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#1011977 - 07/20/19 08:07 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET *** [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

Recently WDFW closed the Chehalis for all fishing for Spring Chinook protection and I have some real objections to how Region 6 did this. The issue needs to be done in a forward thinking manner fully engaging all stakeholders and citizens of the Chehalis Basin. That is not what happened. I will do this up in two post.


Attached is a letter to the Director and Commission outlining my opposition to the closure of the Chehalis River and tributaries to all fishing for the purpose of protection of Spring Chinook. Let me put forth up front that Spring Chinook do need protection and not just a temporary band aid approach but a long term strategy with public buy in is critical.

The closure actions taken by Region 6 ( R-6) staff do nothing to address the issue long term and in my view intentionally were designed to limit public input. The simplest way to explain this without writing a book is to look at the 2019 NOF process and the use of the emergency rules. Three meetings were held for 2019 NOF , one public on March 5 and two GH Adviser meetings on April 8 and April 23. The issue of low Spring Chinook returns was briefly discussed but nothing in great detail. On May 13 R-6 announced the complete closure of the Chehalis for game fishing with a Emergency Rule. The use of a Emergency Rule does not require public input as does the APA ( rule making process ) and I believe limiting public input was the intent of staff.

Additionally the three NOF meetings could have been utilized to fully engage the public and Advisers for including what actions were necessary in the 2019 / 2020 fishing rules. R-6 chose not to engage the stake holders and on July 2 again imposed a emergency closure which again limited any public input. As the May 13 closure had a ending date of June 30 a Emergency Rule would have been required to fill in the gap to the formal adoption of the 2019 / 2020 rules in late July when the Director formally signed off on the seasons.
Bottom line is this, WDF&W uses time by not addressing issues to create a emergency. They do this to limit the public's ability to be involved and provide input.

So my reasons for objecting to the Chehalis closure are outlined in my attached letter to the Director.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1011978 - 07/20/19 08:08 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
July 12, 2019

Director Susewind
WDF&W Commission

Director Susewind I am writing to express concern regarding the recent actions by WDF&W to close the Chehalis River to all recreational angling opportunity under the premise of conservation of Spring Chinook due to low predicted returns on May 13, 2019 and July 2, 2019. The following rational was given in the WDF&W press release May 13, 2019.

Reason for action: Low predicted spring Chinook returns make them more vulnerable to fishing pressure. Spring Chinook stage in the Chehalis River, South Fork Chehalis River, North and South forks of the Newaukum Rivers and the Skookumchuck River. Any incidental encounters of spring Chinook during game fishing could subject this fish to stress, injury, or death, which during a year of low predicted returns could harm future runs.

With the low forecasted returns this appears to be a reasonable action as this was the primary time frame that Spring Chinook enter the harbor and migrate upstream. What is not reasonable is the failure to fully vet this issue in the NOF meetings in Montesano and the Grays Harbor Adviser meetings at Region 6 offices. I realize the new LOAF process was time constraining but in my view staff went out of their way not to discuss the evolving issue of low Spring Chinook returns. The issue could have been presented at NOF and the GH Adviser meetings with full public participation to form a consensus rather than blind side the public by utilizing a Emergency Rule to limit public input. Director your goal of transparency was the first victim. Additionally I have been told that the Quinault Nation ( QIN ) and Chehalis tribal government agreed with this action. Frankly this is a good thing and the public should have been made aware of this cooperation rather than just a press release.

On July 2, 2019 WDF&W again took the action of closing the Chehalis River and tributaries to all angling opportunities to further notice identified in the press release for Spring Chinook conservation with the following rational.

Reason for action: Reason for action: Streams and rivers where spring Chinook hold and stage through the summer are experiencing lower than normal stream flows. Spring Chinook hold and stage in the Chehalis River, South Fork Chehalis River, north and south forks of the Newaukum River and the Skookumchuck River. Low stream flows decrease holding and staging refuges and elevate vulnerability and pressure on these Chinook. Any encounters of spring Chinook could subject these fish to stress, injury, or death.

While supportive of the conservation objectives and actions taken on May 13, with the exception of the complete lack of transparency and public involvement, I find the closure of July 2 to be one of the most misleading to uninformed decisions I have seen WDF&W make in some time. To better understand my objections one must look the justification of low flows and angler contact with the returning adults. To fully understand my objections I will start at the Highway 101 bridge located at Aberdeen on work upstream.


• From 101 bridge to South Montesano bridge is tidal exchange water and the low flows have zero effect on returning adults in this reach of the river. Additionally this reach what is known as big water and frankly the QIN have difficulty harvesting Spring Chinook with a gillnet. Spring Chinook move but do not hold or stage.
• From South Montesano to Fuller Hill bridge near the mouth of the Satsop River is again in tidal exchange water and flows have zero effect on the Spring Chinook. Within this reach an area does exist where the river narrows that allows some success angling for Spring Chinook but the success rate is very low and about zero success with trout gear.
• From Fuller Hill bridge to the South Elma bridge reach is above tidal exchange but Spring Chinook move but do not hold or stage to any great degree. Flows do play a role but it is due to Dissolved Oxygen ( DO ) levels not volume which normally come into play in September or October and almost never in recent times. Additionally except for a short section near the Fuller Hill boat launch the river parallels a county road making it very difficult to fish illegally.
• From South Elma bridge to the Porter bridge Spring Chinook do begin to hold and stage but as this closure is in July the numbers have greatly decreased as the returning adults continue to move upstream. Additionally access for anglers in summer months is limited as the Porter boat launch is nearly unusable due to river elevation. The only access from the South Elma bridge is downstream at Fuller Hill and the river narrows below South Elma bridge limiting boats to jet boats only and is so treacherous that few attempt to run the narrows. Additionally any bank angler on the North side of the river must walk across the river bottom farms making a poacher rather obvious. The same applies to the South side of the river with a few exceptions but this in no way would be considered a poachers paradise. DO levels can play a role but again it is September or October but again not in recent years.
• From Porter upstream to Newaukum is a reach utilized by Spring Chinook and the fall salmon seasons start after October 15 to protect Spring Chinook. A better option here is gear restrictions rather than closure. Something like a bait ban ( eggs / shrimp ) and floating lures ( plugs ) with a hook size limitation would be effective. In simple terms simply restrict fishing to spinners and flies and problem solved. Again DO levels can play a role but again it is September or October and it is not water volume.
• The tributaries outlined in the press release are areas of concern but volume and DO levels again are a not concern until very late summer. That some anglers ( as with any harvester ) will violate the rules is a given but well thought out restrictions better serve the fish and angling public rather than the draconian approach chose by WDF&W staff. You do not remove a gillnet fleet off the water due to one gillnet boat using the recovery box for a trash can rather than reviving non targeted species. The examples are many to this double standard WDF&W applies to fresh water fishers vs marine and commercial fishers. This double standard is not acceptable.
• Finally the Skookumchuck River and the use of flows as a just cause for a closure. At the time the Skookumchuck dam was built Region 6 argued and carried the day with the argument that the augmented flows the dam reservoir provided would provide for flows robust enough that mitigation hatchery production would not be necessary for Spring and Fall Chinook only Coho and Steelhead needed mitigation. This brings forth the question, is Region 6 staff now saying that assumptions made for mitigation when the dam was constructed are wrong? That we now need to mitigate for Spring and Fall Chinook as the augmented flows the dam provides are not as once thought? It is unfortunate that former hatchery lead Mr. Harry Senn passed away recently because this and what WDF did with the Governor Dan Evans fisheries enhancement package with the Skookumchuck facilities coupled with the Skookumchuck dam mitigation not treating Chehalis basin citizens fairly was a subject he was passionate about. Needless to say the Chehalis Basin communities were misled and it appears to be continuing today.

