole. Look at the change in other sports. When I played basketball in the 50's no one celebrated scoring a basket unless it was the last shot to win the game. Otherwise scoring was expected by the coach, teammates and fans. Todays atheletes celebrate every play. I beleive it is a symptom of the "ME" mentality.

The behavior on our roads, in stores and other public places has become much more "ME FIRST" than I remember as a kid. It may be a result of crowding. When you confine animals together they become more agressive. Pigs in confinement tend to chew each others tails and ears off.

My experience has been people in small towns anre much more patient as a society then people in large cities. Civility is not valued in our society any more. Obtaining the advantage and controlling the situation is more valued. Just look at the number of books and training sessions offered to teach you how to gain the advantage over someone or situation. Winning at all costs is what is celebrated in our society as a whole, not just on the stream or river.

Look at the plays of the day/week. One in a thousand will show someone doing a kind act. Last night they showed a high school game where both coaches and teams agreed to let a boy with sever learning disabilities score a touchdown. To me that is a much better story than how one player hit another hard enough to send him into convulsions.

Behavior on the river is a reflection of our society. Our behavior on the river is the same as our behavior at home, other public places and probably at work.

Maybe our society is selecting agressive behavior as a desired trait.


11-03-2002, 04:09 PM
Smalma, As one who has been around the beat for a long enough time to remember quite vividly the differences between then and now I would venture to respond that there is a great difference .
To me the most obvious is the simplicity of getting to a place where you or anyone can catch a fish. In the last fifty years we have gone from the exsistence of steelheads being a closely guarded secret that in many cases inhabited streams that were roadless or at best had dirt tracks that were sometimes even dangerous to transit. A very very few folks had surplus army jeeps so there was no 4x4 access. The economy was different then most people had a family car and a budget to contend with just surplus funds to buy gas to travel 40 or 50 miles was a luxury.
As I recall even at tackle stores folks were bane to give more than just the tinyest amount of information regarding steelheads.
I recall after spending numerous years fishing for trout an old family friend telling me about these giant rainbows that were in our local rivers in the winter. One time he came by our home and took me across town to a tackle store that had a huge fish in a display case outside the front door. The fish is as vivid in my mind today as it was back in 1954.
This was a learning expierence for me and it was on this day that I was given the first rule of the brotherhood of Olympic Penninsula Steelheadedrs! That rule was simple If you catch a fish so big that you have to brag about it at least have enough sense to lie about where you caught it! To wit the fish in the box was 24 pounds and reported to have been caught in a local creek, when in actuallity it had come from a coastal river.
Pair that up with some of todays anglers that will tell anyone or is that everyone in the case of this media and the difference is pretty obvious.
Myself and a few others began releasing fish without keeping our limits as far back as the early sixtys. This lead to the oppurtunity to catch and of course release quite a few fish from time to time. I noticed that some of the better anglers were always pushing to make the catching a little more difficult as time went along this seemed to be a process of maturity not so much in age but in time spent "catching"fish.
This seems like an evoloution of sorts to me as fishing gets easier to the individual he relenquishes efficency thereby making his days on the stream more of a challange.
I brought this up to a few young "Hot Rods' on a Canadian river and they burst out laughing as they had never heard anything as assinine in there lives. Oh well I was just answering there question, "why was I chosing to fish with a floating line and a single hand cane rod when there were so many more efficent systems to use?"
As to restoring the old ways actually its pretty difficult to accomplish even the most rudementry step in that direction just try getting fishing from boats banned or making a section boat free. You will be amazed at the energy that comes your way. (Negative of course)
Well I see that I have gotten a bit carried away must watch what I say don't want to restart a contrversy now do we!

11-03-2002, 06:12 PM
Your post on the cohos is interesting, seems they've not only adapted physically (big tail for more thrust) to better thrive in their environment but in their behavior as well.

I remember studying hydrology of this area when in grad school. Upon review of records I was astounded that streams in this area averaging over 300 inches of annual runoff (meaning precip is higher still)! This extreme even for the whole region.

