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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-18-2004 03:07 PM
Todd Ripley 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...

02-13-2004 01:29 AM
Actually Doublespey

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.
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.
02-12-2004 10:46 PM
sinktip Smalma,

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

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.

02-12-2004 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.

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. 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 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 09:05 PM
Smalma 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 06:59 PM
Well Juro

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 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 12:45 PM
Easy solution

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 12:43 PM
KerryS I have to catch 2 steelhead to be an expert?
02-12-2004 10:29 AM
Smalma 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 09:58 AM
Foregone Opportunity

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 09:30 AM
OC 69,

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 02:46 AM
juro 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
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