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Thread: Do you have a dog in the fight?

  1. #1
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default Do you have a dog in the fight?

    After reading, writing, and responding to comments in other threads regarding ADF&G's management of the Cook Inlet, I have to ask: how many posters to questions about the Susitna system have a dog in the fight? I live in Willow, formerly Wasilla, and fish Mat Valley streams all summer and fall. I'm lucky to hit the Kenai peninsula twice in a season. So my concern is first about what I see in my backyard, and the Kenai is secondary. It seems like most of the comments on complaints about the Susitna's sockeye, coho and chinook runs come from men who have never sportfished these fish. Those who state that its a habitat problem, so therefore habitat must be fixed before any regulatory changes are made, I'm just curious, do you fish those systems? Do you believe, if there are multiple problems in a system, that before one can be fixed, the other must be? Or better yet, before one is even addressed, the other(s) must be completely fixed?

    Specifically, Fish and Game, and now the public, know several things.
    1. We know commercial fisheries throughout the Cook Inlet intercept Valley bound salmon of all species.
    2. We know the rivers have changed.
    3. We know Ma Nature threw some curve balls: 2 years of drought and extremely low, hot water in the spawning beds of chinook and coho, followed by a flood that scoured their spawning beds and flushed most smolt out to sea.
    4. We know more people live on Valley streams than did in the past.
    5. We know there are pike in many lakes and streams where they weren't before.
    6. We think production in some Yentna systems is down.
    7. We know that ADF&G has closed the sport fishery for reds in the Susitna and/or Yentna rivers more in the last 10 years than they have left it open.
    8. ADF&G stated that the sport fishery on the Yentna River only kills about 4,000 sockeyes (Tom Vania, Girdwood work session)
    9. Fish Creek supported a dip net fishery throughout the 90's; now it does not, and the sport fishery operates for 12 hours Saturday and Sunday, starting in mid August, after most of the reds have passed.

    Theres a lot more I'm sure Fish and Game actually knows about this, but lets hit on these points. For point number one, we not only know its happening, but also have some solid numbers on how big an impact it has. We have numbers now that show where the most Valley fish are caught, when, and how many are caught over the course of the season. Numbers 2-6 are knowns, but the impact is unquantified: we don't have concrete data showing how big an impact any one factor or all of them together actually has on the health of salmon runs.

    Now this is the reason I ask if you really have a dog in the fight? Was your fishery completely shut down to "protect" Yentna/Susitna sockeyes? I have been told that ADF&G is doing a great job managing, that they have a tough job to do. I will agree 100% that they have a tough job; I'll agree that in most places they manage pretty well; however, i won't use that fact to excuse poor management in my backyard. They acted to close down fisheries they claimed were threatened by continued sport fishing: even though they stated the fisheries only kill 4000 fish. 4,000 fish out of a projected 200,000 (Yentna data from which SEG is derived). That's fine, close down fisheries if it looks like escapement isn't going to happen. However, in 2006, they did not prevent commercial fishermen from harvesting 159,000+ sockeye salmon heading to the Susitna. By F&G's numbers, half those were Yentna bound, half were Su bound. Why? If they are managing well, why did they place the entire conservation burden on the biggest user group (sportfishermen) who has the smallest impact (4000 fish) on the resource?

    Yes, they should be doing studies to quantify the impacts of habitat factors on the salmon runs. Yes, there should be long term goals to rectify problems, to restore health to unhealthy systems, if they are unhealthy. But in the meantime, do you advocate doing nothing with mixed stock commercial fisheries, to ensure that at least the minimum SEG is met? Do you continue to hammer the fishery in the areas you know have significant impact, and close it in areas of minimal impact, but huge public exposure, and claim this as good management?

