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#1061388 - 01/20/23 06:09 AM Elwha
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4423
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
The tale of the 100-pound salmon

The Elwha Dam Removal Project has been a bitter disappointment

Pat Neal
Peninsula Daily News

Who says there’s no good news? A new world record Chinook salmon weighing over 105 pounds was recently landed by a lucky angler.

This beats the old record set on the Kenai River in Alaska in 1985 — it was a 97-pound monster.

It also beat another contender caught in 2021, in Rivers Inlet, by a lucky British Columbian who released this king salmon in front of dozens of other anglers. This giant Chinook was 55 inches long and 38 inches wide and estimated to weigh about 100 pounds.

The phrase, “hundred-pound salmon” should ring a bell on the Olympic Peninsula.

In 1790, the Spanish Capt. Manuel Quimper bought two salmon weighing 100 pounds that came from the Elwha River.

People have been coming to the Olympic Peninsula searching for these legendary fish ever since then. The 100-pound salmon was the mascot for the Elwha Dam Removal Project that began in 2011.

Billed as the largest salmon restoration project in the world, it was hoped that the removal of the Elwha dams would allow the river to run free from the mountains to the sea, and eventually restore the historic run of salmon on the river to an estimated population of 400,000 fish.

Unfortunately, this optimistic prediction overlooked the fact that no other river on the Peninsula that has not been dammed, running free from the mountains to the sea, has retained its historic runs of fish.

By any measurement of fisheries restoration, the Elwha Dam Removal Project has been a bitter disappointment.

At first, a five-year fishing moratorium was declared on the Elwha. This was increased to seven years and is now going on 12 years after dam removal. With millions being spent on standard salmon restoration strategies — building log jams, buying property and planting native vegetation — there is not even a rumor of the Elwha ever being open to fishing again.

This is a normal state of affairs in Washington, since our salmon restoration industry does not pretend it will restore our salmon, but only the conditions in which the salmon might one day theoretically return.

As to why salmon are not returning to the pristine salmon habitat within Olympic National Park, a U.N. Biosphere Reserve, it is theorized that something might be happening to the salmon once they leave this pristine habitat. Duh.

We can only hope someone is studying the problem.




A chinook salmon spawns in the Elwha River near the former Altair campground. JESSE MAJOR / PENINSULA DAILY NEWS

We have only to look at the Elwha’s neighbor, the Dungeness River, to see how 30 years and millions of dollars spent in salmon restoration has failed to produce anything but more threatened or endangered fish in this once legendary salmon and steelhead stream.

It should come as no surprise that this new world record 100-pound Chinook salmon did not come from any stream in Washington.

It was not even caught in North America. It was caught in Chile!

It’s ironic that the world class Chinook salmon fishing in Chile was created by planting eggs from Washington state fish hatcheries in their rivers back in the 1980s.

Here in Washington, we have been deluded into believing that fish raised in fish hatcheries are genetically inferior.

After over 100 years of planting hatchery fish in every river in Washington, we are told to believe that it is better to have dead rivers with no fish than rivers full of hatchery fish.

This makes sense to the salmon restoration industry that has been able to monetize the extinction of our salmon and profit from this environmental disaster.

Perhaps you believe that a 100-pound hatchery Chinook is genetically deficient, but it’s better than no Chinook at all.

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears weekly in the Peninsula Daily News, a sister publication of The Daily World.




Edited by Rivrguy (01/20/23 06:09 AM)
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#1061389 - 01/20/23 06:46 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
The dams didn't kill 100 pound fish, the fisheries out in the ocean did. We prevent fish from getting old, and big. I would be surprised if Chile has a massive ocean troll and sport fishery.

The writer makes at least one really good point. What has dam removal gotten us? Has it gotten better fishing? Are the runs coming back to the river on a trajectory to provide fishing soon? All the money we have spent on recovery of salmon and SRKWs and to what end?

