Originally Posted by fyshstykr
This thread has been fun to watch develop, the pics and heart felt appreciation of this amazing fish are wonderful to see, but in a way I feel it's pointless without mentioning the struggle that the species faces now and in the future.
So if I may ask those that fish for them now, and those who are planning to in the future to educate themselves about the struggles of the wild Steelhead and their decreasing numbers. Everyone needs to do what they can to help raise awareness so future generations can enjoy them too.
Ok, I'm stepping off my soap box now.
A long post, but history.
A profitic post from almost a year ago. The real 'Begging of the End' was in 1974 when Judge Hugo Bolt handed down a ruling that Washington State AND most of the Indian Tribes were 'co-owner's'
of the fish in the rivers. To over simplify the size of a run in a river would be 'estimated' and minimum escapement numbers agreed upon. The balance of the fish were to be divided up 50-50. Only problem with that is what sportsmen/commercial's didn't get, the Indian's could. And sportsmen (and to the greatest degree possible the commercials) were not allowed to retain a Native (no clipped fins).
So how does that math work? 1,000 fish in the run; 200 for the minimum escapement (and who the hell if that ever reached, or when). Sooo Tribes and sportsman have 800 fish to work with. If you assumed that the run was 50-50 Hatchery/Natives (and the sportsman can't retain a Native) the Indian's are up for 75 per cent of the run as they have no such restriction.
As this was a commercial fishery, and its illegal to even give a Steelhead to your neighbor without 'transfer paperwork' (I kid you not!) these were all shipped out of State. Typically sold as 'Summer Salmon' of all things. Oregon has similar restrictions. Several years back I was shopping at our local Albertons (Ashland) and saw 'fresh steelhead' under the glass. I damned near crooked on the spot. Asked for the Store Manager, whom I knew conversationally anyway, told him selling 'Steelhead' was a major violation of State Game laws. Went out to my car, pulled the regs and showed them to him. He summed the conversation up in two words: OH SHXT
! Fish were gone by the following day, as were they in every Albertson's in Oregon.
Even back at that point 'sportsmen' had to purchase a punch card and record their catch. For context here I'll use the Skagit River. The year before river netting was allowed sportsmen kept just under 20,000
fish out of that river. The following year? Just under 2,000 or a 90% drop.
The deal with river netting is 'they' weren't allowed to have a net that extended more than 3/4 of the way across the river (and the Skagit is one hell of a big river). 'They' got around this by running nets off of both banks so they over lapped by 50%. NOTHING got by those in the (if memory serves) four days a week netting was allowed. Worse after dark as fish could not see the Mono Gill Nets. And there is NO catch and release with a Gill Net.
Anyway, within 10 years most of the fishery had collapsed. My guess the only way its going to be 'revived,' assuming that's even possible is a total shut down for at least 20 years (5 fish cycles).
As you can well guess the retention of a Native fish is a total no-no. Even here in Oregon there are only two rivers that I can think of that has a small winter retention (one's the Rogue). Five for the Winter Season, one in possession. Summer Runs,? Native, and right back she goes.
United States v. Washington - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia