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Official Newsletter of the Wild Steelhead Coalition

November 2010

The President’s Run It would be no surprise to tell you I love to angle for steelhead. Steelhead angling has been a passion intertwined through much of my life. In fact, if scientists extracted part of my DNA, I wouldn’t be surprised if they discover a mykiss chromosome; it’s just simply a part of me. I don’t think I have a monopoly on that statement, though. Believe me, I know and have fished with many like me. But, what is truly amazing to me, personally, is I can’t pin point which aspect of the experience I get jazzed up about the most. Is it the anticipation of the trip? Does it happen as I step into a choice run and methodically work the water as I talk with myself expecting a grab? Or is it the reflection after the connection with a steelhead, which seems to shadow my thoughts for days, perhaps weeks, and possibly years later. Those experiences are holistic in their value to me, even in the conservation challenges of today. Maybe it’s because the conservation challenge experience also surrounds me with others who are equally passionate and that seems to create a certain energy. Being part of a community to bring positive change for wild steelhead is a pretty cool experience and I highly recommend it. I fundamentally view the Wild Steelhead Coalition as based on two pillars to affect the politics of change in conservation for wild steelhead. The first pillar is the scientific information regarding wild steelhead and utilizing that information as leverage in arguments for conservation needs. The second pillar includes developing a community of advocacy for wild steelhead through outreach and sharing information, which engages us as well as challenge us to step up our involvement.

What I have discovered is that it’s not easy. Pretty much all of us who care about wild steelhead are anglers and what we want most is what I just described in the opening sentences without complication. Add in our other life commitments that demand our attention and we have almost no spare time. One of our bigger challenges in the steelhead conservation movement really does lie with the ability to create a stronger community of advocacy. A community where the opportunities to be effective are simple to understand and engage many of us to become educated in steelhead issues and be pro-active in taking action when opportunities arise. I believe we are on the right path in helping develop a community. Past President, Jack Berryman provided a great article challenging us all to become steelhead advocates in a recent edition of Northwest Fly Fishing titled “Wild Steelhead Need More Advocates,” which is available on the WSC website. Trustee Dylan Tomine provided a compelling article in Fly Fishing Journal titled “Teetering on the Brink: Olympic Peninsula Hatcheries and Steelhead Politics” outlining the current plight of wild steelhead on the crown jewel of Washington. Our VP of Conservation, Dick Burge, continues contributing articles to the Osprey explaining the need for and understanding of steelhead management plans not in place on our wild steelhead streams, as well as advocating for further habitat protection through land trusts and wild salmonid management zones. These articles are also available on the WSC website. Continued

The President’s Run

Continued from page 1

Speaking of our website, we are process of reviewing proposals to retool the current website to improve the quality of information and create a better community for steelhead advocacy. Jonathan Stumpf has joined the WSC as our new VP of Communications and is doing an excellent job leading the effort to achieve this goal for our website. Jonathan has also started utilizing social networking tools such as Facebook to get our work and mission more widespread in the steelhead community to help gain more involvement and support. I would also like to thank Todd Ripley for his years of service on the board. I am happy to welcome Jim Holland as our new VP of Political Affairs and Bob Margulis as a new Trustee. Jim is a practicing attorney who will provide us solid advisement on legal matters and will help us track legislation that impacts wild steelhead. Bob has a vast background in community service and executive leadership that will be a valuable asset to our board. Kim Lyons has also stepped up to join us as the new editor for our newsletter, The Adipose, which will allow us to get back on our regularly scheduled publishing cycle. Kim brings great experience and enthusiasm in joining us. Look to The Adipose to move to a digital format in the future after we launch the new website. I would also like to thank Bob Young for his years of producing The Adipose. In September, we held a steelhead community event that brought a great turnout from supporters. I also had the pleasure to meet the Dean of the UW Fisheries School at the event. I would like to thank Jim Schmitz and Jon Velikanje for their work putting the event together. Additionally, thanks to the continued support from Patagonia, and Blake Merwin and the entire Gig Harbor Fly Shop crew, for making these events successful. All of this and many more efforts help bring together a community for wild steelhead advocacy. But, more importantly, a knowledgeable community has stepped into the steelhead conservation “run” to take a role in reversing the plight of wild steelhead. If you have been hesitant to step into the “run,” I invite you to do so. Heck, I will even invite you to step in ahead of me so you have the opportunity to experience the potential success it can bring. We can’t do it without you and your passion. Sincerely,

