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Brats on the Sky

1979 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  sinktip
Got a couple of hours in yesterday on the lower Skykomish. Didn't have any action myself but watched a driftboat pulling plugs take two fish out within 10 minutes of each other. The interesting thing is that both fish were hatchery brats. I didn't get a good look at the first fish other than to see it was dark but the second, was dark and leaking milt all over the place.

I also was suprised that the factory fish were still around this far below the hatchery. I know that another brat was taken in the same spot last weekend as well. A question to long time Sky regulars -- isn't it unusual to have hatchery fish below Monroe this late in the season?
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The word is that Everything has been really late this year - 2-3 weeks for all the Salmon and Steelhead runs. They were catching Coho in the Skagit in early February! And the Chums didn't die until late Dec/early January.

The usual designation of "late" for hatchery fish on the Sky is mid-late February. I used to see hatchery spawners in the back-eddys and slower pools around Two-Bit at that time. They're usually tailing off just as the C&R season starts, so yeah - this definitely qualifies as late.

These also could have been from smolt planted at one of the lower Sky plant sites (Lewis Street, etc)- if they're not caught, they roam around and try to spawn in the river since there are no collection traps set for them like at Reiter.
Doesn't surprise me. The hatchery rags in the Bogie and Sol Duc have weird unpredictable patterns too. Brian's point that they are late this year would make sense too. Just goes to show how inferior concrete tanks can be. I certainly hope this La Nina influence or whatever in the cosmos is causing all this doesn't increase the level of inter-breeding with natives.

I'd vote in favor of elimination of hatchery planting on the Skykomish provided the headwaters and tributaries could be adequately protected. Spawning channels would be acceptable.

Let meat fishermen go to the Cowlitz! BTW - as Brian will tell you that's where I go to put a few hatchery fillets in the smoker. Even though I have surrendered to the fact that the cow has been transformed, I still fish it with the dream of how it was as a major native steelhead factory before Mayfield and other damns were built. Just imagine what it must have been like! No BC stream had anything on a wild and native Cowlitz River.

Anyway, hope the hatchery fish were bonked and taken. Or as Haig-Brown said, throw it in the bushes.

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Both fish were released to muddy the gene pool. I discussed this with the guy I was fishing with as he questioned the wisdom of regulations that allowed a short native kill fishery but required C&R of hatchery fish after March 1st. I agree that the native kill should be stopped and stopped now but support the C&R season. If not for this, every plugpuller around would be hitting the river through the end of April trying for a keeper. At least this way, the crowds are kept down somewhat and the meat hunters are gearing up for the lowland lake opener.
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