    Oh, I didn't even hit on Fish Creek. In deference to Michael Strahan, I won't name names. But a high muckety muck in the ADF&G has stated that it is so messed up it can never be revived: he says the hatchery component of the run is now so large a wild run will never exist there. He states that those fish are so few, and scattered so widely through all components of the Cook Inlet commercial fishery, that no measures can be taken in commercial fisheries to help escape more wild fish into that system. I won't name names, because that could be seen as besmirching a public figures character, but I don't see how that attitude is in accordance with a state regulation which is in place to keep wild stocks of salmon from going extinct, and also is set to allow sustainable fisheries upon wild stocks. But all that must be a moot point, because as others on this forum are so quick to shout out, ADF&G is doing a fine job managing!

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    Default Dog in the fight!

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Specifically, Fish and Game, and now the public, know several things.
    1. We know commercial fisheries throughout the Cook Inlet intercept Valley bound salmon of all species.
    2. We know the rivers have changed.
    3. We know Ma Nature threw some curve balls: 2 years of drought and extremely low, hot water in the spawning beds of chinook and coho, followed by a flood that scoured their spawning beds and flushed most smolt out to sea.
    4. We know more people live on Valley streams than did in the past.
    5. We know there are pike in many lakes and streams where they weren't before.
    6. We think production in some Yentna systems is down.
    7. We know that ADF&G has closed the sport fishery for reds in the Susitna and/or Yentna rivers more in the last 10 years than they have left it open.
    8. ADF&G stated that the sport fishery on the Yentna River only kills about 4,000 sockeyes (Tom Vania, Girdwood work session)
    9. Fish Creek supported a dip net fishery throughout the 90's; now it does not, and the sport fishery operates for 12 hours Saturday and Sunday, starting in mid August, after most of the reds have passed.
    I have a place on the Deshka and feel the same. Just for the simple reason of all the items stated above, the commercial limits should be examined more throughly. Not for greed as some have said on another thread, but because there are so many unknowns in all the reasons above. Even if it isn't the commercial fishing that is bringing the numbers down they are the ones that take the largest consentration of fish coming up these rivers. Numbers of Kings have gone down the last four years from a high in the 50K's to just around 18K this year. Silvers dropped from just under 60K last year to just over 10K this year.
    If you take the woods out of the woodsman you have nothing left but a man in the woods.

  3. #3
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Default Lake Creek

    I fish Lake Creek during king season and the Deshka during the very early season. Deshka has just gotten too over crowded and dangerous.

    A long with all that has been stated above, I think the Yentna and Susitna drainages could be better managed. Enforcement is the key. Last year for the first time in many years we had a "Brown Shirt" patrolling the Deshka and Yentna rivers.

    Too many times I see Europeans on Lake Creek take way over their limit and have a total disregard for our regulations. Some of the guides and lodge owners also encourage this type of behavior.

    There is a guy name Hans (SP) from Germany in a silver and blue smokercraft, 20ft boat with a welded hard top on it running an old Yamaha. (Those who fish there know who I am talking about) I have seen him snag and over harvest several times while fishing Lake Creek. They catch as many as they can in the 2-3 week period they are there, take them home and sell them.

    In the past I have contacted the Troopers and was told they don't have enough manpower to enforce the regulations that far up the Yentna.

    This last year was a different story! We can start by enforcing our own regulations and stop the plundering of OUR (Alaskan) recourse by outsiders that have no regard for this recourse!

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default must be armchair quarterbacking....

    I hear a lot of silence! Am I right that all the defenders of F&G's management of the Cook Inlet never sport fish salmon, specifically reds, in the Susitna drainages? My point exactly...its really easy to look up from the Kenai River and say the managers have a tough job, so even though they're not doing the job right, its tough so thats ok. A lot harder for a person who just got their sport fishery closed for the 3rd season in a row, and 5 out of 7 years, to say the same thing. Much easier for the person who, due to management decisions, sees nothing improving in a once thriving fishery, but repeats of devastating fishing closures, to be critical of ADF&G, and rightly so.

