Yep, Fall coho time, full on.

Thanks for all your comments on the Elwha Hatchery.  So far I have written letters to the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune and NPR KPLU.  The news tribune has agreed to publish an abbreviated version of my letter in their letter to the editor section, but I think it would help for all of these outlets to have lots of feed back.  I just don’t think they understand the issue and they have to be urged to try.  I have posted a very simplified version of the problem in the comments section, feel free to cut and paste, plagiarize or rephrase any of it to send on to news outlets or friends.

Cousin with a dandy silver


 O.K. There are still summer steelhead and lot’s of trout to catch, but really, the chromiest bite-y-ist, (yep its a word) coho of the year are now through the end of October.
Right now, every part of every river has something cool to fish for, and I have some open dates, give me a call or email.

Jim Kerr
Rain Coast guides

Posted in Salmon Fishing, Searun Cutthroat Trout Fly Fishing Report, Summer Steelhead Fly Fishing Report | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Yep, Fall coho time, full on.

  1. Jim says:

    Elwha fish hatchery, people really aren’t getting it.

    Everyone knows that salmon and steelhead around the northwest are having troubles, but not everyone realizes that we know why, and are essentially doing very little about it.
    The confusion over the new elwha river fish hatchery is a perfect example.
    First, what is a hatchery salmon/steelhead? Here is what we know, if you take the eggs from a returning salmon and fertilize and raise them in a hatchery you are likely to end up with more baby salmon than you would have if that salmon had just spawned on its own in the wild.
    When you release those baby salmon into the stream they will go to sea and return several years later to spawn, and there is a good chance, in many cases that you will wind up with more salmon returning because of the hatchery.
    Here is the down side, after just a couple of generations the salmon that you raise in the hatchery more or less lose there ability to spawn in the wild, so you can NEVER shut down the hatchery. Worse, those hatchery salmon that do spawn wild in your stream may intermix with the native salmon already there and the off spring will have a lower than average chance of surviving to spawn. We know that in most cases hatcheries diminish, or even destroy native populations.
    Remember, hatcheries are very expensive to build and run, and native fish are free. So build a multimillion dollar hatchery, suppress the native population of salmon, then allow a commercial fishery and here is what you get. Tax payers paying up to several dollars a pound to create hatchery fish, then commercial interests harvesting the fish and selling them at market, to the people who paid to create them while destroying the native populations, that came back for free.
    This has been the rule on almost every river in the Northwest, and at this point many of the native fish have been so damaged by hatchery fish that if we shut down the hatcheries now we would have nothing left.
    The Elwha is different. Some of the Elwha’s native fish stocks are actually quite robust. They lack only habitat to survive, and the Dam removal will give them that. Once we start a major fish hatchery there the native genes that have survived exploitation for over sixty years will be lost for ever. The upper Elwha native summer steelhead are a precious time capsule, they are the last of the best remaining in the northwest and there is no doubt that the proposed hatchery project will at least damage if not destroy their chances.
    Fisheries biologists say that there are three main obstacles to salmon recovery, habitat, hatcheries, and harvest. In the case of the Elhwa we are fixing the habitat, imposing a temporary ban on harvest and…building a hatchery?
    The thing about hatcheries is it is never too late to build one, but once you start one you can never go back. Isn’t worth giving this awesome river, and it’s fish a fighting chance?

  2. Steve Lopes says:

    just asking a question; what’s the difference (in process) between a petrie dish baby whose eggs / sperm/ genes are taken from the parents and a normal human born and a fish whose eggs/ sperm /genes are taken and a fish is born. I’m not understanding your argument on genetic inferiority but I may be missing something so I’m asking.

  3. Jim Kerr says:

    Steve,
    Good question,
    I know nothing about human babies, except they smell funny and I tend to catch colds from them.
      I am not a biologist, but from a lot of reading and study and talking with biologists I trust, I believe this info to be pretty much accurate.
    If you and me start a hatchery and decide to take all our parent fish from the wild, the baby fish we make will have some trouble growing in hatchery ponds…ask anyone who has tried to feed them.  What tends to happen is that some of them eat aggressively and grow fast, while others do not.  This seems to be because first generation fish are skittish and shy. 

    Now we might say “so what, if some of them are small and less apt to survive, I mean, hell that’s survival of the fittest right?”  Problem is, if we don’t make all the eggs count there was really no point in taking the fish out of the stream in the first place, I mean the fish would have spawned on there own and created a fair number of offspring and saved us 16 million dollars.

    So what we could do to solve this problem is to keep spawning the fish from our hatchery with other fish from our hatchery as they come back, instead of catching new native brood stock every year.  What you find is, after about three generations of interbreeding the returning hatchery fish settle down and get much easier to raise.
    Problem is, somewhere in this process they loose some of their ability to effectively spawn in the wild, and worse, if they try and spawn with native fish in the wild, and succeed, they often ruin the chances of their offspring to spawn.  Over a number of generations this has totally destroyed some native runs. (think about it, you put in 100,000 poor spawning hatchery juveniles into a creek where the native fish have spawned 20,000 strong juveniles) .  Not only that, you have 100,000 fat hatchery fish competing food in the river with 20,000 newly hatched native fish, bad odds for the nates.

    But in the Elwha its worse still, because the reason we are taking out the Dams is to open up a jillion miles of perfect untouched spawning habitat, it is natures own perfect hatchery, it should, if any fish bio has ever been right about anything, produce lots of super strong fish on its own.

    What I think is if you have good habitat, and sea conditions are good, and you have a reasonable number of native fish to start with, you almost never need a hatchery, unless you have a fishery that is over harvesting your returning adults.  The Elwha tribe wants to turn their river into a a big commercial fishery, so they need a big hatchery, and tax payers have paid to build it, and will pay to run it.

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