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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-15-2006, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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Dec Hogan/Peter Soverel

There is a must read afterword in Dec's new book by Peter Soverel. We have to change current management practices or our kids will not be able to fish for steelhead. Some quotes:

I should make clear that, when I talk about steelhead, I am talking about wild, naturally spawned and reared Parasalmo mykiss (I prefer the Russian taxonomy), not their distant hatchery outlaws. Wild steelhead are the genuine article; hatchery fish are not. The scientific literature is resplendent with the reasons why. Anglers know, or at least should know, from personal observation and experience that hatchery steelhead:
• Are not native, not wild, and do not behave as wild fish.
• Are much less responsive to the fly.
• Enter the rivers over an extremely compressed period. Wild steelhead exhibit wide diversity in run and spawn timing and thus provide year-round angling opportunity with at least some wild steelhead entering rivers on virtually every tide.
• Migrate rapidly to their release location.
• Are known to be harmful to native populations.

Perhaps the most basic question concerns the future of the fish themselves. Without robust wild populations, we will not have a sport. Ask any experienced steelheader whether his fishing is better now than in the past. Invariably, he will note that his angling and angling options are, at best, faint echoes of what was available just a few decades ago. If this downward trend continues for even a short period beyond the present, then the prospects for steelhead and steelhead angling are-to put it mildly- less than hopeful (pp 286/287).

What happens if, instead of joining with another wild fish that has passed through the same environmental lenses, this survivor meets and spawns with a hatchery steelhead? We should expect that their progeny would survive at a lower level because they lack the fitness of progeny from wild-wild pairings. Thirty years of field research be Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists focused exactly on this issue confirmed our expectation. The study compared the reproductive success of different pairing possibilities between wild and hatchery Kalama River steelhead:
• Native Kalama summer runs (both parents are native Kalama fish);
• Mixed parentage (hatchery male-native female or native male-hatchery female);
• Hatchery-only parentage (both parents hatchery-origin fish).

The findings? Only native-native pairings produced returning adult steelhead. The contributions of all other pairings to the returning adult populations, in the techno-speak of the study, could not be statistically distinguished from “zero.” In other words, the hatchery-hatchery, hatchery-wild, and wild-hatchery progeny were so ill-adapted-so unfit for the environmental challenges they faced over their lifetime-that none of them survived to adulthood. As predicted by Darwin, differences count in life.

The results of this careful, long-term scientific study make clear two essential facts. First, hatchery fish are not the same as nor are they an acceptable substitute for wild fish. Second, permitting hatchery fish to interact with wild fish has the effect of dramatically decreasing the productivity of the wild fish (pp 296/297).

Pacific steelhead and salmon on the West coast are in crisis-not because we do not understand the causes for their declines. Instead, we know perfectly well what needs to be done but have instead insisted on following management practices that we know are harmful: excessive harvest, inadequate escapements, hatchery introductions, land use practices that are both unsustainable and detrimental to steelhead, and son on. We have further compounded the crisis by focusing our money and efforts on the stocks that are at the highest risk while largely ignoring other stocks less at risk, all the while continuing to apply management regimes known to be harmful. We also have examples of what will work if we have the courage to trust in the resilience of the fish themselves while providing for their basic requirements.

In short, the problem is not the fish. We and the manner in which we manage steelhead are the problem. Unless and until we change the basic management paradigms, we can be certain that, in the lifetime of all you reading this beautiful new book celebrating steelhead, the species will be functionally extinct in what is now their already greatly diminished range (pg 308)

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-16-2006, 12:39 PM
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Question who was that stupid judge

Someone should tell that stupid judge that said hatchery fish were the same as wild fish. And then we should tar & feather the SOB and run him out of town on a rail.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-16-2006, 01:34 PM
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You talking about Judge Boldt? Is he even still alive?
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-16-2006, 11:04 PM
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Supurb post Ted thank you. I am picking up a copy of the book this week...

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-17-2006, 07:50 AM
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Study: Wild Steelhead Reproduce More Successfully Than Hatchery Steelhead

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A 15-year analysis of spawning steelhead in one Oregon fishery has proven what many experts suspected for some time – that after fish from traditional hatcheries migrate to the ocean and return to spawn in natural habitat, they leave far fewer offspring than their wild relatives.

The study used DNA tracking technology of fish breeding in Hood River, and showed that traditional hatchery steelhead produced 60-90 percent fewer surviving adult offspring than wild steelhead.

However, the research also confirmed that fish from modern “supplementation” hatcheries, which begin with eggs from native, wild fish, are about as successful as wild steelhead. These fish can be used to boost the size of native populations without causing obvious genetic harm, at least for one generation.

The findings, by researchers from Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, were just published online in Conservation Biology, a professional journal.

“This provides very compelling data to confirm what we’ve suspected for quite a while, that fish from traditional hatchery operations have a much-reduced ability to reproduce and sustain a wild population,” said Michael Blouin, an OSU associate professor of zoology.

“We’ve essentially created a fish version of white lab mice,” Blouin said. “They are well-adapted to life in the hatchery, but do not perpetuate themselves in a wild environment as successfully as native-born fish. The good news, however, is that reducing the number of generations a stock is passed through the hatchery can greatly increase the fitness of that stock in its natural habitat.”

