An Inconvenient Possibility; - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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An Inconvenient Possibility;

[See post #25 on page 2 for the latest update on emergency orders]

I didn't think this fit well with general discussions so I've posted into Destinations since Alaska is a destination fishery. Those members who have been around here a few years will know that sometimes I make rather long winded posts. This is one such post however, if you have heard rumors or read articles about salmon woes in Alaska this is my boots in the river version and it isn't flattering.

The title represents my thought process as I begin to write today, unlike Vice President Albert Gore's film titled An Inconvenient Truth I won't go so far to say this is a truth, more it is my studied opinion regarding salmon in Alaska. I trust the readers understand that I didn't have a team of analysts collecting data for this piece, some figures were obtained from census results and observations stated are those of my own self. While there are 5 species of Pacific Salmon that return to the rivers where I live I am at this time moved to air my thoughts based on the worsening situation that our rivers are facing with regard to the King Salmon. In this part of South Central Sockeye and Silver Salmons are also teetering precariously on a year by year basis also. When I say 'our rivers' I mean all the rivers from here to Western Alaska.........

I first came to Alaska in 1989 and needless to say this was a different place then. The population was hovering around 545,000 covering the entire state. The current numbers for just the City of Anchorage and Matanuska Susitna Borough is at 402,649 persons with 298,00 of those in Anchorage proper as of 2016 census. I think I'm safely on target saying that the bulk of population growth over the past 29 years has taken place in my specific region of Alaska. The current state wide numbers are around 733,000 with that in mind the change can be attributed to this area so to say. Bare in mind that the 1989 figures have fluctuated seasonally as some folks became disenchanted with the long winters and returned to from whence they had come.

This area has over the past 9 years seen a dramatic reduction in some populations though and those populations of which I speak of are salmon, most notably the King or Chinook salmon. The Pacific Silver and Sockeye salmons are not far behind in their inability to keep up with the increased pressure on their ranks. Now here's where this comes to the opinion part. What I can present as a fact is that locally the King salmon numbers are at about 24% as of this day that they were just last year on this day. The alarming part of this fact is that last year these rivers failed to meet the "minimum escapement" number for the species. Allow me to describe what "escapement" means please. When salmon spawn their begins a game of numbers and percentages. Among the things one must consider are whether or not the completed nest itself will survive. There are many things that can cause total catastrophic loss to a completed salmon nest site. Among the threats are (to mention a few) a human a moose or bear walks directly onto the redd and disrupts the eggs where they have been deposited. The jet blast from the many river boats that prowl the areas where the fish have spawned can and will completely blow out the substrate where the eggs have been deposited also. Further threats include a sustained period of low water after the spawning which can desiccate or cause super warming of the substrate and the eggs during the critical time period of gestation within the eggs. Conversely a period of extensive rainfall and flooding event after the nest has been set can scour the beds or cause excessive silt to settle into the gravel and effectively suffocate the developing eggs there.

There are more threats but I think that will get you on track with the threat matrix involved just with eggs and alvin's in the streams and rivers. Next in the 'escapement' game comes survival as a juvenal salmon. After you exit the nest site substrate you make your way to shore, it may be late October when you make this move and the waters may be cooling and dropping with the coming of winter. Over the long cold winter under the ice you will forage for whatever you can find to provide subsistence until the ice goes out in May. If you (the fry) have been counted among the fortunate you have survived the winter and are now approaching fingerling size come June of your first year. By summers end you may be a full 3" in size but have spent the summer evading Kingfishers, common Merganser's, Terns and Gulls as well as Salmon Smolt from previous years hatching and rainbow trout, char and etc. The list of threats is deep but I'm hoping the readers get the inference here.

Continuing along with the theme of being an "escapement" fish, by the second full year in the natal river the fish may be nearly 5 or more inches in size depending on how things went in the game of survival and all that. At this point the fish may leave for the ocean by fall or based on genetic predisposition etc. it may stay until year 2 when it can be a full smolt size at nearly 10 inches. If you've made it to being ten inches and have not yet been eaten or killed chances are you're gonna taste salt water soon. In the salt begins another whole gauntlet that these fish must endure. I am not overly well versed at marine biology & zoology but I can name a few of the usual suspects when it comes to eating / killing a young or maturing salmon. Orca's - Sea Lions - Spotted Seals - Beluga Whales - Sharks - and of course Commercial Fisheries enter into the threat matrix at sea. Then there are the 'personal use set net fisheries along the shores near natal rivers as well as personal use dip netting that Alaskan residents are entitled to make use of. Those fish that survive everything I've detailed (and a whole lot more) and get to enter their natal rivers in the effort to reproduce are what the department of fish and game calls "the escapement fish".

