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

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4374
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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: 1369
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)
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#1061391 - 01/20/23 09:15 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Salmo g. Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13515
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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. Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13515
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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: 302
“ 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: 5070
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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?
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#1061417 - 01/26/23 09:39 AM Re: Elwha [Re: MetalheadMatt]
DrifterWA Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 5070
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: 1369
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.

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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: 12766
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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: 198
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 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
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: 5070
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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#1061462 - 02/01/23 11:20 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1611
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
The author of the article is being needlessly pessimistic. Taking out Elwha and Glines Canyon was never going to immediately produce 100lb Chinook. The purpose of removing the dams was for ecosystem restoration, a component of which was the return of Pacific salmon to the reaches upstream of the dams. That has been a smashing success by any measure.

Will the Elwha River ever seen really big Chinook returns, in both body size and abundance? Yes, but it's going to take time, and a significant reduction in ocean harvest. That harvest reduction may come sooner than we think.

The WFC lawsuit on the SE AK troll fishery is almost final. (See FishDoc's previous thread on Lo Holing in Alaska on this BB.) It's likely going to shut down that fishery for awhile. Not sure what the future holds but there is no reason for needless pessimism. In fact, I've never been more optimistic.

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#1061464 - 02/01/23 12:41 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
As a (Canadian) friend of mine pointed out to me just how many of those Chinook "saved" in Alaska are gonna get past BC?

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#1061466 - 02/01/23 01:23 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
darth baiter Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 198
Loc: United States
The lawsuit was filed in 2020 regarding a 2019 Biological Opinion. Last September, a Magistrate Judge passed on a Recommendation to a U.S. District Judge who is expected to make a decision soon. Whatever the decision, one side is expected to Appeal. The Appeal(s) will take time. I would not expect a final, final, no further appeals possible decision very soon. I also would not expect a complete closure to be enacted as the Appeals are going through. IMO, a significant reduction or closure in the SEAK troll fishery (apparently SEAK sport fishery is ok) is probably not going to happen very soon. Alaska won't go down without trying to take others with them.

And yes, at least some of the savings will get scooped up by BC and SUS marine fisheries prior to getting back to the rivers.

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#1061467 - 02/01/23 01:35 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Just like to add to the discussion that the in-river gill net fisheries are not the primary cause of fisheries changing age at maturity. That is almost wholly on marine hook and line fisheries, whether sport or troll. Any net fishery that catches immatures is also part of the problem.

I know that gill net fisheries are an obvious occurrence and a poke in the eye to those others sitting on the back but they take mature fish. No 4 year old Chinook taken in the river was, if not caught, going to return next year as a 5 year old.

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#1061472 - 02/02/23 09:21 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1611
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Darth - This conversation is probably more appropriate under FishDoc’s thread on Lo Holin’ in Alaska, rather than under the Elwha River discussion.

Nevertheless, it’s likely the plaintiffs (WFC) will get a closure of the SE AK troll fishery, and a remand of the Bi-Op. NMFS is likely working on a replacement Bi-Op since the magistrate judge’s recommendation is likely to be the final decision. And NMFS is probably letting Alaska know the 2023 SE AK troll fishery is likely to be closed, or severely restricted, but they are focusing on 2024 since they won’t have a new Bi-Op ready this year. It will be 2024 at the earliest.

An appeal is likely moot since NMFS is actively working to correct the flaws in the current Bi-Op, which won't be done this year. And the plaintiffs can’t appeal since they won.

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#1061473 - 02/02/23 06:22 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
SalishFish Offline
Alevin

Registered: 10/29/06
Posts: 10
Loc: Skagit
Been a longer journey than most recognize

https://media.oregonstate.edu/media/t/1_...lYM0k19558C4Po0

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#1061474 - 02/02/23 07:08 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Stuff I have seen, written by non-apologists, point to declines in the 19th century from overfishing. The declines started in CA and worked their way north. Alaska is now having to deal with it.

As Bob lackey has noted many times, we know how we got here. We also know what we need to do to have lots of wild fish. And we're not gonna do it.

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#1061792 - 04/25/23 10:32 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4374
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Well here is the latest on Elwha salmon restoration and fishing.


April 25, 2023

Contact: WDFW Montesano Office, Region 6, 360-249-4628
Media contacts: Mark Yuasa, WDFW, 360-902-2262
Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 360-621-5934
Roy Zipp, Olympic National Park, 360-565-3003
Elwha River's tribal ceremonial and subsistence fishery for coho salmon


PORT ANGELES – The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (Tribe), Olympic National Park (ONP), and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that the tribal ceremonial and subsistence fishery for coho salmon on the Elwha River will be open for a limited time during fall 2023. Additionally, the Tribe, ONP, and WDFW agreed to extend the closure of other recreational and commercial fisheries in the Elwha River for another year.

