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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well this weekend the word came out that the Hoh missed escapement for the 3rd year last year. And this year it isn't looking good either with the tribal and sports harvest.

I had a conversation about this with a buddy of mine that I respect about this and he was like they should just shut it down rather then have people fish over the fish. Well this started a discussion about fishing and ethics of fishing over depressed runs. We fish a river that has consistently hasn't made escapement the last 5 years (it did make the departments magical 80% number to allow a cnr fishery one year which was a surprise and it remained closed). The fishing closes early on this river but a lot of guys don't fish for hatchery fish after Jan 1st. They are targeting wild fish. Our other system we fish stays open because it is barely making that 80% number by a couple of points (this years buffer is 24 fish). Yet we still fish over them.

So a couple of questions 1) When do you stop fishing over a depressed run. 2) Should we be targeting fish that we know are in a depressed state even to the point that they aren't making an 80% number that the departments has set for the level to have a CnR fishery.

It is really causing me a conflict now. I feel very hypocritical saying fisheries should be closed down when I know I am targeting wild fish that are even more depressed.

JJ
 

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It is a tough question! It is an individual question. A persons life is short, to not experience a Wild Steelhead on a fly again ? It could come to that! In my mind responsible catch and release fishing is still in the realm of ethical. As long as it is within the law. As long as there is still a Kill fishery on native steelhead,in Wa,the greatest Stand is still political,and in public education. Catch and release fishing has little impact on the resourse. The real problems are with commercial fishing, open kill fishery for natives,and Habitat loss. I will do what I can in these areas, and Thank God I was born in a time in the NW when I could experience the feel and sight of a Native Steelhead up close and personal. I do believe that closing some fisheries commercial,and sport fishing,:( Will be the only answer,for a real impact.
 

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JJ,

If you are not fishing due to your convictions - or even closures - then who is watching out for the fish? The best advocates for the fish are fishermen, if we are not there then the forces of darkness have won and we might as well buy golf clubs...

The easiest way to manage a fishery is to close it. After a while people will forget about it then the powers that be can rationalize letting the despoilers finish the job. We are seeing this on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. Those rivers have been closed for so long that a whole generation of steelheaders never even came into existence. Soon those of us who remember the glory days of fish will no longer be fishing and the managers won't have to worry about anybody *****ing about the salmon farms in every creek mouth.

No, we must fish. And we must continue to make enough noise that the managers know we are still here and still care.
 

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Kush,

Interesting views. While I agree with what you say, I'm not sure I agree that it is ok to keep fishing given the scenario Jeff gives. I suspect that this one would make one hell of a late night conversation around the campfire or the Martini Bar. Libations in hand of course.

Jeff is dead-on though in saying that his given river closes on Feb. 28th to protect the wild run which is not meeting escapement. Still, a large number of conservation minded anglers including myself, fish it rabidly right up until dusk on the 28th. We do this knowing that after Jan. 1st, there are few hatchery fish in the river and the fish we are targeting are wild.

Now I fish it and will continue to fish it but after talks with Jeff, I must admit that it is not without a modicum of guilt.

'tip
 

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"escapement"?

What is meant by the phrase ". . . the Hoh(River) missed escapement for the third year in a row". Since I've fished for steelhead in the NW before I should understand this concept, but somehow missed out on this steelhead activity. Thanks for your replys.
 

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cast,mend,stumble,swear..
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I have to go w/ Kush with this one...

Advocacy for resources comes from passion and connection for those resources. If you don't have that connection, you won't fight, or fight as vigorously as needed, to make sure it's preserved and protected. Fishing is certainly my connection to the resource, and drives my $$'s and volunteer efforts and support of organizations and politicians, et al. that are supportive of the resource I covet. If I were to loose that connection, I'm certain I'd find other things to devote my time, money, and politics to, and leave the fish w/ one less advocate. Scary thought, but also human nature.

Kush's example of what's happening on Vancouver Island is an excellent example of what can happen! Such a scenario in the Puget Sound, or anywhere in steelhead country for that matter, is scary to say the least.

In regards to the eithical question - ultimately that becomes a personal choice. Am not familiar w/ the bench marks Washington DNR sets in regards to escapement, and how that effects harvest vs. catch and release vs. season closures. At some level, I'd like to think I can trust the judgement of professionals in the determination of whether or not I should be fishing over a certain run/stock of fish. But if the events over the past couple years in DNR are any indication, one must be very much aware of how the politics of various interests are affecting those decisions, and what that really means for the resource. Was going through some old Northwest Flyfishing mag's the other night, and found an article about proposing the Hoh River watershed as a Salmonid Sanctuary, with management moving towards preservation and maintaining high quality wild stocks... yet 3 years later, they still can't make escapement???

But I digress........ JJ - Ultimately, you'll need to come to the conclusion of what kind of impact you and your angling efforts are having on the fish. Are you hooking and landing/playing so many fish that you're concerned about affecting #'s of successful spawners? (If so - I want to fish w/ you!! Cause god knows I'm not!!! :eek: :chuckle: ) Does it mean that you fish, and enjoy the experience of being on the river, w/ friends or by one's self, - enjoying the journey - and once you've touched one fish, or two or five, or what ever you're comfortable w/, you end your season? Do you carefully select your runs and efforts in areas that you KNOW you won't distrubed actively spawning fish, or risk tromping on redds? No easy answers, certainly.

Agree w/ Buddler - CnR fisheries are not limiting factors, by ANY stretch of the imagination... Whether you fish or not after January 1, until the season is closed will have little effect on the fishery. But by not fishing, do you risk being less an advocate? just a question, certainly not a statement or accusation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Hoh has missed making the minimum number of fish back to the spawning bed for the third year in row. The run size to meet escapment is 2400 fish on the beds but last yer only a little over 1400 fish made the beds.


Interesting replies:

One thing I know is that if we as anglers continue to point our fingers at all other (commercials, tribes, habitat, etc) we will be in trouble. It is all part of a big picture we all have impact. Sometimes saying that well if they get to have impact then I am too by gosh!!!! just seems to ring hollow to me. We have to look not only outward at issues but also inward.

Kush I know that the fish need fisherman just as much as we need the fish. Someone once told a girl friend of mine that fishing isn't something I do but it is apart of who I am and to me that means I have to think about these issues and doing my part to help them survive.

I know this is a personel issue to a lot of people and we all have to make our own choices. I hope others way in on this issues.

JJ
 

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cast,mend,stumble,swear..
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Food for thought....

My home river, the John Day in central Oregon, hosts a listed steelhead stock as a part of the Endangered Mid-Columbia population of steelhead. When listing was made formal in the late 1990's, the kill fishery was "killed". And so to could have been the fishery period. ODFW negotiated w/ NOAA Fisheries (NMFS at the time) for a regulated and monitored catch and release fishery, which was granted. In subsequent years, fishing effort fell off, particularly w/ the bait and gear crowd. But many continued to fish. Poaching occured, but many were surprised how little was really happening. As apart of the consultation w/ NOAA Fisheries, a bench mark of redd "recruitment" was set for the John Day basin. If the fishery exceeded that benchmark over 3 consecutive years, then NOAA Fisheries would grant a limited kill fishery (2/angler/year as a possible example) to reward the agency and the anglers for their efforts in the stock's recovery. two years ago, they NEARLY had that benchmark. But for a serious snaffu w/ the fish ladders at the John Day and The Dalles dams (can you believe someone would shut down fish ladders during the peak of the run for 2 freakin' months?? :whoa: :mad: ) killed the 3rd year's returns. Every indication was that the John Day stocks would once again exceed the benchmark in the number of redds. but they didn't. now looking to another set of consecutive three year cycle of banner recruitment...

My point - the CandR fishery continued through all of this, and essentially had no bearing on the success (or failure) of stock recruitment. some food for thought....

BTW - most of the fish I swing flies over here in Oregon are ESA listed stocks... talk about a dilema (sp...)....
 