Lowest flows in this area occur in July and August. By September flows are above the mean and October is generally the high flow month -on the order of twice the mean flow.

A fish entering that stream after September 20 is most likely to encounter high flows. Such flows would likely make this barrier impassable. So apparently they've adapted to come early for the best conditions to pass this barrier. I think this was implicit in your message but maybe obscured by the big tail (I'll bet they pulled hard!).

I've heard that hydrology will sometimes limit areas of a system to only summer run steelhead. The winter fish not being able to reach the areas due to temporal barriers.

As far as to the adaptations of homo sapiens I'm at a loss. I'll agree with Ol Rich that more isolated populations seem to be less affected, but they are by no means immune. I do think it is a result of competition. All the more reason to not "fish and tell" in my mind.


Ol Rich
11-04-2002, 01:25 AM
This afternoon I was thinking about the evolution of fish in a river. I wonder how long it will take hatchery fish that return to the river and are not harvested but intermingle with native fish to evolve to what the native fish will be as the natives adapt to the changes in the river? Maybe the impact of the hatchery fish will not be as great in the long run as some fear. If we can get the management of the resounces in the proper balance we may end up at the same place.


Scott K
11-04-2002, 01:46 AM
Juro, You can still tell us about different races of fish without giving names of streams.

As we all know, Pink Salmon were introduced into the Great Lakes. The Lakelse River, a Skeena tributary, was a large broodstock source for many of the introduced Great lakes Pink Salmon.

I recall reading something to the effect of that even only a few decades after their introduction, the Great Lakes Pinks and the Lakelse River Pinks differ noticeably genetically, even though they have the common ancestory ties. So there is some evolution and most likely some genetic drift occuring as well already, and it does happen fairly constantly as was noted.

I was doing a carcass recovery today on the mainstem ofa local river, as part of a population estimate study. I came accross a Coho Salmon Male carcass that was dramatically different from what I've seen before. It had a huge girth (Like I mean this thing was a true football), a really short and stubby fish. Must have weighed between 13-16 pounds, and it had a smaller tail, considerably small for what you think it would be for this fishes size. I wonder if this was some type of genetic trait, or if it was a stray fish, or some type of adaption. I ask myself what would this fishes body morphology allow it to survive well in? What Niche?

More things to ponder, to study, to dive into, I guess?

11-04-2002, 01:53 AM
I can offer a tidbit about a coastal river with summer steelhead. The run is truly endangered - less than 100 wild fish return annually - though laws allow C+R on wild fish. Serious local poaching results from this law.

This river has a boulder-formed waterfall of about 40' tall that separates the lower from upper river. Moderate flows provide the only opportunity for passage of this boulder-falls. Low summer flows are too low for the fish to gain purchase mid-way through the falls, and high winter flows are way too turbulent. It is only during summer spates or other moderate flows that fish can pass to the upper river. As a result, this river has evolved a unique race of summer fish that occupy habitat above the falls, with winter fish naturally isolated below.

State game officials built a ladder to pass this falls some years ago. Hatchery summers and all winters were able to access the upper river, and competed with native summers for habitat, as well as interbred with and possibly altered the ability of native summers to return and ascend this boulder falls gauntlet. In recent years, officials have closed the ladder as well as fishing above the falls. This is a good thing, and for people willing to brave the drive, it is a REAL treat to find the few pools upstream where remnant native summer fish bask in small still pools, and sip mayflies the surface as if without a care in the world. Its almost like a petting zoo watching those native summer fish rest in a pool no larger than my driveway!

Its a day of contrasts to couple a trip to this native-zoo-pool with a drive to a nearby (yet remote) old-growth forest remnant. Both are located in sea of industrial clearcuts.

11-04-2002, 10:09 AM
Ol Rich and Scott K-
Just spend 20 minutes on post that documented adaptation of naturalized hatchery steelhead - interesting stuff - and some work on differences in morphologiocally coniditons of various stocks of salmon and this #*#@* system would not let me post it - said I wasn't loggin even though I did, was acknowledged and it allowed me to write the post.

This has happened to me a number of times! I can not and will not invest the time needed to re-submit and have to question whether to bother at all in the future.


11-04-2002, 01:01 PM
internet supplier that dropped you out. Once you've logged in, and DON'T ACTUALLY LOG OUT, or can all you're 'cookies,' you stay 'on line' with this sight.

Cleaning out your 'cookie jar' will blow your log in as noted above. But if you look at the main page, upper right, if is says welcome xxxxxxxx you should be active on the board.

11-04-2002, 01:08 PM

I apologize for the problems you were having. Looks like I found an issue with your account that was not set up right. We had a few accounts after the upgrade a year ago which were a little screwed up. Sorry about that and I am pretty sure I have it fixed for you. Let me know directly if it happens again but I do not think it will.


11-07-2002, 10:37 PM
Ol Rich -
regarding how quickly hatchery fish might adapt to rivers -
A couple examples might help. In the Snohomish basin there are 2 naturalized hatchery summer steelhead populations, South Fork Skykomish above Susnet Falls and South Fork Tolt.

The original hatchery fish were brought up from the Columbia (Skamina fish). The hatchery spawning timing was February (start in mid-January and continues into March). The fish returned as mostly 2-salts (2 summers of ocean rearing) with good numbers of 3-salts, and their river/spawning coloration tended towards lime/greenish backs and broad red stripes (especially on the males). This is contrasted with the native Puget Sound summer steelhead. Their spawning time is from mid-March to mid-May, they return as mostly 1-salt fish, and their coloration tends to be more bluish along the back with the typical pinkish/red stripe (narrow than those of the above hatchery fish).

The naturalized hatchery fish in both the Skykomish and Tolt have had several generations to adapt or naturalize to local conditions. Today the coloration differences between the native and naturalized fish remains as great as the original differences. The age structure of both of the naturalized hatchery populations is now much younger with 3- salts being rare and 1-salts fairly common (maybe 30%). The spawning timing of the Tolt naturalized fish remains much the same as the original fish (mid-January to mid-March). The fish above Sunset Falls now have much the same spawning time as the native fish (mid-March to mid-May).

What does all this mean? For traits where there isn't much selective pressure (makes little difference in survival) the fish don't adapt much. The fish coloration illustrates this case. For traits were there is moderate selective pressure changes occur but seems to take generations; in the case of age structure 4 or 5 fish generations have allowed for only partial adaption. The interesting case is the spawning timing. The South Fork Skykomish fish above the falls have adapted in only 4 or 5 generations to match the native timing while the South Fork Tolt have not changed at all. Why?

The native Snohomish steelhead population's spawning timing (March through May) is timed so the fry will emerge from gravel during July (meaning that peak spawning must be in April). The Snohomish basin is a large snow fed system where the spring run-off last well into the summer with flows only receding during July. The fry are timed to emerge at an optimum time (after the run-off). Those who are miss time are severely selected against (the early fish mostly die). The Skykomish fish experience these natural flows and and the selective pressure it places on the popualtion. We have seen about a 10 week movement of their spawning time in less than 5 generations. For the South Fork Tolt whose fish's spawning timing has not moved at all, the flow regime is control by a City of Seattle dam. The flow is more or less constant all spring and summer thus no selective pressure for change.

All of which is a long winded way of saying how quickly the fish's traits adapt to a system depends on the trait, the environment and how much selective pressure the environment places on that trait.

Hope this helps

Tight lines

Scott K
11-07-2002, 11:09 PM
I could speculate as to why the fish have adapted so quickly in their subsequent later spawning timing.

I can bet that it has to do with water temperature. Salmon generally spawn on falling water temperatures, where as Steelhead and Trout generally spawn on rising water temperatures. This obviously will probably have exceptions, but I think this still holds fairly true.

As a culturist this past year I noticed this held true with our race of Summer Steelhead. We generally had a fairly cold winter this past year with water temperatures not really rising until Mid-March from the fairly stagnant 3 degrees celsius (37.4 degrees fahrenheit). As soon as water temperatures starting rising, that was when the Steelhead started to ripen up fairly consistently.