For more than 100 years, the Elwha River dams blocked salmon access to over 90% of the river, devastating the once abundant salmon population in this system. Since the start of dam removal in 2011, the Tribe, ONP, and WDFW voluntarily suspended all fish harvest on the Elwha River so that salmon populations could recolonize their former habitats and rebuild their populations. In the nine years since the complete removal of the Elwha River dams, multiple salmon species have shown positive signs of recovery.

Coho salmon recovery has been a success story, thanks to the Tribe's hatchery and fish relocation efforts during and after the dam removal process. The Tribe will conduct a harvest with a limited amount of adult coho salmon at the ceremonial and subsistence fishery on the lower three miles of the Elwha River in October of 2023. The timing of this fishery is designed to minimize impacts to non-target salmonid species, particularly federally listed Chinook salmon and steelhead.
The Elwha River system has been central to Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal culture and lifeways since time immemorial. Up until the early 20th century, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal fishers relied on subsistence fishing in the Elwha River to provide a wealth for their families. This ceremonial and subsistence fishery will provide an opportunity for Tribal fishers to finally access local fish from their namesake river for the first time in over a decade.

"WDFW has been anticipating a time when the Elwha River would produce runs of salmon that could once again support treaty rights of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe," said WDFW Regional Fish Program Manager James Losee. "Ceremonial and subsistence fisheries directed at coho salmon this year is a signal that we are headed in the right direction in the recovery of the Elwha River."

"I look forward to fishing the Elwha River. I have been on the river most of my life. It will provide food for my soul and family. It will keep the fishing culture alive not only for me, but for my 16-year-old son. So many youths and adults have given up gill net fishing as the economic value is not there. Many have turned to harvest of shellfish, which provides more value. I hope opening the river to fishing will revitalize our fishing culture and traditions," said Lower Elwha Klallam Vice Chairman Russ Hepfer.

"We join the Tribe and project partners in celebrating the renewal of Pacific Salmonids to the Elwha River and Olympic National Park. The park is truly grateful for the long-term partnership, commitment, and sacrifices made by the Tribe throughout the Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration Project. After a decade-long fishing closure, it's exciting to see a transition from dam removal to ecosystem benefits, and now a meaningful Ceremonial and Subsistence Fishery," said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs."The Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration project is truly a benchmark for cultural and ecological restoration, and a river of hope that grows wilder every day. We have made a significant conservation commitment to future generations of people and fish, and the park looks forward to reopening sport fishing to park visitors in the upper watershed within the next few years."

The ceremonial and subsistence fishery for coho salmon will be strictly regulated and include a mix of hand held gear and river nets. Nets will be limited to ½ the span of the river. This fishery will be intensively monitored by Tribal fisheries biologists and enforcement officers for compliance with regulations and to ensure that impacts to non-target species are minimized. The Tribe and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will simultaneously evaluate the impacts of various fishing gear types on release survival of non-target species. The data that biologists collect from this fishery will be crucial in developing future in-river commercial and recreational fisheries for coho and other salmon species.

Elwha River fish recovery monitoring is a long-term, cooperative effort involving the Tribe, ONP, WDFW, NOAA Fisheries, USFWS, and U.S. Geological Survey. Each year, project partners evaluate spawner abundance, distribution, and juvenile production throughout the river system using a variety of tools including sonar, redd surveys, snorkel surveys, tangle net surveys, and smolt trapping.

The Tribe, ONP, and WDFW continue to evaluate Elwha River coho salmon population data and to refine long-term management objectives for their recovery. This includes Elwha River coho salmon escapement goals that will provide for future commercial and recreational harvest opportunities. Recreational and commercial fishing will resume when there is broad distribution of spawning adults above the former dam sites, spawning rates allow for population growth and diversity, and a harvestable surplus of fish are returning to the Elwha River. Mountain lakes in the Elwha basin within ONP and Lake Sutherland will remain open to sport fishing from the fourth Saturday in April through Oct. 31.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.

Engage with WDFW






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_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1061793 - 04/26/23 10:02 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
RUNnGUN Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 1369
Seems like I recently heard of some kind of new blockage at one of the demolished dam sites, preventing fish migration. Could'nt find any updated reports? Anyone hear the same thing?
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"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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#1061794 - 04/27/23 03:19 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
GodLovesUgly Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 04/20/09
Posts: 1269
Loc: WaRshington
Gillnets are going in. Shoot those runs should be rebuilt in no time.
_________________________
When I grow up I want to be,
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#1061795 - 04/28/23 08:01 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
20 Gage Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 02/15/21
Posts: 302
“some kind of new blockage “ ?

Nawwww, just the old kinda “Gill Net “ blockages we’ve all seen before.

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#1061796 - 04/28/23 10:45 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
I think the actual passage at the lower dam was always narrow and rather high velocity. If memory serves there were issues with old rebar still in the river. I suspect that even when it is cleaned out that the action will be a velocity barrier at some flows, especially for smaller fish.

This pinch point os likely one of the reasons that Elwha Chinook were so large. Arriving during the higher flows of the snowmelt season required brute strength to pass.