The next issue I wish to address is the emergency rules implemented May 13 and July 2 and how an average citizen would be aware of and actually find out they exist. The average angler would go to the rules pamphlet that is available either at retail outlets that sell licenses or online at WDF&W website. That said the two closures were emergency rules requiring a citizen to know how to find these rules which require the following steps.

• You must go to WDF&W's website here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/
• You must then choose fishing and shell fishing: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing
• You must then choose Emergency Rule Changes https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations
• You must then choose Fresh water rules: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/
• You must choose river or stream: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/freshwater_select.h
• You must choose:
https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_freshwater_river.j?body_of_water_id=1100

These actions will bring one to this press release.

July 2, 2019
Chehalis River and tributaries to close to fishing
Action: Closes Chehalis River, South Fork Chehalis River, North Fork Newaukum River, South Fork Newaukum River and Skookumchuck River to fishing.
Effective date: Immediately until further notice.
Species affected: All species.
Location: Chehalis River, South Fork Chehalis River, North Fork Newaukum River, South Fork Newaukum River and Skookumchuck River.
Reason for action: Streams and rivers where spring Chinook hold and stage through the summer are experiencing lower than normal stream flows. Spring Chinook hold and stage in the Chehalis River, South Fork Chehalis River, North and South forks of the Newaukum Rivers and the Skookumchuck River. Low stream flows decrease holding and staging refuges and elevate vulnerability and pressure on these Chinook. Any encounters of spring Chinook could subject these fish to stress, injury, or death.
Additional information: Please see the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet or visit the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov for additional fishing opportunities and regulations.
Information contact: Chad Herring, Willapa Bay/Grays Harbor Fishery Policy Lead Region 6, 360-249-4628, ext. 299.
Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431

To my question, whatever would make WDF&W staff think that every fisher would know how to find and use these links? That they would have the proper electronic device to access and utilize WDF&W's website? That they would have any idea that each time they go fishing they would need to take these steps or risk be issued a citation for a violating rule that is not in the fishing pamphlet? To even consider that a game fishery that primarily uses worms & spinners, sucker bait, or flies would be closed for Spring Chinook conservation that fishers utilize a completely different gear type under the ruse of low flows? I could go on but I think my point is clear the average fisher would not know. I realize that agency staff have a difficult job but this manner of rule notification is both lacking in clarity right down to be intentionally misleading as to rationale let alone meet the standards required by the APA process and Open Meetings Act.

In closing Director I urge you to review the actions taken by Region 6 staff in the two Chehalis River Basin closures and take the necessary remedial actions. Second I urge you also review the manner in which the Rules Pamphlet does not reflect the actual rules in place at any moment in time due to the use of emergency rules that the general public has little to no knowledge that have been put in place. The following notification, Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431, is a woefully inadequate manner of proving anglers notification of rules changes.

Bottom line is the Dept could have provided the protection needed for Spring Chinook without closing the near entirety of the state's second largest stream. It chose to block out input from the citizens who live and fish the river and replaced that knowledge with an inaccurate blame on low flows. This manner of doing business is simply unacceptable.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1011984 - 07/20/19 12:07 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5466
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Love to see their response. Does seem that they would prefer that freshwater trout fisheries would just go away.

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#1011985 - 07/20/19 12:11 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

You will as everything I do is a open book, no secrets. On that note I also filed a PDR as this back room bs is getting out of hand.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1011986 - 07/20/19 01:14 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
DrifterWA Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 04/25/00
Posts: 4543
Loc: East of Aberdeen, West of Mont...
Rivrguy:

You know that we think alike, I agree with your 2 emails to the Director and to other WDFW staff.

Chehalis River closure is not the 1st, 4 years ago WDFW did the same thing, closed the Chehalis River, the Wynoochee, the Satsop....the closing was a "fire from the hip" response to less fish in the QIN and NT fisheries....so the easy way was to use the conservation bit, and shut down the sport fishery for Coho....Now there could have been a fishery for summer run steelhead, on the Wynoochee and a legal fishery for Chum, on all the rivers......nope, take the easy way....shut it all down...….grrrrrrrr

I paid my money and don't even get OPPORTUNITY, like Ron Warren is always talking about...…..grrrrrrrrrr
_________________________
"Worse day sport fishing, still better than the best day working"

"I thought growing older would take longer"

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#1011994 - 07/21/19 06:29 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
FleaFlickr02 Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/28/09
Posts: 2869
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Love to see their response. Does seem that they would prefer that freshwater trout fisheries would just go away.

I'm convinced you're right. Trout are not "money fish." If there aren't any money fish in the river to manage, they'd just as soon close it.

Department of Salmon Harvest Opportunity would be a better name....

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#1011995 - 07/21/19 07:50 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Smalma Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/25/01
Posts: 2757
Loc: Marysville
Welcome to the new developing management paradigm! With a variety of wild salmon stocks in trouble it is becoming more and more common to close freshwater seasons (game fish seasons) to prevent impacts on those wild stocks. This has been common in the north Puget Sound area and now appears to be spreading.

An interesting aspect is if there are co-mingled harvest salmon species/populations available then folks may once again gain access to various game fish opportunities. In that north Sound area once those game fish opportunities are lost it has proven to be difficult to regain them. I supposes such closures given the appear to the non-fishing public that active steps are being taken to save the various salmon resources that are in "trouble". This even though in nearly every case the root cause of the salmon stock in question declines are in order habitat lost, impacts in marine mixed stock fisheries, climate changes and lowest on the impact tree freshwater game fish seasons.

It has become abundantly clear that for the vast majority of Washingtonians salmon recovery is not really about recovery the fish but rather creating the appearance of doing something for the fish while not impact to any significant degree the average citizens' lives or the ability of large business's to make money.

Curt

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#1011997 - 07/21/19 08:43 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5466
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Spot on! Notice that the major problem with SRKWs is lack of food; they're starving. The solution? Keep people away so they can die in silence, unobserved. We support resource recovery as long as we are not inconvenienced.

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#1012162 - 07/25/19 11:11 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

Ron Warren sent this out so I thought I would get it out.


Fishing Rule Change
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
July 25, 2019


Lower Chehalis River to reopen Aug. 1; upper river and tributary openings also set

Action: Opens the lower Chehalis under permanent rules, as listed in pamphlet.

Effective date: Aug. 1, 2019.

Species affected: All species.

Location: Chehalis River, from the mouth (Highway 101 Bridge in Aberdeen) to the South Elma Bridge (Wakefield Road).

Reason for action: Staggered openings are necessary to protect spring Chinook returning to the Chehalis system. The abundance of spring Chinook is far below the escapement goal of 1,400 fish. As returning fish move farther upstream, it is possible to begin opening lower sections to angling while upstream and tributary closures achieve conservation objectives by protecting staging spring Chinook from fishing pressure.

Additional information: Closed sections of the upper Chehalis and tributaries will reopen under permanent rules as described in the 2019-20 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet on the following dates:

· Chehalis River, from South Elma Bridge (Wakefield Road) to Black River, including all channels, sloughs, and interconnected waterways: Sept. 16, 2019.
· Chehalis River, from Black River upstream: Oct. 1, 2019.
· Chehalis River, South Fork: Oct. 1, 2019.
· Newaukum River, including South Fork and North Fork: Oct. 16, 2019.
· Skookumchuck River: Oct. 16, 2019.

Anglers are reminded to always check for emergency rule changes prior to fishing. Rule changes can be found online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/ or by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500.

