If the dams were removed would salmon start growing to the size of June hogs?


I think if we had less fishing pressure in the oceans, there would be higher chances that fish could overwinter in the ocean enough to grow to that size but even right now theirs pressure towards more jacks and smaller fish.

It'll be cool to see what happens on the Elwha River in Washington since they historically had a huge run of salmon and June hogs before the dams were put in but since they've been removed and more habitat has opened up maybe they'll grow bigger again. As well as if the Klamath Dams finally stop getting delayed and are finally taken down and the 400 miles of spawning habitat behind them are opened up.

I think it is interesting to think about (and if anyone has the answer do tell) Do the fish change feeding behavior and grow bigger according to predetermined genetics or to where they are born in the river?, because I read somewhere that fish picked out of the water in one spot and moved downstream as smolt skipping various parts of the river, they have a harder time migrating back to where they were hatched, which I think implies that they know the river and learn it as they go down.
 

pinstriper

Well-known member
I think if we had less fishing pressure in the oceans, there would be higher chances that fish could overwinter in the ocean enough to grow to that size but even right now theirs pressure towards more jacks and smaller fish.

It'll be cool to see what happens on the Elwha River in Washington since they historically had a huge run of salmon and June hogs before the dams were put in but since they've been removed and more habitat has opened up maybe they'll grow bigger again. As well as if the Klamath Dams finally stop getting delayed and are finally taken down and the 400 miles of spawning habitat behind them are opened up.

I think it is interesting to think about (and if anyone has the answer do tell) Do the fish change feeding behavior and grow bigger according to predetermined genetics or to where they are born in the river?, because I read somewhere that fish picked out of the water in one spot and moved downstream as smolt skipping various parts of the river, they have a harder time migrating back to where they were hatched, which I think implies that they know the river and learn it as they go down.
My understanding is that they don't memorize the route. What they do seek is the specific particular smell of the water source they come from, which reflects the unique mineral mix (and probably also organics). Which is how they can not only locate the right stream but smell is also how they know it is time to move in from the ocean/bay after a rain that causes the river to rise enough for passage.

Also it isn't just about dams interfering with passage (in both directions) but the destruction of habitat, silting up of the spawning gravel, and higher water temperatures due to loss of tree cover in the drainage. They all contribute.

So just getting rid of dams ? Won't do as much as you think.
 

C_Run

Well-known member
The other thing anadromous fish do is know their location by the Earth's magnetic field. They can perceive where they are as they migrate.

As a side note, the removal (lethal, I think) of some of the sea lions at the Oregon City dam has been credited with an increase in winter steelhead in the Willamette this year.
 

Irishrover

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The Marmot Dam on the Sandy was removed almost 12 years ago. The upper Sandy River and it's tributaries from the junction of the Salmon River have a fishing ban on them. This includes the whole Salmon River, the Zig Zag River, Still Creek and others. The idea was to create a anadromous fish sanctuary. None of this has produced an increase in the Sandy River fish runs. Even the once famous smelt stopped showing up. That is a fine river and a lot of work has gone into habitat. Wish I knew what the problem was, but removing the dam wasn't the magic cure .
 
The Marmot Dam on the Sandy was removed almost 12 years ago. The upper Sandy River and it's tributaries from the junction of the Salmon River have a fishing ban on them. This includes the whole Salmon River, the Zig Zag River, Still Creek and others. The idea was to create a anadromous fish sanctuary. None of this has produced an increase in the Sandy River fish runs. Even the once famous smelt stopped showing up. That is a fine river and a lot of work has gone into habitat. Wish I knew what the problem was, but removing the dam wasn't the magic cure .

This is not completely true according to multiple reports found online using the Google.

But to answer the original question, size of fish has a lot to do with genetics
 

twout

Member
Interesting. I live on the upper Sandy and I have seen a positive change. Is it gonna be open anytime soon, I sure the heck hope not.
 

markasd

Active member
The Grand Coulee dam would have to be removed for true June hogs to exhist. That is where they came from..
 

my2labs

Active member
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Lets be real.... removing all damns is the ultimate solution to the problem. However, (staying real here), there is zero chance the country can afford the removal of Bonneville or other damns of that magnitude. It’s just not feasible. Say what you want about what we “should” do.... or focus on what actually has a chance at getting done.

I’m no biologist, but I moved to Portland 8 years ago and about 4 years ago, my catch rate started falling. And finally, last year, I did not net one steelhead in my boat.

I do not know what to do about the problem, but sea lion removal, cormorant removal etc are just bandaids for sure because those large damns are not going anywhere.....

And just to clarify, I’m not against the bandaids. But I’m also not ignoring the real problem, that appears to have no realistic solution....
 

Irishrover

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Been fishing the Sandy since the 1960s. There were plenty of steelhead when ODF&W was using Big Creek hatchery stock. They returned earlier then the fish do now. There was a change to the fish management on the river. They went to Sandy River brood stock. Then reduced the amount of hatchery fish they put in the river. That river being in the middle of the metro area needs all the help it can get, and it was hatchery fish that helped do just that. My earliest memories of that river are from the 1950s as a youngster dip netting smelt with my family, and in the 1960s as a youth it was a quick trip with my buddies to fish a river full of coho in September.

Perhaps the population of the metro area has grown to large to sustain a fishery on the river. Just too many people chasing too few fish, combined with the new fish management policies and court orders. I see two choices, close the river to all fishing or increase hatchery production.
 

homerhomer

New member
The Sandy has gone down hill even in the last 6 years I've been fishing it. Last year I didn't hook a winter after about 12 trips and I just gave up. Same story with my buddy who fishes it too.

From my perspective the lower river is too crowded with motor boats. The fish don't bite when it's super noisy with jet boats. Plus they add about 4-5 feet of murky water from the shore and they make it unfishable for everyone on the bank.

When I started fishing the Sandy. I would see other fishermen catch and hook fish. As of lately, I might see 10 fishermen and nothing.

The last two years I have seen sea lions while fishing. This would be pretty discouraging too.

In theory, the wild fish should be doing better without the dams but it just seems like there's no fish.
 

GungasUncle

Well-known member
Dam removal won't mean more, or bigger fish. It would mean Portland and most communities down stream of the dams would be wiped out every couple years.

Ocean conditions, depredation, pollution, commercial fisheries and to an extent sport pressure have all lead to where we are today. We can mitigate the problems dams pose to an extent - better fish ladders, bottom release water in the summer when surface temps get roasting hot for cold water fish... one thing that can't really be solved is the issue that dams create a haven for smolt predators like Squawfish, Walleye, and Bass, but even those are minor. Sea lions, birds and commercial nets have a larger impact to returning fish.

If you look at rivers that don't have any dams, they still have issues with returns and diminishing size. You can't blame the dams for that, but other activity - like pollution, clear cuts that lead to horrific flooding and silting during critical spawning times, over fishing in the ocean are human-created problems that can be fixed relatively quick.

We could also ramp up hatchery production again, but we don't because lawsuits. The NFS has a rage-knobber for hatchery fish and subscribe to the fairy tale that there are actually pure strain wild fish in the northwest - after a century and a half of mixed hatchery-wild production, but they get the courts to side with them often enough that hatchery programs get axed as "pollution" - because putting fish in a river that had fish is pollution...

Maybe we'd be better off adapting to the changing nature of rivers and the planet - the biosphere was not meant to be static - as conditions change some species go away and others take their place. Maybe we should just give the death blow to pacific salmon, and stock a few billion striped bass fry, brown trout, and northern pike that are more adept at living in the conditions we've created?
 

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