If you think about this adaption, consider that Steelhead eggs generally don't fair well in cold water temperatures compared to the likes of other species (such as Pinks, Coho). If these Steelhead spawned in colder water temps, their offspring would naturally have a hinderance to their survival as soon as the eggs go into the gravel, so the delayed spawning times occuring so fast is probably an adaption on the part of the fish to not drop their eggs in the gravel until water temps start to come up.

Smalma, maybe do some comparisons of the original race of fish, and the introduced races original stream in water temperatures, that may hold your answer, at least I'm hypothesizing it may?


11-07-2002, 11:48 PM
Scott -
As I attempted to explain the South Fork Skykomish quickly adapted to the native spawn timing because early spawning is not a successful stategy. This is due to the high spring run-off due to snow melt. Some of the highest flows of the year occur in June. Young fry poping out of the gravel during May or June would find a very hostile environment. Rather their spawning timing is adjusted so that the fry will pop from the gravel in July after the run-off subsides. The Tolt fish with the South Fork 's man controled flows don't experience that selective pressures thus little or no change in spawn timing.

In regards to your earlier post on the different morphologically shaped salmon you found. There is an interesting paper by Dr. McPhail (University of BC) on the morphologically differences between pink populations that migrate short distances ( spawn within 16 km of the salt) versus those that migrate further upstream. As I recall he had looked at body shapes of various pinks salmon populations up and down the Pacific coast. Same stuff with same coho stocks. Similar differences have been noted between sockeye that spawn in lakes versus in the tributary rivers.

Tight lines

11-12-2002, 09:22 AM
Just a thank you for fixing my problems with posting replies. It ws especially frustrating as I tend to write long post (just not a concise writter I guess). Any have been posting some replies on the Wild Steelhead Forum (bottom of the page listing forums here) without a hitch.

Thanks very much!!


11-12-2002, 12:18 PM
Good reading and much food for thought.

My time on the SF of the Sky is always enjoyable and not being a man of science can I assume that the resident rainbow population is there because that at one time the the South Fork was accessible to native steelhead before the falls were so pronounced? Is this the case for most rainbow trout on the west slope that the steelhead came first?

Does anyone know if there is an on going debate or discussion on the transportation of Salmon and steelhead over the falls is really a healthy thing long term for the river system?

Todd Ripley
11-19-2002, 05:18 PM

Here's a quick guess about the S.Fk. Sky fish bypass system's effect on wild fish...it is just a guess, but I bet Smalma can let us know how off or on base it is...

On the one hand, we have miles of spawning habitat opened up that wouldn't otherwise be available to adult steelhead. Besides the South Fork itself, there's the Foss, Tye, Beckler, and other tribs that support wild fish.

On the other hand, however, there are tens of thousands of coho using that area to spawn and rear, and many hundreds to a few thousand hatchery origin steelhead, too, plus chinook. Using the area to spawn is probably not that big of a deal, but rearing the hundreds of thousands of salmon and steelhead fry must be having a detrimental effect on the wild resident trout population, considering the low productivity of the river.

Since studies are beginning to indicate that the resident component of rainbow trout are an important contributor to the health and numbers of the anadromous and estuarine components, a deficiency there would likely result in deficiencies elsewhwere.

Perhaps the great influx of otherwise unavailable nutrients more or less offsets the level of fry and smolt competition? Perhaps more than offsets it. Perhaps doesn't quite, or even come close to offsetting it.

I don't know. Smalma?

Oh, Smalma, another quick question. What percentage, give or take, of N.Fk. Sky unclipped summer runs are of naturalized hatchery fish, compared to true natives?

Fish on...