Rich Simms President

Board of Directors President Rich Simms 425-789-1916

VP Membership Jim Schmitz 253-759-0477

VPs Fundraising Brian Bennett 253-946-6722 Ryan Petzold 425-238-4903

VP Conservation Dick Burge 360-765-3815

VP Communications Jonathan Stumpf 303-918-8802

VP Science Nate Mantua 206-616-5347

VP Political Affairs Jim Holland 206-713-1866

VPs At-Large Richard Hunt 425-745-2539 Bob Young 206-323-2189

Secretary Jon Velikanji 206-522-4112

Treasurer Nathan Keen 425-343-7590

Past President Jack Berryman 425-821-1774

In this issue: • President’s Message


• Gig Harbor Fly Shop Movie Event


• Fall BBQ & Film Premier Recap


• 2010 Fundraiser & Conservation Award


• Historical Abundance of Columbia River Steelhead & Salmon


• Research on the Sauk & Skagit Rivers


• WSC 2011 UW (SAFS) Scholarship


• WSC Comments to WDFW Strategic Plan Summary


• 2009 WSC Scholarship Recipient Thesis Summary


• New Board Member/Volunteer Introductions


Mike Mathis, E. Wash., N. Idaho, W. Montana 509-927-6733

• Failing the Fish: Obama Management Plan


Adipose Editor

• Recovery Efforts in Hood Canal - Q&A with Dick Burge


Kim Lyons 425-489-9784


Trustees Frank Amato Nate Mantua John MdGlenn Bill Bakke

Les Johnson Dylan Tomine Bob Margulis

Regional Reps Bob Ball, Region 6 North 360-374-2091 Rob Endsley, Region 4 360-961-2116 Ron Nanney, Region 5 & 6 South 360-484-3409 Steve Worley, Region 3 509-962-2033

The Adipose

Join Us at Gig Harbor Fly Shop movie event

2010 Fundraiser and Conservation Award

Join the Gig Harbor Fly Shop on November 19th for a special screening of the Felt Soul Media film “Eastern Rises”. The showing is at Kelly's Café & Espresso, 7806 Pioneer Way in Gig Harbor.

On May 15th, about 80 wild steelhead advocates gathered at the Redmond Marriott Town Center for the WSC’s 2010 fundraiser. While attendance was down, $3,000 was raised to support the work of the WSC. Many local organizations supported the event with donations and those in attendance participated in a raffle, silent auction, and live auction. We would especially like to thank our VP of Fundraising, Brian Bennett, for all of his work on this event. For a complete list of donors, go to : .

• •

A portion of the proceeds from the evening will go to benefit the Wild Steelhead Coalition Tickets are $10 and will be available next week at the Gig Harbor Fly shop or on their website. In addition to the film there will be a product raffle and a sneak peek of the new 2011 Patagonia Fly Fishing product line up.

We hope to see you on November 19th!

By Nathan Keen and Jack Berryman

Our annual Conservation Award was presented to Sam Wright, a retired fisheries biologist. He began managing fish populations in 1957 and spent most of his career with the Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Wright’s main contributions to wild steelhead management include: • Adipose fin marking for all hatchery steelhead;

• The Wild Trout Management Strategy; • The Wild Salmonid Policy; • The Endanagered Species Act (ESA) petition to list Puget Sound wild steelhead;

Recap of the Fall BBQ and Film By Jim Schmitz Premier

• The WDFW’s halt to using juvenile steelhead for “trout fishing” in Puget Sound rivers. He continues to fight for wild fish and fish habitat, and is a valued partner in the mission of the WSC.

The WSC would like to thank all those who attended this Fall’s BBQ and film premier of “Eastern Rises” on September 9th. The event, which raised almost $1,500 for the organization, was held at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture. We were fortunate to be the first to view the full-length film before its official release, and we would like to thank the producers from Felt Soul Media and board member Brian Bennett of Patagonia for helping us arrange the premier. Special thanks also to The Gig Harbor Fly Shop, Patagonia, Moldy Chum gang, and the volunteers who help make the event happen.

Sam Wright receives the 2010 WSC Conservation Award from President Rich Simms at the May 16th fundraiser event.

The Adipose


Historical Distribution and Abundance of by Bill McMillan Columbia River Steelhead & Salmon Thanks to the Patagonia World Trout funding provided through the Wild Steelhead Coalition, this project continues to move forward. The primary Columbia project work over the past three years has been accessing historical books, reports, photographs, and art work that might help to explain what each corner of the Columbia basin once looked like, whether steelhead and salmon got there or not, and if they did what species and in what numbers. This is the great advantage of the internet: it provides the ability to access historical resources from distant libraries, institutions, and private collections and to quickly search lists and individual documents for a specific term — steelhead, salmon, fish, fishery, and etc. However, my rural location was a limitation in being able to bring in larger historical works due to my dial-up internet service. I had to rely on willing folks to mail larger documents as hard copies or put on a CD.

were otherwise observers over longer periods of time than the early explorers, can provide these important pieces to the puzzle for explaining historical productivity. One has to go back very early to avoid the dilemma of the apt term “shifting baseline” as the perpetual limitation to be overcome for understanding how ecosystems once worked — and, therefore, how to begin to piece parts of them together again. The Columbia basin historically accessed by anadromous fish was an enormous landscape of great eco-region complexity that made up the ecosystem whole. The remaining historical database from which to potentially reconstruct what it looked like is also large with sources tucked into obscure corners of bookstores, libraries, science buildings, and family attics. Some no longer exist. At some point one has to end the search and begin to publish, but it is a fine balance to try to ensure that one does not perpetuate previous inaccuracies that may continue to limit effective recovery strategies. At the same time, much of what has been found needs to be presented sooner than later.

This altered two months ago with a technological marvel, an AirCard, provided by Wild Fish Conservancy, which now provides me broadband internet service to exchange large documents with greater ease of communication. It has opened up the ability to freely examine a much greater range of history resources. While this has Moving ? ... Didn’t get your newsletter? somewhat set back the timChanging your phone number or email? ing of the Columbia project Be sure to notify ... timeline for planned publication of information because of adding yet more to the database, the project outcome will be the better for it related to .·´¯`·.. ><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º>¯`·.¸. ¯`·...¸><((((º>¯`·.¸. some rather important finds as a result.