Information contact: Chad Herring, Willapa Bay/Grays Harbor Fishery Policy Lead Region 6, 360-249-4628 ext. 299; Mike Scharpf, District Biologist, 360-249-1025

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on definitions and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email (dolores.noyes@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/reasonable_request.html.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012436 - 08/01/19 04:09 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

With the Chehalis now being opened I thought I would share some things. To the ones who ask " what h--- are you going to do about this ? " Lord folks I am not in big guys good graces to be able to wave a magic wand. I will say this, they really pi---- me off this time. For those in the upper basin & twin cities I am going do everything I can to see this charade does not happen again. For those of you that want to just go back to the time the locals just ignored Montesano & Olympia and pretty much set their own seasons, please don't but may I say I don't blame you for feeling that way. This is not the past where WDF&W set 90% of the harvest within 5 miles of Aberdeen and the GHMP guarantees the upper basin a fair share of harvest.

What the GHMP cannot do is protect you folks from agency stupidity. I and others are working to try and create some change the insure this does not happen again so hang in there but don't be shy let the Director & Commission know how you feel.

I received this e mail from a gentleman in the twin cities and I think he captures the utter frustration the folks in the Chehalis Basin have with WDF&W.


I read your articles often. Saavy. I’m a 63 yr old who owns and has lived on the Chehalis River all my life and have never seen such lousy absurd idiotic so called running/ruining of our fishery for decades by WDFW. Or in other words. Washington Department of Failure and Waste! Sooo simple to fix the problem of not enough fish. BAN all gill nets, run effective small hatcheries, limit sea lions, and well, cant do much about tribes . I can’t believe that when my grandkids come over and want to go sit on our beach on our 30 acres farm in Chehalis by the golf course to fish for bass or chub, etc with a worm and bobber that I have to tell them no because our lousy wdfw closed it and won’t take responsibility for that being their fault from years of stupidity on ruining the best fishing potential in the US! I can’t even relax on my 30 acre farm and have neighbors come down for a fun visit evening of catch chubs or bass this year!!! Why do I even buy a license! I’m also a CCA committee member and am in disbelief at what our politics do to end fishing!! Running out of time and energy to fix such a problem with simplistic ease. Thanks for your work. I just wish someone would think about helping the fish and be able to fish.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012497 - 08/03/19 08:52 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

The following is the response to my objections to the Chehalis Closure. It is missing the graphs but unedited .

July 31, 2019

Dear Mr. --------,

Thank you for your e-mail and comments regarding the closure of all fishing in the Chehalis, South Fork Chehalis, Newaukum, and Skookumchuck Rivers. The Department values public input and transparency and works to implement those comments into fisheries management for the Grays Harbor watershed.

This closure is a conservation measure to protect spring Chinook in the Chehalis River basin. Spring Chinook in the Chehalis system are a true “wild” stock, in other words, there is no hatchery supplementation of spring Chinook in this watershed therefore, all returning adults are produced by the natural environment. The forecasted return of spring Chinook to the Chehalis River watershed for 2019 is predicted to be quite low, at 581 fish it is less than 42% of the established escapement goal of 1,400. Compounding the concern is that the preliminary estimate of spring Chinook spawner escapement for 2018 in the Chehalis River system is 495 fish; merely 35% of the goal. With these points in mind, and consistent with Fish and Wildlife Commission Policy on Grays Harbor Salmon Management (C-3621) which directs the Department of maintain fisheries impacts below 5%, staff sought to limit impacts on this stock for the 2019 fishery season from terminal fisheries (either directed and non-directed) to near zero.

As you mention in your e-mail, this closure is not unexpected given this year’s forecasted return but you disagree with the “lower than normal stream flows” as a justification for the emergency regulation closure dated July 2, 2019. Unfortunately, the “reason for action” in the Fishing Rule Change form dated July 2, 2019 inadvertently omitted language referencing the forecasted return of spring Chinook in 2019 combined with small population sizes typical of spring Chinook populations in the Chehalis. The forecasted return in relation to the spawner escapement goal is the primary justification for this closure. The environmental conditions referenced in the “reason for action” are accurate, however, this closure is a necessary conservation measure to protect spring Chinook.

Another point raised in your comments is that the closure is too expansive and indicated that implementation of alternative management strategies such as shifts in time, area, and gear may limit impacts to spring Chinook to acceptable levels. This argument is not without merit and was discussed as part of the Agency’s deliberation around how to best implement effective conservation measures for the Chehalis River spring Chinook stock in 2019. While indirect mortalities on spring Chinook resulting from the prosecution of gamefish fisheries is likely low, the Department does not have data that would indicate the impact would be zero. To the contrary, the available data on spring Chinook run timing in the Chehalis River watershed would indicate there is some probability of encountering spring Chinook during gamefish fisheries. Figure 1 (below) shows the average monthly Catch Record Card (CRC) harvest estimate of Chinook in the Chehalis River from 1986-2016. The CRC harvest estimate for the Chehalis River shows, when spring Chinook directed fisheries were open, 24 spring Chinook were harvested on average in July. Spring Chinook directed fisheries in July make up 13% of the total annual spring Chinook harvest when open. Figure 2 (below) shows the average weekly Chinook catch in Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) fisheries from 1996-2015. The QIN prosecutes sturgeon directed gillnet fisheries in the spring and summer; spring Chinook are encountered and harvested during these fisheries. These QIN fisheries occur in their usual and accustomed fishing areas, from the mouth of the Chehalis River (Hwy 101 Bridge in Aberdeen) to the confluence of the Wynoochee River. From the graph you can see the average QIN harvest of spring Chinook for the years listed is 12 fish. Quite simply, these two data sources would suggest spring Chinook are present during the prosecution of gamefish fisheries and do have a probability of encounter. Specific quantitative data around that probability of encounter and any associated mortalities is unavailable.

The Department considered all the data and factors above in relation to reaching a management objective of a near zero impact. Given the lack of specific information around the number of impacts likely to occur in gamefish fisheries, forecasted runsize, recent year abundance trends, and environmental conditions the Department decided upon a conservative approach and closed all fishing where the probability of a spring Chinook encounter was likely.

As mentioned above, the Agency had a management objective of near zero impact to Chehalis River spring Chinook for 2019. During the 2019 North of Falcon process, beginning with the public meeting held on February 26, 2019 at the Montesano City Hall, agency staff gave a presentation on performance of Grays Harbor’s fisheries for 2018 and forecasts for the 2019 salmon return. In that presentation on Grays Harbor fisheries, slide 12 (Figure 3 below) identified spring Chinook as a constraining stock for 2019. During the forecast meeting and other successive NOF meetings there was discussion that the directed spring Chinook fishery would need to be closed given the forecast in relation to the spawner escapement goal and the objective per Commission policy of having less than a 5% impact. During the month of May, agency representatives meet separately with representatives from QIN and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation (CTC) around the shared conservation concerns regarding spring Chinook in the Chehalis River Basin. These discussions resulted in the shared management objective between all the management entities of near zero impact to this stock in 2019. Both the QIN and CTC spring and summer fisheries that could have direct and non-direct impacts to spring Chinook have been closed with the exception of one adult spring Chinook harvested by CTC for ceremonial purposes. As described above, the action WDFW took around this shared management objective was to close all fishing where encounters of spring Chinook may occur until July 1, 2019. This was the first emergency regulation that was put in place on May 13, 2019. The co-managers (QIN and WDFW) had some follow-up discussion at the end of June over the conservation concern for spring Chinook. During that discussion, conversation centered on the lack of information to update spring Chinook runsize as well as worsening environmental conditions that would only exacerbate the conservation concern. This discussion, our associated data and the information described above was what led the Department to file the emergency regulation closing all fishing effective July 2, 2019.

