A Question, A Voice [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: A Question, A Voice

12-08-2002, 10:04 PM
Good day,
I have finished reading, and re-reading all of the posts and responses in the Wild Stealhead Coalition's Open Forum of the past month. I would encourage all, who have not done so allready, to visit this part of FFF, read these threads, and make it a regular stop! The voices here and oppinions raised effect all of those who seek finned quary by rod and line.
I will then, pose a question to you simply, as a collective group. I would further ask that all the readership respond. If you only visit this site on a spotty basis and come across this thread in a month or so, respond still! I will collect data for a while.
The question stands....
If you had a choice, without incumberances, to angle for Wild Native fish, or Hatchery fish, what would your choice be?
I remain, in a lab coat with a clipboard....

12-09-2002, 12:44 AM

Bob Pauli
12-09-2002, 01:10 AM
Is this a trick question?

12-09-2002, 01:33 AM
I am curious as to Fred's reply...very surprising!

12-09-2002, 05:47 AM
I would sacrifice encounters with all hatchery fish for the rest of my life for the assurance that we are doing right by native steelhead.

12-09-2002, 07:35 AM
If only one it would be wild, thankfully the primary rivers I fish in Michigan are all wild.

But I would take either.

Fred, likes the hatcheries probably since there are more of them, they are easier to catch, and occassionally can place one the grill I suspect.

12-09-2002, 08:52 AM
Boy that sounds pretty ominus I am so use to approaching my steelhead fishing with extreme limitations of ethical self imposed gear and access restrictions I would find it strange to be un-incumbered!
Non the less I will respond that I would choose to fish for the Wild fish over any hatchery fish. Actually this is almost for me the way of the world at present, as I very rarely find myself surrounded by fin clipped fish, an avoidance that has alot to do with avoiding people and the places where most of the fish are.
Hope you get some diversity of opinion in your responses, I know I see an awful lot of folks crwded around the areas of high plant (hatchery) numbers, so there are lots folks who like them.

12-09-2002, 11:52 AM
"Fred, likes the hatcheries probably since there are more of them, they are easier to catch, and occassionally can place one the grill I suspect."

It's been interesting the past three years on hook-ups/released fish. In 2000, 2001 and up until about a month ago 95%++ of the fish I've hooked have all been natives (unclipped fish). This past month has seen quite a bit of BBQ time. "A good thing" Joan says.


12-09-2002, 12:05 PM
I guess the question is to me why not take hatchery steelhead if that is your inclination. Thats what they are planted for, angler sport harvest. Wild ones though must all go back IMHO.

With the PCBs in the great lakes fish, I decided to stop eating them in the early 1980s. Now just about all are released since I also do not want to clean them and drive 2-4 hours home with them im my car. Wife and boys do not like fish, I do but mostly saltwater fishs.

12-09-2002, 12:09 PM
As far as I know the WSC has not come out one way or another as yet on hatchery reform or the removal of hatcheries. But as scientific information keeps coming in that says hatcheries maybe playing a large role in keeping wild populations from making a strong come back the chances are that many conservation groups throughout the Pacific Northwest and BC will support reform and elimination of hatcheries. I would hope thet the WSC will debate this issue among it's entire membership before it comes down to any official statement. As a member of the WSC I will support whatever their statement will be as long as it has been fully debated at meetings and through membership e-mail.

I'm glad Deerhaawk brought this subject up and hope as he does that all who care about wild steelhead will put their 2 cents worth in and also keep an open mind to all thought in this matter. We are about to enter a new political arena as far as steelhead are concerned. There are many powerful groups who will forever be against hatchery reform or hatchery removal such as most Native American Tribes, Commercial Fishing Industry and more than likely the State of Washington to name a few. If folks thought the C&R issue last year was noisey wait for this one to get going.

I for one have not made up my mind as yet and unless someone has some real and hard info one way or another then maybe we should all be open minded. Remember that some hatcheries are the law like it or not.

Should this subject go over to the steelhead section? But please do not put it in the WSC section without their permission.

12-09-2002, 12:19 PM

I almost missed this thread. Thanks OC!

Great question and I think it could lead to some good dialogue.

My answer is an unequivocal wild fish vote. From a fishing point of view, I am convinced that wild fish respond to a fly much better. While I routinely fish over 7-10 times more winter hatchery fish than I do wild, my catch records show over 8 wild fish to hand for every hatchery fish. For summer fish the numbers are close to 50/50 even though there are 3-4 times more factory fish in the river.

From a conservation standpoint, it just makes sense to focus on saving what wild runs we have. Hatchery supplementation has not and will not work to return stocks to self sustaining levels. Continueing to flood the rivers with hatchery smolts will not work to rebuild stocks. And while it does work to provide fishing opportunities, particularly at terminal areas, the evidence is pretty clear that this benefit comes with a huge cost to wild runs.

