Friday, August 28, 2009

Great, More Bad News for SW Washington's Chinook Fishery and Native Fish

For years I have driven by mostly and at times fished the lower stretches of the Kalama river for the ever dreaded white meat, stinking, quick to ripe and darken up Tule Chinook. This fish native to Southwest Washington and Lower Columbia River tribs get a bad wrap. Though these fish are not the quality or table fare of Spring Chinook, they are the bulk of the fishery that we have here in the part of the country and strong fighting fish. With this years escapement far exceeding the hatchery goals for the region, the powers that be want to eliminate them as soon as possible to prevent hatchery genes to spread to what little native gene pool is left. Now I understand this, probably more after reading the Araki report on the Genetic Effects of Captive Breeding, but what I also do not understand is why they want to prevent the guys paying for fishing licenses a chance to catch them.

At the same time with hatchery reform and fish hatcheries closing down on other Columbia River Tributaries, they plan on dumping more smolts in the Kalama. These smolts will compete with native salmon and steelhead in the river, thus decreasing their chances for juvenile survival. This will in theory increase the hatchery goals for future years for the Lower Columbia and ocean fishery. WTF! So not only will we loose native fish, but we also loose a vast majority of the fish for the sports anglers on the Kalama. Why don't they increase sports harvest of hatchery chinook or move the weir upstream so that more fish can be caught by sports anglers and native fish sorted out? Better yet, remove the hatchery fishery all together (will never happen on the K). This is a lose lose situation for us that want to prevent the loss of our native stocks as well as maintain this salmon fishery that our licenses help to pay for. Read more at The Daily News Online.

The irony I have is I do not specifically target Tule Chinook and the few that I have caught have been from bycatch while fishing for other species. Still this pisses me off that we are losing another fishery. Dollar signs run this fishery and we as sports fishers have little to say and a lot at stake. I am at least glad to hear that the carcasses are going to stream enhancement projects and to the local food banks.

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