It is of critical importance that the public be fully informed of the rules and regulations that the Department utilizes to reach conservation and management objectives associated with managing natural resources. It is also important that the rules and regulations that are adopted and translated into Washington Administrative Code (WAC) are easy to understand and are enforceable. The Department encourages an open dialogue with the public to ensure that the WAC’s adopted meet the desired outcome in terms of the conservation and management objectives for those specific natural resources. The Department manages natural resources for the public benefit and it is vital that the public have a say in how they are managed in order to have trust and support in the Department’s actions. The Department recognizes that in order for the public to trust and support our actions those decisions must be made in a transparent manner. The Agency is always looking to improve on the transparency of our decision making processes as well as making fishers aware of emergency actions that have taken place.

As we look to strengthen our commitment to transparency and information sharing, your comments will be considered.
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012617 - 08/06/19 08:14 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
I have been working on something around the Chehalis closure and history of what, why, and how works its way in. I thought I would put up piece of the conversation as frankly I doubt many have any idea of how decisions made years ago drive issue of the present.

I believe the problem started in the mid-80s. Kinda convoluted, but.....

Up until then, the state (WDG/WDF) had sole conservation responsibility. The state filed and enforced regulations that closed fisheries for exceedence of EITHER share or total harvestable. Shares were 50:50. The state (at least WDF, where I was then), contrary to conventional wisdom, won most of the challenges with the Tribes.

Then came the US/Canada Treaty. WA and OR really wanted it, because Canada was hammering our fish in hopes that e would have some influence on AK. Nobody else catches their fish, they catch everybody elses. But, the Tribes were threatening to file what was called the All-Citizen lawsuit. At that time, the 50:50 sharing was in Washington waters. They wanted it expanded to include harvests by non-Indians (of WA stocks) in AK. That would effectively close lots of WA fisheries or make AK manage for WA allocations. They said that if the Tribes filed the suit, they would not support the Treaty in the Senate. AK Senator Ted Stevens. So, WDF (Bill Wilkerson) offered co-management in trade for dropping the suit. Plus, the WA business community realized that Boldt II, the part where the Tribes were gyuaranteed dead fish in the boat (habitat) got their attention as habitat protection kinda interferes with profit.

So, the conservation ethic was dropped and replaced with "You manage your half, we'll manage ours". The State also agreed not to take the Tribes to court. Now, they run the show. It's not all bad, because without the Tribes there would be no wild fish as the State has shown little interest in conservation.

Most of the hunters and anglers are older and have lived through at least some of the Boldt implementation. They have seen 50:50 go away and be replaced by something that isn't even publicly presented; at least not clearly. ESA has further complicated things, as has the burgeoning pinnipeds, and crashing SRKWs and other fish species.

The Agency made a choice, in the recession, to go strongly away from GF monies so that they could be used elsewhere and return to getting money from the hook and bullet crowd, DJ and PR plus the mitigation monies designed to replace harvest lost through dams and such. This loss of funding is occurring in many states. I think CA may be down by 50% or some such.

When I started, most employees hunted and/or fished. Opening Day was an "all hands work"; Fish folks covered and reported on all the lakes, Wildlife folks did check stations. Now? I'll bet that there are leaders in the Fish program who have not done an Opening Day, much less actually fish. The resource used to be more than a job.

The agency has a very difficult job because the majority of folks in WA don't fish. don't hunt, don't pay to support the Agency, but have strong opinions as to how conservation should be conducted. The Agency, I think, really doesn't know what to do. The Tribes are the main political force in the State; they can't be challenged. The agency depends on access to private lands for hunting, yet they can't provide programs that satisfy the landowners.


Edited by Rivrguy (08/06/19 08:18 PM)
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#1012838 - 08/13/19 07:19 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
This a rather long paper that myself and other long time fishing advocates came together to produce. It is about WDF&W use of rules and the habit that the agency has of avoiding public involvement. I think it will take multiple post. The pictures in the document I will not post and hopefully I get this readable with the formatting. If anyone wants a copy of the document just shoot a PM at me.


Using Grays Harbor and the Chehalis River as an example-


HOW THE PROCESS USED BY WDFW TO SET ANGLER SEASONS AND MANAGE FISHERIES FAILS THE PUBLIC AND THE RESOURCE

Introduction: This project is a joint effort by a group consisting of retired or former government fish managers or biologists and others with decades of experience in volunteer fisheries enhancement projects. The purpose of this paper is to review how rules that guide the fresh water angling public are utilized to govern and promote the public's access to freshwater game fish and salmon. Additionally, to showcase how past and present management decisions of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife ( WDF&W) can drastically influence or effect current angler opportunity set forth in annual season setting rules adopted by the Department. The subject is a complex issue governed by state law that is applicable to all regions of the state of Washington. While anticipating that the public will recognize similar conditions exist in their areas throughout the state, we have chosen to address the subject by utilizing examples within the Chehalis River Basin. The 2019 closure of the Chehalis River to all fishing was the catalyst for this paper, which is intended to simplify the process in an effort to assist the average citizen in understanding the impacts that decisions made by WDFW, has on recreational fishing opportunities throughout the state.

Permanent rule process: After laws are passed by the state Legislature and signed by the Governor, they are compiled in the Revised Code of Washington (RCWs) and commonly referred to as “statutes”. The statutes often provide authority to a Department to adopt “Rules” to carry out the intent of those laws. Adopted rules carry the weight of law and are filed as Washington Administrative Code and commonly referred to as “WACs”.

WACs (fishing seasons) are adopted by WDFW under the Washington’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The APA sets out exactly what steps an agency has to follow to adopt rules. Different processes are provided for different kinds of rules. The same basic process is used to adopt, amend, or repeal a rule. It has three formal steps requiring public notice and opportunity to comment: 1) Notice of intent to change, adopt, or repeal a rule (CR101), 2) the proposed new or revised rule language (CR102) followed by a public hearing providing stakeholders an opportunity to comment, and 3) if adopted, the language of the rule is filed with the Code Reviser (CR103). The CR103 must be accompanied by a “Concise Explanatory Statement” (CES) that shows the rationale of the Department and the public comments it received during the process.

Emergency Rule Exception: The exception is what is known as the “emergency rulemaking process,” commonly known as simply an Emergency Rule. Emergency rules are used significantly by WDFW to close or open fisheries each year. Use of an emergency rule is limited by the APA and can only be used “If an agency for good cause finds:
(a) That immediate adoption, amendment, or repeal of a rule is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and that observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest;
(b) That state or federal law or federal rule or a federal deadline for state receipt of federal funds requires immediate adoption of a rule;

Emergency rules do not require public notice or hearing. They usually take effect when filed with the Code Reviser. Emergency rules can remain in effect for up to 120 days after filing. An agency can re-file the emergency rule if the agency has started the permanent rulemaking process.

While the APA sets a rather high standard for using the emergency rule option, WDF&W staff uses the process nearly daily during fishing seasons even if the “emergency” is created by WDF&W staff, either by failing or by intention, to be prepared to perform within the timelines of the normal rule process required. Issues long ignored and not addressed can be expected to create the same “emergency” year after year.

The most important thing for a citizen to recognize is that the Emergency Rule allows an agency staffer within WDF&W to create law (season rule) that can result in fines, forfeiture of personal property or even imprisonment without any public input, participation, or oversight.

Salmon and Game Fish, Two different processes: WDF&W uses two very different processes for season setting for game fish and salmon. For game fish every two years the rules are opened for review and change with the off year being one of small or incidental adjustment. An honest assessment of this process is that average citizen cannot and will not have much of an effect on any particular rule. It requires someone representing an organization of substantial influence or has contacts within the agency structure to support and help with the effort.