The dilemma in this project is the sheer quantity of information and that much of it provides a very different perspective of both distribution of species and abundance than determined over the past 30 years since modern Columbia recovery planning began through the Northwest Power Planning Council’s inception in 1980-81. The end strategy is to publish a series of peerreviewed papers, any one of which can entail a year of drafting and review edits. But each paper would only provide a part of the whole due to size limitations for peer-review publication. We are now focusing on a someFishing at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River One of the blanks in informawhat different strategy which prior to construction of The Dalles dam tion has been how ocean prowould result in a large informaHistorical photo courtesy of ductivity changes may have tional report beyond the size fit into the coastwide decline of wild steelhead and salmon in considered for peer-reviewed journals, but which would fit the Lower 48 over the past 150 years. A glimpse into this with previous large informational reports provided by NOAA was recently found in a pioneer account of what the ocean Fisheries in the past. This strategy would allow us to have food base in the vicinity of Puget Sound and Georgia Strait an initial working draft around the end of this year and a was in the year 1853 and again early 1900’s. It sheds great final version for internal and public use sometime in the first light on the probability that smolt-to-adult survival was, by half of next year. This strategy would make available a large present standards, inconceivably high. The ocean was, in amount of historical Columbia basin information that could fact, a natural “feedlot” during more favorable conditions be used for recovery planning in the shortest amount of time. whose fertility would now seem an invention of science ficWe can then target select components of that information for tion. A linking account from 1866 confirms a great baitfish peer-reviewed journals thereafter as something outside the collapse had previously occurred in both Puget Sound and the scope of the present project intended to best fulfill the Pata100 mile tidal reach of the lower Columbia. David Montgomgonia World Trout grant expectations. Thanks to this grant, ery’s work has found accounts of fantastic baitfish numbers with the larger report completion, it will provide a funding in Europe during Roman times. Only the very earliest aclever for subsequent publication work through varied counts of those few people who first arrived as settlers, or sources.


The The Adipose Adipose

Wild Steelhead Research on the Sauk and Skagit Rivers Most of the Wild Steelhead Coalition members are aware that the Sauk and Skagit rivers were closed early the last two years during the winter seasons. Many of you probably didn’t know that a small amount of fishing activity continued during the closure in an effort to collect data on hatchery and wild steelhead. For the last two years the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Skagit River Tribal Co-managers, and Seattle City Light have managed to obtain money to do genetic sampling of Skagit and Sauk River wild and hatchery steelhead. As it turns out, the safest way to catch steelhead for DNA sampling and acoustic tagging* is by using hook and line (fishing). Brett Barkdull, the WDFW district biologist and harvest manager for the Skagit River, Dave Pflug, a senior fisheries biologist with Seattle City Light, in addition to biologists with Skagit River System Cooperative, Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Puget Sound Energy, University of Washington, and a couple local Skagit River guides have been catching, obtaining genetic samples, and releasing steelhead in April and May for the last few years. The project is funded in part through the federal Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant program. Another portion of the money used to pay for this project is hatchery reform money that was acquired through the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission by the Skagit River System Cooperative. The project is loosely referred to as the SK Grant. The purpose of the SK Grant is to determine the extent of genetic mixing of Chambers Creek origin hatchery steelhead with the wild steelhead stocks in the Sauk and Skagit Rivers. (Geneticists refer to this as introgression.) The original intent was to get two years worth of information from each site so a comparison could be made between years on an individual site. The WDFW also intends to use the genetic samples to determine if there are separate populations of wild steelhead in these rivers. The team of biologists and guides mentioned above attempted to collect a total of 50 genetic samples of adult wild steelhead over the two year study. Sample collection was attempted at the following locations on the Sauk and Skagit Rivers and their tributaries: Lower Skagit River, Upper Skagit River, Cascade River, Sauk River, Suiattle River, and Finney Creek. They also attempted to collect a total of 50 juveniles taken from these same sites as well as the smolt trap at Burlington, and Chambers Creek origin juveniles from the Marblemount hatchery, The team also collected DNA samples from adult steelhead captured in tribal fisheries.

By Chris Grieve

The research team has successfully achieved the majority of these sample collection objectives, with the exception of adult samples from a few locations. The winter of 2008/09 sample collection effort, conducted when the rivers were closed in April and May, was successful on the Lower Skagit, Upper Skagit, and the Sauk. However, the team was not able to collect the targeted number of samples from the Cascade River because the fishing conditions in May were difficult. Sample collection on the Suiattle and in Finney Creek was not successful. They had more success in these systems in the winter of 2009/10. These data compliment an existing WDFW scale DNA data set collected in the winters of 2006/07 and 2007/08 on the upper Skagit and Sauk rivers. In addition, the group collected DNA samples of resident rainbows from several Upper Skagit tributaries. The list includes Goodell Creek, Bacon Creek, Diobsud Creek, and rainbows from the Blackwater River in British Columbia (Blackwater River rainbows have been planted into Ross Lake). The genetic information provided by this research is needed on all Puget Sound rivers. It will establish a genetic baseline for specific stocks and help determine if introgression has occurred which would impact that stock’s DNA (such a change would undoubtedly lower the wild stock productivity as well as change its life history parameters). This baseline will also help in the future if new studies show further introgression and also help biologists and fisheries managers understand potential reasons for stock declines. In addition to the DNA data, the SK team recognized and took advantage of an additional research opportunity provided by their capture and release sampling methods. The

