Friday, October 30, 2009

Sockeye in the Yakima System

Thanks to the Yakima Tribal Nation and other biological entities in the state. The Yakima River system, which I was told had one of the largest sockeye runs in the Lower 48, is beginning to see a return of sockeye to the Upper Cle Elum River basin. It only took them...100 not that long....

Remember my blog post earlier about internet terms? This is one of those moments where you scream diaf at the Bureau of Reclamation. 100 years... Ridiculous! You say? Ludicrous! You say again? Preposterous! I say...You know for being the most advanced country on Earth, we sure don't learn from mistakes very fast. I mean, come on. Sample conversation of the BoR's early thoughts on dams...

BoR circa 1910: "We put the dams up and the fish disappeared, we can't figure out why."

YN: "Your dams killed the run."

BoR: "Yeah right. You obviously know nothing of dams."

BoR 100 years later: "Wow. Our dams did kill the fish. Our bad."

Anyway. Here's the article.

Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin

Feed Fish Flies not Plastic

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Ocean of Trash

You know that great song by The Arcade Fire Ocean of Noise? Well replace noise with plastic or trash and you get the great soupy mess we have in our Pacific Ocean right now. We keep wondering why our fish are dying or not returning. We blame the gillnetters (yes they are a major issue), Global warming (maybe just part of the planet's carbon cycle, maybe greenhouse gases, maybe a mixture of both?), and excessive habitat degradation (no side comment here). This is a major issue that needs to be discussed. It is killing fish, zooplankton, birds and apparently working it's way up the food chain.

Rolling Stone's 1090 (Oct. 29, 2009) issue has a great article on it by Kitt Doucette unfortunately they have not linked it on their site yet. So you may have to go buy the magazine to actually read it. There is also a wikipedia site dedicated to it (yes, I know...wikipedia is sometimes full of crap, this one is legit), an actual website dedicated to cleaning it up, Good Morning America, A great youtube video featuring Capt. Charles Moore, and even Oprah (bleh but hey...use people with power to get things done...amirite?)

Wikipedia Article

Stop Trashing Our Ocean

Good Morning America Clip

Capt. Charles Moore Interview

Enjoy and get involved. I mean only if you like fish and stuff.

Feed Fish Flies not Plastic.


Friday, October 16, 2009

New section of the Methow to Open

So they opened another section of the Methow starting October 21. You can keep 4 hatchery fish over 20 inches and must fish selective gear and no boats with a motor. Enjoy. This rain should be pushing the river levels up and getting some fresh fish to push into the systems.


October 15, 2009

Additional section of the Methow River to open for steelhead fishing Oct. 21

Action: Open the Methow River from the second powerline crossing upstream of Pateros to the first Hwy 153 Bridge.

The daily limit will be four adipose fin-clipped, hatchery-origin steelhead, 20-inch minimum size
Mandatory retention of adipose fin-clipped hatchery origin steelhead

Selective gear rules apply, no bait allowed

A night closure is in effect for the duration of the fishery

Release any steelhead with one or more round holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin

Boats with motors are not allowed

Location: The Methow River from the second powerline crossing upstream of Pateros to the first Hwy 153 Bridge.

Effective date: Oct. 21, 2009

Species affected: Steelhead.

Other information: Anglers are required to release all adipose-present steelhead. Any steelhead caught with an intact adipose fin may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately.

Reason for action: Sufficient numbers of wild steelhead have moved up-river from this section, allowing anglers additional opportunity to harvest adipose fin-clipped steelhead with minimal impact to wild fish. The fishery will reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead and consequently increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. Higher proportions of naturally produced spawners are expected to improve genetic integrity and stock recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage.

Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager, (509) 754-4624, Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist, (509) 997-0316

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

They Said it, Not Me

So the WDFW says the pink salmon are doing so well because, and I quote, "We don't manage it." Hmmmm...interesting thought. I think maybe it has something to do with Pinks being viewed by commercial operations as "junk fish", but hey what do I know? All the environmental factors/dam improvements haven't helped the coho, chinook or steelhead returns any. Soooo...yeah. Here's the story.

Angler's delight: Record run of pink salmon
Returning pink salmon have swarmed the trap-and-haul facility on the White River near Buckley. More than 470,000 have been moved to spawning grounds.

By Mike Archbold
The News Tribune

Biologist Steve Fransen calls the record pink-salmon run that has area anglers whooping for joy "nature at its finest."

He's not exactly sure what's happening, but he's impressed nonetheless.

"Fish are always trying to tell a story and we don't speak their language," Fransen said.

The pink run is doing so well "because we don't manage it," joked Mike Scharpf, area fish biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Like Fransen, he can't fully explain this year's massive run.

There are no management plans for pink salmon. There are no hatcheries.

These are wild salmon whose numbers have exploded in Puget Sound and on many rivers.

The record pink run is on display in the trap-and-haul facility on the White River near Buckley below the Mud Mountain Dam.

Since August, crews have collected more than 470,000 pinks and transported them to their natural spawning grounds above the dam, using specially designed tanker trucks. Their fingerlings will head downstream through the dam's tunnels to Puget Sound and the ocean.

Those pinks will return in 2011 and with any luck, set another record.

"I do believe this is a record number of salmon hauled at any facility in the country in a single season," said Fransen, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pinks, which have a two-year life cycle, return in odd years on the White River.

The previous record for pinks at the dam was 127,541 in 2007. In 2003, only 13,190 came home.

