PSA State Board President Message for September by Ron Garner
I hope you had a great summer. Fishing has been the worst I can remember in many years. Crab and Shrimp were the highlight of the year. Fishing seemed very tough this year, especially salmon. Not only was the fishery tough, the lack of opportunity through our North of Falcon compounded those problems. The Puget Sound was tough and the ocean is usually easier, but this year it was spotty at best. Marine area 9 and 10 didn't seem to do well at all. Early morning quick bites turned into boat rides most of the rest of the day. If you missed the short window then most went home skunked. It appears that fish are getting by us and up the Columbia River and other areas without us catching them.
What I see is a shrinking salmon population for all. We are all fighting over the last fish with fewer produced each year. When are we gonna reevaluate our fisheries? We know that habitat is degraded and dams and or dykes have hurt our fisheries as well as too many predators taking out the salmon. Mother nature has been out of whack for a while not helping either. We are dedicated to trying to rebuild wild fish runs that are no longer the pure exact fish that were in these rivers historically. Over the last 100+ years our rivers have been replanted with fish from all over the state. There are very few pure wild fish left. We have changed hatchery practices immensely to not harm wild fish but yet we are making less and less fish each year. Is the Washington State Fishing Industry not important? Our hatchery systems generate $11 Billion for our state and yet it has not been handled respectfully with kid gloves like it should have. Hatcheries are being blamed for the decline in wild fish and it is mainly a sales tool for lawsuits. What I have seen in all of my studying is that lawsuits are suing using the result and not the effect. I wish I could get my hands on Tulalip Biologist Mike Crewson's Powerpoint that he showed at Senator Pearsons hearing in Olympia a couple of years ago. Wild Fish Conservancy had their turn, but Mikes PP really disproved their theory. His showed that all rivers health went up and down the graphs over the years and not just the localized rivers they sue over. It told the big picture story and disproved them. He also did his homework and showed where hatchery fish were pumped up in certain years/runs to aid in an ailing run. The opponent blamed the hatchery larger run for the reason the wild fish dropped off.
Many of us are very upset and concerned about our state fisheries. If hatchery fish are knocked off through lawsuits in non favorable conditions years, thinning down the remaining wild fish, the organizations suing will probably be issued more grants to fix the problems. Win-win for them while we sink with the ship.
If you Tuna fished this year, you know that the fishery was hottest in June and July. The amount of NW wind really cooled off the ocean near shore, which should have really helped with baitfish, up-welling, and Chinook. That water pushed the largest concentrations of tuna offshore out of range for most in the later seasons that aere normally when its the hottest. This year has been very strange indeed.
The MA6 and MA7W spot prawn fishery that WDFW granted double limits too did pretty well. If you took a lot of people with you expecting double limits for all, it was not likely to limit out. But if you had 3-4 people, 160 per person was achievable. The tides in those areas don't give you much time for many soaks.
Dungeness crab overall seemed to be another great fishery. I did it several times in home waters and was able to get nice big crab. Was very impressed with how this fishery has done in the last couple of years. I have to wonder if the crab doing so well has to do with the NW Straits removing so much derelict pots and nets? Yes, we still have our problem areas such as Southern Hood Canal and MA 13 that have their own set of problems.
Inner fishery problems are causing a big down turn in license sales, which now are the main funding source for WDFW. WDFW wants a big funding increase on licenses but they are not going to get the general public to pay the amount they would like to get. Our general public has lost so much opportunity that not only are they not going to pay more money but are going to buy less licenses which is going to equate to less fish in the hatcheries to catch. I am being told by many, why make them if we are not allowed to catch them. I met with the director at the last Wild Futures meeting in Mill Creek and told him that people are seeing less opportunity and are not going to back the fee increases. WDFW needs to put more opportunity out there to get the general public to support them. I also mentioned that until we stop in season management required upon us by the tribes at North of Falcon (tribes do not require it upon themselves) our fisheries will continue to close every time we start catching fish. This is a huge bomb we cannot live with. Send in the test boats and close our season within days of fishing getting good. The average salmon angler is furious and I dont think that is coming across.
It's time to start talking to your own personal legislators both representatives and senators to let them know how you feel. Tell them no more grants or funds should be supplied to those suing the state to shut down our fisheries. We also need more hatchery fish period. They are there to sustain the runs to mitigate for dams and habitat loss. They will listen to you but you have to talk to them. This is a requirement to keep us on the water. Boat sales this past year were down 31% and the only thing that can be attributed to is lack of fishing. I feel bad for all of the people relying on the fishing world. It's been a tough world for them.
Join your local PSA Chapter and support them. We are all in this together.
If enjoy Puget Sound and Snohomish River Coho fishing or enjoy helping enhance
recreational opportunities please read on!
I'm Kelli Mack from the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club. We took over a
private salmon hatchery back in 2009 and got it back into operational condition.
To date we have raised and released over 240,000 Coho into the Snohomish River
system and currently have 88,000 more on hand to release next spring.
The eyed-eggs we receive are surplus hatchery fish, which if not kept local,
would be sent away to distant fisheries. We keep these fish in their home river
system, enriching our catching opportunities.
Although it's functional the hatchery is in need upgrades to ensure the safety
of eggs, fry, and smolt as we nurture them along their life-cycle.
Please help by making a tax deductible contribution to the campaign Snohomish &
Puget Sound Coho Fishing Enhancement going on now on Indiegogo here: Coho
Hatchery Fundraiser Link
Coho fishing in 2013 was almost 8 times better than in 2010 according to a
comparison of creel checks at the Everett Public Ramp.
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 heritage.
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
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.
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.
Live to be 120 years old
Range extends from Mexico to Alaska
Found in deeper, rocky bottom areas
Slow growing,low productive species
Reddish-orange in color with bright yelloweye
Commonly called "red snapper"
Often spend their entire lifetime on one rockpile
How 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 possible.
Help spread the word to others about the severity of the
yelloweye rockfish depleted population and the possible
consequences of not avoiding yelloweye areas
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