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#5407 - 01/31/06 02:39 AM THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
Yukon kings appear to be getting smaller in size: Circumstantial evidence is compelling despite lack of study.
By CHRIS TALBOT
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
January 29, 2006)

FAIRBANKS -- Tanana fisherman Charlie Campbell doesn't need scientific studies or empirical data to prove Yukon River chinook salmon -- the mighty king of the species -- are getting smaller. All he has to do is walk into his smokehouse.

"I'm noticing I have a lot more headroom in the smokehouse than I remember," said Campbell, a subsistence fisherman who uses a fish wheel in the Rapids area of the Yukon between Tanana and Rampart.

"Long salmon strips hang in your face and you have to duck to get underneath them," he said. "I'm 6-2, so it's an issue for me. With these shorter fish, shorter strips."

Campbell hasn't been alone in his hypothesizing. Dozens of fishermen along the middle and upper reaches of the 2,300-mile Yukon have been claiming for years that smaller kings are returning from the ocean to spawn.

A pair of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists released a study recently that lends some weight to that suspicion. Already there is a move to do something about the shrinking of the chinook, a worrisome evolutionary trend that has devastated other vital commercial fisheries.

The federal subsistence board will consider reducing the depth that gillnets can be dropped in the Yukon to allow more large fish to escape upriver. And the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's top Yukon manager said he is thinking about introducing a modest decrease in mesh diameter.

Any changes are likely to affect the delicate commercial fishery at the mouth of the Yukon. But even some of those who aren't ready to buy the shrinking chinook argument say they believe more scientific study should be done.

"If the data shows it and enough fishermen think this is an issue, we don't want to keep our head buried in the sand," said Jill Klein, executive director of the Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association.


QUEEN SALMON
Among king salmon, the true giants are the females, which are built large for a couple of important reasons.

The larger the fish, the more eggs she can carry. And her great size -- 70-pounders have been caught -- gives her a better chance to survive one of nature's longest and most difficult migrations.

"The Yukon River is kind of a gantlet-type fishery," said Fred Andersen, National Park Service subsistence manager for the Yukon. "Some of those fish go 1,200 or 1,500 miles to spawn. And there's a cumulative effect of that type of migration."

Andersen has spent more than 30 years managing subsistence fishing on the Yukon. He heard the stories and noticed the decline himself. Eventually, Andersen and Russ Holder of the Fish and Wildlife Service asked for a study in the attempt to quantify a well-educated hunch.

"Large fish are known to produce large fish," Andersen said. "And if you sift these large fish out of the population with large-mesh gillnets, it's Darwinian."

The largest fish Campbell pulled out of the Yukon with his family's fish wheel last summer weighed 36 pounds, he said, and it's been years since he heard of anyone catching anything much larger. Eighteen to 20 pounds seems to be the average, he said, and small males, called "jacks," predominate.

That size reduction can be measured in a lot of ways. The king is a vital source of food in the Yukon's remote, roadless villages. A loss of size and vitality in the stock would mean it becomes harder to feed a family of four or a village of 80.

"I also became aware of this when people were saying, 'Can you get us a nice, big one, a 30- to 35-pounder?'?" Campbell said. "But it's a long time between those fish now."

Fish and Wildlife biologists Karen Hyer and Cliff Schleusner were able to show a decrease in king size by analyzing admittedly spotty carcass and weir data on six Yukon tributaries. But conclusions will have to wait for more study. And finding the exact cause is a mission scientists will have trouble completing.

"That is a much longer and more complex question," Schleusner said. "I think it would be challenging because the chinook salmon is such a complex species."


LIFE CYCLES
The chinook young pass through several development stages in their home streams before migrating down the length of the Yukon and into the Bering Sea.

After years strengthening themselves for the homeward migration, kings usually return to the Yukon between the age of 5 and 8, though 7- and 8-year-olds are increasingly rare.

Studies have shown that a salmon's development can be affected by its first winter and breakup, water temperature and salinity changes in the rivers and ocean, competition from hatchery fish and the decisions of fishermen and resource managers.

Little is known about a king's time in the ocean, but it is possible that the increasing loss of sea ice -- and the large supply of nutrients the ice pack provides Bering Sea species -- has had as much of an impact as gillnets.

"There's a lot of plausible explanations for this, and the study didn't try to tease out cause," Schleusner said. "More than likely, there are a number of factors affecting the fish, in both positive and negative ways."


HOLES IN THE DATA
People have subsisted on Yukon River salmon for centuries. The chinook, chum and coho species that return each summer are most important in the villages that line the river and its tributaries. About 20 percent of the Yukon Basin's 130,000 residents live with limited or no road access, so fresh protein can be hard to come by. Fish taken for subsistence outnumber the commercial catch 2 to 1.

The first commercial sale of Yukon chinook salmon came in 1918, and the fishery was closed by 1925 because of overfishing.