“The genetic information provided by this research is needed on all Puget Sound Continuedrivers.” on next page

In addition to DNA from wild and hatchery steelhead, the group also attempted to collect samples from two year classes of isolated resident rainbow populations at the following sites: Ross Lake, NF Cascade River, NF Sauk River, Clear Creek, Sauk River, Baker Lake, and Finney Creek above the migration barrier. Photo by Rich Simms

The Adipose


Sauk & Skagit Research

Continued from page 5

Skagit Basin has an extensive acoustical receiver array in place that is used to study smolt migration patterns. Seattle City Light generously provided additional research funding to the team, which they used to purchase 120 acoustical tags. These tags were implanted in adults captured in the Hamilton-Birdsview area for DNA sampling. These fish were tracked as they moved through the Skagit mainstem, providing valuable information on adult steelhead movement patterns in this river system. Acoustic tagging studies of juvenile steelhead demonstrate the value of this kind of research. Recent tagging studies conducted by Seattle City Light, the Corps of Engineers, and several other research partners indicate that only about 10 percent of steelhead smolts tagged in the lower reaches of the Nooksack, Skagit and Green Rivers are making it through Puget Sound and into the Pacific. These findings inform hypotheses for new research. Are these survival rates the norm during early marine migration, or are poor conditions in Puget Sound a key factor in the decline of regional steelhead populations? Time will tell, and the answer will help to guide us toward more effective restoration efforts. Understanding how adult fish migrate to their spawning habitats will provide similarly valuable information about survival in freshwater. Ongoing steelhead population monitoring efforts on the Skagit have indicated an encouraging trend. WDFW and the tribes annually count steelhead spawning redds in index reaches as a basis for estimating population strength. The recent trend in redd count data indicates that early run wild fish appear to be increasing in abundance. This may indicate that the “wild steelhead release” regulation that was instituted on the Skagit River in 2002 is having some success rebuilding this population. The SK group was able to collect DNA from both early and late fish, which will help to determine if these are actually separate spawning stocks or a single stock that is expanding its run timing. Regardless, these findings provide evidence that wild steelhead release is an effective tool for restoring population abundance and diversity. There will be at least two papers written by the researchers. However, it will take a couple months to analyze the DNA samples collected this year and about 14 months before all the data is put together.

WSC 2010 UW School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (SAFS) By Jim Schmitz Scholarship This past year, the WSC set up a scholarship program with the University of Washington (UW) School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. The WSC Board first agreed to support one student but with the excellent response we received from students, the WSC decided to support two projects. This year we are accepting proposals again from UW Graduate level students who are doing steelhead specific research. Our students from last year were Margaret Atcheson and Sewall Young. Atcheson presented us with some great information on the interannual variation in steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) diet, growth, and consumption in North Pacific marine ecosystems. The WSC will be accepting proposals from students until December 1, 2010 and will announce the 2010 scholarship recipient on December 20, 2010, with $5,000 going to support the recipient’s project. This newly formed relationship between the SAFS and WSC is going to provide continued support toward steelhead specific research for years to come. Thanks again to all of our supporters who have made this scholarship possible and look for more updates this year in on our website and in upcoming newsletters regarding the research.

See related article on page 8 for a summary of Ms. Atcheson’s completed thesis.

This article was written by Chris Grieve with input provided by Brett Barkdull, District Biologist for Skagit River north to the Canadian Border and San Jaun Islands (Brett is also the Skagit River Regional Harvest Manager), Dave Pflug, senior fisheries biologist with Seattle City Light, Eric Doyle, biologist, and Dick Burge, retired WDFW fisheries biologist and WSC VP of Science. *Acoustic tagging is a method of tracking fish movement by placing a small transmitter in a fish, releasing the fish, and tracking its movement as it swims by acoustic receivers that are currently set up in the Skagit River, Puget Sound, and the Straights.


The Adipose

WSC Comments to WDFW 2011-2017 Strategic Plan Regarding Wild Steelhead & Salmon Last August, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, Washington Council of Trout Unlimited, Native Fish Society and Steelhead Committee of FFF, and members of the Steelhead Summit Alliance provided their comments and recommendations for the new WDFW Strategic Plan. In general, there was agreement with the materials in the basic draft and suggestions are made to add a few significant concepts to the important priorities and to help with the construction of goals and objectives.