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    Default wrong again

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    I hear a lot of silence! Am I right that all the defenders of F&G's management of the Cook Inlet never sport fish salmon, specifically reds, in the Susitna drainages? My point exactly...its really easy to look up from the Kenai River and say the managers have a tough job, so even though they're not doing the job right, its tough so thats ok. A lot harder for a person who just got their sport fishery closed for the 3rd season in a row, and 5 out of 7 years, to say the same thing. Much easier for the person who, due to management decisions, sees nothing improving in a once thriving fishery, but repeats of devastating fishing closures, to be critical of ADF&G, and rightly so.
    Maybe no one is answering your questions because we own the fish in common and we all have a stake in the resources - whether we use them or not. However, for the record I have sport fish in a number of drainages of UCI including the Susitna - however, to imply poeple in Kenai have no concern for the valley stocks is pure bull.

    Please define where the sport fishery was closed 5 out of 7 years. Remember closed to fishing means you cannot put a line in the water as opposed to making them catch and release. Also what speices had closures and were they reopened when the runs improved - coho come to mind. Lets see the data on those closures. The Board of Fish has no indication of any widespread closures in the northern district.

    The harvest data for the Susitna does not show any significant decrease in sport fish harvest of coho - so where is this problem of once great fisheries going to heck.

    I just looked at the northern district report and the average harvest of coho in the Susitna is higher in the last 5 years than the average for both sides of the drainage. Also, the report notes that 2006 harvest was good but the sport fish survey is not complete. So willphis4food where is your data that once thriving fisheries are not there- it is not reflected in the harvest. In fact, ADF&G thinks the catches and stocks are healthy enough they do not need a weir on the Deshka.

    Willphis4food - please read the reports and stop posting these sky is falling posts. There are no data to support your contention on coho, chinook, pink, or chum salmon. Sockeye catches may be down but the valley is not a sockeye fishery - never was and never will be. Catches for sockeye are typically less than 10000 fish.

    The reports are on the web and look at Table 15 for coho in the northern district report.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default

    let me get this straight: you looked at the northern district report, and the harvest of coho is higher? Was that in the coho sport fishery, or in the commercial fishery?

    Once thriving fishery- look at the personal use fishery on Fish Creek. If that was not a thriving fishery, what is?

    I take issue with the retention limit of coho being dropped by a third, then never restored. You emphatically state there is no cause for my concerns, they are unfounded. Then why haven't the sport limits areawide been put back where they were prior to the reduction? That makes a weak case for our current management system: reduce the limits, then leave them there for no reason. hmmmmmm.... but you argue strongly that the stocks are being managed well, so therefore it must be so.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default Sport fishery really wasn't closed

    My bad, Nerka, the sockeye fisheries on the Yentna/Susitna really weren't closed. You were correct. Only the CONSUMPTION of sockeye in these systems was halted. And everyone here knows the throngs of sockeye fishermen on the Kenai/Russian would still be there if they couldn't keep any fish, right? Why would anyone ever be upset that they can't keep a red? Sheesh, I really do have absolutely no reason to be upset when I can't keep reds, as long as I can still hook and play them. After all, hook and release red fishing, followed by a trip to Carr's to buy commercially harvested reds, is the best possible way for an Alaskan to put meat on the table!

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    Once thriving fishery- look at the personal use fishery on Fish Creek. If that was not a thriving fishery, what is?

    Wasn't that an artificial run?

    Anyway we shouldn't have to pick a dog, we should all try and not fight to death...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by willphish4food View Post
    let me get this straight: you looked at the northern district report, and the harvest of coho is higher? Was that in the coho sport fishery, or in the commercial fishery?

    Once thriving fishery- look at the personal use fishery on Fish Creek. If that was not a thriving fishery, what is?

