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Author Topic: Small Skykomish Steelhead  (Read 3570 times)

Offline ridgefire

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Small Skykomish Steelhead
« on: December 31, 2023, 10:01:07 AM »
I have caught 4 steelhead in the last 2 floats that are in the 16-20 range. They have been clipped and unclipped fish. I have never caught them this size in the past. Usually they are 8-12 or adult sized. Any idea why they are so small? Also, yesterday I caught an adult hatchery hen that was spawned out. Im assuming this fish has never made it to the hatchery and spawned in the river or they let it out of the hatchery. Not sure what our state is doing with the fish is the Skykomish but its definitely different than it was. See picture for size reference.

Offline Platensek-po

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2023, 10:12:48 AM »
I dont know about the sky but on other rivers fish that make it to the hatchery are sent back out have a hole punched in the gill plate. Ive caught them with 2-3 holes before. As to those small one Im not sure. Could be they are returning earlier or didnt get enough to eat?
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Offline ASHQUACK

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2023, 04:33:01 PM »
Most likely small enough to slip through net mesh meant to kill bigger fish. State run hatcheries are kill hatcheries. Very few if any kelts are released to venture back to salt.

Offline Platensek-po

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2023, 04:42:36 PM »
Most likely small enough to slip through net mesh meant to kill bigger fish. State run hatcheries are kill hatcheries. Very few if any kelts are released to venture back to salt.

Why would they kill steelhead tho? They can go back to the salt and come back again the next year. Female steelhead have been known to spawn 2-3 times.
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Offline Jake Dogfish

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2023, 05:02:41 PM »
Most likely small enough to slip through net mesh meant to kill bigger fish. State run hatcheries are kill hatcheries. Very few if any kelts are released to venture back to salt.

Why would they kill steelhead tho? They can go back to the salt and come back again the next year. Female steelhead have been known to spawn 2-3 times.

They spawn them to meet egg take goals.  Hatchery spawning is usually fatal.
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Offline HntnFsh

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2023, 05:36:19 PM »
Most likely small enough to slip through net mesh meant to kill bigger fish. State run hatcheries are kill hatcheries. Very few if any kelts are released to venture back to salt.

All kelts captured on the Cowlitz system are released at Mision launch to try to make another run.

Offline metlhead

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2023, 06:48:47 PM »
I don't belive the Cowlitz hatchery releases kelts. Those released fish are fresh and have returned long before the hatchery is ready for them. Small steelhead are common there in August. The males may be similar to salmon jacks.

Offline Smokeploe

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2023, 06:57:55 PM »
Yes they recycle many times.  I was talking to the truck driver who drives the fish truck, they recycle 2-3 times per week.  They release either at mission launch or the ramp under I5.  During the summer months they release jacks, small returning steelhead into Riffe Lake 3-4 times per week. 

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Offline ridgefire

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2023, 07:00:37 PM »
Im pretty sure they do not recycle the fish on the Sky anymore.

Offline metlhead

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2023, 08:18:02 PM »
Recycle fish yes, but technically not kelts. All hatchery fish are killed. No kelts created.

Offline HntnFsh

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2023, 08:18:29 PM »
I don't belive the Cowlitz hatchery releases kelts. Those released fish are fresh and have returned long before the hatchery is ready for them. Small steelhead are common there in August. The males may be similar to salmon jacks.

The Kelts are captured at Cowlitz falls and trucked to Mission bar.

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2023, 08:21:51 PM »
Yes they recycle many times.  I was talking to the truck driver who drives the fish truck, they recycle 2-3 times per week.  They release either at mission launch or the ramp under I5.  During the summer months they release jacks, small returning steelhead into Riffe Lake 3-4 times per week. 

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All recycled steelhead go to I5.

The mini jacks do go to Riffe.

Offline metlhead

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2024, 05:47:45 AM »
Oh, hadn't thought of upper basin wild fish.

Offline nanum

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2024, 11:46:50 AM »
Rumor circulating around the Sky and tribs is it was during the plandemic. They released all hatchery fish in the pens because they were scared of getting the vid or something like that.

Offline jackelope

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2024, 12:03:35 PM »
I caught 14 rainbows in the upper Sky drainage thin blue lines this past year with almost regularity. A 16 fish(rainbow) on the main river seems totally conceivable without any other thoughts coming to mind. There are definitely at least some resident fish in the main stem.
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Offline RC

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2024, 01:46:04 PM »
I spoke to a hatchery worker a few years ago that told me the changes were seeing is the result of the WFC decision that changed hatchery management for skamania steelhead. I believe they are using a stock of steelhead tied more closely to the Snohomish system, which are smaller?  Hopefully someone else can shed some more light on this, but bottom line is that this is the future of steelhead fishing on the Snohomish system. The worker also told me all the new pens up there are for raising chinook to come back to reiter, but who knows if well be able to fish for them.

Offline Fishmaker57

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2024, 02:46:39 PM »
I caught 14 rainbows in the upper Sky drainage thin blue lines this past year with almost regularity. A 16 fish(rainbow) on the main river seems totally conceivable without any other thoughts coming to mind. There are definitely at least some resident fish in the main stem.