So here you are an 'escapement salmon' entering the river of your birth on a mission to procreate your species but it isn't over my friend not by a long shot it isn't over. Remember that population thing I opened up with? Let us assume that people don't move to Alaska especially to the Matanuske Susitna Valley because of our warm beaches and fantastic weather trends, I'll go as far to say many are outdoors types who want to sample the bounty of Alaska they have heard and read about since they were children. If they aren't fishermen when they get here they will soon meet someone who is and that someone may very well spin the tales of King Salmon fishing to the newcomer. The size, the excitement, the battle involved in landing one and of course the fact that there are few fish available that make finer table fare than a fresh Alaskan King Salmon........... needless to say the pressure is on if you happen to be one of the few, the proud, the escapement fish! It may be time to share another fact with you, South Central Alaska, The Mat Su Valley and The Kenai Peninsula actually account for a majority of Alaska's road system. It is that road system that provides access albeit limited to what were once the most productive rivers and creeks in South Central Alaska for all five species of Pacific Salmons.

With the roads comes access points for river boats and there are plenty of those ranging from the 16 foot John boat with 25 HP motors to the Thunder Jets with 454 Chevy engines powering tremendous jet props. The remark I made about jet blast cleaning out a salmon nest isn't some imaginary thing I conjured up in my paranoid subconscious it's as real as night and day. In some stretches of rivers you can see the tracks on the bottom blown clean by jet blasts. So what do I do because I operate a jet myself you may wonder? I've figured it out that if I run with my motor at the maximum trim level that will still produce propulsion but that propulsion stream exits my tunnel almost perfectly parallel to the surface of the water and not directed at a 20 degree downward angle to or at the river bottom I do way less damage. Does that make me without sin? I can't say for sure but I'm able to think it matters to some extent. I like to think that having came here from north Central Pennsylvania I brought a few decent traits along with me. My native state was ravaged by clear cut logging before my birth in 1954 and mining drainage that had left devastating effects well into the 1970's in my part of the state. I did however live there to witness the rebound of the fisheries resources especially the wild trout fisheries. Coming from a wild trout background I understood well what spawning is all about and also tread very carefully when I know wild fish are about. I grew up in an environment on the mend and also an environment where we lived by the rule, 'Limit your kill don't kill your limit'. I realize that not everyone has come from my background and many see wild fisheries as a limitless resource. Sadly that is not the case, and to wit not the case in Alaska.

As we have collectively slid into this dark pit where the salmon become harder and harder to find the state has taken (in most cases) appropriate actions in that many of our rivers have been closed to retention of fish with all fishing being single hook artificial lure catch and release. Once a King salmon has been caught it must be released without its being removed from the water. As I write this article the whole of the rivers of South Central are closed to retention of King salmon and the World Famous Copper River and its drainage has been closed to fishing for Sockeye salmon as well as kings!

So what's up? When you ask that question of 20 different fishermen you may get several different answers although some will be of a correlating premise put into different words and terms. In essence everyone I've spoke to over the past few seasons has something or some entity they place blame on for this break in the continuity of the Alaskan lifestyle. The majority of opinion I hear is that it is the commercial fisheries who are at the root of our collective sorrows. A few point to the seals and Orca's as the possibilities. One fellow suggested that it is that they are literally starving to death at sea due to competition for food sources from other salmon species. Still another theory floated is that a combination of pH changes in ocean waters and climate changes are working together to affect the amount and quality of available food supply. That water quality theme also plays into the concerns over warming natal streams being unable to support the successful nesting sites. I could go on ad nauseam with more theory and opinion but I'll move to another paragraph and tell you what I think.

