Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by _WW_, May 19, 2012.
Real fisherman get their breakfast at some gas station...
.......after they hit at least one run.
Hey Mumbles, I was just seeing if you were still paying attention to this thread. Glad not to be the boss of you; I'm not seeking more responsibility in my life.
Real fishermen don't get their breakfast advice from other fishermen.
I'm very fond of those Breakfast borritos at the rockport store, they are the bomb ate 7:30 in the morning
Nice to see the passion, I hope it can turn into meaningful action. Curt brought forth some good things to think about moving forward and Bob Triggs brought up the Commission hearings. The North Sound closures were the catalyst for forming the WSC 12 years ago, so I respect and share the passion with you.
I will offer my $.02... by asking a few questions:
Is this protest about having a C&R opportunity at any cost (to the fish) or is it about bringing to attention the plight of wild steelhead and demand management/recovery strategies put into place than just simple closures so they can recover sooner and we can justify to enjoy the season again?
Why just the Skagit? I sure miss the Sky in the Spring...
Why not load the buses to go to Commission hearing in Feb. to support the Skagit/Sauk and advocate the river managed as a wild salmonid river only period? I know the WSC put a lot of work into a rules proposal packet that could use all your support by attending the meeting and speaking up. Or simply bring your voice demanding more be done to recover wild steelhead.
How about using the Occupy venue to raise awareness of the plight of wild steelhead on the Skagit and help raise money for the Barnaby Reach restoration project to protect and restore critical habit for the Skagit?
My intention is to provide some additional things to think about to help channel the frustration of not having a C&R Season on the Skagit into action. Wild steelhead conservation and advocacy is a tough road. So indulge me to be blunt; The days of I just want to fish are over and sooner we utilize some of our time to get things done or get on the bus the better.
Sincerely, nice work. I believe it is good to get fed up and do something, send a message, hopefully it is the right message...to have abundant wild steelhead first that allows for opportunity sooner or later...hopefully sooner.
The goal is to restore the catch and release season on the Skagit/Sauk.
Here are my thoughts/spin on some of the isues you raised. Clearly like most fishing issues there's some diveristy in thoughts.
Frist why the Skagit?
For me and many of those that have chimed in on the "Occupy Skagit" the Skagit/Sauk is our home river. More importantly as the 2nd and 3rd CnR steelhead rivers (the NF Nooksack was the first) in this State the Skagit/Sauk became the poster child of that management approach. Over the course of the decade of the 1980s that fishery developed from a fishing opportunity oddity to a huge success with anglers visited by virtually all the "who is who" in our sport every spring. It could be argued that it was through those CnR fisheries that many of us developed an appreciation and understand of the region's wild steelhead. Finally much of the basin's steelhead habitat remains unchanged (some even improved) from the 1980s, many management type issues have been at least partially addressed since the 1980s, in short the stage is set that all that is needed to see a return to the fishing of the mid-1980s is improved marine survivals. Early indications are that the region may be on the cusp of PDO shift. If so improving runs should follow. Changes in current management paradigms is needed if the angler will be able to take early advantage if and when retruns improve.
If we are looking to re-focus steelhead management what better place to start than the Skagit/Sauk. It is my belief that such an effort is much more likely to move things forward if it is narrowly focused rather that the broad approach covering a number of issues and basins. The wider approach just allows the debate to be too easily diverted to side issues rather on the principle issue. Success with the development of a new (return to the old?) management scheme on the Skagit would serve as the template for elsewhere.
CnR Opportunties -
Many of us do recognze that CnR steelhead fisheries like all fishing is a blood sport and some fish will die as the result of that management option. Whether we call that minimal mortality on the resource fishing impacts or harvest really means nothing. What is important that due to the uniqueness steelhead and steelhead fishing (folks will spend serious $$ to just catch and release a wild steelhead - not the case with a lot of fish resources) looking at the CnR management tool as early entery into wild steelhead fishing not only makes economic sense it would seem to me to be a no brainer.
