Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good News....Bad News

What a day.

Due to work by wild fish conservation groups the Elwha Tribe will not be planting Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead in the Elwha.  Check out the link below:

Agreement protects Elwha steelhead from hatchery releases

It is moments like this that make me actually hopeful that our wild fish stand a chance.  Finding optimism is often one of the hardest things for me to do in the fishing world.  My eternal pessimism is likely not made to deal with wild fish issues as I am constantly feeling a bit down when it comes to long-term trends even though we are winning more and more battles every year.  First, we got the state to create a Wild Steelhead Management Zone on the Sol Duc against local opposition.  Now we got a co-manager to make the right call when it comes to restoration of wild fish after a dam removal.

Now for the bad news.  The coho forecasts for this summer and fall were just released here.

It looks like the saltwater salmon numbers will be way down for everywhere inside Puget Sound.  It looks like a repeat of last summer's fishing will not be happening.  With the good news about the Elwha I am going to make an attempt to stay positive for the saltwater fishing this summer.  Even with less fish coming through the Strait that doesn't mean that fish won't stop and feed in areas which should still provide great fishing at times.  Even with the poor news of total run sizes I am making a vow to remain positive in chasing fish come August, September, and October this year.  I may even attempt to make a trip or two to other areas that have better forecasts for 2012 than 2011.

Hope springs eternal.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WDFW and Bobbers

On the department's Facebook Page they are promoting the opening of the kill season on wild winter steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula.

The funniest part of the post is the picture they used. 

Celebrate killing wild fish with pictures of bobber caught steelhead.  I only wish I could make stuff like this up.  Laughter is the best medicine for insane policies.

Finally... Snow

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stop Lying!!!!!!

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Olympic National Park Sued Over Hatchery

"Elofson (Lower Elwha ­Klallam river restoration director) also said in September that the Chambers Creek steelhead is used to provide a harvestable steelhead run.

He said then that the native and Chambers Creek runs happen at different times of the year and that studies have not shown a genetic impact on the native run."

Stating that native steelhead return at different times of year than hatchery fish is a lie.  Historically the rivers of the Northern Olympic Peninsula had large runs of early returning native steelhead.  The long term impact of planting Chambers Creek steelhead have devastated these early returning natives.  The intense harvest pressure on early timed hatchery fish have destroyed the early natives along with the ecological impacts of planting hatchery fish.

Early timed steelhead fill habitats that cannot be utilized by later returning fish.  Think of small tributaries with no snowmelt that have peak hydrographs in late winter and early spring.  Early spawning fish are able to utilize these habitats that later spawning fish cannot.  Diversity within the species is a good thing and continuing to push the idea that native steelhead only return in a narrow window in the spring is 100% untrue.

Giving up on what was once a large part of the run means we will never really see restoration of wild winter steelhead in the Elwha River.  Giving up before the dams are even down is unacceptable.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Coho Are Just Ugly This Year"

With the start of the saltwater salmon season setting process (North of Falcon) beginning over the next month we are starting to learn what the preseason forecasts will be.  The Columbia River coho forecast has just been released.

Columbia River Coho Forecast Not Encouraging

My saltwater season goals usually begin with thinking about at least a trip or two out to Neah Bay.  This forecast does not make me optimistic for this summer out at the NW tip of the Olympic Peninsula.  It seems like a Columbia coho return over 500K is a guarantee of incredible fishing and below that results in spotty fishing, especially closer to the entrance and just inside the Strait.

I will not let this keep me from my plans to fish out there this summer, but it will minimize the number of trips out there.  Hopefully, the Puget Sound forecasts will make me smile about the fishing closer to home.

Fingers crossed for that Puget Sound forecast. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thank WDFW For Snider Creek Decision

The Wild Steelhead Coalition put up this link:

Thank the WDFW for their important management decision regarding the Snider Creek hatchery

Take a moment to let the managers know that you appreciate them following the science in removing hatchery steelhead from a major river system and creating a Wild Steelhead Management zone on the Sol Duc.