So what is it, what do you think is happening Ard? This is where I suggest the 'Inconvenient Possibility'

I think our transgressions are coming home to roost in a collective manner. To some extent I believe that every point of blame or reasoning I've had presented to me may be playing a role in the big picture. There is however one thing that no one has voiced to me when the lamenting over the lack of salmon comes to the forefront of conversation and I might add the conversation often goes to that point here at this time. The 'thing' that has not been mentioned reflects back to how I began this writing. Population growth pressure, harvest on all fronts but most especially those "escapement" fish. It is the escapement number of adult salmon upon whom the burden of propagating the future generations of returns rests squarely upon. It will help if the reader understands that any egg deposited in a gravel bed this year by a King salmon will not be returning as an adult fish for 5 years, that's 2023 for the survivors to appear. With that in mind one may be better able to imagine how it is that this extreme shortage of adult numbers has been slowly dwindling to a from bad to worse condition over the past 8 years. Although common sense leads us to ask why wasn't the limit reduced from 5 per year to just one or 2 ten years ago? Pressure, pressure on the department of fish and game applied by the tourist industry, by the residential fishermen, by the commercial guides association, all of these culminate in political pressure to keep things going as they have always ran. The King salmon is the 14 point Boon & Crockett Mule Deer, it's the perfect ten point white tail deer, it's the 24 pound Wild Turkey Gobbler, it's the King of Salmon and the pressure on the King has been intense to say the very least.

Ever since I took up permanent residency here in 2004 I noticed a pattern. The Kings are the first of the salmon species to return to Alaska's rivers each year. Private residents and guides alike prize them as do the thousands of anglers who come from all points of the globe to get their King or Kings. For residents and guides the hens were highly coveted. Why would that be? Wouldn't killing the hen fish, if the female is a fully matured adult in the 30 pound and over class can produce as many as 5000 eggs be counter productive? Not to an angler or guide that intends to remove those huge sacks of potential salmon in the form of eggs and then brine them to be used as egg sack baits for the Pacific Silvers that will be entering the rivers in just 5 short weeks behind the early kings. It doesn't stop there, all of the guides I know and a great many residents I have met then take the eggs from the female Silver Salmon, brine them and store them in the deep freezer to be used for King Salmon bait in the following years run. Are you getting a sense of a defeating purpose in all of this? Being a fly fisherman I've never had a use for salmon eggs. I decided ten years ago without any outside influence to return all hen salmon so that they can lay those precious eggs.

You see, salmon are like chickens or turkeys in that a few males can and will mate with as many hens as they can physically manage. In the case of Pacific Salmon they literally spawn till they die. With that in mind the retention of females has not made a lick of sense to me and I find the sad spectacle of harvesting the eggs of future generations of salmon to use only to kill more of the same to be unconscionable. Whatever you do don't get the idea that I've never killed and eaten an Alaskan king Salmon. That would be dead wrong (pun intended) I have I did but once the hand writing came to the walls here I stopped back in 2011 when I took three. The limit was 5 and I may have caught and released another 20 or more but I took three that year and that was the last. Since then I've had a couple memorable days, notably one morning in 2015 when I was able to catch 13 kings in one hour and forty five minutes. Each and every one released in prime shape, you gotta figure that with only 1 and 3/4 hours to get that done I didn't mess with them once hooked, I reeled them in popped the hook and was grateful for the experience. Those days at the present seem to be gone until further notice.

It's us. It's all of us but I have to say that there have been commercial fisheries since before I was born. There have been Sea Loins, Spotted Seals, Orca's and Beluga whales since time immemorial. The climate has changed over the 12,000 years since the great glacial epochs and floods & droughts are as much a part of this species environment as the waters themselves. What is new and definitely different is that over the past 40 years the population and associated pressures on those precious escapement fish has exploded. We have loved catching and killing King salmon to death. It is us, the people who have been killing the survivors here in the natal rivers and creeks that have tipped the balance. The folks who talk to me about this situation seem to be so opposed to this thought that is is obvious. I don't preach it, I make mention that I think we may have over-killed but I don't enter into debates on the topic. I see this like a community with a limited aquifer to draw water from deciding that everyone is entitled to have a swimming pool only when the wells run dry they are desperately searching for someone other than the pool owners to blame for the dry wells.

What do I think should be done to preserve the species for the future, even possibly restore them in numbers? I believe a complete moratorium on the harvest of escapement fish (especially Kings but Silvers are also in danger) coupled with effective limits and enforcement on the commercial drift netters in Cook Inlet is overdue. The burden and penalty's of exploiting the species should be shared across the fisheries as a whole. From where I'm at right here & now I don't see any other course that would make sense. Five year fish need five years of protection to even regain a toehold over the current state of the Kings. This would entail South Central and parts of Western Alaska also. The Kings are in danger of becoming threatened all over the state. Some areas still have good silver numbers and kings aren't as scarce but those rivers are accessible by float plane and lodges only. That is what is keeping the numbers up, not as many people killing them because fishing there is expensive.

To be continued......... I will post updates as any may seem useful, everyone has an opinion but it seems mine differs from most everyone I've spoke to here.