SUGGESTIONS made to the WDFW 2011-17 Agency Goals and Objectives include: • Adding “Achieving Healthy Rivers & Ecosystems” as a top concern under the section “Priorities and Initiatives”, because recovery of wild fish will depend on the actions taken to recover and preserve river basins and their historical ecosystems. • Under the category of “Recovering Salmon and Steelhead Populations” and other subsections as appropriate, the WDFW should note the importance of applying modern science and even cutting edge science to stock/DPS (Distinct Population Segment) recovery, rebuilding and management programs. Due to the political framework that WDFW must work in, and the fact that managers often continue in the same management mode due to time, past experiences and historical limitations, we have noted that new science often takes several decades to be incorporated into management. We also suggest that WDFW perform evaluations on old scientific management practices that are presently in use. • A second recommendation for this category is noting the importance of recovering and managing wild salmonids through higher levels of the Viable Salmonid Population (VSP) parameters. VSP levels should include perspectives from the historical record on abundances, life history diversity and the distribution of wild fish. • The Category of Climate Change should include major objectives such as reducing the threats of flooding due to the already damaged condition of all Washington watersheds; and the synergism with logging, agriculture, etc with early winter large flash floods due to climate change. • In Renewing our Conservation Focus WDFW should provide information in this priority category on the importance of managing wild salmonids at elevated Zones VSP levels to improve wild stock health, increase stock resilience and decrease the future potential of depletions from the uncertainty of riverine habitat impacts from climate The Adipose

change, natural environmental damages (as large landslides), extended periods of unproductive ocean conditions, past and ongoing hatchery impacts, cyclic management error and over harvests, and the impacts from man’s activities. WDFW should also assure that correct management science is applied to harvest planning by completing all fisheries management plans before fishing. The category of Managing and Reforming Hatcheries and Harvest might be split into two categories, given the importance of each. • Under reforming hatcheries we again suggest the strategic plan draw attention to the literature and the new science that exists on subject. • Harvest Reform should implant the idea of managing for conservation and for healthier stocks rather than immediate harvests that impede recovery or impact listed or declining stocks.

Primary RECOMMENDATIONS that were made to the WDFW Strategic plan include: 1. Conserve and protect native fish and wildlife A. Improve conservation practices to enhance protec-

tion and restoration of fish and wildlife • Given today’s environmental, habitat, and weather uncertainties, Maximum Sustainable Fishing concepts should be replaced with new and more conservative management concepts that assure stocks will sustain and return to maximum health and productivity. Preventing over harvests of wild fish should be a major goal of WDFW. • WDFW will manage hatcheries conservatively to eliminate impacts to wild stocks based on the best available science. • Conduct a scientific review (possibly by the University of Washington researchers) of hatcheries and their importance and impacts to the past and future health and management of wild stocks. • Develop management programs that protect juveniles and all life history forms of wild stocks • Investigate and publish the causes for decline of wild stocks • Develop a system of Wild Salmonid Management • Develop a plan to protect and manage wild fish and their habitats in response to climate change. B. Increase protection and restoration of ecosystem functions. The key to recovering and maintaining healthy wild stock populations is through the protection and restoration of their riverine habitats and adjoining terrestrial zones. • Recover damaged habitats that are of high priority and key to wild stock recovery and productivity. • Establish river corridor preserves on all productive rivers through joint efforts with other state and federal agencies, and through conservation and conservancy programs that advocate for increased river protection. • WDFW should also seek legislation to improve their


WSC Recommendations to WDWF Strategic Plan Continued from page 7 regulatory authority under the Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) State Act that now provides some limited authority to control in-river activities. C. Promote and improve compliance with natural re-

sources laws. Violations of harvest and gear rules can have a major impact on wild stock health and sustainability.

2. Provide sustainable fishing, hunting and other wildlife related recreational experiences. A. Increase the economic benefits and public participation derived from sustainable fish and wildlife opportunities. • WDFW should increase their management tools necessary to maintain and lengthen fishing seasons. B. Expand access for fishing, hunting and other recreational opportunities. • River access is severely limited in many areas, harming conservation goals.

Read the entire letter to the WDFW :

UW Fisheries Student Completes Graduate Work With Support from the WSC Scholarship In 2009, the WSC awarded two scholarships to University of Washington graduate students. One student, Margaret Atcheson, received a $5,000 scholarship to study the effects of climate change, and the feeding habits and growth variables of steelhead in the marine (ocean) environment. Her thesis, “Interannual Variation in Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Diet, Growth and Consumption in North Pacific Marine Ecosystems”, is now completed. Below is a brief summary: Steelhead trout have never been the primary focus of offshore marine research due to their low abundance and low economic value in commercial fisheries relative to Pacific salmon species. Since steelhead can spend more than 50% of their life at sea, attain as much as 95% of their body mass in the marine environment, and experience up to 50% mortality rates at sea, it is of utmost importance that we understand what biological and physical factors influence steelhead feeding ecology during their ocean residence. The objectives of the research were: 1) To analyze interannual variability in marine diets of steelhead trout, 2) To determine which physical and biological factors influence steelhead marine growth, and 3) To utilize a bioenergetics model to evaluate the underly-


ing mechanisms of growth and the relative importance of physical versus biological factors. The study utilized data collected during the summers of 1991 to 2009 onboard two Japanese research vessels in the central North Pacific and central Gulf of Alaska. Sampling of steelhead were conducted with research gillnets and long lines, and scale samples (to determine This study investigated interage) and stomach samples annual variations in CLIMATE were taken from juvenile, and their potential effects immature, and adult steelon growth rate and feeding head collected.