I think the next year or so will see a hard examination of hatchery practices at all levels. I have heard that internally, this has already begun at WDFW. The WSC and the rest of its partners, through the Steelhead Summit process will be tackling this as well. While it may be unreasonable to expect all hatcheries to close throughout the Northwest, my guess is you will see radical changes in the way they operate and even what river systems they are allowed on in the future.


12-09-2002, 05:04 PM
Unequivocally I would rather fish over and catch wild stelhead. Like sinktip, most of the steelhead I have caught over the last 12 years of living in Washington and fishing for steelhead have been wild fish. In fact, the first steelhead I caught was a wild summer run on the Sol Duc river the first fall I was in the state and the first year I was fishing for steelhead.


Like you I feel that there are big changes coming for the hatcheries in Washington. I personally would like to see some hatchery supplimentation of wild fish through the use of wild fish in the hatchery in order to speed the process of re-establishing the runs to decent nembers.

12-09-2002, 06:58 PM
Without a doubt - Wild!
However, I will not turn my nose up on a hatchery fish

12-09-2002, 08:20 PM
I agree, given a choice between 'wild vs. hatchery' fish. But consider for a moment we're driving this fellows into the ground. Loving them to death.

Hatchery fish, like planted trout in a lake, are 'put and take.' For what ever combination of reasons we're "loving" these fish to death. Choice: remove hatchery fish from some river systems and close them to all fishing. Period. No not just a bit: Period. Let the runs rebuild for 4 or 5 generations and hope nature will take its course.

Choose some river systems and throw away the book: plant the shi. out of them and kill them all. Wipe out everything .... and then start again.

Someone in an earlier post mentioned planted fish should come from the rivers 'normal' wild boodstock. Sweet J., this makes so much sense the idea will be tossed out, out of hand.

Sad, very sad, but .... ah, hell you all know the rest. "If you love something free, set it free. If it doesn't come back hunt in down and kill it ...." or something (worse) to that effect. Simple math says we're way over fishing what the sea/rivers can support. End of rant.


12-10-2002, 09:38 AM
Some here have brought up taking wild fish native to a certain river and doing the hatchery thing with them and releasing the smolts into their natural river. Would this not be the brood stock program? My question then is. What if it is not as much genetics that make hatchery fish fail but the social factor of being reared in a hatchery that makes this fish fail. Would it be wise to take wild native fish from it's river so it's young can be raised as concrete bumping par to smolts who have had a life of noon time feeding habits from pellet machines and have not had the chance to enjoy the dangers that mother nature intentionally puts forth from the time of conception.

Like Fred said, I'm also willing to remove a hatchery from a river that still has a native fish population and shut it down to all fishing and see what happens if the evidence continues to come in from independent research scientists that hatchery fish are a major factor in the decline of native fish. But the brood stock program could be a foolish venture to the point of depleting a rivers wild fish even more if it is the hatchery that is causing the biggest problem. More study needs to be done and I hope all are excited as I am about the research that is begining to take place.

12-10-2002, 01:22 PM

Regarding broodstock programs, the one that I am aware of in Washington state is on the Sol Duc River and it uses winter fish only. It has been very successful in increasing the number of native fish returning to the river in the February to April time period. It was stated up by the guides in the Forks area and they only use unmarked native fish for the program.

The fish that are raised in the hatchery take there time going upriver in the same manner as those native fish that are river raised. The return rate on them is also in the area of 5-8%, much higher than the hatchery clones that WDFW puts in the river at Sapho.

I'm not sure what the results are in the Canadian broodstock programs on Vancouver Island, notably the Gold. Perhaps some of out Canadian friends could let us know how their broodstock programs have worked or not worked.

12-10-2002, 01:58 PM
Thanks flytyer,

Do you or anyone else know if the returning Sol Duc fish at 5 to 8% come back to the hatchery or breed in the wild? And if they are bred in the hatchery does anyone know of any studies that would indicate that after a certain number of generations of brood stock hatchery breeding will we end up with the same type of hatchery fish that is out there now? I wonder how many generations it took the original hatchery fish back in the 60's to show signs of the weakness they now carry.

Also have concerns about the lack of selective breeding that takes place in the hatcheries as compared to what takes place in the wild. Will we end up with cookie cutter wild fish as we now have with our hatchery fish after a few generations of wild fish breeding?

Is the brood stock program exactly the same as the original hatchery program from the 60's with the exception that in the brood stock fish they come from the river that they belong in?

12-10-2002, 02:35 PM
And it just might be. I would like to see some firm numbers on this return of Sol Duc Snider creek plants.

As to the fish being spawned as I understand it they do not use anything but wild captures from the river and I beleive are forbidden from using the returning plants for broodstock.

Interesting the different takes you hear on these project fish and there contribution to the harvest and angler pressure etc. Maybe with the highwater and most fishing being probably done for the next little while this would be a good topic to grind into the debate mode.