At some point the bean counters (and voters) will demand either results of to spend the money on some other massive need like education, infrastructure, health care, homelessness.

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#1061390 - 01/20/23 07:52 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
RUNnGUN Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 1388
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
The dams didn't kill 100 pound fish, the fisheries out in the ocean did. We prevent fish from getting old, and big. I would be surprised if Chile has a massive ocean troll and sport fishery.


I'm surprised it has'nt already happend ? I'll bet discussions have occurred about how our commercial fleets can either get there fingers on those fish, or coach locals how. Wait! Clancy and Gary Loomis already started it, hook and line. The domino affect has begun. It's just a matter of time. If a buck can be made, man will find a way and ruin it in the process again.


Edited by RUNnGUN (01/20/23 08:02 AM)
_________________________
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller.
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#1061391 - 01/20/23 09:15 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13526
The reports I read indicate increased returns of wild salmon and steelhead to the Elwha. As alluded to above, there will be no 100 pound Elwha or any other Chinook so long as intense mixed stock ocean fishing occurs, preventing fish from living long enough to acquire large size. Just because Pat Neal isn't fishing the Elwha and catching 100 pound Chinook doesn't mean the dam removal wasn't a success. It's only a disappointment to people like Neal and others whose expectations were unrealistic.

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#1061394 - 01/20/23 10:37 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
We have to be very careful, though, of how we sell dam removal or any other fix for our resources. There is a big push to remove some Snake River dams. Can we point to the Elwha and say look how well it works? I don't mean for 100 pound fish because there are some toads there now (I have heard of 70s and 80s).

The Snake removal is being sold to the public as the savior for SRKWs. My money is on the idea that it won't help them a bit. At some point the taxpaying public is going to revolt at paying for things that don't work as sold.

My hopes for the Elwha were that the wild anadromous fish would recover to population levels commensurate with the needs of the ecosystem. My expectation is we will get "museum populations" of wild anadromous fish that we can go and loo at. And a lovely free-flowing major river.

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#1061399 - 01/21/23 09:13 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13526
I agree that dam removal shouldn't be over sold regarding the most probable results. The 400,000 salmon back to the Elwha was predominately pink salmon, and that would only happen when pink returns were at all time highs like were seen from around 2001 to 2015. I'm confident that the Elwha will soon be producing at its contemporary carrying capacity, pretty much like the rest of the Puget Sound and coastal rivers. It will be good, just not as many fish as there would have been at the time of dam construction.

I think the Snake River dam removal is also being over sold. I think it will help Chinook a lot by removing 400 miles of slack and warm water reservoirs. That's a big help, just not up to ESA recovery goals for salmon, let alone the SRKW. I think no one in "officialdom" is being honest about the SRKW. I think society unknowingly made environmental decisions as far back as the 1960s and 1970s that will continue to make SRKW recovery impossible. It ain't gonna' happen (kind of like lower Columbia River Tule Chinook and Stillaguamish River Chinook), but millions of $$, or billions will be spent on a goal that cannot be achieved.

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#1061400 - 01/21/23 10:17 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
I agree that society has unconsciously written off the SRKWs.

But, on the Snake. The primary hatcheries there are mitigation. No dams, no mitigation. Not that you can't produce the hatchery fish but whosomever pays now shouldn't have to pay in the future. So, reducing the number of juveniles out migrating coupled with the mainstream dams still there and the Northerns, Smallies, and Walleye will not only be happy to eat them but will eat more wilds because there are fewer hatchery smolts.

Then, how long will it take for the habitat to recover to actually produce wild Chinook? One or two decades? At best? Can the SRKWs wait that long?

It's being oversold.

