Where your Race matters... - Fly Fishing Forum
Pacific Northwest Sea Run Forum No such thing as rainbow trout, only landlocked steelhead

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Old 10-31-2002, 01:53 AM
Scott K Scott K is offline
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Where your Race matters...

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)

Last edited by Scott K; 10-31-2002 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 10-31-2002, 02:36 AM
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NrthFrk16 NrthFrk16 is offline
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...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!
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special

Last edited by NrthFrk16; 10-31-2002 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 10-31-2002, 06:06 AM
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juro juro is offline
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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

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:
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Old 10-31-2002, 10:46 AM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
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Summer Run Cohos

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!
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Old 11-03-2002, 11:38 AM
Smalma Smalma is offline
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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
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Old 11-03-2002, 01:28 PM
RICH G RICH G is offline
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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.
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Old 11-03-2002, 02:26 PM
Ol Rich Ol Rich is offline
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The behavior on rivers and streams

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.

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Old 11-03-2002, 03:09 PM
Moonlight Moonlight is offline
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Thought provoking question,

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!
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Old 11-03-2002, 05:12 PM
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pescaphile pescaphile is offline
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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.

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Old 11-04-2002, 12:25 AM
Ol Rich Ol Rich is offline
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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.

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Old 11-04-2002, 12:46 AM
Scott K Scott K is offline
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Some nice points...

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?
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Old 11-04-2002, 12:53 AM
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loco_alto loco_alto is offline
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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.
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Old 11-04-2002, 09:09 AM
Smalma Smalma is offline
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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.

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Old 11-04-2002, 12:01 PM
fredaevans fredaevans is offline
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Salama, 'dollars to donuts' it was you're

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.
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Old 11-04-2002, 12:08 PM
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sean sean is offline
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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.

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