For salmon, WDF&W utilizes a totally different approach. Each year state, federal and tribal fishery managers gather to plan the Northwest's recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. This pre-season planning process is generally known as the "North of Falcon" (NOF) process, which involves a series of public meetings involving recreational and commercial interests appointed to “adviser committees” and the public at large around the state. Numerous private meetings are held behind closed doors wherein WDFW, tribal co-managers, and other federal agencies meet out of the sight of the public. As you will see shortly, it is important to note that NOF is not the process wherein seasons are set in a WAC. It is the APA process that sets the actually season and most of that activity is not known to the public who are constantly directed by WDFW to NOF proceeding when inquiring about input into seasons.

The North of Falcon planning process coincides with the March and April meetings of the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PMFC), the federal authority responsible for setting ocean salmon seasons from 2.5 out to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. In addition to the two PFMC meetings, the states of Washington and Oregon and the Treaty Tribes sponsor additional meetings to discuss alternative fishing seasons that meet conservation and allocation objectives. Fishery managers generally refer to the entire set of pre-season meetings as North of Falcon (NOF). The name refers to Cape Falcon in northern Oregon, which marks the southern border of active management for Washington salmon stocks.

In this time frame WDF&W utilizes the same NOF process to set the terminal bay and river salmon season. Open to the public and utilizing Advisers selected by the Director, meetings are held by regional staff around the state for a preseason forecast presentation and preliminary discussions about possible seasons that year. In accordance to the APA process outlined previously, following the preliminary discussions, the public is supposed to have input into development of the seasons that are to be set forth in the CR 102 that will be scheduled for public hearings. Many argue such is not the case as the seasons have already been announced at the PMFC meeting, posted on the Federal Register, and inserted into the season pamphlet and sent over to the printer prior to the filing of the CR102. Since the season shown in the CR102 has already been adopted and published, few bother to provide comments or attend hearings on the CR102. The Concise Explanatory Statements filed with the adoption of the season WAC often state the Department received receive little, if any, input from the public leaving the impression the public didn’t really care about fishing seasons. As an example, the CES in 2018 stated: “No verbal and/or written comments were submitted during this comment period or at any of the public hearings.”

This year WDF&W changed the CR 102 hearing format to include both game fish and salmon seasons in one CR 102 with hearings at different locations in the state. The effect of this action is confusion on the public’s part as commenting on the entire state game fish and salmon rules effectively dilute a citizen’s ability to address a local issue in a meaningful way.

The Fishing Pamphlet Fiasco: While recognizing that WDF&W staff is not clairvoyant and management is a tough job, the Departments reliance on last minute changes to the season using Emergency Rules confuses the public and discourages fishing. In many cases, adoption of an Emergency Rule is appropriate but just as often the Emergency Rule is simply used as a tool to avoid interaction and accountability with the public. To compound the problem, WDF&W sends out press releases and posts on its website Emergency Rules which change day to day. The following steps are required for a game or salmon fisher each day before taking out a rod to find out what the rules are for particular stream as the pamphlet may or may not reflect the current rules in place. If you do not have a smart phone or computer you must call the WDF&W hotline. Using a smart phone or computer you must do the following.


• You must go to WDF&W's website here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/
• You must then choose fishing and shell fishing: https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing
• You must then choose Emergency Rule Changes https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations
• You must then choose Fresh water rules: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/
• You must choose river or stream: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/freshwater_select.h
• You must choose: https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_freshwater_river.j?body_of_water_id=1100

The unnecessary use of Emergency Rules as a means to avoid public input is a violation of trust between WDF&W and citizens and contrary to the intent of the APA. This use also removes from scrutiny issues that require long term well vetted out solutions. WDF&W’s reliance on Emergency Rules and its refusal to allow outside ideas into the process has denied the Department and the public meaningful resolutions.

Example 1: This year, WDF&W utilized two Emergency Rules to close the Chehalis River , which is the second largest watershed in the state to all recreational fisheries for conservation of Spring Chinook. Protection of the low number of returning Chehalis Spring Chinook was appropriate but the reliance upon Emergency Rules is short sighted in that it does not address the issue over the long term. A better approach in our view is to develop options that can be used that are easily understood and accepted to protect the Springers without shutting down recreational fishing for other species throughout the basin.

Additionally such options should take into account that similar circumstances exist for other salmon stocks in the Chehalis as with Fall Chinook. Broodstocking efforts in the 1990's found that when capturing Chehalis Fall Chinook that the male's survival was above expectations but female Chinook at times was near zero. The cause in the end was determined to be the females physical condition was poor due to the needs required for egg development and warm water temperatures. The risk factor was drastically reduced with the cooler water temperatures in October allowing efforts to resume within the Fall Chinook staging areas. In reviewing how to structure rules that both protect the fish and angling public we utilized the Skagit rule as template to accomplish both. These gear restrictions both protect the fish and allow common sense angling effort.


May 1 to August 1 the Chehalis River from 101 Bridge located at Aberdeen upstream to South Elma Bridge. May 1 to October 15 South Elma Bridge upstream.

"Selective gear rules, except anglers fishing for sturgeon must use bait. Anglers may not use hooks that measure larger than 1/2" from point to shank except anglers fishing for sturgeon may use single -point hooks of any size."

As an example of things not considered for the Chehalis Closure, back of the envelope calculations would indicate that game fish seasons as we have discussed here would have minimal impacts on Chinook. With the “new and improved WDFW web site” we cannot find any of the old sport catch reports so for this example I'm going to assume that the recreational target spring Chinook fishery was able to catch 10% of the in-river run. With a salmon season closure and the banning of bait with the small hook size it would not be unreasonable to assume at least a 75% reducing in Chinook encounters. Thus reducing encounters to 2.5% of the run.

Generally the co-managers assume a 10% release mortality lowering the impacts to 0.25%. However, utilizing a bait ban and barbless, we should expect a further decrease in the release mortality. As an example, in the recent 2017 co-manager Puget Sound Chinook Plan the table of non-landed mortalities show that in the Buoy 10 fishery requiring the use of barbless hooks lowered the release mortality from 10% to 8%). I think one could expect that the combined requirement of no bait and barbless hooks would reduce the release mortality by at least 50% (maybe as much as 90% that is found in trout fisheries). Reducing that 0.25% impacts to 0.125%.


It has been noted that once the Chinook have been in freshwater and their scales have set they become much more durable. A couple examples are Skagit summer Chinook captured up river for brood stock with drift gill nets, transferred to the hatchery and held through spawning over a 10 year period showed an annual mortality of only 2%. The Stillaguamish Tribe collects Chinook brood stock using seines in river and in even the elevated temperatures typically have a capture to spawning mortality of 10% - in both cases well below mortality rates expected in marine or estuary fisheries. Further in a upper river bright Chinook brood stock capture program using sport gear (above tri-cities) had a capture to spawning mortality of 2.5% agree well with the 2% mortality in Canadian brood stock captures on the upper Fraser river using sport gear. Again it might not be unreasonable once the Chinook have become "water hardened" based on this information to see an additional reduction in handling mortality by 2/3 reducing our impacts to 0.084%.


Often rules have good intentions addressing a state wide issue but are simply ill conceived for some streams. This seems the case for the substantial use of Emergency Rules by WDF&W which avoid public input. An excellent example is the recent Chehalis River closure and the closure several years ago when after a full marine season, tribal netting, and commercial non tribal netting WDFW closed the Chehalis River and tribs except small reaches for conservation. Not only is this completely unfair to the terminal angler, the reality is in the Chehalis Basin it is not unusual for the runs to be outside what the harvest model timing predicts. Also, it normally rains the first week in November resulting in what is known as a brown out with drastically increased flows and huge portion of the runs moving in mass. During this time debris and conditions do not lend themselves to commercial or recreational fisheries and the Chehalis Basin makes escapement. Emergency Rules should only be used as a last resort and never as a means evade public input and not to mirror reactions to problems in other streams in the state that are not present in the Chehalis.