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#1061404 - 01/21/23 05:29 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Salman Offline
Spawner

Registered: 03/07/12
Posts: 806
So Chile had 40 years to produce a hundred lb. Salmon yet the Elwha has been dam free 10 years or less but you expect better results? Come on. I’ve only heard great stuff from the dam removal but I never expected to hear about anglers catching 100 lb. Kings only a decade after dam removal. This stuff takes time and for f-sakes I hope they don’t just open it wide open if a good run comes back
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#1061405 - 01/21/23 08:31 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
20 Gage Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 02/15/21
Posts: 316
“ This stuff takes time and for f-sakes I hope they don’t just open it wide open if a good run comes back “

We’ll, that’s likely never going to happen. $$$, a throw of bones, and the latest reading of the tea leaves says - the only harvest of this river system, if ever, will be First Nationals only. Think Quinault...

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#1061406 - 01/21/23 08:50 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
DrifterWA Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 5078
Loc: East of Aberdeen, West of Mont...
1/21/2023

Elwha River fishing closures extended to support fish recovery, while this is not current it might be informational......


https://www.nps.gov/olym/learn/news/elwh...sh-recovery.htm



Edited by DrifterWA (01/21/23 09:00 PM)
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"Worse day sport fishing, still better than the best day working"

"I thought growing older, would take longer"

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#1061407 - 01/22/23 08:04 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
You could remove all the dams in the world and unless you drastically change how Chinook are managed (bycatch, mixed stock, food base for them, etc) you'll still not see huge fish back here in the PNW. It is the saltwater region that is determining adult size.

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#1061414 - 01/25/23 01:14 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
MetalheadMatt Offline
Fry

Registered: 09/12/16
Posts: 33
The tale of two States, WA/OR, one has the steelhead fishing shut down one does not, the difference is gill nets, both have fisherman and habitat issues, the issue could have been solved years ago, when the topic of slot machines was on the table, for things to change the state needs to grow balls and let all entities have slots, and see if they cry fowl. Exclusive rights to a billion dollar industry, should not be given, but traded for. Or open it up to all JMO


Edited by MetalheadMatt (01/25/23 01:31 PM)

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#1061415 - 01/25/23 07:05 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Salman Offline
Spawner

Registered: 03/07/12
Posts: 806
So Oregon doesn’t have gillnet issues?
_________________________
Why build in the flood plain?

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#1061417 - 01/26/23 09:39 AM Re: Elwha [Re: MetalheadMatt]
DrifterWA Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 5078
Loc: East of Aberdeen, West of Mont...
1/26/2023


Originally Posted By: MetalheadMatt
the issue could have been solved years ago, when the topic of slot machines was on the table, for things to change the state needs to grow balls and let all entities have slots, and see if they cry fowl. Exclusive rights to a billion dollar industry, should not be given, but traded for. Or open it up to all JMO


I can't speak to years before 1968 but at that time pull tabs, pinball machines, card rooms were all legal......pull tabs and pinball machines were located every where, and they paid off.

Groups got "Casio type gambling" on a State wide ballot. Church's and other do gooders got organized and pointed out all the bad things about gambling.

Legal State wide Casio gambling got voted down!!!!!! Did Washington people want to gamble???? Flights to Reno and Vegas were booked, many people drove to Jackpot and Reno..... gamble they did and many even brought back cheap booze.

I thought the Pro gambling people of the State might make a run to try to get it legal.......NOPE didn't happen!!!!! Well we all know what happen, tribes got the Casio gambling and we all know the dollars that are generated yearly that COULD have been into the State coffers, so now we get dinged, nickel and dime, on things like gas tax, sales tax, booze tax, etc.

We, non tribal, voters had the chance...... just go "out voted"!!!!

I voted for it!!!!!!
_________________________
"Worse day sport fishing, still better than the best day working"

"I thought growing older, would take longer"

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#1061419 - 01/26/23 10:50 AM Re: Elwha [Re: DrifterWA]
RUNnGUN Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 1388
Originally Posted By: DrifterWA
1/26/2023


Originally Posted By: MetalheadMatt
the issue could have been solved years ago, when the topic of slot machines was on the table, for things to change the state needs to grow balls and let all entities have slots, and see if they cry fowl. Exclusive rights to a billion dollar industry, should not be given, but traded for. Or open it up to all JMO

Well we all know what happen, tribes got the Casio gambling and we all know the dollars that are generated yearly that COULD have been into the State coffers, so now we get dinged, nickel and dime, on things like gas tax, sales tax, booze tax, etc.

