Hatchery Steelhead in the N. Fork Stillaguamish

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Cruik, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. I was doing a little research about the few summer hatchery steelhead programs which still occur in Puget Sound streams and came across the WDFW data for the Whitehorse Facility on the N. Fork Stilly. https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/score/score/hatcheries/hatchery_details.jsp?hatchery=Whitehorse

    Based upon the 2007-2009 runs, It states that 80k smolts produced and 121 hatchery adults produced. TOTAL, including sport and commercial harvest, not just the number making it back to the hatchery facility. A survival rate of .15%. Is this a joke or is it just bad data?

    Compare that to the Reiter facility which states 238k smolts produced and 2622 hatchery adults. A survival rate of 1.10% So Skykomish summer hatchery fish have a survival rate 7 times higher than that of the N. Fork Stilly?

    I apologize if this has been discussed before, but I feel like I must be missing something. Either the numbers are correct and the smolts are performing horribly or there are actually a lot more adult fish produced than their data indicates. If there truly is considerably more returning adults, and if the point of hatchery raised steelhead is to support catch and kill sportfishing opportunities, why tell the public their chances of catching a hatchery steelhead in the N. Fork Stilly are effectively nil?
  2. I believe they count any fish returning to Fortson, or caught by anglers, after December 1st as a winter fish. I'm not 100% positive on that so maybe someone else can comment. If it's true, then a decent number of summers are being called winter runs. Still, the return rate is much lower than some of the other facilities like Reiter.
  3. It's also my personal belief that Fortson summer fish stray a lot into neighboring systems with cooler summer water.
  4. Cruik,

    Were all 80k smolts released in the NF? Or spread around to the SF and other locations? WDG used to plant 60 - 70K in the NF alone, and I could count 120 adult steelhead in just two pools (Fortson and Skiers). Return rates are way down, but 0.15% makes the hatchery program questionable in terms of cost:benefit. Reiter is a better rearing facility, but I wouldn't think it's 7 times better.

  5. I talked to the guys at Pacific fly fishers about this yesterday. In there opinion you can still do very well at the Stilly both the north fork and main river.
  6. "Very well" is all relative. IMO there are few places you can do "Very well" in WA and only at specific times.

    I fish the Stilly a ton and would call it alright. I do okay. I hooked 21 steelhead on the Calawah in 2 half days (1 evening and 1 morning) last summer swinging flies. That is "very good" IMO. My best day on the Stilly last summer was hooking 2. I have fished the Stilly at least 100 days in my life and my best day was 8 hookups and that was a fluke and all were hatchery.

    Pacific Fly Fishers is not popular with some on the river (especially the locals) for the way they pimp the place and guide there. I don't know them or the place so I don't know either way.
  7. You know I can totally see your point there. However perhaps your experiences could be considered all relative as well. I would not be surprised if someone could have had good success on certain rivers as well. Honestly, the real true reason why I go fishing is not really to catch fish at all I think. So not being able to hook dozens and dozens of steelhead I am content with.
    chbichsel likes this.
  8. I see that in 2012 that 242 hatchery summer steelhead were collected at the Whitehorse hatchery. Surly there were also some others caught in the river; another sign that marine survivals are improving???

    As an aside for decades it has been the case that the hatchery steelhead returns for both winters and summers (% smolt to adult survival) on the Snohomish system has been the best in Puget Sound; usually by a fair margin. As one moves south or north from the Snohomish basin the poorer the hatchery steelhead returns. Not sure that anyone has a good explanation as to why.

  9. Curt, I see that too. Comparing the 2012 collection number with the 2005-2009 numbers is astounding. Roughly 10 times as many in 2012. I'd like to think that it is a sign that conditions are improving, although perhaps it was the case in 2012, the conditions were right for the fish to shoot up into the hatchery rather than hang in the river to be harvested. That's interesting about the Snohomish system having a much higher survival rate than other PS streams (though still nowhere near some of the coastal rivers).
  10. Is the collection data available on the wdfw website?
  11. wanative likes this.
  12. So I heard about this through the Grape Vine. I am the Steelhead guide at Pacific Fly Fishers and I have never once guided on that River. In fact for the first time in two summers I was on that river was yesterday 7/21/2013 for about 3 hours. If somebody asks about that river we will give him or her good information so they can enjoy the resource as much as the next person. We are not in the business of sending people to certain places but giving advice on the places they would like to fish. There are only two fly guides that work that river that I am aware of and they have no affiliation with our shop.