The chinook run strength has fluctuated significantly over the years, according to Fish and Game figures, from a high harvest of 220,511 in 1980 to 55,066 in 2000.

Commercial fishing was closed in 2001, but the stock seems to have rebounded since. More than 157,000 kings passed the Pilot Station sonar point on the lower Yukon last summer and at least 70,000 passed into Canada.

Though much time, money and effort has been put into managing the fishery, very little scientific study has been done beyond gathering escapement numbers.

When trying to put together data, Schleusner and Hyer had trouble coming up with consistent information. They studied carcass reports from the Andreafsky and Anvik rivers on the lower Yukon, the Gisasa, Salcha and Chena rivers in the middle and the Big Salmon River in Canada. They also used weir data from the Andreafsky and Gisasa.

But the time periods varied wildly from nine years on the Big Salmon to 28 years on the Salcha. In addition to the time series, they found differences in sampling strategies, measurement error, crew experience and environmental conditions.

There were also more practical problems in analyzing the material.

"Computers weren't near as handy back then," Schleusner said.

The study showed fewer chinooks measuring 900 millimeters or more in four rivers -- the Anvik, Chena, Salcha and Big Salmon. No change was evident on the Andreafsky or Gisasa.

The river with the biggest decrease in size was the Big Salmon, which the study's authors wrote was logical "since they typically have earlier run timing and are exposed to the combined effects of commercial and subsistence fisheries for a longer period of time than the lower-river stocks."

Klein said the fisheries association hired its own biologist to analyze the data and points to the need for more study and a consensus before any changes are made to regulations.

"We're not as certain of the evidence," Klein said. "There's a lot of anecdotal evidence from fishermen and now we've got some science.

"I don't think it's conclusive yet."

Andersen, however, believes a thorough search of the scientific literature on chinook salmon will turn up enough evidence to form a persuasive argument. For instance, he noted that the Tozitna River weir has been running mostly male over the past five years with an average run that includes 24 percent females. The low point for females during that time was 14 percent.

Because fish stocks have a history of rapid evolution when the largest members of a species are targeted, Andersen believes change should happen now. Waiting a decade could rob the run of the few remaining heavyweights.

"That's a risk, that's something we ought not run the danger of," he said.


HOOKED ON FISHING
Billy Charles has been fishing to provide for his family since he was old enough to reach over the side of a boat and pull in a net.

He's 50 now and, unlike his upriver counterparts, he said he doesn't buy into the shrinking chinook theory. He said he occasionally pulls a big fish out of the Yukon, just like when he was a child working on his father's boat.

"I remember catching 40-, 50-pounders back then, but it was very rare," the Emmonak fisherman said. "When we did catch 40- and 50-pounders, I did remember it because it didn't happen that often."

Charles opposes any changes in gear regulations because of the economic hardship they would bring. Commercial fishermen have already lost 15 feet of net depth to allow more large fish to escape upriver. And he said he believes reducing the maximum mesh size from the current 8 to 8 1/2 inches would have the unintended consequence of killing more large fish.

He said fishermen and scientists have found that large fish still become trapped in the smaller mesh. Instead of becoming completely entangled, a large king snared around the gills strangles, then falls free -- the big one that got away.

"It's just a waste of fish," Charles said.

In Emmonak, Charles said, 60 to 70 of the 800 residents fish for a living. About 100 rely on jobs at the local processing plant. Many fish the river for subsistence.

Charles said he believes changes to gear or openings would have a worrisome impact on downriver villages.

"It's the only economy we have in the lower river," Charles said.


MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES
Change doesn't come easy on the Yukon River. After 20 years managing the fishery, Dan Bergstrom knows that well.

Politics act like a tidal force on all decisions. Fishermen square off against managers. Upriver residents spar with downriver residents. Fish wheel users fight net fishermen. Some like the taste of kings, others prefer chum.

"If you are going to make changes, you have to work with the fishermen," said Bergstrom, Fish and Game's Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim regional management supervisor. "If you push something through, they're not going to take it well. And that's a matter of time. It's not just one meeting."

Bergstrom said Fish and Game biologists are seeing fewer 7-year-old fish, a parallel sign that chinook stocks are changing. But without more study, Bergstrom said, he is not ready to rush forward with changes to commercial fishing regulations. He said he finds especially "infuriating" a lack of data from Canada, where the largest fish are headed. In addition to increasing study, Bergstrom said, it's important to come to an agreement about what type of fishery users want, then manage toward that goal.

One subsistence fisherman at a recent meeting Bergstrom attended noted the relative health of recent returns. With so many fish, she said, why complain about their size?

"I think it's something to be concerned about, but we don't see it as a crisis at this point," Bergstrom said. "We have time to look at it. I've been thinking about a very small change in mesh size. But we have time to work with the nets and see what sizes catch what fish."