    I take issue with the retention limit of coho being dropped by a third, then never restored. You emphatically state there is no cause for my concerns, they are unfounded. Then why haven't the sport limits areawide been put back where they were prior to the reduction? That makes a weak case for our current management system: reduce the limits, then leave them there for no reason. hmmmmmm.... but you argue strongly that the stocks are being managed well, so therefore it must be so.
    The sport fishery harvest is higher and that is the reason for keeping the two fish bag limit. The sport fishery is growing and some streams may be getting hit hard by that increase. A second reason was that guides wanted the two fish limit since some wanted to make two trips a day (this is probably not the primary reason but was stated at the 2005 BOF meeting). ADF&G is dropping monitoring programs because the two fish limit makes it easier to manage - it keeps the harvest from growing quickly.

    Relative to Fish Creek you have to understand the production issues in that system. First, the hatchery wiped out stocks spawning above the hatchery. Second, residents built a dam to keep water levels higher and that blocked migration of juvenile sockeye into the lake. Third, development around the lake has changed the water quality and rearing potential of the lake. Fourth - hatchery fish are not surviving like they did in early years because something is going on in the lake rearing environment. All of these have combined to lower production.

    Willphis4food - you indicated you wanted to learn but you do not seem to invest the effort to read the reports that are on the web. If you go the the Boards section of the ADF&G web page and then go to Calendar and then click on Feb meeting reports you can read all the reports or at least the abstracts and get some of this information.

  10. #10
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Wink Big Lake/ Fish Creek

    Production is down in this system. I do realize that, and readily admit it. Cook Inlet Acquaculture took steps to change the outflow of the lake, but what has Fish and Game done to address that problem? I would hazard a guess that the residential explosion around the lake has hurt water quality as well... I think the old phrase S*** runs downhill applies, as almost all the homes around the lake are on hills above it. Big Lake also has pike now- I hope the BOF works with ADF&G to allow bait for pike in a manner that would not hurt the char and burbot stocks. Yes, I do realize Big Lake has a problem, and I submitted two proposals for this BOF cycle that ask to limit burbot fishing during the spawning period. I personally fish them during that time, so cutting back or eliminating that fishery hits me personally. I am very willing to do that, though, for the good of the fishery as a whole. Same reason I hunt bear and ice fish pike- tis my little bit that I can contribute.

    Its a very interesting thing when it is claimed that the wild stock is so diluted by hatchery fish that there is now very little wild stock left. What's weird is that the hatchery fish came from egg draws in Fish Creek, ie wild, returning fish. I don't know if that still holds true, but it does make it easy to take no action on preserving that stock of fish, because politically it is much easier to let a hatchery run of fish disappear than to allow a distinct wild stock go extinct. *gasp* I used the word extinct! Not very politically expedient, and probably not wholly biologically sound, as reds do redistribute eventually so the system may be replenished naturally by a different genetic stock...

    If it is true that the "hatchery wiped out stocks spawning above the lake," (hatchery now run by CIAA) number one, why is the state not requiring that CIAA restock those streams, and let that run reestablish itself, or pay remediation costs to the state? If it isn't their fault, but F&G's, then what steps to reestablish that run is the F&G taking? If none, what legal justification do they have for not remediating their screwup?

    Let me ask, also, what studies have been done to correlate fat reserves of resident lake fish to the biomass of returning salmon, and the fry/smolt densities in the lake? The reason I ask, is that on years of big salmon returns, it seems that the char overall weigh more per inch than in years of low returns. If that is true, then it does behoove F&G to take stronger measures to return more salmon to the lake, even if production issues meant that that wouldn't bring even more salmon back. If all it does is improve the health of resident fish, and nothing else, then it is a win biologically. Of course, without that study its all guesswork and we all know that none of F&G's management is based on shaky ground like that.

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    Default Fish Creek

    First it was ADF&G who wiped out the spawning above the hatchery. Not CIAA.

    Second, CIAA is restocking those lakes but the fish do not seem to be making it - not sure of the reason. As you pointed out a number of things are going on in the drainage.

    I doubt CIAA will continue to stock fish if they are not surviving. At that point what is ADF&G going to do - your guess is as good as mine.

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