Example 2: To further explore the use of rules and how this influences agency and citizen behavior, the Wynoochee River serves as an excellent example. Currently WDF&W has two hatchery game fish programs on the Wynoochee River which are a sport angler Summerrun Steelhead and Wynoochee Dam Winter Steelhead mitigation production. Broodstock are taken at the dam trap and from the Aberdeen Lake Hatchery which is serviced by a pipeline from the Wynoochee River, prodigy reared. Smolt are trucked from the hatchery and planted at various locations from river mile 8 to 50 which is the trap downstream from the dam. The upper reaches of the river above White Bridge mile 16 has very limited public access and is mostly accessed by drift boat fishers. Below mile 16 and particularly below mile 11 and 8 has the greatest public access.

The Summerrun Steelhead program has the best cost benefit ratio of any hatchery program in the Chehalis Basin but it is not without issues. Anglers under the ruse of fishing for Summerrun targeted Fall Chinook for catch and release resulting in the following regulations in the upper reaches of the river.

7400 Line Bridge (337) ALL SPECIES Aug. 16-Sept. 15 Single-point barbless hooks required.
Sept. 16-Nov. 30 Bait prohibited. Single-point barbless hooks required.

TROUT Sat. before Memorial Day- Mar. 31 Statewide min. size/daily limit, except cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout: min. size 14".
OTHER GAME FISH Sat. before Memorial Day-Mar. 31 Statewide min. size/daily limit.


END PAGE 6


Edited by Rivrguy (08/13/19 10:32 AM)
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Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012840 - 08/13/19 07:24 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
PAGE 7

As a rule this is reasonable but fails to bring forth agency actions that if did not create the Fall Chinook impacts most certainly exacerbated it. Summerrun and Winter Steelhead smolt are planted at miles Dam Fish trap 50, 7400 line bridge 30, White Bridge 16, Industrial Intake 11, Black Creek 8. The reach of the river below Industrial Intake at mile 11 has substantial public access and the further upstream one goes access is greatly reduced. Logically the vast majority of the Summerrun Steelhead would be planted at river miles 8 and 11 but in 2019 only 19000 smolt were planted with an additional 16250 at mile 16. The upper reaches of the river with the least amount of public access received 29900. By utilizing the upper reaches planting sites to service a small portion of the angling community reduces the overall public angling quality. This is a short sighted rational as the returning adults will continue to work their way upstream but the fishes natural behavior is to return to the areas planted and stage up for some time before slowly working their way upstream. By planting the Summerrun Steelhead smolts at river miles 8 and 11 greater angler access and harvest would be achieved yet still create angler opportunity upstream be it later in the season.

Genetic cross breeding with the hatchery Summerrun Steelhead is not an issue as the Wynoochee River, or any other stream in the Chehalis Basin, does not have a native or composite natural Summerrun Steelhead stock. Genetic cross over is not a concern as Summer Steelhead run spawn first part of December, while Wynoochee Winter Steelhead start spawning late January. Also after many years of Summerrun Steelhead plants fishers seldom catch an unmarked Steelhead in the Summerrun Steelhead season. Simply put the Summerrun Steelhead stock utilized by the Aberdeen Lake Hatchery is many generations away from natural spawning and has a very low to zero success rate spawning in the river naturally.

This a excellent example of good intensions gone wrong with very viable hatchery program then requiring a rule that addresses it which in this case was a small percentage of anglers harassing Fall Chinook. The rule referenced prior is appropriate but the failure to address the short comings of the hatchery planting sites compounds the problem. It is the planting site selection that created the problem by creating the expanded opportunity in the upstream reaches where the ability to monitor and enforce regulations is the most difficult.

Example 3: The Wynoochee Winter Steelhead program is a mitigation production required for the Wynoochee Dam. Brood are taken at the trap and transported to Aberdeen Lake Hatchery, held & spawned, fry reared to smolt, then planted into the Wynoochee River at river miles Dam Fish trap 50, 7400 line bridge 30, White Bridge 16, Industrial Intake 11, Black Creek 8. Due to facility limitations the mitigation does not utilize 100% native but rather the early returning composite portion heavily influenced by years of mitigation production. The mitigation Winter Steelhead do crossbreed with the natural composite and remaining portion of the Native Wynoochee Winter Steelhead run.

The use of the release sites are perfect examples of agency efforts to produce substantial angler opportunity gone wrong. Genetic considerations should require that all the Wynoochee Mitigation Winter Steelhead be released at the Dam Fish trap at mile 50 so that the returning adults can be captured at the trap and prevented from interbreeding with the natural Winter Steelhead population. In 2019 43,000 Winter Steelhead smolt were released at mile 50 Fish Trap with the remaining 89,150 smolt dispersed at the planting sites downstream. While creating angling opportunity to what degree is questionable. If released at mile 50 the fish would all pass through the lower reaches but not stage up which does reduce angler harvest somewhat.

Examples 2 and 3 are stark examples of agency actions that in the desire to achieve angler opportunity directed toward specific reaches of the river and a small portion of the angling public also created and exacerbated the need for a rule to protect another species. That by doing this creates genetic concerns within the Wynoochee Winter Steelhead natural population that are not acceptable.

Example4: Rules can create opportunity In many areas of the state opportunities exist for the for smaller quality fisheries. The process WDF&W utilizes inhibits the development of these fisheries as WDF&W focus is on large fisheries with many anglers compressed into a very narrow time frame. A prime example of this is the East Fork Satsop River. The Satsop River trout and salmon fisheries are well established with salmon limited to the mainstem to the closure line at Schafer State Park which is located at river mile 11. From River mile 11 to river mile 17.5 near Bingham Creek Hatchery the following game fish rules apply but the river is closed to salmon angling except for a 400 ft reach below the hatchery which anglers with disabilities can utilize.

From bridge at Schafer State Park upstream to 400' below Bingham Creek Hatchery dam (329)
ALL SPECIES TROUT Sat. before Memorial Day- Oct. 31
Aug. 16-Oct. 31 Night closure. Single-point barbless hooks required.
Statewide min. size/daily limit, except cutthroat trout and wild
Rainbow trout: min. size 14".
OTHER GAME FISH Sat. before Memorial Day- Oct. 31 Statewide min. size/daily limit.

The opportunity here is that a specialized fishery fly salmon fishery that can be created that is low risk and caters to a limited segment of angling community. As a general rule this would be something that most anglers should not support with good cause. The difference is the East Fork Satsop is very rural, has a private road open to the public that parallels the river, private residences are few and scattered, and river flows through timber land, and has a substantial hatchery Coho run that returns to Bingham Hatchery. Simply put an angler is going to hike to the river to fish or utilize a small pontoon craft to float down stream which would be an adventure in itself. One of the casualties of the population growth in Washington State is rural quality isolated fisheries. Not wilderness but something as close as one can get that requires substantial effort and is very rewarding to those who undertake such endeavors. The East Fork Satsop concept is lacking data but data would not show the Coho harvested are hatchery Coho just a few miles from being clubbed in the head, thrown in a tote, and shipped out as surplus at Bingham Hatchery.