Eagle fisherman Andy Bassich said he thinks it might already be too late. He has seen pictures from the early 20th century that show 60- and 70-pound females on the upper river. The biggest fish caught in Eagle this year was about 35 pounds.

The fish he's catching today don't compare with the burly hogs he caught when he started fishing 22 years ago.

"They're not the big, fat, robust fish anymore because those guys are getting nailed by the gillnets more easily than these long, slender guys," he said.

He said he doesn't want to see the chinook go the way of the cod, swordfish or dozens of other species whose shrinking was a clear early signal of evolutionary decline. And once the big fish are gone, he said, there's no getting those genes back into the pool.

"If we put our heads together," he said, "we can come up with a fix that's good for the fish and good for the fishermen."
_________________________
"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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#5408 - 01/31/06 03:38 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
Bank of Duvall Offline
Smolt

Registered: 11/22/03
Posts: 79
Loc: Duvall
Does anyone ever think to suspect the lack of ocean food for these fish? I read a thread on ifish that said drop an extra 10,000,000 smolts to solve all our problems.... i don't think we've left enough unmolested food source(s) to support much - maybe I'm crazy ...??

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#5409 - 01/31/06 11:24 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
The Moderator Offline
The Chosen One

Registered: 02/09/00
Posts: 14483
Loc: Tuleville
Quote:
Originally posted by Bank of Duvall:
Does anyone ever think to suspect the lack of ocean food for these fish?
Nope.

At least one UW professor has figured out the reason why, stated his case and concern to AK and the commercial fishery folks on the Yukon, and was promptly told by both organizations to get the fark out of AK and never return. frown Apprently, they didn't want to hear that the fish are in trouble and that if they want to be saved, fishing *MUST be stopped on the Yukon.

Disease and overfishing are the culprits. Mainly disease.
_________________________
Tule King Paker

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#5410 - 01/31/06 12:21 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
Salmonella Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1369
Gives a lot of creedence to "Slot Limits".
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#5411 - 01/31/06 12:42 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
Bob Offline

Dazed and Confused

Registered: 03/05/99
Posts: 6480
Loc: Forks, WA & Soldotna, AK
Good read Doc ... thanks for the post smile
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Seen ... on a drive to Stam's house:



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#5412 - 01/31/06 01:12 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
TBird Offline
Fish Fear Me

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 3376
Loc: Port Angeles
18 to 20 lb kings called "Jacks?" I like their thinking! Must have been a hell of a river in it's time!
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So easy, a cavegirl could do me

Team FTW

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#5413 - 01/31/06 06:17 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
WN1A Offline
Spawner

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 591
Loc: Seattle
Interesting article about the Yukon chinook, if you substitute Columbia for Yukon the story is about the same. The primary differences are that subsistence fisheries are top priority in the Yukon, dams are not an issue, and there are not 180 hatcheries putting fish into the river. Significant similarities are there are many competing users over the length of the river, multiple state and federal agencies regulate the fisheries, and chinook life history.

Chinook spend more time in the ocean than the other Yukon salmon. In the article it is stated that little is known about chinook in the ocean, a view that is stated quite often by freshwater fisheries managers as a reason for failures of management schemes. The reality is that data on chinook in the ocean have been collected for many years, generally in conjunction with studies of the more numerous pinks, chum, and sockeye. For the past four years an international cooperative research project has been looking at the effects of climate change on salmon ecosystems in the Bering Sea. Juvenile chinook feed on the continental shelf in there first year at sea and then move off the shelf for their remaining time in the ocean. Old data indicates that the juvenile salmon were confined to a small area north of the Aleutian Islands. The Bering Sea has been warming up for the past several years. Sampling shows that as the water warms juvenile salmon are now utilizing most of the shelf. One can speculate that this dramatic increase in feeding area results in a higher survival of juvenile Yukon chinook, chum salmon and pink salmon. The warmer water doesn't increase the food supply in the Bering Sea basin however. When the chinook move off the shelf they are competing with increased numbers of chum and pink salmon from Japan, Russia, Canada, and the U.S. Their growth rate will be reduced resulting in more fish returning to the river but at a smaller average size. The loss of the 7 and 8 year old fish is not so easy to explain. Scale studies to determine their growth rates compared to the younger fish might give some clues.

Continuing the comparison to Columbia River chinook, they also feed on the continental shelf along the Oregon and Washington coast after leaving the river. Unlike the Bering Sea warmer water temperatures and no north winds decreases the food available. 2005 was not good for salmon (and seabirds) that rely on upwelling.

The article mentioned the need for research. The AYK SSI group is starting a significant research program this year. If anyone is interested in a comprehensive review of Western Alaska salmon look at the report, " Developing a Research and Restoration Plan for AYK Salmon", that can be accessed from the link below. It is 224 pages long so plan on reading for some time.

http://www4.nas.edu/cp.nsf/Projects+_by+_PIN/BEST-K-02-08-A?OpenDocument

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#5414 - 02/01/06 02:01 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
stlhdr1 Offline
BUCK NASTY!!

Registered: 01/26/00
Posts: 6414
Loc: Vancouver, WA
Yet another fishery destroyed by gillnets...

Sounds like the Columbia river of the 1800's! Yet now, a 20lber is nearly a wall mount!

Keith beathead
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#5415 - 02/01/06 11:39 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
The Moderator Offline
The Chosen One

Registered: 02/09/00
Posts: 14483
Loc: Tuleville
You are all on the wrong track.

The disease is doing the damage on the Yukon.

The fishing just isn't helping the recovery.
_________________________
Tule King Paker

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#5416 - 02/01/06 01:41 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
WN1A Offline
Spawner

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 591
Loc: Seattle
Parker is talking about Ichthophyonus, a disease that has been discussed on this board before. It is a big problem in chinook on the Yukon but probably not the primary cause of decreasing size. Chum and other chinook runs in western Alaska exhibit the same problems as the Yukon chinook but don't have the disease. More likely the disease is a symptom of the problem, climate change. The severity of the disease seems to track the increasing temperature of the Yukon over the past 30 years. The study that Parker is referring to is well done and interesting to read. Look at the final report for study no. 01-200 at the link below to read it.

http://alaska.fws.gov/asm/fisreportdetail.cfm?fisrep=22

I realized that the link I gave in my earlier post was incomplete. It is now correct. That report notes the disease problem in Yukon chinook.

Finally this is an interesting news article that mentions the climate change problem on the Yukon.

http://www.ctnow.com/outdoors/hc-finalriversyukon.artoct24,0,3335887.story?coll=hce-headlines-outdoors

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#5417 - 02/01/06 03:09 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on
The Moderator Offline
The Chosen One

Registered: 02/09/00
Posts: 14483
Loc: Tuleville
Yup.

I swear Kocan told me that since the fish were not making it up to the spawning grounds, it was effecting their size as well. Maybe that was just the over-fishing.

He'll be back in my office in a week or so. I'll ask him about it again.

He's the Yukon expert.
_________________________
Tule King Paker

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#802567 - 11/24/12 04:42 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: The Moderator]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
Seven seasons ago they were worried about the fish getting smaller.

Now they worry about getting any at all.

http://www.avcp.org/apps/Agendas-Reports...n%20Handout.pdf
_________________________
"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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#802569 - 11/24/12 07:36 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
GBL Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 01/31/05
Posts: 1879
Loc: Yakutat
And the guy in the article said the biggest he got was 36lbs, but I'll bet he did not throw it back to protect those big ones, so you are right where you should be after years of over-fishing and now disease thrown in!

And they want more studies!

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#802573 - 11/24/12 09:34 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: GBL]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Disease may be killing the fish, but it's not making them smaller. Gillnets may be making them smaller on the spawning grounds but not in the river.
Neither of these is making them younger.

marine mixed stock fisheries on non-adults-ocenan sport, ocean troll, bycatch in trawls, squid gillnets, and such is what is taking away the old fish.

The reduction in Chinook size,and the causes of same, were recognized when i was college (Noah was my fisheries prof).

The first step to recovering the Yukon Chinook size, or the Elwha Chinook size, or the Skagits, or anywhere is to quit killing them in fisheries until they are mature and stopped feeding. Then, of course, letting enogh of them spawn to support the run.

Management generally sets escapement goals as number of fish. As the females get smaller, thry bring in fewer eggs. An EG of 10,000 may have worked 30 years ago. Today, hitting 10,000 may give 60% as many eggs.

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#802574 - 11/24/12 09:54 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1588
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Decreasing size at maturity is an unmistakable sign of over exploitation of adults prior to the onset of maturation. This happens to ANY fish population where exploitation is high. I have personally seen this in a variety of fisheries from walleye and perch in Michigan to cod in New England to Chinook salmon on the Columbia. The symptoms are the same and so is the cause. Overexploitation.

The reason is simple. Harvest does not allow the adults to reach a large size at maturity. They get harvested before they reach a large body size. As such, the spawning stock becomes primarily those fish that naturally mature at a smaller size since those that naturally mature at a larger size (thus spend more time in the size range targeted for exploitation) get caught. Repeat this pattern for 50+ years, and the spawning stock will become progressively smaller and smaller. This happens to fish stocks anywhere that exploitation is high. The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.

I don't think the gill nets in the Yukon Rv are to blame for the decrease in size at maturity. The fisheries in the ocean are more likely the culprit.

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#802575 - 11/24/12 10:18 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
And yet, Washington's managers are on record, in the recovery plans filed with NOAA for PS Chinook, as saying the fisheries don't affect adult size.