The historic role of hatcheries was to produce fish for harvest, but a new mission for many hatcheries is to produce breeders to add to dwindling wild populations.

“Our work suggests that first-generation hatchery fish can be used to provide a significant one-time boost to a wild population without apparent damage to the genetics of the wild stock,” Blouin said. “Whether you can continue that on a long-term basis is still unclear. But it seems that at least the first generation of fish produced this way function pretty well.”

Traditional steelhead and salmon hatcheries in Oregon, Blouin said, usually worked with non-native fish that were repeatedly – and purposefully – bred for generations in hatcheries. The offspring of hatchery fish actually made better “domesticated” fish in the hatchery environment, he said, where inadvertent selection for traits like a less aggressive temperament produced stocks that had high egg-to-smolt survival in the hatchery.

However, the genetic characteristics that make good hatchery specimens work against the offspring of those fish when the offspring are born into a competitive and predatory wild environment.

The techniques used in supplementation hatcheries – use of local, wild-born fish for eggs – have been designed specifically to minimize those genetic effects of the hatchery. And it appears that at least on a short-term basis, Blouin said, they can achieve that goal.

To study the issue, researchers used “genetic fingerprinting” techniques to track the pedigrees of fish in Oregon’s Hood River, doing DNA analysis with scales taken from about 15,000 fish since 1991. The relative reproductive success of wild fish and supplementation hatchery fish was compared to fish from traditional hatchery programs, by matching returning adult offspring to their parents that had spawned in the river in years past.

The study found that steelhead from traditional hatcheries had about 10-40 percent the reproductive success of wild fish. By contrast, fish from a supplementation hatchery had reproductive success indistinguishable from wild fish, and crosses between wild fish and supplementation hatchery fish also appeared healthy.

“By tracing the lineage of those fish, we’ve shown pretty clearly that fish from traditional hatcheries do not reproduce as successfully as wild fish, and thus could potentially drag down the health of wild populations by interbreeding with them,” Blouin said. “But in places where we need a short-term boost to a wild population, it also appears that supplementation hatcheries may work well and not cause significant problems.”

Although first-generation supplementation fish were as successful as wild fish, the researchers were hesitant to recommend supplementation as a long-term solution for dwindling wild runs.

“With many generations of supplementation you inevitably start using fish for broodstock that have hatchery ancestors,” Blouin said. “Whether this results in enough domestication to cause problems down the road is still an open question. All we can say for now is that supplementation does not appear to be harmful in the short term.”

The research considered only the genetic background and lineage of the fish, Blouin said, and did not take into account any other environmental or fishery management issues. If a stream or fishery environment is severely altered or degraded, he said, adding supplementation hatchery fish to the system will do little to achieve a self-sustaining wild population.

This research was supported by the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 12:21 AM
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research & statistics

This research was supported by the Bonneville Power Administration and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Well yeah, If I were Bonneville Power Administration, I would support (pay for) a study that produced those results. At least it implies that the hatcheries can do some good. Helps subdue the efforts of those who favor tearing out the dams. Makes very little mention of habitat & invironmental issues.

And I don't care whether judge Bolt is dead or alive. He made a bad ruling and he should be discredited for it.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 03:34 PM
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I wonder if wild steelhead are not already functionally extinct in the lower 48 states. We cannot harvest them from any but about 12 of the over 160 rivers in which they occur. If functionality is defined as a level of abundance beyond what is required simply to maintain the species, and includes at least some harvestable fish, then functional extinction occurred in the 1990s in WA state. What a way to close out the 20th century, eh?

Judge George H. Boldt passed away some time in the 1980s, as I recall.

I haven't read Pete's afterward yet; I skimmed the entire book and then began reading from page one. I was reading about, and drooling over, the gorgeous fly patterns last night.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 04:33 PM
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Thanks for the posts, a great topic that is not discussed enough.

A bit of a side comment, but why does Peter refer to:

"Parasalmo mykiss (I prefer the Russian taxonomy)"

I thought Oncorhynchus predated Salmo gairdneri, and I assumed any other variations?


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 04:39 PM Thread Starter
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Parasalmo mykiss is the preferred Russian notation, at least from Peter's perspective, and Oncorhynchus mykiss in our part of the world.

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 09:22 PM
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i sure hope those here were not now just coming to the realization that wild steelhead are in trouble and the perils they have faced and are facing after reading peter's chapter in dec's book. if in fact this was an eye opener to everyone, that could explain some of the reasons why wild steelhead runs are facing what they.

also, keep in mind that peter is very opionated and that there was a whole lot of editorial commentary mixed in with the facts. it was a good chapter none the less...

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-18-2006, 09:56 PM
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It must have been an eye opener to all sorts of Pugetropolis anglers in the 1990's to witness the level of decline that ultimately did occur. Apparently trips to the OP didn't solve the problem - only created other ones. People have argued (perhaps legitimately) that the current enlightenment came too late. I won't make that argument. Instead, I think it is best not to point fingers at people who are just now learning of such matters, and better to get everyone on the same side of the coin for the future.

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