habits of steelhead trout

The dominant food categoin the North Pacific Ocean. ries for steelhead were fish and squid species, particularly juvenile Atka mackerel, three-spined stickleback lantern fish, and the minimal armhook squid. However, the composition of steelhead diets varied significantly depending on: 1) the ocean age of the steelhead (the amount of time spent in the high sea) 2) the abundance of pink salmon (which steelhead compete with for similar food sources), and 3) year-to-year variabilities in ocean productivity driven by climate, specifically water temperature. If the steelhead’s primary food source is scarce, they do have the ability to change their diet, but this does have a significant impact on their growth and survival rates. The study found that marine growth of steelhead in their first year at sea was more dependent on sea surface temperatures, as steelhead have a higher propensity to diet on fish species located closer to the ocean’s surface. In the second year of saltwater growth, the steelhead become more interested in squid — the same food source of pink salmon. Pink salmon account for approximately 70% of the total abundance of all wild Pacific salmon, with wild Russian pink salmon comprising about 53% of that number. The abundance of wild Eastern Kamchatka pink salmon has an odd/even year pattern with up to 380% more pink salmon in odd years, thus having a significant impact on squid availability for the steelhead during those years. Last, bioenergetic model simulations used field based inputs for diet and growth, and the results suggest that prey consumption and temperature are limiting factors on steelhead growth at sea. However, steelhead can compensate for a low energy diet under optimal temperatures by consuming more food at a faster rate. In conclusion, year-to-year variations in climate, abundance of squid, and density-dependent interactions with highly-abundant stocks of pink salmon were identified as potential key drivers of steelhead diets in North Pacific ecosystems. This study shows that steelhead are able to compensate for low prey quality by increasing consumption rate and thus total consumption if temperature is in the optimal range. However, it is likely that changing water temperature (and related oceanographic properties) influences prey availability and prey quality, exerting both a direct and indirect affect on growth. View Ms. Atcheson’s complete thesis at: The Adipose

New V.P. of Communications, Jonathan Stumpf

New Adipose Editor, Kim Lyons


I’ll start my introduction with the confession that I’ve been a relatively inactive, dues-paying member of WSC for many years. In spite of my dormant participation, I have always been appreciative of the work that WSC does and what it has accomplished. A couple of years ago, while reading Dec Hogan’s book, A Passion for Steelhead, I was deeply moved by the Afterward chapter titled “The Future of Our Sport”, written by Pete Soverel. In response to that, I made a pledge to myself to dedicate any future volunteer endeavors to wild steelhead conservation.

Can't tell you how thrilled and honored I am to serve on the board of directors as the VP of Communications for the Wild Steelhead Coalition. As a recent transplant to Seattle from Montana and Colorado, I've only been chasing steelhead for five years, but have been pursuing the finned bunch since I was young enough to bait my own hook. After a childhood and early adult life chasing trout, carp, and walleye in Colorado, I moved to Missoula, Montana for graduate school. Why Montana? It depends on who's asking, but I feel safe telling this group the rivers played as much a part in my decision as did the journalism program at the University of Montana. I was fortunate to spend almost a year in the Big Hole River Valley, working on my professional project (the J-school's version of a thesis) and telling the story of the fluvial Arctic grayling, an imperiled fish--the last native population in the Lower 48--in the Big Hole River. With so many interests using the water, I learned quickly about the necessity for both conservation and collaboration when discussing watershed and species, and used writing, photos, and video to tell that story. I hope my work in the Big Hole combined with my educational background in digital and new media from the University of Montana will benefit my work with you and the WSC. I look forward to helping with the dissemination of information and the engagement of our members to improve the return of wild steelhead to the Pacific Northwest. See you on the water… Jonathan Stumpf

I had served as the newsletter editor for the Northwest Women Flyfishers club from 1997 until early 2010, and also held a number of board positions within that organization over the years. Following the corporate dissolution of the women’s fly fishing club last February, I was happily enjoying my retirement from the volunteer-newsletter-editor-biz when I saw the “Adopse Editor Wanted” posting in the last WSC newsletter. To make a long story short, here I am. I am also a long-time volunteer with the Washington State “Casting for Recovery” program, which provides annual fly fishing retreats for breast cancer survivors. Aside from fishing and conservation interests, much of my free time is spent following live music and attending bluegrass/jamband festivals. I live in Bothell, WA with my husband, Mike Rhamy. Luckily he shares my addiction for steelhead, enabling a codependent lifestyle as steelhead bums. As stewards of the river, we wish to do our part to contribute to the ongoing preservation of wild steelhead and the beautiful places where they are found. I hope that my service with WSC as the Adipose editor may be a worthy contribution toward that goal.

New WSC Trustee, Bob Margulis It is with great pleasure that we welcome Bob Margulis as a Trustee. Bob brings a vast body knowledge with his non-profit experience. His insight will be a valuable addition to WSC as we grow and advance the organization to become more sustainable in our conservation mission for wild steelhead. Bob is a WSC Lifetime Member and believes in our message that steelhead need stronger conservation and has joined our board to assist the organization move forward with that mission. The WSC Board voted unanimously for him to join us as a Trustee. Bob has a rich background of community service that will balance well with the goals of WSC. Bob is currently serving on the Board of Trustees for Group Health Cooperative, as well as volunteering and serving on the Steering Committee of the American Lung Association of Seattle as a Master Home Environmentalist. His extensive experience of service and leadership also includes: Seattle Great City Initiative (Steering /Advisory Committees), Washington Technology industry Association (Board of Directors), The Access Fund in Boulder, CO (Executive Committee member of advocacy group representing climbers), Bellevue Community College (Board of Trustees), Washington Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges, Technology Alliance Council (Education Technology Initiative Task Force), Western Washington University’s Computer Science Department Advisory Board, NW Entrepreneur Network, Gates Foundation’s Smart Tools Academy Steering Committee, King County Council’s review of the county’s strategic Information Technology Plan (Expert Panel Co-Chair), as well other work with as many other projects and organizations.