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#802581 - 11/24/12 11:03 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
eugene1 Offline
Spawner

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 880
Loc: out there...
I was at a meeting where a NOAA guy said the pollock fleet has serious impact on Yukon nooks. I think it was about 100,000 by-catched chinook last season. Really sad to see.

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#802583 - 11/24/12 11:22 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: cohoangler]
Jerry Garcia Offline



Registered: 10/13/00
Posts: 9160
Loc: everett
Originally Posted By: cohoangler
Decreasing size at maturity is an unmistakable sign of over exploitation of adults prior to the onset of maturation. This happens to ANY fish population where exploitation is high. I have personally seen this in a variety of fisheries from walleye and perch in Michigan to cod in New England to Chinook salmon on the Columbia. The symptoms are the same and so is the cause. Overexploitation.

The reason is simple. Harvest does not allow the adults to reach a large size at maturity. They get harvested before they reach a large body size. As such, the spawning stock becomes primarily those fish that naturally mature at a smaller size since those that naturally mature at a larger size (thus spend more time in the size range targeted for exploitation) get caught. Repeat this pattern for 50+ years, and the spawning stock will become progressively smaller and smaller. This happens to fish stocks anywhere that exploitation is high. The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.

I don't think the gill nets in the Yukon Rv are to blame for the decrease in size at maturity. The fisheries in the ocean are more likely the culprit.


The larger fish were also able to dig redds in larger cobble and deeper resisting the effects of scour.
_________________________
would the boy you were be proud of the man you are

Growing old ain't for wimps
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#802597 - 11/24/12 12:29 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
Eric Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 3513
Quote:
marine mixed stock fisheries on non-adults-ocenan sport, ocean troll, bycatch in trawls, squid gillnets, and such is what is taking away the old fish.

The reduction in Chinook size,and the causes of same, were recognized when i was college (Noah was my fisheries prof).

The first step to recovering the Yukon Chinook size, or the Elwha Chinook size, or the Skagits, or anywhere is to quit killing them in fisheries until they are mature and stopped feeding. Then, of course, letting enogh of them spawn to support the run.





Quote:
The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.




Simple, yes. But how many here believe that will happen anytime soon, if ever?

(No hands go up....silence in the room)

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#802606 - 11/24/12 01:04 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: cohoangler]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
Originally Posted By: cohoangler
Decreasing size at maturity is an unmistakable sign of over exploitation of adults prior to the onset of maturation. This happens to ANY fish population where exploitation is high. I have personally seen this in a variety of fisheries from walleye and perch in Michigan to cod in New England to Chinook salmon on the Columbia. The symptoms are the same and so is the cause. Overexploitation.

The reason is simple. Harvest does not allow the adults to reach a large size at maturity. They get harvested before they reach a large body size. As such, the spawning stock becomes primarily those fish that naturally mature at a smaller size since those that naturally mature at a larger size (thus spend more time in the size range targeted for exploitation) get caught. Repeat this pattern for 50+ years, and the spawning stock will become progressively smaller and smaller. This happens to fish stocks anywhere that exploitation is high. The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.

I don't think the gill nets in the Yukon Rv are to blame for the decrease in size at maturity. The fisheries in the ocean are more likely the culprit.

Please submit your comments to the blue ribbon panel investigating the decline of Alaska Chinook
_________________________
"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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#802614 - 11/24/12 01:47 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
While we all join in on railing against the ocean fisheries that are hammering Yukon stocks remeber that the developement and increase in the PS blackmouth fisheries is recuing the adult size of PS Chinook, too.

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#802624 - 11/24/12 03:19 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
WN1A Offline
Spawner

Registered: 09/17/04
Posts: 591
Loc: Seattle
During the past seven seasons chinook size and numbers have both decreased but the idea that these changes can be reversed by fisheries managers hasn't changed. It is time to realize that the tweaks to harvest management or even stopping harvest will have little effect. Human actions are a major contributor to the changes, climate change, ocean acidification, pollutants, and industrial fisheries that may have small direct impacts on an individual species but a great impact on the marine ecosystem they rely on.

An example is size at maturity, computer models demonstrate that harvest might reduce size at maturity, but there is growing direct evidence that pollution has the same effect. At the recent Salish Sea Conference information was presented that size and age of maturing Puget Sound chinook is reduced by exposure to persistent organic pollutants. There are many lab studies that demonstrate that the offspring of maturing females (not just fish) exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals can have lower growth and survival. Even more important is that the changes are epigenetic, the fish that survive pass the new traits to their offspring. These kinds of pollutants are everywhere, in both the marine and terrestrial environment. Salmon are a fast evolving species, 10 generations can lead to a lasting change. Smaller, younger fish would have less exposure time to pollutants in the marine environment, speculation but it could be the future.

Disease (Parker's post of 2006), ocean temperature changes,and freshwater habitat are all contributing factors. Along with pollution and harvest no one thing can be assigned the blame for decreasing size and numbers. More likely it is a synergistic effect brought on by a combination of these stressors.

