is salmon fishing so poor? We have about 50 different things going on that
effect salmon returns or lack of. One of the biggest factors that no one
ever hears or talks about is marine survival or ocean conditions. This is
the health of the ocean where our salmon and steelhead live. They require a
special diet to thrive. Early in life they need the correct planktons and
krill to get them started. When the ocean is cool, these thrive. When the
ocean is warm or even hot as it was recently with the warm water blob, the
wrong planktons thrive and the ones needed for salmon die off and not
produce. The wrong ones are what make jellyfish thrive and not the food web
needed for our young salmon. This is not healthy fish and the returns that
are the survivors.
If you look at the
included graph, it is from 1998 to 2020. On the bottom row is a summary
that shows how healthy the ocean was for our salmon. You can track back 4-7
years from a good return and see what the ocean health was for our salmon
when they made it to start their life cycle in our Pacific Ocean and the
following years. They need to feed well early in life to be a healthy fish.
Green is good, yellow is fair, red is poor. 2001-2003 were the best ocean
fishing years in my life where we caught more 30-50 pound kings in recent
If you look at
2015-2017 these are the worst ocean conditions in a row since 1998 on the
chart. This does not bode well for the salmon. Look at how many red factors
in those rows. But the good news is that the ocean right now is colder than
it has been in years. During those same years, our fish came back to deadly
hot river conditions. I remember the Stillaguamish Kings had gone up the
river and were held up in the deepest hole on the river. Enforcement had to
run people swimming out of there, to not exhaust the fish, so that the run
would not perish. Some river waters hit 80 degrees and salmon can die in
70+ degree water. It was a double whammy on our fish.
lose a ton of our natural spawners from the river
due to floods and channelizing of rivers that are left washing the egg beds
out. The small percentage that do make it out have a gauntlet of seals,
birds, sealions and other predators to get
through to get to the ocean to try to grow and come back to spawn.
You won't hear much about this as this does not help the "Salmon
Recovery Industry" get funding. There is not much we can do about
this. We can recover our salmon with common sense and one reason hatcheries
do better than natural spawners, is the
controlled environment they start life in. No floods to wash out the egg
beds. Lets pray for
continued cold water for a series of years in our oceans to bring back our
salmon runs. Lack of returning fish is what is killing our fisheries. Next
battle has to be predators as we have hatcheries starting to pump out fish
for the time being to feed more predators. 33 million smoltscant make it to the salt
due to predations that cannot be ignored. Please educate your legislators on
rebuilding our salmon runs instead of blaming another user group. That has
got us nowhere. Many of you might wander why we
work with the tribes and its simple. They are
helping us increase hatchery production. With out
hatcheries, our fish runs are gone. I am glad that people are finally
seeing that. The ocean returns this year are looking great again. Last year
was the best in years. The cycles are starting to change back to better.
The Puget Sound returns cannot be far behind. Join your local PSA
Chapter. We should be returning back to face to face meetings soon.
Did you know that some yelloweye
rockfish that are here today were Washington residents before it became a
state in 1889? They have been and continue to be an important part of our
Halibut and bottomfish
fishing have also been a part of Washington’s culture for hundreds of years.
Many generations of fishermen have relied on halibut and bottomfish
for food and recreation.
A recent stock assessment indicates that the yelloweye rockfish population has declined over 80% from
its initial level. As a result, immediate action must be taken if the
stocks of these long-lived fish are to be rebuilt.
To rebuild yelloweye
rockfish populations, the harvest opportunities for this species must be
severely curtailed. In recent years, the Pacific Fishery Management
Council has set yelloweye rockfish harvest levels
for all commercial, recreational, and tribal fisheries combined for
California, Oregon, and Washington of about 17 metric tons (mt). This number includes yelloweye
rockfish that are discarded at sea.
The Washington recreational harvest target is about
2.7 mt (fewer than 1,000 fish) in coastal
waters. To put this in perspective, in 2001, the Washington
recreational fishery harvested 15 mt.
Halibut Fishery in Jeopardy
Yelloweye rockfish, in general, are
harvested during the Washington recreational halibut fishery. If the yelloweye rockfish catch is projected to exceed 2.7 mt, then Pacific ocean waters adjacent to Washington
outside 25 fathoms will be closed to recreational bottomfish
fishing (including halibut).
If yelloweye rockfish cannot be avoided when anglers are
targeting halibut, then we may have to close recreational halibut fishing in
the future to protect yelloweye rockfish.
Because the yelloweye rockfish stock may not be
rebuilt for over 100 years, the problem of managing the yelloweye
fishery will continue through our lifetime; however, you have the ability to
help save the halibut fishery now and preserve the yelloweye
resource for the future.
Yelloweye Rockfish Facts:
Live to be 120 years old
Range extends from Mexico to Alaska
Found in deeper, rocky bottom areas
Reddish-orange in color with bright yelloweye
Commonly called "red snapper"
Often spend their entire lifetime on one rockpile
You Can Help
If you are participating in the recreational halibut
or bottomfish fishery, please avoid areas
that are known to have yelloweye rockfish.
If you do accidentally catch a yelloweye,
please return to the water s soon as
Help spread the word to others about the severity of
the yelloweye rockfish depleted population
and the possible consequences of not avoiding yelloweye
If you do not know what areas may have yelloweye rockfish, please consult a local resort,
motel, or charter office or other expert before fishing