The WSC board is pleased to have Bob as a new team member. The Adipose


Press Release from Save Our Wild Salmon

Failing the Fish:

A broad coalition urges federal judge to “toss out” the 2010 Obama Plan for Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead. A broad coalition of salmon and steelhead advocates have fired another shot across the bow in the long-running battle with the federal government and its woefully inadequate, illegal efforts to protect an endangered Northwest icon — the wild salmon and steelhead of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. On October 29th, conservation and fishing organizations, scientists and businesses, the Nez Perce Tribe, and State of Oregon filed a “motion for summary judgment” asking Judge James Redden to reject President Obama’s Salmon Plan. The 2010 Obama Plan began as the 2008 Bush Plan. Early in 2009, just before the judge ruled on the earlier version, the newly-minted Obama administration asked for some extra time to assess it. During the 4-month review, rather than starting fresh, the federal agencies decided that the Bush Plan was darn near perfect. So they adopted it as their own, though they supplemented it with their “Adaptive Management Implementation Plan” — the AMIP - as a so-called “insurance policy” — just in case they’re wrong about the Bush Plan. The failure and inadequacy of both the federal plan and the supplemental AMIP is no secret. After the Obama Administration inherited the Bush Administration’s deeply flawed 2008 Columbia Basin Plan after inauguration, Judge Redden sent a strongly-worded letter indicating that the plan is unlikely to pass legal muster in his court. Tens of thousands of citizens including fishermen, scientists, conservationists, business leaders, and clean energy and taxpayer advocates have urged President Obama and his science czar Jane Lubchenco to ‘can the plan’ and start over.

The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) — the nation’s oldest and best-respected fisheries science organization — panned both the original Bush Plan and the Obama’s AMIP - the “insurance policy.” Here are some choice excerpts from the WDAFS review:

• “In

general, [rapid response] actions do not seem aggressive or encompassing enough to address significant declines.”

• “[WDAFS]

finds the AMIP to be inadequate for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin.

• “AMIP does not always use the 'best scientific information.” • "Regarding dam breaching: Compared to other actions in the contingency plans, which are addressed generally and suggest movement toward implementing the action, the breaching of the Lower Snake River dams takes a tortuous path just to initiate a study (emphasis added)." One of the few revealing documents released by the Obama Administration in late August as part of the government’s ‘official record’ includes a NOAA scientist strongly criticizing the 2010 Plan (the Bush Plan and the AMIP combined) and agreeing with the WDAFS conclusions:

• “I’m

surprised that a “science driven study of breaching Snake River Dams” is listed as a long-term contingency action only to be implemented after a significant decline in Snake River salmon status. Massive declines in the status of multiple Snake River populations have already happened, and such a study will surely take years to complete. It seems to me that carrying out scientific and economic studies of Snake River Dam breaching should be carried out now to better inform stakeholders and decision-makers of the costs and benefits of such actions.”

• “I think that the WDAFS is correct in perceiving the AMIP is designed to support the 2008 BiOp and to defend the status quo over protecting threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia-Snake basin.”

• “I agree that the AMIP appears to place more emphasis on expanded monitoring and modeling than on implementing beneficial actions.” This October 29th filing is one step in this most recent round of litigation. After several more procedural steps over the next several months, Judge Redden could issue his decision on the adequacy of the 2010 Obama Salmon Plan as early as March or April. For more information on this, and information about Save Our Wild Salmon’s efforts to protect and restore healthy, selfsustaining populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, visit:


The Adipose

WSC’s Dick Burge participates with Long Live the Kings for Hood Canal Recovery Effort Long Live the Kings has been working to recover threatened salmon and steelhead in Hood Canal since 1993. They have focused on using hatchery propagation to increase the abundance of wild fish populations where numbers have diminished to a trickle. They realized early-on that the sustainability of Hood Canal salmon runs would require a comprehensive, holistic approach-one in which habitat, harvest, and hatchery efforts worked in harmony, and have now engaged in several initiatives, with an array of partnering organizations, aimed at implementing a comprehensive recovery approach in Hood Canal.

construction, past timber management practices have badly damaged the forest ecosystem, and present logging practices continue that destruction. As global warming increases over this century, those impacts will (be compounded), causing larger winter floods, lower summer and fall stream flows and increased stream temperatures. These conditions will further degrade the productive capacity of Hood Canal rivers. Restoring and protecting the complete array of wild fish habitats and their associated ecosystem components is the only chance we have to prevent extinction of wild salmonids from existing anthromorphic activities and changing environmental conditions.