Ard

Last edited by Hardyreels; 07-29-2018 at 01:11 PM.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 09:26 AM
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Ard - wonderfully and passionately written!

The reality is that there are immediate fixes for many of the in-river problems, but due to resistance and selfishness of people, almost nothing gets enacted until way after it is too late.

Best of luck for the coming season, as tough as it may be.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 11:04 AM
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Ard

You and I talked on the phone for about an hour this past winter about this very situation, and your frustration with it came through loud and clear. Living on the river the way you do, living the nightmare, it’s easy to understand how this would eat at you day after day. It’s also difficult to understand how one person, you, could make a worthwhile change in what’s been going on for decades.

Dealing with fish populations, trying to track and count these elusive ghosts that sometimes shoot up or downstream 30-40 miles in a day can make one go screaming into the night! Knowing that there are thousands of ‘takers’ or ‘harvesters’ out there, and trying to get them all to change their harvest tactics can seem impossible, especially when a good number of them don’t speak our language (orcas, bears, sharks, etc). We DO, however, have a chance to change the tactics used by our two-legged fish hunters! I like to think most of us on SP already ‘get it’, and that’s why we use flies, and limit our kills. The ones we really need to target are the Styrofoam worm container-toting, throw-your-empty-beer-cans-into-the-bushes, slit-the-hens-from-anus-to-gill crowd. If that’s ALL we change, that’s at least something!

We all know that once upon a time, a bloke could walk out to any piece of fish-holding water, and use whatever method he/she could use to catch dinner (spear, dynamite, crank telephones, nets, etc). We also know of rivers, creeks, and streams where the rules have been changed to protect the innocent because of those tactics, and those rules limit fishermen to use artificial lures only. Flies, spoons, plugs, whatever, but no bait. We all also know that there are those in our population who choose not to follow the rules, using bait whenever and wherever they can in order to fill their buckets. Let’s not even get into the fact that they never punch their harvest tags! There will always be a few of those around, and we can only hope that their numbers will drop over time. We need a little chlorine in the gene pool!

After our last phone conversation, I thought “well, why don’t we just write to our policy makers and request a change in how we harvest game fish – by not allowing the use of bait”. Well, I got back to spraying weeds, or cleaning off my workbench, and forgot about the whole thing. Well, you opened up that can of worms again with your missive above!

For me, there is satisfaction in finding a way, or ways, in which I can make a difference, albeit a small one. My game happens to be invasive weeds. I’ve helped write policy for Oregon/Washington with the Dept. of Ag, as well as put my boots on the ground, so to speak. I've spent thirty years in my drift boat, plying the waters of the Rogue (and elsewhere) in search of Japanese knotweed, Scotch Broom, Dyer’s Woad, Starthistle, puncturevine, and a whole host of other culprits. I talk at meetings, to guides, to Department of Transportation, etc. This is easy peasie – killing weeds – as opposed to improving conditions that will ensure larger fish returns. BUT, couldn’t it be done? I know we’ve made a big difference in restoring habitats from invasive to native, both on the ground and in the minds of land managers. I know we’ve done the same thing with rivers, and can continue to do so today!

I don’t know the history of attempts to change legislation regarding fish harvest in Alaska, or on just your river. One person screaming to all the others slicing fish and slinging roe seems fruitless, especially when they have clients returning year after year to do the same thing they did before. But I wonder if a letter-writing campaign is in order at this time, or whether you think it would be worthwhile? Although there are many reasons the escapement numbers are down, (many of which we have no control over) you did spend quite a bit of ink on harvesting hens for their precious cargo, and if that’s all we do, isn’t that something!

I’m no deep thinker by any means, but it seems to me that if rules and regulations were changed to protect fisheries in other systems worked for the most part, why wouldn’t they work here? We can visit via the phone again, but I just pounded the keys for 20 minutes here with my scattered rambling, and I’m gonna post it.

Remember the old adage of how you eat an elephant…………one bite at a time! You’re the one with your thumb on the pulse of your river – tell us what you think can be done.

Give Boss a scratch for me.