It is too bad that with the mountain of science and evidence of the negative impacts of hatchery fish that WDFW would allow another brood stock program to be started on the Bogachiel River.  First, it will likely be difficult to find enough wild fish to remove from the system during the early portion of the run timing and these rivers need all of the early timed wild steelhead to hit the gravel.  I guess this is what happens when you allow the commercial sport fishing sector (guides) to run their own hatcheries and have too much influence over fish managers.

All of the negative impacts the Snider hatchery had will be magnified on smaller wild steelhead populations.  If hatchery fish were the solution, we certainly would have no problems.

Friday, February 3, 2012


I have issues with most things fishing.  This blog has not always been the cheeriest place on the fishing internet.  I probably should spend far less time (closer to zero would likely be best) reading crap on the internet since the vast majority of what I see bugs me.

I am going to attempt something never before done on this blog, and that is to stay positive on this tiny speck on the internet.  From this point on I will be focusing on what I like and not on the things I dislike.  There will be a dramatic decline in content since I will not be focusing on things I despise, such as...

- Guides who give nothing back to the rivers and fish besides over-hyped blog posts and detailed, exaggerated fishing reports.
- Blogs which have serious man crushes on the guides mentioned above and promote them every chance they get.
- Blog stickers - Seriously?!?!?!?!?
- Detailed internet fishing reports.  Do you really think naming less fished streams helps anything but your ego and small dick?  Even worse are when the kiss-and-tell reporters make it clear from their lack of knowledge that they have spent less time on the coastal stream than a tarpon.
- The idea that rivers need more friends.  This is related to detailed internet fishing reports as this argument is always given for kiss-and-tell fishing reports.  One can count the numbers of fish runs saved by overcrowding with one closed fist.
- Calling techniques fly fishing that clearly are not.  This is specifically related to bucktailing in the saltwater.  Trolling is trolling.  People fish flies off downriggers... is that now considered fly fishing?  My recent conversion to positivity prevents me from even mentioning b#$%s and b@#%#$s.
- Fishing on TV.  I have been living at a place with cable for the past few months and have been fascinated by the fact that all fishing shows are seemingly hosted by good ol' boys with unintelligible southern accents.
- Signature Fly Tyers - Fly tying creativity is not putting a trailer hook on a well known pattern

Whew... I feel exorcised.  The demons are gone.  Pure Positive Attitude from here on..... I hope.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wild Fish Say, "Yes We Can!"

The Osprey Steelhead News blog has a great post about how wild steelhead have responded to the removal of hatchery steelhead from the North Fork of the Clackamas in Oregon.

What makes this case study even more amazing is the lack of genetic issues involved in the population suppression of the wild winter steelhead.  The effects of the hatchery fish were ecological in nature and not genetic.  Genetics are often what get mentioned the most when hatchery and wild interactions are discussed, but this case study shows what damage can happen to populations just by the ecological interactions with hatchery fish.  When we add both parts (genetic and ecological) the effects must be magnified, which makes me hopeful that recovery can also be magnified if hatchery plants are stopped.

Good news is often hard to find in the world of wild fish in the Pacific Northwest with our dwindling healthy stocks and the overwhelming number of ESA listed stocks.  Seeing an eleven mile stretch of river start to produce close to carrying capacity after only ten years of being hatchery free (just above the dam and not the entire river system) has to give us hope when fighting hatchery plans elsewhere (Elwha, Sol Duc).  It also shows how quickly wild fish can respond when we actually give them a chance.  We should see some case studies in Washington State in the years to come as many of the smaller systems without collection facilities have had smolt stocking stopped in the last few years.  Hopefully we will see not only more fish, but more diversity with some increase in the critical early component of the wild winter steelhead run.

I do not know how many nails in the coffin are needed to actually have a shift in hatchery thinking by the agencies in charge, but this only adds to the massive dogpile.

Kudos to ODFW for making this change, how about doing the same thing for the Sandy?