On the right track here, I believe. Not all hatchery released Steelhad smolts migrate to the salt. Some residualization takes place, particularly when the smolts get too big in the pond, or become precocious. At some facilities, smolts are allowed to volitionally leave the pond when ready; after a period of time, those that dont leave are considered residualized and are planted in lakes.

Offline 7mmfan

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2024, 03:52:39 PM »
I spoke to a hatchery worker a few years ago that told me the changes were seeing is the result of the WFC decision that changed hatchery management for skamania steelhead. I believe they are using a stock of steelhead tied more closely to the Snohomish system, which are smaller?  Hopefully someone else can shed some more light on this, but bottom line is that this is the future of steelhead fishing on the Snohomish system. The worker also told me all the new pens up there are for raising chinook to come back to reiter, but who knows if well be able to fish for them.

The Skamania stock are the summer fish. Winter fish have always been Chambers Creek stock. They are supposed to be using wild summer broodstock for the summer program now. They may not be as big as Skamania stock but still a good move as far as I'm concerned. I'd be very surprised to see them ever use wild winter fish for their hatchery stock based on run timing alone.
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Offline simondude

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2024, 04:07:00 PM »
I heard that during covid the state opened the gates and let all the fish out. So they were letting smolts out and that's what's returning now. The fish are returning a year before they should be.

Offline 7mmfan

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2024, 04:15:50 PM »
I heard that during covid the state opened the gates and let all the fish out. So they were letting smolts out and that's what's returning now. The fish are returning a year before they should be.

I don't think that's how it works. Steelhead are biologically tuned to head to salt at a certain age. Just because they are let loose from the ponds doesn't mean they head straight to the salt.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2024, 08:04:19 AM by 7mmfan »
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Offline ridgefire

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2024, 11:48:20 PM »
We floated the river today and I l only landed one fish. Nice Rainbow  that was 17-18 or so. Pretty slow day of fishing.

Offline Rutnbuxnbulls

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2024, 05:39:10 AM »
Could it be a combination of issues? Maybe food quality/supply in saltwater?
Maybe released early and set up as residents? Brood stock?  I moved a few years ago from that area, Lake Stevens, and I sure do miss fishing the Sky. Beautiful country.

Offline 7mmfan

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2024, 08:12:30 AM »
Salmon guys have theorized for a long time that if you have a lot of Jack's around one year, the following years adult run should be robust. That's all hypothetical though.

There's a lot wrong with the Skykomish system but most of it happens down in the Snohomish and tide water. The number of pinnipeds in the lower end of that river is extreme and smolt hardly have a chance.

Most of our rivers don't have enough feed in them to support many smolt that spend a year or more in the system before heading out because the robust runs of late fall spawning salmon (chum mainly, silvers too) have become so depressed that the biomass in the river continues to decline. We need those carcasses to decompose in the rivers to grow bugs for those smolt to eat. It's a vicious cycle. 
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Offline LDennis24

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2024, 09:18:53 AM »
Not certain on this but there was a lawsuit filed a few years ago and the state was forced to dump a bunch of steelhead into Rock Lake at my parent's place in Whitman County. I believe it was because they were not considered native to the river they intended to stock on the West side. Could this be what your referring to? :dunno:

Offline Skyvalhunter

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2024, 11:44:15 AM »
I  fed fish in a rearing pond in Skykomish that were released into the South fork of the Sky. Part of the exercise was to clip a fin at Reiter Hatchery first. Back then we caught many Hatchery fish for years. Of coarse their off spring were native. Used to be some really nice steelhead caught back then.
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Offline Jake Dogfish

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2024, 12:13:07 PM »
Salmon guys have theorized for a long time that if you have a lot of Jack's around one year, the following years adult run should be robust. That's all hypothetical though.

There's a lot wrong with the Skykomish system but most of it happens down in the Snohomish and tide water. The number of pinnipeds in the lower end of that river is extreme and smolt hardly have a chance.

Most of our rivers don't have enough feed in them to support many smolt that spend a year or more in the system before heading out because the robust runs of late fall spawning salmon (chum mainly, silvers too) have become so depressed that the biomass in the river continues to decline. We need those carcasses to decompose in the rivers to grow bugs for those smolt to eat. It's a vicious cycle.
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Offline Tbar

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Re: Small Skykomish Steelhead
« Reply #26 on: January 07, 2024, 12:34:58 PM »
Salmon guys have theorized for a long time that if you have a lot of Jack's around one year, the following years adult run should be robust. That's all hypothetical though.

There's a lot wrong with the Skykomish system but most of it happens down in the Snohomish and tide water. The number of pinnipeds in the lower end of that river is extreme and smolt hardly have a chance.

Most of our rivers don't have enough feed in them to support many smolt that spend a year or more in the system before heading out because the robust runs of late fall spawning salmon (chum mainly, silvers too) have become so depressed that the biomass in the river continues to decline. We need those carcasses to decompose in the rivers to grow bugs for those smolt to eat. It's a vicious cycle.
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