I have been told that on a few occasions when inadequate broodstock could be harvested from the wild population that fish were actually brought in from other rivers. Somtimes rumors are true but there is probvably no way of proving this one.

The whole idea behind wild augmentation is to increase wild populations, what with the Sol Duc being touted as the best wild run left standing it hardly seems like a good canidate for enhancement. On the other hand it can probably give up a few wild spawners for this effort if it is indeed worthy and needed.

I have been lead to beleive that the Snider Creek Project is just a vehicle to make bonking fish in the upper river a viable option for those who want to market that expierence for the various commercial ventures associated with modern steelhead fishing. But what do I know!

12-10-2002, 08:39 PM
Re: B.C. hatchery programs

The Gold has never been stocked to my knowledge and the run is 100% wild except for the very odd hatchery stray from other systems.

In most (but certainly not all) cases BC has used wild brood stock from the same system. Although BC hatchery programs have been successful in boosting participation in fisheries, I am unaware of a single example where either smolt or fry releases have resulted in an ongoing increase in the wild run size.


12-10-2002, 11:51 PM

Moonlight is correct about nothing but wild, native fish being used in the Snider Creek broodstock program. The program does not use fish that return to the hatchery for spawning. The fish raised in the Snider Creek hatchery are marked by removing the left ventrical fin so that they can be identified, and those that return to Snider Creek are placed back into the river upstream of Snider Creek to spawn in the wild. Moonlight is incorrect about the program having used wild fish from other rivers if returns have been low. This has never been done with the Snider Creek project.


Regarding the Snider Creek project on the Sol Duc being used to provide more fish to kill, this is not true. The Sol Duc is catch and release, selective gear (barbles, single hook), artifical lure only from the concrete weir at the Sapho hatchery upstream. And since Snider Creek is upstream by about 12 river miles of Sapho, the fish are not bonked. The fish are solely for enhancement of the native, wild winter fish run in the Sol Duc.

Keep in mind that the Sol Duc is not netted except at its mouth by the Quileute Tribe; however, the Quileute River (all 6 miles of it) is very heavily netted by the Quileute Tribe and that is the river the Sol Duc flows into and through which its fish must swim before entering the Sol Duc. The Quileute Tribe nets 5 days per week and takes a huge number of fish each winter in its nets. The Snider Creek project was the Forks area guides answer to the netting when it began some 14 years ago.


I remember seeing an episode of a B.C. fishing show about 2 years ago on fishing the Stamp/Gold river system in which the host and a biologist from the B.C Ministry of Fisheries were keeping native, wild fish in tubes for use in a broodstock program. Perhaps these were for the Stamp only although the impression was given that the fish were for both rivers.


How are the broodstack programs working in Oregon that I have heard about through Amato's STS magazine?

12-11-2002, 12:07 AM
a ton to do with the results.

Farther north you go in Oregon, the larger the population. (Keeping in mind we're not 3.5 million State wide ... and most are within 100 miles of downtown Portland). Fish runs in northern Oregon have the same problems as Washingtons .. and who knows where else.

Down "here" we don't have the population, next to zip on river polution, etc., and etc. Good hatchery program without huge numbers of people trying to catch the buggers. Returns are excellent, in particular considering the miles away from the Ocean.
The 'results' are pretty straight forward.

Only word of caution for living/working in Southern Oregon is: bring money with you. Wage's here 'suck.' Candidly, as much as I really believe in what/why I do for a living, .. etc., I'd be in deep do-do if I hadn't brought it ($) with me from California.

old man
12-11-2002, 10:26 AM
They have already done the closing of a few rivers in Washington State because the fish being depleted. They took the sport fishing away from us to build up the native runs,then they turn around and plant about 750,000 smolts back into the river system. So's my question is how is the native species going to rebuild with all of the hatchery fish there The rivers in question are the Wenatchee and most of the rivers and creeks that feed it.

Why do they close the rivers down to sports fishing, but go hog wild netting them before they get to the rivers.How many more fish are we going to get say vs. the commericals and the Indians. It's just a drop in the bucket compared to them.

And one more thing. This years Chum run was the biggest one in record,so why did some of the popular rivers still stay closed for the taking of them. I've seen dead Chum in places that you wouldn't believe that they'd be. And 4 years from know how big is that run going to be.


P/S I forgot to answer your question. To tell the truth I really don't care which I catch since man/we have played around with all of the runs and screwed up the fishing. Besides I don't eat fish. I just like to catch them once in a while.

12-11-2002, 02:50 PM
Flytyer, The statewide rules require the release of all Dolly Varden and Wild Steelhead when fishing in an area that is being managed under the selective gear rules. However the limit for the hatchery fish on the upper Sol Duc is two (2) per day. I doubt the publication of this information will start much of a stampede in that direction most folks who fish out that way are still trying to figure out where the elusive tagged fish are.