So how did the get to know you meeting in South Bend go? Rather well I think as it had a good turnout. Agency staff did a very good job and frankly it was a straight ahead event. The Region 6 Director and Director Unsworth spoke and then it was comment and meet the agency time. From my spot on the limb he is different from previous Directors. By that I mean he is making a real effort to look forward to the future but to do it with us right with him. Now guys say what you will but that is way way different from the we agency / you public of the past. So if anyone has a chance to speak with Mr. Unsworth do so. I do believe he actually listens which again is a huge departure from the past.

Now on to the 2016 seasons. Nope on the preseason forecast but the preseason ocean abundance forecast ( before harvest ) for the Columbia Coho. It is the early run that you look to for a quick look for comparisons. Last year it was forecast for 550k and in the end came in at around 150k. Now this year it starts at 153k in the ocean before harvest and folks that is so ugly it gives ugly a bad name. I would like to think that our Coho would perform better but my gut says I am dreaming.

Now Chinook are different. Coho only do 1 1/2 years in the salt so any down turn is really fast as is recovery. Chinook age groups in any year have 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds. ( twos are jacks ) The dominate years are the 4 & 5 year fish with the 4 year fish the largest percentage and 3 years the smallest. ( well 6 year is smaller but we have very few anymore ) So for Coho this is the second year returns are in the dumpster due to poor ocean conditions but for Chinook we are only at the 3 year point so it should not show the same. While that is good it is kinda like standing on the railroad tracks watching a locomotive come at you and not being able to move.

So when we do get the preseason forecast we should be OK for Chinook in GH and Willapa for this year and less so next depending on just how bad the poor ocean conditions are. Now the bad. ( hate that don't ya ) Unlike Coho that can rebound quickly ( the lowest Coho escapement I found was in 1994 at around 8k ) Chinook do not. To get a good solid run you need 3,4,5 year fish and that is the rub it takes FIVE years, if you're lucky. With the massive Alaska and BC intercept fisheries our rule was blow escapement two generations with careful management to get out of the toilet. 10 years guys and unless something is done to reduce ocean intercept 2018 will be the start of that decade it will take to recover. I realize this sounds like crystal ball time but I have seen this before and after I am gone you young guys will see it again. In fact broodstocking we had one year of the five that was a bit short. Why? No idea but it got blasted with harvest was my thought and just never rebounded due to ongoing ocean harvest rates applied across the full run.

So this is where I make my pitch to the Rec fisher that usually if not always gets me in trouble. The numbers of Rec fishers continues to grow, ( Puget Sound is headed our way ) the number of fish available is in the process of shrinking rapidly, and there ain't no way no how that we can all fish the same ways in the same places we always have. We need to look to finding ways to structure our fisheries that meets not just the conservation needs but also recognizes the ever increasing fishers from outside the area.

Easy to say but hard to do. Why? Because Rec fishers are FIRM believers in circular firing squads! Setting in a NOF meeting a couple years back a couple of Recs were arguing a point and a gillnetter setting across from looked up and quietly said " you gotta tell those guys to quit bringing a knife to a gun fight " That is us guys the Rec fisher! The most quarrelsome, argumentative, stubborn bunch you will ever meet. We are also the most passionate defender of the fish, foot the bill to manage harvest and work the hardest to protect and restore habitat. So in rather short order we will again ( at least in the short term ) be faced with adapting or face rapid loss of opportunity. I favor adapting, quickly.

Edited by Rivrguy (02/05/16 12:11 PM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in