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Jj -

Don't think anyone's advocating that this is all black and white... You're right, one must realize that we're all apart of the problem, and it extends beyond just whether or not we fish, but also larger decisions of "life" we make - houses we buy, other resources we use (paper products/wood fibre?), etc. And I don't think anyone, on this forum anyways, advocates the idea of the "I want my share too, dammit!" philosophy... Keeping up "with the Jones'" (or in this case, the bait dunkers, and gill netters, and the tribes) is certainly not a solution either.

However, I also think that it's easy for those who have a passion for the resource to guilt themselves into decisions that really have no consequence. And worse, a detriment to the resource, or at least one's quality of life.
Case in point - in the late 80's and early 90's, waterfowl populations tanked across north america. Severe restrictions of hunting seasons were enacted, w/ possible outright closures. My uncle, a lifelong waterfowl hunter/decoy carver/waterfowl biologist, "made a statement" in favor of the ducks and chose not to hunt until there were abundant waterfowl populations, even tho he could. Not that he was terribly effective in his killing in the first place, he hunted more for the experience than the body count. Fast forward 6 years, waterfowl numbers are at near record numbers, and he still doesn't hunt - no longer the passion or desire... Did his not hunting have any effect in the population trends? hell no! but now he no longer hunts. and i'll argue is quality of life diminished...

You gotta recognize your place in the world, and the effects of your presence, decisions and actions have on the resources you value. but at the same time, we gotta keep it all in perspective as well...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I know this isn't a black and white issue. All sorts of shades of gey here. I am the first to admit that and have seen the good grey and bad grey up close and personal with my involvement with different conservation groups. As I said the fish need fisherman just as much as the fisherman need fish. I am not advocating stopping fishing for steelhead was just asking peoples attitude on this subject.

My roommate and I both said discussing this tonight that if there were no steelhead left we wouldn't fish with near as much passion or near as many times. Steelhead are my passion fishing for them is my joy and trying to help protect them in what ever little way is my duty and I hope it is others too.

JJ
 

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Well obviously this is as hot an issue over there with you guys, as it has been for many years here in Scandinavia.

Basically our season is - compared to yours, much shorter, The Atlantic Salmon season in Norway starts at june 1st. and ends 31st august, irrespectively of the run, numbers etc. So 3 months ONLY, - have a taste on that !!!!
This has been so since the mid seventies and I doubt very much this will ever change - in the benefit of the Salmon. We have just gotten used to this even though a lot of us wishes differently !!!

This obviously give the Salmon plenty of lonelyness and a quiet time to spawn in good numbers. On the other hand - the toll or kill if you wish, is in those 3 month pretty large, and approx, 30% - 40% of the runs are killed, even with different bag limits. So whichever is better, is hard to say and also a matter of attitude and politics. Some praise the C&R and other praise killing a few in a shorter period. Personally I would be happy with one (1) fish to eat every season and release the rest.

The Trout and Sea Trout season though is more forgiving, running from march to october in most places. Generally the trout and Sea trout will start their spawning around end October thru january thus closing most fisheries between October to March even if there are new runs of bright fish. Even at Sea coloured fish (Sea Trout) must be released.

Where I see the Trout season being fair, I think that the Salmon Season is unfair, based on the "killing". Have we had a better combined C&R/Kill strategy, we could have had a longer season. But this issue is a very hot potato, and you could see how it rose complaints in Scotland a few years back.
I am not a biologist, and do not know what influence that a "catch" have on released fish and its ability to spawn succesfully, and this must be the main issue. Will a previously caugth fish be fully able to continiue to the spawning grounds and succesfully carry out its deed, if not, - will the C&R make any sense. ? I truly hope , because I release all trout, and have done so for 20 years + .
Michael
 

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Michael

fly caught steelhead and salmon in cold water survive and spawn very successfully. Water in the high sixtys (F) can be more problematic.
 

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Ted

This is good to know, and as I would have thought. But I suppose it also depends on the way you handle the fish putting it back. I have often had to spend up to 5-10 min to be sure they would keep upright, where I have seen others just "throwing" them back !