There is going to be a two day workshop, open to the public, in Anchorage in early December that will examine some of the problems and potential solutions to the Yukon Chinook problem. It is sponsored by AYKSSI, more information, speakers and topics, can be found at the link below.

Salmon Outreach Workshop

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#802729 - 11/24/12 11:01 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: WN1A]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
If the idea that the pollutants are causing Chinook to get younger and smaller can be tested, at least to some extent, by looking at the age and size changes occurring in the New Zealand Chinook. Are they showing the same decreases in both age and size.

I do agree that natural selection will be for what survives to spawn. Life will try to adapt. At some point, though, on the Yukon the fish will be too small to successfully migrate to the spawning grounds and to successfully spawn in big rivers with big substrate.

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#802761 - 11/24/12 11:59 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: stlhdr1]
Illahee Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 3779
Originally Posted By: stlhdr1
Yet another fishery destroyed by gillnets...

Sounds like the Columbia river of the 1800's! Yet now, a 20lber is nearly a wall mount!

Keith beathead


If you think gillnets killed off the CR salmon then I've got a dunce cap you need to wear.
Did it ever occur to you that dams killed off the CR salmon runs?

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#802768 - 11/25/12 12:18 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Illahee]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Columbia River salmon were already well depressed prior to the dams.
The dams just finished what the commercial fisheries started.

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#802774 - 11/25/12 12:28 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
Illahee Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 05/22/05
Posts: 3779
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Columbia River salmon were already well depressed prior to the dams.
The dams just finished what the commercial fisheries started.



Then why do runs devastated by poor ocean conditions rebound almost instantaneously after ocean condition return to good?
So how is harvest any different than poor ocean conditions?
If you want to kill off any species, just make it difficult for them to reproduce.

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#803106 - 11/27/12 09:16 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Illahee]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3994
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Hell CM it was not just the Columbia it was the entire NW coastal area. If you go back through newspaper articles of the time it was a constant problem, overharvest that is. Now what I loved in the research was the fact that the reduced harvest far exceeded today's run sizes. Then we added the massive marine harvest and that was the ball game as you could nail the other states or regions fish as you had screwed up yours. Over harvest has been a driver hand in hand with the loss of watershed productivity as it has declined from the moment the first settler cleared a spot to build their house on, and continues today. The challenge is to get folks to accept the reduced harvest that the reduced watershed productivity requires and PROTECT WHAT GOOD HABITAT IS LEFT.
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Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#803143 - 11/27/12 02:48 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Rivrguy]
fshwithnoeyes Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 08/20/08
Posts: 299
Loc: Lewis Co via Bham
+1 Carcassman

Leave the "feeders" alone.
_________________________
If we ignore the environment it will just go away

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#803150 - 11/27/12 03:20 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: fshwithnoeyes]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1588
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
I agree that we should leave the feeders alone. But isn't that 100% of the blackmouth fishery in Puget Sound? And the commercial troll fishery in SE AK? It would be great if we could let those fish reach maturity before we starting pounding them. But that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

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#803155 - 11/27/12 03:39 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: cohoangler]
Todd Offline
Dick Nipples

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 28153
Loc: Seattle, Washington USA
Taken to its extreme, any salmon fishing in saltwater is going to be, if not fishing for them outright, at least catching sub-adults.

Any directed blackmouth fishery is, by definition, catching juveniles that have not reached their adult size.

Fish on...

Todd
_________________________


Team Flying Super Ditch Pickle


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#803188 - 11/27/12 07:22 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Todd]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
For those who think that the sport fishery can't exert a lot of pressure, back in the day the PS blackmouth fishery took essentially all of the non-Indian share. Actually, with the exception of the Bellingham Bay Chinook net fishery the sporties, with some help from the WA trollers, took the NI share.

It should also be remembered that Chinook were accounted for as "adult equivalents". This means that an adult in the bay pr river conted as 1 fish. A barely legal blackmouth counted as (say) half a fish because the natural mortality gave it only a 50% chance of becoming an adult.

So, not only did the sporties take 50% of the accounted fish they took a whole lot more than that in actual fish.

In the interest of fairness i should point out that WDG used to have a spring trout fishery that they knew took steelhead smolts but allowed it because it gave opportunity to those who preferred to catch trout in the spring on light gear rather than steelhead in the winter on heavier gear.

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#1059680 - 05/06/22 07:29 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
"Because fish stocks have a history of rapid evolution when the largest members of a species are targeted, Andersen believes change should happen now. Waiting a decade could rob the run of the few remaining heavyweights.

"That's a risk, that's something we ought not run the danger of," he said.