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man".--Heraclitus
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 11:32 AM
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My home waters, The Fraser River and its tribs are the same right now if not worse. Lowest chinook returns on record (so far this year anyway). The rec sector has been ordered off the river yet the First Nations are still allowed select openings. The salt water commercial fleet still netting and the rec saltwater anglers are still at it. A blanket closure for a few years is in my mind, the only solution. However, money talks the talk and I don't see it ever happening. The very last thing I ever want to say in 5 years from now is "I told you so" but I fear its inevitable. The largest salmon producing river in the world is on its death bed and the only one to blame is humans and their greed......sorry for the hijack. Just wanted to point out that the Alaska issue is coast wide.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 11:35 AM
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Ard, I think, in one big way, you have hit the nail on the head. A great piece highlighting the situation that needs immediate attention on both coasts. Sports definitely need to share the protection of the species.
Thanks.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Everyone,

I didn't wake up yesterday with the intention to be the bearer of bad news but as I washed and waxed the Chevy (decided to stay home and not go scouting) thoughts congealed in my head. More research could have been done but I'm basically a guy who bases his opinion on what I see, what my own experiences are day after day year after year and not so much on what I hear or read.

Bobs idea of a letter writing campaign is good basic grass roots organizing but I am grieved to say that I only know one other angler at this point in time who may write a letter if he were to take the time. I have built a friendly relationship with the regional management people and through the years made my thoughts well known in a very diplomatic manner. It is my belief that I am the only one person who has been talking this way for the past 7 years.

I do understand that this problem of low abundance is a coast wide thing in the pacific Northwest. I do wish there were some instant cure for the ill but I see nothing other than stop gap measures in the future. I guess I posted what I wrote because I have been proffering my thoughts to people for ten years. I've communicated with many folks from this website many who had told me that Alaska was on their bucket list or words to that effect. For ten years I've said the same thing to many; "I'd do it soon because this ain't like a bottle of red wine, it isn't getting better with age". I've seen this coming a long ways off but am among the very smallest of minorities in this place. I'm actually a fishing guide of sorts. I say "of sorts" because I only take a few people fishing each year and always Spey rod folks. Over the past few seasons I've experienced it all, water so low that we had to park the boat and walk, flooding so bad that clients caught only 3 fish in 4 days, and a continuing low abundance of salmon and trout. I have a few people who will be fishing soon, it's gonna be tough but I forewarned each one of the conditions they will face. Still I hold out hope that at least a few kings may be caught.

It's even harder with the Spey rod and fly. You need the right places on the rivers to be able to effectively present a fly. While there may be fish hugging the unseen bottom of that big back eddy that spot will be hard to handle without a Vibrex #5 and a spinning rod & reel. I can live with the self imposed limitations of being a fly fisherman but once the numbers drop to the point that I struggle to find a fish using a familiar lie or troth I am at a loss. My intention when I took the first person fishing here was to put them where I fish, where I stand using what I catch fish with. That is becoming way harder to do now for years so I hope people will at least enjoy the solitude that having very few fish can provide You gotta smile or you'll surly be blue.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 12:07 PM
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Ard,

Good job of getting to the heart of the matter. It ranks right up there with a recent video on the raping of anadramous fish stocks on the Kamchatka by wild cat netters owned, operated,and protected by the Russian mobs.

Your missive should be published in the major fishing mags that piously moan about environmental impacts of every commercial project proposed but never confront the damage done across the board by all the other users. (That would offend their advertisers and a lot of their subscribers too.)

You da man!

ddb
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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That document will not be published because it is over 500 words. I was ask by several publications if I would submit articles over the years but every one had size limitations. I get it, but I also know that complex problems or theory are seldom clearly explained without some level of detail.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardyreels View Post
That document will not be published because it is over 500 words. I was ask by several publications if I would submit articles over the years but every one had size limitations. I get it, but I also know that complex problems or theory are seldom clearly explained without some level of detail.
Ard,try chasing Silver magazine out of Finland . Absolutely the best fly fishing magazine going . They WILL publish it .Topher Browne submitted a long article and they were the only one's that published it . It ran over three issues
Look for J James thread in the General forum entitled " Highly recommend Chasing Silver Magazine"
AJM ,Antti Matilainen the editor in chief has posted there .You can PM him .I can also get you his email contact info
Cheers
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-15-2018, 10:14 PM
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Ard thanks for putting this together as depressing as it might be to read. I posted something much shorter concerning the closure of the Chinook fishery in BC. I think the same is for both fisheries that they are poorly managed by the government. The salmon run in Alaska is so large that everyone thinks it is an endless supply. There is commercial fishing in the ocean with some regulations or quotas, however the quotas are way too much in my opinion. Then you have recreational anglers who have limits also way too high in my opinion. But there is no limit to the number of anglers so really there is no limit. Also I believe in Alaska the limits are very high for locals as salmon is considered a food source which many fill their freezers with. Then you have the Natives who also do the same. Everyone wants their share and no one wants to give in just a continuous diminishing return until there is nothing left or reach a critical point. The government does not want to do anything because each group represents a voting block or interest to them and they do not want to upset that block. Most people have no idea on fishing and the issues we face they just see salmon as a wonderful meal to have and how healthy it is. Don't ask how many times my coworkers have asked me to bring back salmon from a fishing trip for them. When I tell them it's catch & release they look at me like I'm crazy or they ask don't you like to eat fish.

