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Thread: When did it get too rough to fish? Do we need a bigger test boat?

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    Default When did it get too rough to fish? Do we need a bigger test boat?

    What is the deal with the test boats the last couple of years? I am tired of not having index points when it counts. Yeah, it was crappy out there. Like it always during fishing season. I understand if some of the part-timers don't want to brave the weather, but I'm ready to suit up and go fishing. The drifters are likely going to get corridor time regardless, but as a setnetter I'm depending on the index points to know what's going on. Last year it was weather and mechanical. This year, two days of little or no info due to weather.

    Suck it up boys or pass the torch!

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    Member thewhop2000's Avatar
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    Looks like you need to send a text to the Doctor of drifters. He seems to land a contract every year.
    If a dipnetter dips a fish and there is no one around to see/hear it, Did he really dip?

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    What is the deal with the test boats the last couple of years? I am tired of not having index points when it counts. Yeah, it was crappy out there. Like it always during fishing season. I understand if some of the part-timers don't want to brave the weather, but I'm ready to suit up and go fishing. The drifters are likely going to get corridor time regardless, but as a setnetter I'm depending on the index points to know what's going on. Last year it was weather and mechanical. This year, two days of little or no info due to weather.

    Suck it up boys or pass the torch!
    smithtb - you do not understand how the test boat program works so I will try to explain it to you - I designed the OTF test fishery so I have some idea of how it works. First, when there is 30-40 knot winds and seas to 15 fishing is near impossible with 200 feet of drift gill net. Unlike the drift fleet where they can run to avoid the mid-inlet seas the test boat has to fish fixed stations. Big boat will not solve the issue of the net popping in the seas or the safety issue with the crew. Also, it is hard to get anyone to even bid for this project and the cost keeps going up.

    Next, losing days has happened in most years. Not a big deal since the program self corrects for absence days. The test fishery is not a daily look at what is happening and people who look at the indexes on that scale are misusing the program. The program is designed to define run timing based on the index points for a number of days and missing one or two does not change that pattern. Also, if he index points are high on one day it does not mean lots of fish moving into the inlet. The run estimate is based on cumulative indexes divided by the run accounted for to date. So if you have 1000 indexes through July 15th and a run of million the passage rate is 1000 sockeye/index point. The run timing curves are then used to project the total indexes for the season - so lets say the projection is 2000 index points then the total return would be 2 million. So missing a day or two does just means the passage rate changes but the influence on the run timing models is minimal. So it self corrects.

    The OTF program is used and should only be used to get a run estimate not anything more. The drift fleet is the best way to see what is in the district and where the fish are based on where they fish.

    Relative to the north boat it is not a test fishery. It is designed to catch fish for genetic sampling. However, the area staff are hoping to develop it into a predictive model for when fish are moving to the beach. ADF&G tried that in the 80's with 12 test fish boats and it does not work but we will see how fishing fixed stations turns out. It is a misuse of the data from the north boat to say anything about the strength of the run or when fish are moving north. Again, a single boat out there can catch lots of fish because there is no competition. So daily high catches does not mean a lot. I have been out on the test boats when we had them fishing and could sink nets with a set on a relatively small school of fish.

    For some reasons these programs have been elevated way beyond what the are capable of doing. I can tell from your post that you have expectations that are not reachable. This is what happens when the public and some staff fail to understand the uncertainty and limitations of a program. I can tell you that the OTF program is at best good to plus or minus a million fish. We developed it for that reason. We wanted to know if we were dealing with a 2 million 4 million or greater run. It serves that purpose well and all other uses should be discarded as they are based on nothing defensible.

  4. #4

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    No fishing on north boat today. Mechanical issues. Sorry north. beach, can't see what's out there...

  5. #5

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    I guess I'm with TB on this. It seems like the past several years we have seen more than our share of mechanical and weather issues with the test boats. I can see a day here or there, but it sure seems to me to be a pattern. Management biologists have the latest data and news, but for the rest of us, this is all we have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akcarv View Post
    I guess I'm with TB on this. It seems like the past several years we have seen more than our share of mechanical and weather issues with the test boats. I can see a day here or there, but it sure seems to me to be a pattern. Management biologists have the latest data and news, but for the rest of us, this is all we have.
    Was I not clear on this issue? One boat fishing north does not tell you what is out there. If you have ever fished in a drift boat you know that a single boat fishing can have all types of good catches and it means absolutely nothing.. ADF&G does however have the eyes of an experienced skipper on the vessel and he/she can give one an indication of what they see between transects. If you want to follow the run look to the drift fleet harvest and CPUE for this time of year. it is a much better indicator. Also, look at the North boat indexes - they are all over the place on a daily basis.