Their numbers may be growing but the market for them is still small. Pink salmon, which average about 4 pounds, are considered oily and aren't served in restaurants. Instead, they are often canned, smoked or salted.

Chinook and coho are the prize salmon, but their numbers aren't growing.

Last week, pink salmon were still swarming into the trap-and-haul facility.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates the Mud Mountain Dam for recreation and flood control on the White and Puyallup rivers in South King County and North Pierce County. It was completed in 1948.
The trap-and-haul facility was built at the same time at the White River Diversion Dam near Buckley that for nearly a century has diverted water into a flume to Lake Tapps for hydroelectric power and recreation.

Every hour, 750 pinks are lifted up in the water-filled hopper at the diversion dam and emptied into three tanker trucks. They're hauled 13 miles upriver around the dam.

Record numbers of fish have meant increased costs. Andrea Takash, a spokeswoman for the Corps in its Seattle District Office, said the Corps received an extra $460,000 in federal stimulus money to handle the pink-salmon run.

Takash said the Corps is designing a new diversion dam and a larger trap and haul facility with three hoppers. The Corps also traps and hauls native chinook, coho and steelhead.

"Efforts like these serve to substantiate the feasibility of trap-and-haul fish passage alternatives when fish ladders (at dams) are not feasible," Fransen said.

He admitted the size of the pink-salmon return this year to the Puyallup and White rivers took him by surprise, even with the forecast of a record 5.1 million pink salmon returning to Puget Sound this year. While pinks have always been present in the White River, there were few of them.

Jeff Dillon, a biologist with the Corps at the dam, said conditions in the river have improved in the past 10 to 15 years, particularly increases in instream flows needed to support fish.

For decades, the White River served mainly to provide water for Lake Tapps and the hydroelectric project there. Flows were almost nonexistent in the late summer and early fall when the pinks returned.

The low flows also hurt other salmon species that called the river home, though in much smaller numbers.

Dillon said the removal of Tacoma Public Utilities' pipeline crossing, which acted as a partial barrier, also has contributed to the pinks' success.

Improvements at the dam have made it easier for fingerlings to pass back through the dam.

Fransen also suggested that small climatic changes that have expanded the pink salmon's range in the Pacific Ocean have helped the overall Puget Sound run.

The lesson of the pinks is simple.

"They are a good example of the resiliency of salmon if environmental factors can bounce back," Fransen said.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Snake and Grande Ronde

The state has again increased hatchery steelhead retention this time on the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers. Remember the possession limit is twice the daily limit. Possession meaning in transport, cooler, etc. Check the regs for a more accurate description of what that means.

The Wenatchee and Methow Rivers have both mellowed out after the initial surge of fisherman but so has the fishing. A good rain would probably pick the fishing back up and push some fish into the river but we've been hearing it's been slow.


October 6, 2009

Retention limit of hatchery steelhead changed in Grande Ronde, Snake Rivers

Action: Allow the harvest of five (5) hatchery steelhead per day in the Snake River and a portion of the Grande Ronde River.

Effective date: Oct. 7, 2009 through March 31, 2010 in the mainstem Snake River from its mouth to the Oregon state line (including the boundary waters with Idaho).

Oct. 7, 2009 through April 15, 2010 in the Grande Ronde River from the County Road Bridge to the Oregon state line.

Species affected: Hatchery steelhead

Fishery Location and Harvest Rules: In the mainstem Snake River from its mouth upstream to the Oregon border (including the boundary waters with Idaho), the daily hatchery steelhead limit will be five (5) of which not more than three may be equal to or greater than 32 inches total length).

Grande Ronde River within Washington. 1) From the mouth of the Grande Ronde River to County Road Bridge (approximately 2.5 miles upstream) release all steelhead. 2) From the County Road Bridge to Oregon state line the daily limit will be five (5) hatchery steelhead per day, with no upper size restriction.

Reason for action: A large number of hatchery steelhead is returning to the Columbia and Snake River basins. Only a small number of these returning hatchery steelhead are needed for broodstock purposes, therefore all excess hatchery steelhead can be harvested. Removal of excess hatchery steelhead will reduce potential adverse effects on ESA listed wild steelhead.

Gear Restrictions: See 2009-2010 WDFW Fishing Rules pamphlet for applicable gear restrictions within southeast Washington waters open to steelhead fishing.

Other information: Anglers are encouraged to retain all hatchery steelhead they catch when it is legal to do so. This regulation change for steelhead angling ensures consistent daily sport fishing limits in boundary waters of the Snake River with Idaho, and adjacent areas of the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers with Oregon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tired of the Hump-ty dance?

Ok so the local rivers are choked with humpies. At one point on the Snoqualmie I couldn't swing a steelhead fly or nymph without hooking/snagging a pink. We did catch one steelhead and here it is. That is our very own John Wise with a nice hatchery hen, excuse his goofy smile, he was hopped up on cold medicine.

If you want to escape the humpty hump dance (thank you Digital Underground) I would recommend escaping over to the other side of the mountains. The Grande Ronde, Klickitat, and Wenatchee are all fishing well. Yes the Wenatchee, it's open, duh. The Methow is fishing well too, but umm, you will have the joy of dealing with idiots if you go there, so if you want to keep your sanity avoid that place.

There you have it. Proof that steelhead do exist. Go out and enjoy the liquid sunshine and steelhead your butt off.

Feed fish flies.