Upper 60 F I am not sure how much that is in Celcius, we often see summer temps up to 16-17 Deg C, which is pretty warm (bathing temps). The coast line of North Atl some times get up to same temps or even in hot augusts up to 20 deg C.
At such temps the Salmon and Sea Trout will be nosed up in the white water for oxygen. Some times fishing are closed at a comb of high temps and low water - which seems sensible !

As mentioned in an earlier post, it is very much down to attitude, personally I see no problem in gentle/sensible flyfishing all year round. The main problem here are bag anglers, that would take fish even if the roe is running of them !!!

Why waste time Not fishing (whoever said that, was a pretty bright guy)
Michael
 

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Michael

70 Fahrenheit is 21 Celcius. I will not fish at or above that temperature as survival of the fish can become questionable. I do not remove fish to be released from the water. Pictures are possible with the fish in the water.
 

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Rivers and Steelhead

Well said JJ.

Steelhead are indeed my passion, as are the rivers they ascend. A river that has wild steelhead is the best of both worlds. As wonderful as lakes are, I probably wouldn't be as fanatic for steelhead if I could only fish for them in Drano Lake. ;)

Having a healthy river system and robust return of wild steelhead is the ideal. If I believe my presence on the river is compramising either, I will leave. On the occasional low-water year when steelhead are pooled up and much easier targets for fishermen, I've often chosen not to fish. Not because the run was so weak that it couldn't sustain my catching and releasing a few, but because I didn't feel good about being the XX# angler to bombard them with my offerings. IMHO those fish deserved better.

That being said, I've also fished in February for those same natives JJ mentioned on a river that's not meeting escapement. Why? Because I was confident that the rare aggressive fish that might grab my fly in that cold water would be a strong healthy specimen easily able to survive a brief tussle with me. I've never hooked a cold water steelhead anywhere other than the outermost lips, and the few hot ones have usually won their freedom. Those I've been able to land have always been returned to the water vital and healthy.

I enjoy being on the river at this time, on favorite runs I rarely get to fish anymore because of diminished returns and closed seasons. I'm certain in my own mind that I'm not furthering the demise of these precious few returning fish that will hopefully seed the recovery of this run in years to come.

That being said, having the river open thru the end of Feb also allows others on the river. I'm sure there is some poaching that occurs. If the WDFW, my own observation, or the observations of others indicate that this is an significant problem that cannot be addressed by increased enforcement, I'd be all for considering other options including closing the river.

Others suggest that having anglers on the water ~limits~ poaching just because there are more eyes on the river. There's something to be said for both perspectives.

Bottom line for me is the health of the river and the native fish that return to it. As JJ suggested (and IMHO as well), any angler fishing today has an ethical obligation to act as a steward of the resources. Just because something's "legal" doesn't necessarily mean it's the right thing to do.

my .02,

Brian
 

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Folks,

I agree with Kush. I've witnessed fishing and killing of wild fish on several rivers or sections of rivers here in Puget Sound that were closed to either all fishing or fishing for the species being targeted. Additonally, the mortality of C&R on steelhead with single, barbless hook articificial lures is very low and if it had been implemented on the Hoh last year, there would have been at least 150 more (and this number is purposely low) wild fish making it to the spawning beds that sportsfishers bonked.

Also, it appears to me that in addition to the reasoning Kush provided in his post, that we need to take into consideration that when a river is closed, the poachers don't take a break from fishing it. But they are less likely to be out during prime time when there is C&R going on simply because there is more chance someone will report them.

Feiger,

This is one of the rivers the good folks of Forks, several Peninsula Tribes (Hoh Tribe among them), and the biologist assigned to the Forks area rivers claimed C&R was not needed because it was a "healthy run" that could sustain harvest of wild fish used in their agruments to kill the steelhead C&R requirement on all rivers year round in WA. It is also a river that has missed escapement goals 60% of the last 12 years, which the Hoh Indian Tribe has been able to net all of those years in order to take the 50% of "surplus fish" (those fish not needed to sustain the run into the future and hence are harvestable or surplus) as per Judge Bolt's federal court decision.