    At this point in the season the test fish boat starts to become less useful in management. The estimates are usually pretty good around the 15th to 20th and after that management is usually based on escapement rates - of lately Chinook escapement regardless of what sockeye are doing.

    Also at this point in the season fish are moving or have moved into the Upper Inlet. That is not the question. The issue is when will they move to he beach and no one knows that. There is no predictive model for that yet as the variables dictating fish movement are not understood.

  7. #7

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    Your explanation was quite clear and I do get it. I'm not sure you get the point TB and I were trying to make, but that is ok and we can move on. Thanks for the detailed explanation of the test fishery. The public doesn't always get this and it leads to misinformation and confusion. The more we know about the process, the better off we all are, thanks!

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    I'm wondering what is the purpose of the test boats if they don't give a good indication of the run. If they are not real useful this time of the year for management, then why are they fishing?
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    I'm wondering what is the purpose of the test boats if they don't give a good indication of the run. If they are not real useful this time of the year for management, then why are they fishing?
    The south boat does give an estimate of the total return, just not fish movement behavior. It is really critical for a manager to know if the run is 2 or 4 or 6 million. It can have a huge influence on the risk of fishing or not fishing. However, as I mentioned it is good for only plus or minus a million fish. But if you think about it that is only 20% error on a 5 million run which we have had over the last couple of decades. So it is really pretty good. At low runs of less than 2 million a manager does not take a lot of risk and at runs greater than 6 million the test boat estimate combined with the drift boat catch per unit of effort data combine to allow more fishing time and where and when that fishing pressure should be located.

    The north boat was put in to collect genetic samples over the season. It is not used to estimate run strength or timing. It may be developed into that but that will take a decade or more to do. Last year there was an indication it could be useful in management but that may be just one data point and the other 9 data points collected over the next 9 years will show it will not work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    The south boat does give an estimate of the total return, just not fish movement behavior. It is really critical for a manager to know if the run is 2 or 4 or 6 million. It can have a huge influence on the risk of fishing or not fishing. However, as I mentioned it is good for only plus or minus a million fish. But if you think about it that is only 20% error on a 5 million run which we have had over the last couple of decades. So it is really pretty good. At low runs of less than 2 million a manager does not take a lot of risk and at runs greater than 6 million the test boat estimate combined with the drift boat catch per unit of effort data combine to allow more fishing time and where and when that fishing pressure should be located.

    The north boat was put in to collect genetic samples over the season. It is not used to estimate run strength or timing. It may be developed into that but that will take a decade or more to do. Last year there was an indication it could be useful in management but that may be just one data point and the other 9 data points collected over the next 9 years will show it will not work.
    Ok thanks for the clarification
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

  11. #11

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    Thank you for explaining the test boat program Nerka. It helps to understand the way it was designed, and how its uses have changed. Makes more sense to me now. I believe its a sensible and worthwhile program. Not to mention cost effective when compared to acoustic tagging studies, eh?

    As a fisherman, I have developed my own understanding of the index points, what they mean to me, and how they apply to my real world. I believe the north boat will be helpful for more than just genetics, but only when it's fishing. This week is crunch time, and it's still broke. I remember being frustrated with the same issues on the south boat last year.

    Meanwhile, drifters are fishing while setnetters are on hold waiting for more info on sockeye movement to the beaches...

    Maybe I'm being hypercritical. It's just frustrating.

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    I am as frustrated as you. As a past manager and research biologist I cannot figure out what staff is doing. It makes no sense relative to Kasilof and Kenai sockeye and Kenai chinook. When they should fish they do not and now it is too late to recover. Not fishing the whole beaches Sat when time was available was not a good choice in my opinion. The saving of 50-100 chinook would not drive a management decision latter in the week and fishing the beaches within a half mile of shore south probably killed more chinook than if they had fished from a half mile out to a one and one half. Those chinook out there could at least go under the nets and both Kenai and Kasilof fish would have been harvested. I would have fished all the beaches to be clear. Also, not using the terminal fishery is really strange given the escapement levels. So I assume the political winds are a blowing and that is combined with failed management plans.

    While you want a bigger test fish boat I want a different skipper running the ADF&G ship - does that keep this post from hijacking the thread?

  13. #13

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    Too rough today... JULY 19TH.

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