    We are a full service fly shop that helps locals and non-locals. I am sure most people on this site never asked the advice of a local fly shop in a place they were not familiar with, but many of us do. Please make sure that your facts are straight before you post comments about others and their businesses. We take pride in what we do here and I take pride in my guide service please inform the locals that their information is incorrect if it ever comes up.

    Joe Ewing
    Pacific Fly Fishers
    Northwest Steelheading
    Bert, aplTyler, ten80 and 10 others like this.
  13. That is just what I heard from the locals. They probably got you guys confused with someone else?

    I got nothing against your shop or any shop. I don't think anybody does. Just the guiding can be bothersome or pathetic depending in how you look at it.

    Also, you say "for the first time in two summers" you were on that river. Some of us have a memory span of a lot more than two summers. Some things linger in the psyche for longer than two summers. That may explain why some on that river have talked smack to me about the shop.

  14. I rewrote your comment for you.
    Bert, Greg Armstrong, TomB and 5 others like this.
  15. Joe All I care about this time of years is the fairways are water and not too brown
  16. I have fished the Stilly far more than 100 times for summer runs since 1994 when I moved to the Skagit Valley. Some years I've caught quite a few, and other years not too many. However, whether I hook any fish at all doesn't make a trip to the Stilly a good trip or a bad trip. Simply being on the river with rod in hand and swinging or skating a fly and seeing things like river otters, ducks, hawks, heck, even a rabbit makes spending time on the river worthwhile.

    Don't get me wrong, hooking a steelhead is a wonderful thing, but I don't have to hook or land any for it to have been a good day. If I needed to hook fish for it to be a good day, I'd go trout or bass fishing with my fly rod. In fact, I'd move back to Montana and be in trout heaven once again where hooking a dozen trout 12" or larger in an hour is a very real occurrence that happens a lot on many of the rivers there during major hatches.

    Steelhead fishing is very different and to simply have one of them take your fly for whatever reason a steelhead does so is very addicting. But it happens far, far less often than trout (or bass) feed and take your fly.
    wanative and Danielocean like this.
  17. Geez, sorry for getting some off you so worked up. I hit a sensitive vein.

    I don't get this website. You guys all said a bunch of stuff I totally agree with, in response to something I didn't actually say (it was hear say), and much of the said stuff has nothing to do with what I did say. I find myself defending myself for no reason on this site and reading long winded posts that while are nice, are just that, simply nice. Pacific Fly Fishers obviously feels a need to come here and defend themselves and i wonder why? Which brings me to my point, "Do you feel better now?"

    The fly fishing community is living in glass houses more than ever. All it takes is one dissenting, anti guide fisherman, to make a post to see it. Or you can see the freakout post by the guy getting low holed at Reiter in this forum.

    Besides all of you must know by now that the Stilly has a slide going of the evil blue clay known to the valley's hills. Do not underestimate the evil clay. Same stuff that was coming down back when FT was walking up hill both ways to fish the river and Windows 95 was still buggy as hell. This river needs more help than ever.
  18. I'm not usually in the business of sticking my nose into others' arguments but I think you are missing the point so hopefully this will clarify some things...

    The only thing about Pacific Fly Fishers that was posted in this thread was by a paying customer there (Daniel) who had asked about a local river (the Stilly). PFF told him that you can fish it well. This one comment prompted you to publicly bash their business on a local fishing forum based on information that you were told years ago by someone else. To put it into perspective, what PFF did is the equivalent to a golf shop in California selling a set of clubs and then telling the customer that Pebble Beach is a great course to play... Yet you took it upon yourself to bash them even tho you claim to have nothing against them? I hope you can see why people reacted the way they did... No need to continue to rip on them.

    That being said its the internet and shit gets mixed up all the time so who knows. Hope this helped clarify some things...

    As a side note I've fished the NF Stilly about a half dozen time this summer and haven't had a hookup yet. Not that I really know what I'm doing out there but still.
  19. Speaking of the slide, I hiked Boulder River trail for the first time last Sunday. It starts a couple of miles above the mouth of Boulder River on the NF Stily, and is approximately 4 miles long. I'm not sure what color the water usually is, but it was still the color of wet cement when I reached the end of the trail. It looks as if the slide is pretty high up, like in the Boulder River wilderness.

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