The part that amazes me is that despite the Hoh not making escapement for more than 50% of the last 12 years and the fact that it was projected to barely make escapement last year, the Hoh Tribe still was able to keep its nets in the river and sportsmen were able to kill one wild fish each (even though there were no "surplus fish" forecasted)! As this was transpiring, the Forks guide association, city council, and city attorney, along with several legislators and sportsfishers were working their butts off to overturn the C&R only rule on the Hoh and other Forks area rivers, which they were successful in doing.

It appears to me that logic would dictate that the Hoh be closed to wild fish kill by either the Hoh Tribe or sportsfishers and opened only as a C&R fishery on wild steelhead; but that would be too easy I suppose. This would probably provoke another round of political crap by the Forks guides, sportsfishers, city council, and city attorney along with the involvement of legislators, with the additional possibility of the Hoh Indian Tribe (all 70 members) filing suit in federal court because it would mean they would look very bad indeed if they still had a net fishery when the sportsmen didn't have a kill fishery.
 

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Ted.

In Scandinavia the best thriving temp for Salmon is regarded 10-14 deg C. but the last 6-8 summers, air and water temps has risen dramatically and now a water temp of 15-16 is not uncommon. 18-20 deg C are rare but does happen occasionally almost every summer for periods up to a week. Thats why, if the water is low too, fishing closes until a spate refreshen the river/s.
Otherwise I agree, it is a killer to even fight the fish at those temps.

Michael
 

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Flytyer

Aware of the Hoh - fished there two springs ago, hooked my first two fish on a swung spey fly there, broke both off... :eek: Also aware of the politics that is going on in the forks area, et al. I submitted letters to the mayor, as well as the commission in Washington when the proposal was made, and initially approved by the commission, to enact C and R on the Hoh and other systems. Sad day when they reversed that. Also monitored the happenings on the Hoh last year, and some of the posts of others on the clave of the nets, poor returns, et al. It still amazes me all that washington seems to get away with. If/When the stocks are listed under the ESA, then things will get interesting.

Probably should have done myself a favor and just sat on the side lines w/ this thread, but I struggle at some level w/ our collective willingness to flog ourselves over such choices as to fish or not to fish. You DO have to be aware of what is going on with the fisheries that you are pursuing. You can't be fishing when flows are to low or temps to high, when fish are stressed, and any angling pressure, whether it's hooking or simply disturbing can be fatal. And you can't be fishing on spawing grounds, or over fish that actively spawning. And if you're dealing w/ runs that in any other state or nation, besides Washington :roll: , would consider listing as Threatened or Endangered, then you definitely need to consider your actions and choices there.

I guess if you're feeling guilty about what you're doing, then you probably shouldn't be doing it. But occassionally I see this taken a few steps to far... And getting back to my original point - if the guilt keeps you from fishing, or others from doing so, to the point that fishing is given up, the advocacy is lost, and that's more deadly to wild steelhead runs than any dressed piece of steel will ever be...

my .02...
 

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There are no doubt that "we" anglers must look in our own ranks and take the first steps towards conservation/restrictions before attacking and accusing anyone else, and there is still a lot to be done, especially in Scandinavia atleast. There is still far too much killing going on.
In Norway you are still allowed to kill 3 Salmon PER DAY in most rivers !!!

In Denmark we have only a few rivers with Atlantics and here you are restricted to kill one (1) Salmon per season, and there is a total limit for the river (not certain of that figure). In my opinion, the right way to go.

One main problem in Scandinavia, is by far the netting at sea or in the estuaries/fjords.

Without knowing, I am sure that you steelheasders face similar problems at sea as for the Atlantic Salmon. Buying out the fishing rights at sea is becoming more and more popular and this summer the Atlantic Salmon Fund together with local rivers bought a nice portion of netting in the Trondheimsfjord in Norway (65% of the commercial netters). Theoretically this buy out should have given approx. 90 ton (or 9000 Salmon Av 22 pounds) more Salmon in those 5 rivers involved. The catching reports did however not indicate such returns, but obviously it is too soon to conclude anything 100% yet. The coming yeaers will show if the buy out is a good solution, or if it just creates more killing by anglers and poachers !

There´s still a lot of moral and ethics to be discussed !

Michael
 
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