A recent post over at the The Caddis Fly's Blog (Salmon Slam 2011) not only got me going regarding my previous post on trolling flies but the comments got me doing some serious thinking about how our saltwater fisheries are managed.
Are the current selective fisheries helping wild fish runs? I do not know for sure but I think the discussion needs to be had regarding the huge amount of catch and release involved in harvesting hatchery fish inside Puget Sound (From Tatoosh Island east).
The 2011 wild coho return for Puget Sound is approximately twice that of the hatchery return. My take on selective fisheries is that they assist in harvesting abundant hatchery runs while minimizing the impact on smaller co-mingled wild runs. What happens when wild runs are larger?
When selective fisheries first started I was a huge proponent. It was like the diet advertisement that says you can eat everything you want and still lose weight. All of a sudden we had longer seasons and all it took was releasing unmarked salmon. While I feel that I was very gentle on the fish we released (especially compared to the average saltwater angler) we still were releasing huge numbers of unmarked fish to get our two fish limits as well as catch and releasing fish just for fun.
It seems like the current management regime results in huge numbers of released fish. I can recall days where you had to release ten to fifteen fish to find one hatchery fish and current reports do not make it seem like things have changed too much. Most people are also still fishing gear that takes a huge toll on released fish. Two hook mooching rigs tear fish up. I know that when I fished two hooks I could have more bleeders in a day than an entire season with clousers.
We are already seeing some changing of regulations in the Strait of Juan
de Fuca regarding wild coho release. In late September you can retain
wild fish in Area 5 (Sekiu) and in October Area 6 is open for wild coho
I like the idea of selective fishing. I would like to think that it is helping wild fish but I am starting to pass on the selective fishing kool-aid.