Barnaby reach restoration -
Without getting into too much detail the wandering of the river channel across the flood plain in that reach between Illabot Creek and Sauk was driven by natural river processes. Those processes have largely been disrupted by the upper river dams that have seriously altered natural flows and gravel/bed load recruitment. Without hose process the success in other restoration efforts (especially for steelhead) will be significantly limited.
This is not an organized group like WSC and I, for one, hope it never becomes that. This a grass roots protest on the foolishness of steelhead management on the Skagit and hopefully to get the c&r season back. You want to join us, do so. If not, don't. If you want to protest the same thing on the Sky, do it, perhaps I will join you.
At what escapement level, and how many consecutive years at or above that level will WSC go to bat for a C&R fishery on the Skagit/Sauk? Until some SERIOUS changes are made to the management mentality, why on earth would ANY angler support closing the last portion of winter steelhead fishing on the Skagit? You have to see the concern, right?
There are superbly managed fisheries around the world that see far less than 5500-6000 wild anadromous fish (the glamour variety) returning. Why is this particular river and its fishery being held hostage?
C&R fishing is not the problem. Never was. Taking it away can't do anything to fix the problem. If anything it will further the decline as time passes and meaningful interest wanes.
Curt, are there any 4(d) issues that will have to be addressed before a C&R season is possible?
I'll begin by echoing WW's initial thoughts for Occupy Skagit. He said, "If WDFW is going to pretend to manage wild steelhead, I'm going to pretend to fish for them."
From that I conclude that the primary purpose is to raise awareness at WDFW, hopefully at the Commission level. From what we have seen, WDFW is barely advocating for the wild steelhead resource (for evidence examine the progress on a PS steelhead management plan), and clearly has done nothing, perhaps even less than nothing, to advocate for the wild steelhead angler.
The acceptable cost for CNS opportunity isn't settled and likely varies a fair bit among the prospective "Occupiers." Since CNR is still a blood sport, I expect that all Occupiers are OK with the incidental mortality associated with CNR seasons. The last existing WA steelhead management plan allowed the Skagit CNR season whenver the wild steelhead run forecast equaled or exceeded 80% of the floor escapement goal of 6,000 fish, or 4,800. I think this is at odds with WSC, which if I recall correctly advocates fishing only when run forecasts exceed the escapement goal. I'm OK with the lower bar for several reasons. First, the available evidence indicates that CNR fishing is not a cause of population decline, nor does it measurably limit the survival and recovery of the population. Second, WDFW and NMFS permit fishing on co-mingled stocks of both threatened and endangered salmon, not because it's good for the listed fish, but because society places such a high value on harvesting fish, unlisted or not. And NMFS does not find this action inconsistent with the survival and recovery of the listed species. Come on! You've got to be deeply wedded to harvest management for this to pass the red face and chuckle tests. Third, WDFW and NMFS permit fishing on SW WA rivers when and where listed steelhead are present. Presumably this is also consistent with the survival and recovery of the listed species. Fourth, CF&G and NMFS allow targeted fishing for listed Eel River steelhead that are not even co-mingled with hatchery fish. And this too could only occur if it is consistent with the survival and recovery of the listed species. Given these examples I'd have to say I'm surprised that anyone in charge suggested that the Skagit CNR season be closed.
With respect to widening the protest to include other rivers or other actions, I'd fall back to my suggestion when the WSC was formed: focus on one thing - relentlessly. In the case of WSC it was statewide non-retention of wild steelhead. For Occupy Skagit it pretty much has to be CNR on the Skagit only. One step at a time, then other waters and other actions.
I owe you a beer for so eloquently typing those words! Well said!
Yes there are ESA issues that have to be considered for any Puget Sound basin steelhead fishery. The current allowable impacts under ESA is a 6 basin aggregate impact of 4.2 %. As I recall the current all fishery impacts on the Skagit is approximately 3%. Any fishing that would be in addition to those currently in effect would have to demostrate that the impacts will remain below that 4.2%. Remember that those allowable impacts is for the aggregate population and even if the Skagit run increases there may not be as much run for additional fishing as one would thing.
Also because those impacts`exploitation rates limits they apply regardless of the run strength; in other words the fishery would have the same (curren) season structure whether the Skagit run size was 2,000 adults or 20,000.
While there certainly there is the option for the managers to apply for something other than the 4.2% aggregate they have not done so and development, review, and ultimately approval takes sometime (years). For Puget Sound there is individual stock allowable impacts that varies considerably depending on the productivity of the stock in question and what the modeedl increased risk from those impacts maye. Again as I recall Skagit summer/fall Chinook allowable impacts are about 50%. I'm pretty confident that a similar analysis for Skagit winter steelhead would yield a allowable impact significantly larger than 4.2%. One could also make the case that allowable impacts could increase with increasing run sizes without undue risk to the stocks. Unfortunately none of that work has been dne.
There is a new Steelhead management plan -finalized in 2008 (public comment allowed in 2006. That plan has done away with that 80% of the escapement rule. While there is room for up to a 10% impact on under escaped runs that is trumped by ESA fishing impact guidlines.
In regard to CnR fishing the plan states -
"b. Catch-and -Release: Catch-and release fisheries will be used to mximize the opportunity to catch and release steelhead (or catch rate) and provide extended fishing periods for hatchery and/or naturally produced fish that are more abundant than the escapement objective. Catch-and-release fisheries can be targeted on hatchery or wild fishbut they must be consistent with wild fish protection guidelines."
DOT is woking to place some road protection in at the 101 hole by cascadia. There is water cooler talk of big $ mitigation money coming, for that reach, and only half baked strategies for putting it into projects. If you have ideas, now's the time to get them in the hopper.
One thing that no one has really broached here is, pre-season forecasts. Would DFW have opened the Skagit of the preseason forecast had come above the floor? (I think no, and that's what I've heard--second hand). The proximate cause for the loss of C&R was the low per season forecast. There is the "Fed" specter and that does play a role, but, the feds bought off (I presume) on the 11'-12' management plan, that outlined guidelines for harvest given an adequate escapement forecast. The '11-'12 management plan called for a 16% exploitation rate if the run were forecasted to to be above the 6k floor. Miscalculations and over exploitation to be "made up" in subsequent years.
Another issue, I'm pretty sure that the "kelt adjustment" is in violation of the endangered species act. Take is take is take. Pre-spawn omykis=post spawn omykis, as far as the ESA is concerned. I don't care if the kelt adjustment makes any biological sense, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't hold up if it were ever challenged. So, there may be (likley are) higher impacts that are really captured.
More inconsistencies by WDFW..... Almost every river on their list has threatened or "depressed" status, and rarley meet their escapement goals....yet they still allow fishing on most all of these rivers.... Catch and keep or catch and release. So to put it mildly... WDFW is consistently inconsistent
Well kind of inconsistent. I'm not aware of any targeted fisheries on these on threatened populations of steelhead. There are incedental impacts from fisheries trargeted at other species. So, there is a distinction that is meaningful to the Feds, but when it comes down to it, it still translates to impacts. There is a lot of support for allowing incedental take in order to sustain harvest on heathy populations. And, even if they don't end up meeting escapement, the pre-season forecast might have indicated differently, and that's what the based a opening decision on.
The probelm for us is that DFW doesn't value C&R. They go to great effort and allocate portions of allowable take in order to allow people to exploit (bonk) 'harvestable surplus' of healthier species. But, they won't make the effort to allocate additional impacts to c&r. Just doesn't rank high enough on their priority list/constituent give away hierarchy.
Thanks for the update reminder. Old timer's disease must be getting to me. Of course there's the 2008 plan. I just forgot about it yesterday. Must have had "Occupy" on my mind.
Like it or not guys, the trick will be to figure out how to work within these impacts. The extra C&R take (the % ascribed to it, not what you think it ought to be) will have to come from somewhere. Some other fishery will have to be impacted and many of these other users groups fight for their allocation way louder than we do. The squeeky wheel gets the grease, or should I say the take, so go be squeeky!
Here is a quick read on the economic impact of highly sought after recreational fish.
do we need to sign up or show up or both - in that order??