11-20-2002, 09:45 AM
Todd -
Regarding the NF Sky wild summers. The limited information indicates that the majority of the North Fork wild summer fish are not likely of hatchery origin. As I remember the genetic information indicated some hatchery intergression (I would have to go back to the reports to check). Of the unmarked NF fish that I have handled (over 100) nearly all were of the phenotype that I would expect form native type North Fork summer fish - that is nearly all between 5 and 12# (larger than the other native stocks form Puget Sound) with the typical coloration of our native stocks (look just likely the mature resident rainbows). During the summer there are a number of hatchery summers in the upper North Fork but by this time of the year they have all nearly disappeared (back to Reiter?).

On the South Fork above Susnet Falls (actually Barclay Creek) there are more than 100 miles of habitat available to the fish trucked over the falls. Clearly this area can and does produce big numbers of wild anadromous salmonids (more than 40,000 adult coho have been trucked over this year). However the same area did and could produce lots of resident trout. I brought this up as an example of how in our single minded zeal for steelhead we sometimes lose sight of what the natural ecosystem may have been. I prefer the pro wild fish stance rather than wild steelhead.

Just as our rivers were dynamic changing environments the relative abundance of various species and their life histories was constantly changing. What we had the last decade may not mean that is what should be the next. More and more my yardstick for river and fish recovery is becoming "does that action help restore that dynamic system (for both the river and its fish species) or not".

Tight lines

11-20-2002, 03:08 PM
Smalma, Curious, If the wild summer steelhead of the N.F. Sky are of native stock has well as other native species wouldn't make sense to manage the NF with selective gear rules like the SF?

11-20-2002, 10:39 PM
There are native summer steelhed in the North Fork Skykomish. Bear Creek falls (located just upstream of Troublesome Creek) is the barrier that separates the summer from winter steelhead; at typical winter flows it is a velocity barrier. The area between Bear Creek Falls and Deer Falls (upper limit of anadromous fish use which is located just upstream of Goblin Creek) is closed to all fishing -thus there is a sanctuary for those fish.

Are you just interested in selective regulations for wild steelhead? If so, why not selective regulations on all the Snohomish system as the fish have to swim through all of the system? Why limit that protection to just the adult fish and not the parr and smolts (selective regs during the summer)? What about the resident rainbows, sea-run cutthroat and Dollies (selective regs year-round)? Next year will be a major year for regulation changes, where a wide variety of proposals would be considered. Is the WSC considering asking for wider use of selective regulations?

Tight lines

11-21-2002, 02:23 AM
Smalma, I am interested in all native species, I was just curious on a personal note if you had any insights why the NF Sky was not managed gear restriction wise the same as the SF Sky.

I personally agree with your comments, but in my opinion what might be good for the fish is not always embraced, since it is usually argued another users opportunity is being taken away.

The WSC has been busy working with its current action plan and has not yet discussed the major cycle.

11-21-2002, 10:32 AM
Rich -
The upper North Fork (above Bear Creek Falls) was managed under catch and release - selective gear regulations for 4 or 5 years. Regulation abuse was horrible (every trip up there would find blood on the rocks, gut pilies etc.). Due to the importance of that region to both the summer steelhead and the bull trout/Dolly Varden that section was closed to fishing. The rest of the North Fork like the lower South Fork (below Sunset Falls) and the main Skykomish remain open to the use of bait and trebles.

For your multiple fish interests - The fish with major populations in the North Fork include summer and winter steelhead, coho, and bull trout. Less numbers of chinook, and pinks are seen( along with the occasional chum, sockeye, and cutthroat) as the North Fork habitat isn't the type these fish prefer.

The summer steelhead are holding more or less stable, the winter steelhead as elsewhere in the basin are in serious decline, the coho are doing great with this year's escapement likely to be the second largest in the data base (last year was the largest). The bull trout numbers are buidling- the upper Fork supports more than 80% of the bull trout in the Snohomish basin. Their numbers have increased from less than 50 redds a year in the 1980s to the 150 range in the mid-1990s. After the closure of the upper river the counts continued to increase until last year the count was over 300 and this year 538 (more than a 1,000 fish) - The increase in redd counts may due to the closure or just a continuation of the increasing population growth following regulations changes in 1990.

Tight lines