Dick Burge, WSC’s V.P. of Conservation, has been participating with Long Live the Kings, along with a number of other representatives from partnering agencies. Representatives from these partnering agencies have submitted their opinions regarding this project in a roundtable discussion of the Hood Canal recovery issue on its website: Dick Burge’s contribution to this discussion, on behalf of the Wild Steelhead Coalition, is provided below:

Possibly the only way to accomplish habitat and ecosystem restoration is to preserve broad corridors along these rivers through one of several governmental acts or private organizations similar to the preservation of wild fish ecosystems along the Queets (National Parks) and Hoh Rivers (The Hoh River Trust).

Q: What are the inherent challenges and opportunities of salmonid recovery in Hood Canal? D.B: The Wild Steelhead Coalition believes that a holistic vision of wild steelhead and salmon recovery in Hood Canal, and for other Western Washington waters, must include a pathway for all ecosystem components to recover toward historical levels. Working to restore the abundance of the badly depleted wild steelhead and salmon populations must include serious attention to their habitat problems. A chance for success in recovering Hood Canal salmon means starting with the watershed, estuaries and the migratory paths of wild fish and understanding what habitat changes, including water quality, have occurred in the last two centuries. Habitat recovery and protection, and the elimination of segregated hatchery plantings, coupled with conservative fisheries management that addresses rebuilding the complete suite of the Viable Salmonid Population parameters (or VSP, defined as adequate abundance, diversity, productivity and distribution) provides the best chance of success for restoring wild steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal rivers

Q: What will it take for current salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the Canal to work? D.B.: Wild fish habitat should be restored to conditions that early settlers found before the saw, the plough, in-river and streamside development, multiple pollutants and other damaging activities invaded the watersheds and marine waters of Hood Canal. These activities collectively removed much of the protective and rearing properties of the rivers and estuaries. Our collective concept of healthy wild fish habitat is badly skewed by what we observe today; a badly damaged habitat that seems natural and productive to us, given that it has been in this condition for over a century. Although most Hood Canal Peninsula rivers have escaped some of the destructive anthropogenic forces that have occurred in other Pacific Northwest areas, such as dams and streamside

The Adipose

Q: How can we, as non-profits, landowners, business people, fishers, tribal members, scientists, agency staff, and citizens, ensure that salmon recovery in Hood Canal is supported and effective? D.B.: Recovering wild fish stocks to healthy populations through management changes must include rebuilding the VSP parameters (i.e., abundance, diversity, productivity and distribution) toward past levels. Properties of the VSP parameters during the turn of the 19th Century are important to understand, even if they are not fully achievable; ignoring these historical parameters will assure we set our vision far too low, and rebuild/ manage below what might otherwise be achievable. Following this approach, the Wild Steelhead Coalition envisions healthy populations that approach historical abundance, diversity that is allowed to rebuild to its natural genetic and habitat imposed levels, and wild fish fully occupying the productive habitat and productivity/escapement levels that meet, and at times exceed, the rivers carrying capacity for juveniles. The Wild Steelhead Coalition envisions a new fisheries management system for Hood Canal Rivers that is conservative and always errs on recovering and maintaining healthy wild stocks. We support this concept in terms of fisheries planning that manages for maximum juvenile production supported by existing habitat for each stock to assure maximum sustaining river and ocean abundances, instead of managing populations down to the knife edge “allowed” by mathematical harvest models. We believe, with habitat restoration and good management, wild steelhead will return to these waters in numbers that will exceed the combination of hatchery and limited wild stocks that are continually diminished by introgression, ecological competition, and mixed stock fisheries.

Q: What needs to happen for recovery to last? D.B.: For some species, as wild steelhead, we must recognize that recovery will be very difficult and productivity may be lower than that of other species of salmon. A second recognition is that these are small rivers that can easily be depleted again. A more conservative fishing approach for steelhead would include catch and release fisheries for sport fishers, limited ceremonial and subsistence harvests for the local Indian tribes, and maintaining healthy return levels that assure the maintenance of abundance, diversity, productivity and distribution (i.e. high VSP characteristics). Other salmon species may provide higher or lower harvests depending on the ability of a recovered habitat to support their production.


WSC Membership & Renewals: The annual WSC membership period runs from January - December of each year. Your Membership dues payment enables the Coalition to fulfill our mission of increasing the return of wild steelhead to the waters and rivers of the Pacific Northwest.

To JOIN WSC, go to:

To RENEW your membership, go to: If you have any further questions regarding membership please contact Jim Schmitz, V.P. of Membership at:

The Wild Steelhead Coalition is a Federally Recognized 501c(3) organization; as such, your donation is completely tax deductible and may qualify for matching funds through your employer. An easy way to increase the impact of your donation is to have your employer match it. Thousands of companies have Matching Gift Programs that will double, or even triple, individual tax-deductible contributions made by their employees. Check with your personnel office to find our about your companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s program. They will give you a matching gift form that you can fill out and send to us with your contribution.

The Wild Steelhead Coalition was founded in 2000, and is dedicated to increasing the return of wild steelhead to waters of the Pacific Northwest.

218 Main Street, Box 264 Kirkland, Washington 98033


The Adipose

The Adipose - Wild Steelhead Coalition newsletter  

The Adipose is the quarterly newsletter of the Wild Steelhead Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the return of wild steelhead to...

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