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Author Topic: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season  (Read 18671 times)

Dave

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Many anglers I speak to think there are fewer hatchery fish in this system this season.   Possibly the reason why hatchery steelhead returns to the C-V this season have been lower than hoped is ... 3  years ago, due to federal budget restraints and zero dollars coming  from the Province, the juvenile parr released from the Chilliwack River hatchery were considerably smaller than the mandated 80 gram release size.  In general, the larger the juvenile fish are on release, ie. 80-100 grams, the better the survival rates to adult returns.   Sadly, 2 years ago (adult returns next year ), the parr released were even smaller, in fact were the smallest steelhead juveniles released from this facility to date.
Even worse for many anglers, me included, is the fact that between 70 and 80 wild steelhead were sacrificed for this questionable management.
The bottom line is don't expect much better steelheading next year on the C-V for hatchery fish, and if in future the progeny from up to 80 wild steelhead from a pretty much unknown population is not properly managed for maximum benefit to anglers, perhaps question the logic of this hatchery program.


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Johnny Canuck

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2013, 03:37:37 PM »

...between 70 and 80 wild steelhead were sacrificed...

I wouldn't say "sacrificed" as they aren't killed for their eggs and milt, however yes they could have spawned in the wild. Those are ~140-160 more wild fish that may have been able to return this year.
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Every Day

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2013, 03:49:04 PM »

It's not just the Vedder though Dave. The Stamp is having the worst year on record I believe. The hatchery fish component is non-existent. On the actual stamp I still haven't caught a hatchery fish. Of the 25-30 fish I've beached, all have been wild, and the other 30-40 that I didn't get right to hand appeared to be wild as well (many were within 5 feet of the shore when they were lost).

Overall though, the whole system is suffering. I wouldn't say the wild returns are anywhere near what they should be. They actually stopped taking brood on the Stamp because there is so much concern over how the wild fish are doing, and they no longer want to remove wild spawners from the population. I have also fished a large number of other rivers on the island this year, and all of them, including remote north island flows are suffering it seems. The only one doing well is the Cowy.

An interesting fact that another angler pointed out to me,... and I have found to be true as well this year, is that the fish are above average size for the most part. I have caught VERY FEW fish in the typical 6-7 pound range (for the stamp), and it seems to be the same everywhere (out on the island any ways). Most fish being caught by me and my buddies seem to mainly be 9-12 pounds. In my mind, those 6-7 pnd fish would be the first time returning fish, and anything bigger would be older fish returning for the 2,3,4 time. Would be interesting to see, but it seems like something may have happened to the 1st year age class of fish this year.

Here's hoping for a good late push of all the fish that haven't showed up all season...
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liketofish

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2013, 04:05:31 PM »

Many anglers I speak to think there are fewer hatchery fish in this system this season.   Possibly the reason why hatchery steelhead returns to the C-V this season have been lower than hoped is ... 3  years ago, due to federal budget restraints and zero dollars coming  from the Province, the juvenile parr released from the Chilliwack River hatchery were considerably smaller than the mandated 80 gram release size.  In general, the larger the juvenile fish are on release, ie. 80-100 grams, the better the survival rates to adult returns.   Sadly, 2 years ago (adult returns next year ), the parr released were even smaller, in fact were the smallest steelhead juveniles released from this facility to date.
Even worse for many anglers, me included, is the fact that between 70 and 80 wild steelhead were sacrificed for this questionable management.
The bottom line is don't expect much better steelheading next year on the C-V for hatchery fish, and if in future the progeny from up to 80 wild steelhead from a pretty much unknown population is not properly managed for maximum benefit to anglers, perhaps question the logic of this hatchery program.

Perhaps it is time to get the Chilliwack River Hatchery some volunteer help to cut down on the need for funding to maintain the steelhead program. There are enough retirees in Chilliwack who may be able to volunteer. That way, the government funding can be used solely for fish feed and not wages. Or make the river a class water so people pay a stamp to fish it. That will cut down the crowd and the stamp money be used to boost up production. Don't mind to pay extra if they improve the fishing 5 to 10 times better.  ;D
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Dave

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2013, 04:37:04 PM »

It's not just the Vedder though Dave. The Stamp is having the worst year on record I believe.
Very true Dan.  I have been sitting on this post for a while now as I know this is not just happening to the C-V.
Any idea of the size of juveniles released into the Stamp?