For Law Enforcement abuse by the angling public is a concern for some agency staff but frankly is unwarranted. Snagging with a fly rod is not very productive and those who do poach would have difficulty claiming a treble hook with two ounces of lead attached is fly fishing. Another issue would be spawning Chinook which are present but are fully staged up and holding or spawning. They can be encountered by a fly fisher but seldom as bait is normally needed. Bait normally used to catch Chinook in the reaches below Schafer Park is roe, shrimp, combinations of both, plugs with a herring wrap or spinners. Another factor is the reality that fly fishers are more or less purist and of all the harvesters which includes commercial, recreational, and tribal fishers. The fly fishing portion of the angling public is the least prone to violating fishing or conservation rules. The added benefit is the average angler detest poachers and with cell phones have the ability to help Law Enforcement as more eyes on the water is a huge deterrent to poaching of salmon or game fish.

I'm sure another "concern" raised is more money will be needed for enforcement. It seems like every time changes that might liberalize things are considered enforcement costs come up as a fall back concern. This seems especially prevalent when co-managers are involved. To be able to counter that possibility, another area to get information (and based on previous requests unless the data collection/availability has been improved) would be to ask for the LE history on fishing tickets written/successfully prosecuted in the basin and what charges were filed (i.e. no license, illegal take to include snagging, out of season, illegal gear, species taken, etc.) and how many license suspensions have been handed out.

Over the years, it's been our impression that some in the Dept do not trust the sport angler and restrictions are a way to control what probably isn't happening. It's been our experience that most folks will try to do the right thing and if they make a mistake, it can be attributed to "being dumb in public" for not keeping up with the regulations, which isn't easy with the emergency closures/changes that are often dropped on folks. Somewhere around 60% of the cases are this kind. The "bad guys" can be broken down into two classes. Intentional (30%) and those with more of a commercial intent or just plain bad (10%). The 10% need to be removed from the field. The 30% will change their actions with appropriate handling. The 60% probably won't do the same thing again.

If WDF&W processes allowed a reasonable change that could implement a fly fishing area on the East Fork Satsop the best time frame would be October 15 to December 31. Coho bag limit to be determined and in the month of December would require release wild unclipped fish as this is the timing of the late timed wild Coho mixed with the hatchery late timed Coho. Chinook release under all circumstances.

Rules can be used to create opportunity where none exist at little or no cost and have substantial benefit. It is the failure of WDF&W to utilize its Advisers and knowledgeable members of the public that has limited the development of opportunities in many streams.

Example 5: Rules are angler opportunity, angler opportunity are rules, and both are driven by past decisions that the public is not aware of creating false expectations The Skookumchuck Dam and the mitigation required for the lost natural production is perfect example of what happens when WDF&W actions are implemented without public knowledge.

Built by a private power company its purpose was to be a source of water for the coal fired power plant near Centralia but it also provides substantial flood control to the downstream residents in the twin city area. In development of the mitigation required the view put forth within Washington Department of Game (WDG) and Washington Department of Fisheries (WDF), this was prior to the combing of the two agencies, that only Coho and Winter Steelhead were needed was the view that prevailed. WDF determined that Spring Chinook mitigation was not required as the augmented cooler water temperatures would create ideal spawning and rearing conditions producing adults for a vibrant recreational fishery. This would result in any hatchery supplementation of Spring Chinook not being needed in the future for harvest or conservation. One could argue the recent closure of the Chehalis River and up river tributaries for low Spring Chinook that this is not the outcome. Also the vast majority of the public were not aware then or now that this was the decision of WDF.

The two agencies then took two different approaches to mitigation. For Steelhead WDG had constructed a conditioning pond, visible in the photograph, and invested the remaining funds provided for mitigation in a out of the river basin facility to rear steelhead prodigy to near smolt and then place them in the conditioning pond for a period of time prior to release.

WFW utilized the Coho mitigation funds to build rearing ponds at what is now Bingham Hatchery on the East Fork of the Satsop. These ponds are located near the staff residences utilizing pumped water from the East Fork and were seldom used. Then in a bit of a book keeping gimmickry WDF included the Skookumchuck Coho mitigation into hatchery's existing production and released mitigation smolt from the facility into the East Fork of the Satsop. This method of producing the Skookumchuck Mitigation Coho went forward until the early 1990's
when a group of citizen advocates became aware of the requirement that the Coho mitigation be released above the Chehalis Tribal reservation located near Oakville. To resolve the issue rather than have it litigated the Deputy Director instead opted for a volunteer and agency partnership. The agency would release 100k at the Skookumchuck Rearing Pond, Onalaska School aquaculture program 52k on the Newaukum, and the remaining smolt from a volunteer operated site on 8 Creek in the upper Chehalis. This partnership continues to this day but some have expressed concerns that the release totals is short of 300k required by the mitigation agreement.

Example 6: How legislative intent and harvest opportunity, both non treaty and tribal, is limited or removed by WDF&W actions out of the public view effect Chehalis River harvest If one was to ask the average citizen what is the purpose of the Skookumchuck Hatchery most think it is part of mitigation for the dam and that is absolutely 100% incorrect. During the tenure of Governor Dan Evans a package of hatchery improvements and additions state wide was approved by the legislature. For the Chehalis Basin it provided for the additions of Satsop Springs on the East Fork Satsop and the Skookumchuck rearing ponds. Both had one defining characteristic, very low operating cost. Satsop Springs is spring fed and operated for a few years then was abandoned by WDF. In the late 1980's local volunteers rebuilt the facility and assumed operations that continue to the present time and are part of the Chehalis Basin Regional Fishery Enhancement Group's programs.

The Skookumchuck water source is the dam reservoir which is delivered to the hatchery via a pipeline. With a very low operating cost it is one of the premier salmon rearing facilities in Washington State.

It was not closed but rather WDF redirected the facilities production toward producing fish for South Puget Sound, primarily the Squaxin Net Pens. In recent years the facility has been modified and upgraded for some local production but is primarily producing salmon smolt for South Puget Sound. In 2018 WDFW transferred 1,650,000 eyed eggs SKYKOMISH R 07.0012 stock from Marblemount Hatchery, reared and shipped 810,000 smolt for South Sound Net Pens and 710,000 for the Squaxin Net Pens. After ocean harvest upper Chehalis River Coho releases return at approximately 2% of the smolt reaching adulthood. For Grays Harbor fishers this is a loss to Chehalis Basin of around 30,400 returning adults. If one considers the nearly 1,000,000 smolt reduction of Coho production at Bingham & Satsop Springs hatcheries which average 3% smolt to adult return to Grays Harbor, the loss of adults for harvest the grows to over 60,000 hatchery Coho adults in an average year.

In many meetings the word opportunity frequently used but the truth is opportunity without harvestable fish is a hike to the river or boat ride. Rules provide you the opportunity to pursue catching a salmon but if the fish available to catch have been drastically reduced without public knowledge it is betrayal of the public trust. In the Chehalis River the most likely target of recreational anger is tribal fisheries yet the tribal fisher has lost opportunity just as the recreational angler has. Rules can and are used by WDF&W to create false expectations of harvest opportunity as the citizen angler perceptions is based upon past success that may or may not represent the opportunities that presently exist.

Example 7: Actions & rules made in the past seldom keep current with change The Grays Harbor Bay fishery is an example rules made to address circumstances that existed at the time implemented but circumstances have changed over time. When WDF&W put in place the Grays Harbor Bay recreational fisheries the Humptulips hatchery production was vastly greater than at the present. It was not supposed to negatively affect traditional commercial or fresh water recreational fisheries only provide additional opportunity. To accomplish this the Humptulips River was separated from the Chehalis for the purpose of harvest management as escapement goals of one stream often restricted the other for harvest and by separating the two streams this issue was removed. It is our understanding that this action was taken without the co-managers concurrence and is not recognized to this day by the co-managers which still manage harvest within the aggregate of harvestable in both streams for harvest per the Boldt decision.