And today with all that tribal gambling revenue, one could say it raised the there standard of living. Also with that, they are buying all the land back that was taken from them, dictating fishing seasons, and influencing state and local politics. With $$$ comes power. Can't hardly blame them.
_________________________
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller.
Don't let the old man in!

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#1061421 - 01/26/23 07:47 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12767
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
You could remove all the dams in the world and unless you drastically change how Chinook are managed (bycatch, mixed stock, food base for them, etc) you'll still not see huge fish back here in the PNW. It is the saltwater region that is determining adult size.


Initially promising increases in Elwha chinook run-size have seriously fallen flat the past few returns. Priddy'dam disappointing nearly a decade into recovery.

Alaska suxbalz.
_________________________
"Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." (Zane Grey)

"If you don't kill them, they will spawn." (Carcassman)


The Keen Eye MD
Long Live the Kings!

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#1061423 - 01/27/23 07:33 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
It's not just AK, although they have perfected the art of killing other people's fisheries. If memory serves, the Elwha Chinook were rather common (for a rare stock) in the PS black mouth fisheries back in the 80s. If memory serves, and that was a long time ago, many of WA's early returning Chinook stocks participated in the PS black mouth fishery. But, to use an Alaskan reason, they were so rare in the overall catch that closing the fishery down made no sense. Except from a conservation standpoint.

And, as a Canadian friend just commented to me about the SEAK troll (fishery, not managers) that who thinks the Canadian recreational fishery from Haida Gwaii on down would let them pass by unscathed?

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#1061425 - 01/27/23 10:54 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
darth baiter Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 200
Loc: United States
The 80's broods were the heyday of the Puget Sound black mouth fisheries and catch rates. CWT'd ELwha fish that contributed the greatest to the black mouth fishery were from yearling releases. The buggers were caught throughout Puget Sound, even into south sound. Yearlings and the "delayed releases" Chinook were a major contributor to the black mouth fishery as they tended to hang around in Puget Sound moreso than fingerling releases. Yearling releases used to yield much higher survival rate than fingerling releases. For whatever reasons, in the last 15 years or so yearling survivals for many release groups are not much different than that of fingerlings. It doesn't really pay to raise to yearlings.

I dont know what the dominant freshwater life history is for the Elwha fish. I suspect that they were more ocean type fingerlings than stream type yearlings. The extra year in the ocean would have contributed to the very large "100" pounders that the ELwha were known for. Elwha very well have had both; yearlings in the upper watershed, fingerlings in the lower reaches.

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#1061426 - 01/27/23 11:25 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7441
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
The "extra year" in marine waters was also because they were allowed to get to their genetically determined adult age because we did not catch them as immatures in saltwater. Difficult for a fish to reach its true adult size if it doesn't live long enough.

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#1061454 - 01/31/23 09:58 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
DrifterWA Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 5078
Loc: East of Aberdeen, West of Mont...
01/31/2023

Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Difficult for a fish to reach its true adult size if it doesn't live long enough.


There is a tribe that gillnets the Elwha. If I recall there was a 5 year "no gill net" for the river, I think that "no gill net" has been extended.

There should have been a "added" section/part, release all wild fish for "say 20 years", that would have given the fish 20 years to see if runs could again start to build.

Let the tribe take all the hatchery fish for their commercial fishery, just no Wild fish, release the unclipped. Would some wild fish die???? Probably some, but for sure if you allow "gillnetting. without some kind of restrictions", for sure they are a dead fish, "dead fish just don't spawn"!!!!!
_________________________
"Worse day sport fishing, still better than the best day working"

"I thought growing older, would take longer"

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