Treaty Fishing on the Stillaguamish

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jason Griffith, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. BTW, Puget Sound steelhead, including the Deer Creek population, are listed as "threatened", not "endangered" under the federal ESA.
  2. Nice! I was impressed with the reporting system. When I saw the net I checked the tribe's website, found the number for reporting derelict gear, and had someone on the phone right away. Later that day I sent a follow-up email. I got an email a few days later saying the net had been removed. Pretty good system.
    Jamie Wilson likes this.

  3. True, but the interesting thing is that the Deer Creek population and others in the Stillaguamish have continued their precipitous declines even after the DeForest Creek slide has stabilized, and commercial catches have fallen dramatically. It's puzzling.

    Ed- Yes, the tribes all fall under federal law and we observe ESA designations for salmon and steelhead populations. Sporties are correct to point out that there is a bit of a double standard. Treaty and Non-treaty commercial fishers do capture and killed listed species each year, while sport fishers are required to release those fish. Basically it boils down to the gear types and their limitations. If commercial folks were required to not harvest ANY listed fish, all fisheries would be shut down. Not so with the sport fisheries, so they are subject to stricter regulation.

    That said, harvest is not the reason fish are listed. It is a long story, but I have the data to back up the fact that habitat is what is limiting our Puget Sound Salmon populations. In the Stillaguamish the spawner/recruit fucntions are dismal with many generations not exceeding the 1.0 replacement ratio. Letting more fish spawn doesn't necessarily increase the run sizes when the productivity of the watershed is in such dire straits. For Stilly Chinook the breakpoint in the curve is around 1000 fish. I doubt we have enough data to pinpoint it for the various Steelhead populations, but they are in a similar boat glancing at the data.

    The interesting thing is that Pinks are doing great, as are Coho. Different life histories though.
    Jamie Wilson likes this.
  4. OK, tying up some loose ends with data requests.....

    For 2012 our CK C&S fishery opened on 7/1 and closed on 7/21. 5 CK harvested, no other species. Two fishers.
    For 2012, 7/1-10/30, the Tribe harvested 2 STLHD, one on 9/17 and the other on 10/1. Seven fishers.

    For the 2011 Pink Fishery (8/9-9/23/11) the tribe harvested one STLHD, on 8/15. At the same time they harvested nearly 4K pinks, 500 CO, and 12 CK. Seven fishers.

    In my experience most Deer Cr. STLHD, and summer STLHD in general on the Stilly, are past the lower river by early July. I think the data is pretty clear that tribal harvest in the river isn't significantly impacting the summer STLHD runs.
  5. I agree with your estimate of the run timing 100%
    I also know for a fact that certain asshole locals near OSO poach the holy hell out of the deer creek fish while they are in deer creek. Ive called in so many poachers up there over the years it isnt even funny.
    One person in particular had 3 native deer creek fish on a stringer right at the bridge hole on deer creek.
    ALSO, LOTS AND LOTS of poaching at Cicero hole during the summer months by spin fisherman just out of sight of the road, and at Big Rock hole in the main stem river. Hazel hole and C-post get hit hard by chinook poachers on 4 wheelers using the trails too. REPORT ALL POACHING IMMEDIATELY!!!!!
  6. I have also heard that the locals poach steelhead in Deer Creek. However, I am not sure how widespread it is. Anyhow, it would be interesting if one of the local fly clubs or conservation groups made an effort to monitor the lower reaches of Deer Creek during the summer and early fall. I guess that I am thinking in terms of something similar to what the North Umpqua Foundation did at the Big Bend Pool on Steamboat Creek.

  7. that would be nice. Housing development is rapidly encroaching up there, and I think the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better. ANYTHING would help, including flyfisherman having the guts to report the locals. AT&T has always provided me full coverage up to Fortson, call them in!
  8. Yes, please report any and all poaching to WDFW! It really helps enforcement if you can get a license plate, but I understand if they are locals they may not be driving to their favorite spots. Also, I almost always go up to poachers and let them know that they are breaking the law and will be called in. I understand if folks don't feel comfortable doing that, but it is an effective way to stop folks dead in their tracks. They usually try and play dumb, but I don't believe them 90% of the time. The funniest was when I confronted someone under the Cicero Br. only to have them tell me that they were OK fishing with spinning gear because they were on the South Fork!!
    stilly stalker likes this.
  9. Truly a priceless gem of a river, and a very unique run of fish that deserve a chance to persist indefinitely!
    My definite "happy place" and favorite place to fish.
  10. This is absolute not bullshit
    I've seen it and brought it up here
    The NF poaching is rampant
    Google Oso Fishing License for some schooling
  11. These dudes live up there. On the water.
    They know.
  12. Fact of the matter is with the NF.
    When it gets high it always spits a lot of color. It is getting more severe year to year.
    The gravel is disappearing
    I see it when I wade it
  13. You're right Jamie, the flows are getting more severe by the decade. Check this out:

    Not good for the fish. We have a grant through EPA to investigate the causes and figure out how much is landscape change vs. climate. Stay tuned.
    Be Jofus G and Jamie Wilson like this.
  14. Id fly back to WA for a weekend to do habitat resto on deer creek.
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  15. Count me in as well. I would be willing to volunteer my time as well as elbow grease, in any current or future habitat restoration efforts on Deer Creek.
  16. To all with interest:

    There is a fairly recent study/report on the accumulating sediment load in the Stillaguamish river over the last several decades that should be must reading. I'm sure Jason is well aware of it. I don't have the link at my fingertips, but a search should turn it up.

    Disclosure: Nonscientific conjecture to follow--

    I've often wondered whether sediment load accumulation in a river bed is as natural a process as an alpine lake becoming a meadow over geologic time, but flood control structures in a river which prevent the river being able to "vomit" its sediment load onto the adjoining flood plain likely accelerate the sediment accumulation. In any case, it eventually overlays the spawning beds in low gradient sections of the river. Thus flood control and healthy spawning habitat may be at cross purposes in some systems.
  17. Mike Kinney lives in Oso and is the right person for first hand info on whats happenig and for the local vibe. Try to get him involved
    Jamie Wilson likes this.
  18. Deer Creek is in the process of healing after decades of too much timber harvest. Flying over it last year I was struck by how well the USFS land is greening up, surprised even. The upper watershed is looking pretty good these days. The private and state lands are still probably harvested more than we would like, but they are buffering streams fairly adequately. The lower floodplain could use some armoring removal and tree planting, but we would need to acquire numerous properties along Deer Creek Rd. to make that happen.

    That is the thing with salmon restoration, it isn't cheap. When the land was settled by white folks like me, we did a good job of clearing and taming the landscape. Good for farmers, but not so good for fish as productive fish habitat is rarely conducive to modern land uses. So we are left with needing to acquire parcels along the river before we can remove armoring, houses, and roads and plant trees (we are about to close on 6000' of NF river frontage in the next month). So, to be honest, the best thing you can do for fish is to share the importance of habitat with your friends and relatives and contact your elected officials to stress the importance of salmon recovery. We sent men to the moon, and can surely save salmon if society is willing. However, right now, I'm not sure if society really cares that much. We have our work cut out for us, but we won't rest!

    That said, I will certainly let folks know if we have any opportunities for volunteers to help with restoration projects. The offer of help is much appreciated!
  19. Jason, it's 98% landscape change and 2% climate change. There, I just saved you and EPA a bunch of grant money. Kidding, kinda'. If anything, an even more resilient landscape is necessary to absorb the effects of climate change on aquatic habitat. Unfortunately, society has already voted, and high quality lip service for habitat won hands down over conservation and restoration.


  20. Excellent response. Thanks!

Share This Page