When the Humptulips hatchery was sited its primary purpose was to supplement the available ocean Coho harvest pool. The Humptulips River was a modest Coho producer that enters the bay separately from the mainstem Chehalis River. Lacking a weir straying was acceptable at the time as genetic damage was limited to this stock as it was a minor portion of the Chehalis Basin as a whole and hatchery straying was limited to the Humptulips River.

The implementation of the Hatchery Scientific Review Group ( HSRG ) created new standards for hatchery production and the Grays Harbor Management Policy ( GHMP ) created a frame work for harvest in the non treaty fisheries. These factors dramatically altered the reality of how harvest is to be managed presently than it was at the time the Grays Harbor Bay recreational fishery was implemented as now the Humptulips River was to be managed as a standalone stream rather than part of the Chehalis Basin. These actions dictated a reduction in hatchery Coho production to limit straying, budget cuts, and in recent years the investment in installation of Stevens Creek pipeline to better attract returning adults.

HSRG standards while well thought out often do not address hatchery and wild spawning populations in a pragmatic manner. With the substantial straying of hatchery Coho since the 1970's the Humptulips Coho natural population was simply a hatchery fish with a fin. Interbreeding between the hatchery and wild production resulted that genetically both were the same fish be it as stated prior one has a fin and the other is clipped. While HSRG objectives are admirable how they were applied in the Humptulips is questionable as to recovery of the natural production, which is driven by the decision to separate the Humptulips River from the rest of the Chehalis Basin to create a new rule for angler opportunity.

Coho are resilient creatures and when the time comes and the Humptulips hatchery ceases to operate within three generations the fish will sort themselves out and some level of natural production will be present be it genetically very similar or the same as the existing hatchery production. Natural selection processes, if harvest is managed properly, in 20 to 30 generations will create a true wild naturally produced Coho run in the Humptulips River is an absolute fact but at what cost? The only reason that the straying in the Humptulips River required such action was the separation by WDF&W staff of the two rivers to enable a recreational bay fishery. While this action can be viewed favorably or unfavorably it had little to do with the genetic health of the Humptulips Coho. That with the implementation of HSRG and the GHMP harvest guidelines WDF&W did little to nothing to address of the division of the two watersheds driven by the desire by past staff to create a recreational harvest opportunity in the bay.

The unintended consequences of this rule making exercise have been huge with the passing of time, some positive some not. The area in the bay adjacent to Westport has been permanently closed to the recreational angler to protect the Humptulips wild Coho which is in reality a hatchery Coho with a fin. The GHMP the area of the bay adjacent to the Humptulips River has a designated percentage of harvest impacts for both Coho and Chinook that is proportional with the fresh water angler and non treaty commercial fisher. From the Johns River mouth due North to the Brackenridge Tripod is the West boundary of what is now know as Area 3 that ends East or upstream, at the Highway 101 Bridge located in Aberdeen.


Edited by Rivrguy (08/13/19 10:34 AM)
_________________________
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012842 - 08/13/19 07:29 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 3246
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
While designated as Area 3 by WDF&W and the GHMP in reality it is two distinctly different fisheries. Separated by Rennie Island the South channel, commonly known as Johns River, is natural channel with modest tidal surges. The North Channel is a deep dredged channel to accommodate ships to Port of Grays Harbor and subject to strong tidal influences.

As distinctly different as the two channels are so is the manner salmon and recreational fishers utilize them. Coho travel the North Channel from the Eastern Johns River boundary of Area 3 with some Chinook but do not hold or stage but simply move right upstream. The North Channel fishers are primarily local small boat fishers targeting Coho and this fishery is commonly called a mom & pop fishery. The Johns River channel is just the opposite as mostly Chinook travel this route with some Coho both do have a tendency to hold before the continuing upstream. This fishery is primarily fishers from outside the local area, is utilized by those with larger boats, and is the premier Chinook catch and release fishery on the Washington Coast.

Both these fisheries are governed by the GHMP 5% of the run size impact limiter for all non treaty fishers and WDF&W opens and closes both areas at the same time. The issue is simply sooner or later the Coho run will be down which would limit both sides of Rennie Island even though the Southern Johns River side is primarily a Chinook fishery. In a year of a depressed Chinook runs it would limit the North Channel mom & pop fishery even though Chinook impacts would be very minimal. Both these fisheries are excellent for the anglers but the North Channel Coho fisheries opens later than the Chehalis mainstem fisheries as the South Channel Chinook impact governs both. The manner in which Chinook move through the South Channel is such that the low release mortality is simply about as good as it gets. It could be reduced further by requiring bait with barbless hooks and requiring that the fish not be netted but rather cut the leader for release. In the North Channel the fish are just a few miles out of the ocean and moving resulting in a very low release mortality.

When this concept was briefly brought forward by a Grays Harbor Adviser the staffer lamented he did not have any data. True but WDF&W did not have data on the effects of separating the Humptulips from the Chehalis to manage harvest. It did not have data when it implemented the GH Bay fishery. Data and statistics can be used to help a process or used as shield for WDF&W to do nothing. In the GHMP is a provision called 4 / 3 which requires 3 days a calendar week for the Chehalis River to be net free. Deeply disliked by WDFW Region 6 staff and non treaty gillnetters it prevents 7 days a week gill netting and guarantees equitable harvest sharing for the inland communities and Chehalis Tribe. It also is a major safety net preventing over harvest of the fish. Any error in an estimate of Coho harvest would be more than covered until data could be developed.

For the South Channel the GHMP has a directive that if a stock fails to make escapement 3 out of 5 years harvest is limited to 5% of the runsize and Chehalis Chinook are under this provision. Again any error in an estimate of angler impacts would more than covered protecting escapement objectives. The fact is that CWT's estimate 50% of Grays Harbor harvestable Chinook are harvested prior to entering Washington waters, NOAA estimates the number could be as high as 86% of harvestable Grays Harbor Chinook if all associated impacts are calculated in. Terminal it is only the Quinault Nation fishers that have directed harvest of Chinook. The Chehalis River recreational and non treaty commercial fishers have the least impact of any harvester on Chinook a fact the lack of data argument conveniently ignores.

Reality is in this case data is being used as a shield to inhibit and deny innovation .The purpose of using the Grays Harbor Bay fishery as an example is simply this, rules can be proactive. By using a well known and established standard accepted by the angling public years of depressed runs does not need to totally remove angling opportunity. Rules can be flexible and the rules making process does not need to be a hidden secret but rather opportunity to protect both the fish and recreational anglers. Emergency Rules are seldom proactive but rather reactive to circumstances of the moment and are often used to avoid APA and OPMA requirements to engage the public. In these days of declining revenue for WDF&W and the lost of trust with the angling public WDF&W should build bridges within the angling public rather than continue to offend the angling public on every manner imaginable. There need not be a Emergency Rule closure for the Chehalis River to protect Spring Chinook but rather a rules modification that was outlined prior in this paper that protects both Spring and Fall Chinook.

Let's be honest here; the agency is facing an active revolt from long time anglers that are fed up with the continuing reduction in opportunities. Many of those anglers are taking their recreational dollars out of state which ultimately will compound the agency budget problems. The agency is in dire need for a paradigm change that preserves opportunity not take it away.

Solutions and opportunities exist but the question is whether or not WDF&W have the will to look at another way of doing business. That question still begs an answer.


Acknowledgement- As the “prime author”, I would like to recognize the effort and values provided by all of those who contributed to the creation of this paper. If they had not invested their time to share their educational knowledge and personal experiences on the water, this project could never have been completed.
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Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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#1012856 - 08/13/19 12:59 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
bushbear Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 08/26/02
Posts: 4608
Loc: Sequim
Thank you, Dave, for your efforts in putting the information together.

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