OH HOW PROPHETIC

And here we are 16 years later, and the Yukon has collapsed.
_________________________
"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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#1059681 - 05/06/22 07:31 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: cohoangler]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
Originally Posted By: cohoangler
Decreasing size at maturity is an unmistakable sign of over exploitation of adults prior to the onset of maturation. This happens to ANY fish population where exploitation is high. I have personally seen this in a variety of fisheries from walleye and perch in Michigan to cod in New England to Chinook salmon on the Columbia. The symptoms are the same and so is the cause. Overexploitation.

The reason is simple. Harvest does not allow the adults to reach a large size at maturity. They get harvested before they reach a large body size. As such, the spawning stock becomes primarily those fish that naturally mature at a smaller size since those that naturally mature at a larger size (thus spend more time in the size range targeted for exploitation) get caught. Repeat this pattern for 50+ years, and the spawning stock will become progressively smaller and smaller. This happens to fish stocks anywhere that exploitation is high. The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.

I don't think the gill nets in the Yukon Rv are to blame for the decrease in size at maturity. The fisheries in the ocean are more likely the culprit.


Your foresight was 20/20, Mark... SPOT ON!
_________________________
"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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#1059684 - 05/06/22 08:44 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
eyeFISH Offline
Ornamental Rice Bowl

Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 12689
"Therefore the 2022 run is likely to be similar to 2021. Because of the poor projected run size, salmon fishing closures are required until inseason run strength estimates indicate a harvestable surplus above escapement needs. This will likely require closures at least through the midpoint of the run."


https://adfg.alaska.gov/static/applications/dcfnewsrelease/1368784388.pdf
_________________________
"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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#1059685 - 05/07/22 10:52 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
I've said it before, maybe even in this thread, but we have known (at least fisheries professionals) for multiple decades that fishing has made the salmon smaller. And, in a few cases, larger. This most obvious with Chinook where they get fished as immatures for years.

But, in the last decade or so a much more dangerous factor has arisen. The salmon are now smaller at age; the quality of food is insufficient. In fact, some of the larger adults die when migrating back to the more southern streams where they swim into warmer water which raises their metabolic rate to the point that a full stomach of low quality food won't sustain them and they die.

Which means, if we don't fix the food chain, too, that even closing the marine mixed stock fisheries might not get the big fish back as they lack the nutrition to grow big rather than just lacking the opportunity.

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#1059687 - 05/09/22 10:00 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
DrifterWA Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 4941
Loc: East of Aberdeen, West of Mont...
Originally Posted By: Carcassman


In the interest of fairness i should point out that WDG used to have a spring trout fishery that they knew took steelhead smolts but allowed it because it gave opportunity to those who preferred to catch trout in the spring on light gear rather than steelhead in the winter on heavier gear.



Why does WDFW continue to fill rivers with winter run steelhead plants???

Anyone that fishes the coastal Region 6 rivers, for the hatchery steelhead knows that there is a chance on hooking a Wild steelhead, for that matter it was legal to catch and keep a wild steelhead until 2004, the Commission put a halt on keeping wild steelhead, for 2 years, at that time.

Problem was, the sportsmen were allowed to continue to fish for hatchery steelhead and tribal fishermen continued to net both hatchery and wild. We all know about fish and gillnet but we don't REALLY know the impact of released Wild steelhead.

Now the coast is at shut down for all winter run fishing to protect the remaining runs of wild steelhead, I agree with that, but I can't get WDFW Region 6 Manager Losee to give any written timing plan, only that there are committees working on it. No one really thinking about how many years, or life cycles, it will takes to get the Wild steelhead to a safe level......10, 20, 50 years, maybe even more, maybe never?????

What to do????? Stop plants of winter steelhead, until a level of Wild steelhead reaches a level that WDFW fish management feels in necessary.

Increase the summer run steelhead plants in the rivers that have hatchery plants now, look into area rivers that could start to receive....plants. Would it take some major changes ?????? I think so, maybe there might be some rivers not ever opened for 10 - 20 years But there would be rivers open to fish for summer steelhead.......How was your winter season this year, in Region 6?

Just trying to have a "plan B", rather than complete shut downs. This should make for interesting comments!!!!!!
_________________________
"Worse day sport fishing, still better than the best day working"

"I thought growing older, would take longer"

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#1059688 - 05/09/22 11:31 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Lifter99 Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 12/01/18
Posts: 196
Drifter,
I talked to Larry Phillips before he left the Department about what the plans were for winter steelhead seasons and winter plants. He said that winter steelhead plants were going to continue as usual because with improving ocean conditions the wild runs might improve sooner than expected. We all know how those things go. I suggested maybe enlarging the summer steelhead plants and maybe starting a summer run of steelhead in other rivers such as the Satsop. He didn't seem to be very interested in that. Larry has left now but I don't think we are going to see any changes with Losee. Status quo with the Department.