There are other factors as well that could be influencing this problem but I think the primary reason is overfishing. In the Russian islands north of Japan they have huge commercial hatcheries which release millions of salmon into the ocean. So this is something new and can have an effect as all these fish are competing for the same food. Also many of the predators Orcas, seals etc are all protected and their populations have grown in recent years. I know many fisherman in Scotland are blaming the huge growth of predators Seals & various birds that have exploded in numbers on their reduced runs of Atlantic Salmon.

There are of course many natural factors from sea conditions, water temps when smolts migrate out, etc that can all effect returns. So when poor natural conditions exist and then the reduced runs return and are overfished it only results in disaster.
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 02:29 PM
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What's been already mentioned...

Can't remember who penned it first or that person's exact words but,
"we have come to seek the enemy and concluded the enemy is us".

We are a strange breed. We want to make things better, easier. Some how more hooks on the ground line going over the stern with the same amount of effort reveals at least twice as much product in hopefully at least half the amount of time making you a better fisherman. Which requires a bigger boat with more technology to get your catch to market sooner to allow a fresher product for the ever expanding population. Which allows you the time to enjoy the great outdoors further away from the throngs while fishing with bugs that seem to interest the target specie although you know that just aint the best way to go about it.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 08:38 PM
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My first trip to Alaska was 1988, at a well known, first class fly fishing lodge, fishing the Alagnak river. Having been brought up in the mid-west, at that time I knew nothing of the Salmon's life cycle. And to me a 5lb bass was a whopper. Before we even left Anchorage I picked up a post card of a fisherman hefting what had to be at least a 50 lb Chinook with both hands in the fishes gills! The fisherman was clad in Wellington's rather than waders & the Salmon was colored up real good. Anyone who knew anything at all about Salmon would have told you that fish was ripe & should have been left to do it's thing. But to me, it was just a pretty picture of a big fish & I thought that was normal procedure for Alaska.

It was early July. We were on the river by mid day & catching Chum Salmon about every third or forth cast, probably only a few scant miles above tide water. We didn't know what were were doing, none of us had ever fished Salmon before. One of the trio had never before even had a fly rod in his hands.

Although it was customary at that lodge to use conventional gear when targeting Kings, Marty & I wanted a shot at them on fly rods. Well we each managed to land one. Back bouncing fat freddie's in deep runs, out of the boat, & chasing them after they were hooked. Marty asked the guide if he knew of places we could cast flies to them in wadable water. The answer was yes, but I won't take you there because they will be on the redds. That was our initiation to Salmon 101.

Each time I returned to Alaska over the years, the fishing never measured up to that first trip. Twenty years later I returned to the same lodge I stayed in 1988. Some of the same guys had coming back every year. But by then, I had been fly fishing Salmon & Steelhead in the rivers in So Or long enough to know "flossing" when I saw it. The guides were fishing their clients the same as they had fished us twenty years ago, but now I saw it through different eyes.

I haven't fished Alaska since.

It was a cartoon character named Pogo Possum who said "I have seen the enemy & it is us"

Ard is right. Too many people coming to Alaska. Modern communications have alerted the masses to all the good places, & it has become too damn easy to get to those places.
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 09:27 PM Thread Starter
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Hi JD,

I've been over in the area myself and they are still hooking and playing colored up spawners. I've only been here full time for 14 years but the stories I could tell would fill a book. The title has already been used though, The Good The Bad & The Ugly.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-16-2018, 10:56 PM
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Great POst!

What we need is a huge movement for not eating salmon! I mean it, if we could get the next generation involved in making Netflix specials, getting huge media coverage, and making it almost taboo to keep and kill salmon, the pressure on the government and fisheries to make it a mandatory catch and release would spread like a wildfire!

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in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 06-17-2018, 01:33 AM
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yeah... if only all people were as gullible as some, hey.

Shawn,

First off I’m not your mate.
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