Further, when the lower dam was first installed it blew out at the bottom. The hole was filled with logs and other material. Which suggests that there is a lot of junk remaining there. Plus, all the accumulated sediment from above has to pass through on its way to the Straits. Some may decide to sit a spell.

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#1061839 - 05/05/23 08:47 AM Re: Elwha [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4374
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

This article is from the Daily World.

Good news and bad news

The tribes have been cheated out of their legacy and the rest of us will not be fishing the Elwha any time soon

Pat Neal

The Daily World

Who says there’s no good news? The Lower Elwha Klallam Ceremonial and Subsistence Fishery will open for coho salmon on the Elwha this October. It’s been a long time coming.

The first reference to Elwha salmon occurred in 1790, when the Spanish Captain Manuel Quimper purchased salmon, “of a hundred pounds,” from the Klallam off the mouth of the river.

Within a few years of this purchase, Spain retreated south.

In 1846, President Polk used the slogan, “Manifest Destiny,” to bluff the British North, while luring hordes of European invaders into Oregon Territory with the Donation Land Act of 1850. This gave a white male citizen 320 acres of Native American land. Native Americans were ineligible since they were not American Citizens until 1924.

In 1855, Washington Territory’s Gov. Isaac Stevens, who was also the Indian Agent and Northern Pacific Railroad surveyor, negotiated the Point No Point Treaty. The Klallam surrendered 438,430 acres of their land in exchange for, among other considerations, the right to fish in their accustomed places.

The Klallam were accustomed to fishing the Elwha. It was dammed in 1913, six miles from the mouth of the river with no provision for fish passage. The dam blocked access to 90% of the salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the Elwha.

In 1974, the Boldt Decision affirmed the Tribe’s right to catch half of the harvestable salmon. By the new millenia, there were so few fish in the Elwha that giving the tribes half the harvestable salmon was like giving them half the harvestable buffalo on the Great Plains.

In 2011, the Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration Project began removing the Aldwell and Glines Canyon dams.

The Klallam Tribe, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Olympic National Park suspended all fishing on the Elwha. In addition, NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service approved a massive salmon restoration plan that involved a “life boat hatchery” on nearby Morse Creek to ensure the Elwha Chinook survival in case they were endangered by the dam removal.

The cooperative plan would have jump-started salmon recovery efforts by airlifting adult chinook, fingerlings, fry and fertilized eggs into the pristine habitat above the dam removal project until the salmon could return on their own.

In addition, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe built a hatchery to enhance coho, chum, pink salmon and steelhead runs.

Pink salmon were estimated to comprise a majority of the historic run of 400,000 salmon predicted to return to the restored Elwha after dam removal — ignoring the fact that not one other undammed river anywhere in the Pacific Northwest has restored its historic salmon run numbers.

Now the bad news

The Elwha Restoration Plan was not followed. Antifish hatchery extremists claimed these hatchery fish were “domesticated,” ignoring the fact that these fish survived the same migration to the ocean and back as their so-called “native” cohorts — which aren’t “native” at all since salmon production on the Elwha has been dominated by hatcheries since 1914.

The Morse Creek chinook hatchery was eliminated.

The Lower Elwha hatchery is operating at a fraction of its potential, despite the fact that both pink and chum salmon are missing from the Elwha.

Then came the more recent news that two rockslides have blocked the upper Elwha from salmon migration for five of the last 10 years since dam removal. After $350 million was spent removing the dams, the National Park Service is “monitoring” the situation instead of doing anything about it.

Once again, the tribes have been cheated out of their legacy and the rest of us will not be fishing the Elwha any time soon.

Pat Neal is a Hoh River fishing and rafting guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Thursday. He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patnealproductions@gmail.com
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1061845 - 05/05/23 01:06 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7376
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
I just want to add, in response to Mr. Neal, that the landslides and other perturbations in the watershed may be natural. The Elwha is supposed to be, especially in a National Park, a naturally functioning ecosystem. Fire, flood, slides, and whatnot are part and parcel of the equation.

Now, if those slides are directly man-caused (road grades, for example) then I can support fixing them. But I believe we should live with what nature provides.
'

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#1061846 - 05/05/23 07:19 PM Re: Elwha [Re: Rivrguy]
darth baiter Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 198
Loc: United States
Shutting down the Morse Creek Hatchery may not have been such a blow to the rebuilding/recovery/rescue program. It may have been the prudent thing to do given the lousy survival of the Morse Creek releases. 2013 was the last brood released from Morse Creek. There were 8 CWT releases of yearlings starting w 2008 brood and ending with 2013 brood. A total of 1.2M CWT fish were released from these broods. The estimated total number of recoveries in all fisheries and escapement was 592 for a smolt to adult survival rate of 0.047%. One tag group of 199K yearlings (2008 brood) had 5 estimated recoveries. At least based on the tag data, the loss was in terms of time, money and egg-take that yielded almost nothing.

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