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#1059689 - 05/09/22 12:54 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1588
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Originally Posted By: eyeFISH
Originally Posted By: cohoangler
Decreasing size at maturity is an unmistakable sign of over exploitation of adults prior to the onset of maturation. This happens to ANY fish population where exploitation is high. I have personally seen this in a variety of fisheries from walleye and perch in Michigan to cod in New England to Chinook salmon on the Columbia. The symptoms are the same and so is the cause. Overexploitation.

The reason is simple. Harvest does not allow the adults to reach a large size at maturity. They get harvested before they reach a large body size. As such, the spawning stock becomes primarily those fish that naturally mature at a smaller size since those that naturally mature at a larger size (thus spend more time in the size range targeted for exploitation) get caught. Repeat this pattern for 50+ years, and the spawning stock will become progressively smaller and smaller. This happens to fish stocks anywhere that exploitation is high. The solution is equally as simple. Stop fishing for these fish on their feeding grounds. Wait until they reach their terminal age/size at maturity before initiating harvest.

I don't think the gill nets in the Yukon Rv are to blame for the decrease in size at maturity. The fisheries in the ocean are more likely the culprit.


Your foresight was 20/20, Mark... SPOT ON!


Thanks Doc. When I wrote that, I was 10 years younger than I am today...... I was sorta hoping I was wrong, but alas the situation on the Yukon has not gotten any better.

And Carcassman's insightful post has brought up some additional issues that haven't gotten as much attention, but probably should.

Hope all is well with you.

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#1059705 - 05/13/22 01:04 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
GoPro Hero Offline
Parr

Registered: 06/11/21
Posts: 59
So basically we have to let them eat and need to have the state shut down all the saltwater fishing and just have the rivers be open. Then we can all catch some big fish.
_________________________
Go Pro? Letís Goooo!!!
Follow me on Instagram @fishpr0her0

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#1059711 - 05/16/22 10:57 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: GoPro Hero]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1588
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Not exactly. By allowing these fish to reach their optimal size at maturity, the returning adults will be a variety of sizes and ages. This allows for diversity of body sizes of the females, which allows successful spawning in various locations in the river (e.g., shallow and deep, small tribs and large tribs). This maximizes the use of whatever spawning habitat is available; and optimizes survival.

Plus, if there are various body sizes, the adults will return at different ages. This will spread the risk of adverse weather or geologic conditions (floods, drought, volcanos) across multiple generations. So one bad flood (or Mt. St. Helens) doesn't destroy an entire year class of Chinook.

The bottom line is that harvesting salmon while they are in their feeding/growing stage is destructive on multiple levels. We're better off waiting until they reach their terminal body size before harvesting.

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#1059712 - 05/16/22 12:09 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Kind of always been a mystery to me why one would chase a fish all over the ocean, using up fuel, when that fish is going to come back to a river at larger size and require less fuel to catch.

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#1059713 - 05/16/22 12:55 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Paul Smenis Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 08/02/12
Posts: 1047
Loc: In a drift boat...
Money.
_________________________
YOUR MOTHER IS A TULE!


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#1059714 - 05/16/22 01:36 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: Carcassman]
Larry B Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2982
Loc: University Place and Whidbey I...
Elbow room???
_________________________
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)

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#1059715 - 05/16/22 02:03 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
20 Gage Online   content
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 02/15/21
Posts: 196
Some anglers may prefer super chrome, brite, sea lice laden salmon, with aggressive bites from hungry feeding mature kings, with a smattering of late season coho, and a few Black Rock Fish thrown in...

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#1059716 - 05/16/22 08:55 PM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Lifter99 Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 12/01/18
Posts: 196
The fishing seasons inland , whether it be Puget Sound, Grays harbor etc., are so restricted anymore with small quotas and short fishing seasons. An inland fisher never knows what he is going to get inland each year. You can't count on any kind of season anymore.

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#1059718 - 05/17/22 06:37 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 6682
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
If the fish were not caught outside there would be tons inside. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you catch them in AK or BC, you won't catch those same fish in WA.

Kinda like in hunting horned or antlered game. Kill the males as soon as identifiable (spikes, 1/4 curl, etc.) you'll never get a big old one. But they will be dumber and easier to kill.

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#1059719 - 05/17/22 10:30 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: 20 Gage]
Flatbrim Pescador Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 07/13/21
Posts: 382
Originally Posted By: 20 Gage
Some anglers may prefer super chrome, brite, sea lice laden salmon, with aggressive bites from hungry feeding mature kings, with a smattering of late season coho, and a few Black Rock Fish thrown in...


You don't need to go to the ocean for that. Check out these sweet chromers the addicted boyz are getting in the Columbia right now!


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#1059722 - 05/17/22 10:59 AM Re: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KING.... read on [Re: eyeFISH]
20 Gage Online   content
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 02/15/21
Posts: 196
Nice fish, pretty brite too. So they opened up the big c eh ? Heard they closed it down for a bit ?

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