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firebird

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2013, 05:14:01 PM »

Perhaps it is time to get the Chilliwack River Hatchery some volunteer help to cut down on the need for funding to maintain the steelhead program. There are enough retirees in Chilliwack who may be able to volunteer. That way, the government funding can be used solely for fish feed and not wages. Or make the river a class water so people pay a stamp to fish it. That will cut down the crowd and the stamp money be used to boost up production. Don't mind to pay extra if they improve the fishing 5 to 10 times better.  ;D

I don't think it's as simple as throwing more feed at them. I believe there are difficulties getting enough water of a suitable temperature to allow the fish to grow at a good rate. Perhaps Dave can elucidate. I think it's something to do with chinook juveniles getting first dibs on a warmer well source.
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norton

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2013, 06:55:08 PM »

You seem to be doing a lot of speculating Dave. For  a person who likes his facts ,how can you say there are more wild than hatchery fish  .  I think you need a better study , than just a few anglers opinions.
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DRP79

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2013, 07:26:32 PM »

Look at Freds Derby this year. I would hazard a guess that there weren't any fewer entries as far as anglers go yet the number of weighins were way down from last year.

A total of 414 weighed in last year compared to 280 this year.
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BigFisher

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2013, 07:30:38 PM »

414 fish last year, compared to 414 this year. But you forgot to mention there was twice as many anglers fishing this year.
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Chehalis_Steel

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2013, 08:29:24 PM »

At least there's still Steelies in other systems...more people fishing the Chedder right now the better
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Johnny Canuck

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2013, 08:48:24 PM »

At least there's still Steelies in other systems...more people fishing the Chedder right now the better

and now those other systems will get a bump in angling pressure...

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Dave

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2013, 09:13:28 PM »

I don't think it's as simple as throwing more feed at them. I believe there are difficulties getting enough water of a suitable temperature to allow the fish to grow at a good rate. Perhaps Dave can elucidate. I think it's something to do with chinook juveniles getting first dibs on a warmer well source.
Totally right firebird.  The steelhead raised in DFO hatcheries are on the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to $$ spent on production.  To get steelhead up to size requires pumping warmer well water which is limited and expensive to do.  Warmer water means faster metabolism meaning more food needed, to a cash strapped DFO system.
I guess it comes down to the importance of each species on the Chilliwack, to the local economy and the angling community.  If it is decided chinooks deserve this warmer water at the expense of steelhead I say stop the steelhead hatchery program and leave what's left of this wild population to live or die on it's own.

Perhaps a solution is to transfer management of steelhead to DFO ... my guess is the Province would jump at that :D
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Dave

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2013, 09:18:07 PM »

You seem to be doing a lot of speculating Dave. For  a person who likes his facts ,how can you say there are more wild than hatchery fish  . 
Didn't say that.  I have no idea how many hatchery returned and have no idea how many wild fish we will see in our April and May counts.  I do know that myself and a handful of others will be the only ones looking though ...
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BentRodsGuiding

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2013, 11:29:51 PM »

The swim counts were important, this is the one I can see most doable by volunteers.  Not counting what you have is pretty much saying who gives a damn.  Some things can't have a price put on them, wild steelhead swimming in rivers is one of them.

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Sterling C

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Re: Hatchery steelhead returns to the Chilliwack-Vedder this season
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2013, 08:48:11 AM »

I did a quick query into recent stockings to compare last year to this year.

The 2009 brood year (last years returns) had the following numbers:

26,926 @88g
25,843 @91.7g
25,111 @76.1g
22,610 @82.7g
18,799 @69.1g

For a total of 119,289 @ an average of 82.3g

The 2010 brood year (this years returns) had the following numbers:

104,538 @ 71.3g

As you can see, not only were the fish on average 11g (13%) smaller, there were also close to 15,000 (12%) less released.

I don't buy that this is the only reason for this years dissapointing returns as the catch rate for wild fish also appears to be down significantly. Although it doesn't suprise me after the extrememly small coho that returned this past fall. To me it seems like the ocean survival has once more started to become an issue.
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