Didn't want to take the original thread off on a tangent.
It's a pretty common assertion in these fisheries forums that drift nets kill fewer Kings than set nets do.... There have also been some arguments made that gill nets sized for Reds don't have a significant impact on King mortality.... I've read assertions that Kings just bump into set nets and then find their way around them without harm, or tear holes in them and go on their merry way....etc, etc. These assertions and assumptions have always bothered me because I have observations and experience to the contrary.
My questions are: Are any of these assertions at all grounded in scientific study? Are they perhaps based upon false assumptions? Are Red sized mesh net fishermen who perhaps spend most or all of their time fishing silty, opaque waters assuming they are not killing Kings because their experience is that they rarely find many caught in their nets? Has anyone ever actually put a camera in the water to observe salmon interacting with gillnet below the surface, or are all our assumptions based upon what we observe upon pulling our nets?
I have never been a set net fishermen per se. My comm-salmon experience is all as a Bristol Bay drift net fisherman. Although, we would often employ the tactic of running onto the beach to dry anchor the net and back off to hold a "set" drift net. (We occasionally went to extent that one of the crazier members of our crew would jump overboard and drag the net onto the beach, then swim back out to the boat, when we couldn't run in shallow enough to fish that last six inches of water). That being said, lots of the fishing there takes place in very clear green water wherein you can observe your net below the surface for quite some distance as you pull it into the boat. In those conditions I have observed countless dead Kings rolling free of the net and disappearing into the depths. Occasionally we would manage to salvage them with a super long gaff pole, and a few would manage to stay hung up long enough to make it over the roller, but lots of them were lost and wasted. Those were the ones we saw. How many didn't we see?
Whether we were fishing a "set" net grounded out on the beach on the North line at Egigik, or towing a freely drifting net in deep green water, we never seemed to incur any net damage attributable to Kings. The only times we ended up with any net damage to speak of was when we had seals working our net.
Common sense tells me that what I have observed in the clear water has to be applicable to the opaque water. So, in my mind it begs the question; how many Kings are we unknowingly killing and not accounting for, in the Kenai, and and every other drift/set net fishery in the State?
I alluded to this in anther Kenai thread some time ago and my comment was summarily ignored. Is this a hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil subject? Do we have our heads in the sand on this one?