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Old 09-20-2020, 10:50 PM   #1
Beefcake
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Default Buck to hen ratio

As I was cleaning 4 chinook tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to find eggs in one of them. This made me realize that very few of the fish I kept on the Columbia this fall were hens. Obviously, my anecdotal recollection of my boat’s catch isn’t solid proof of anything, but it seems that we usually get closer to a 50/50 split. I do know that I have way less eggs in the freezer than normal. Did anyone else notice a similar trend this year, or was this just random luck? Are fish stocks generally 50/50-ish in buck to hen ratio? Would a change in the ratio mean anything about the health of the runs? As I said, I don’t think my catch rate is high enough to create a statistically significant sample; I’m just curious.


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Old 09-21-2020, 06:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

I usually get 90% hens with Chinook. Those are early fish though.
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Old 09-21-2020, 06:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Nine Chinook, one Coho. The only buck was a jack Chinook. First fish Aug 23, last fish Sept 20.
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Old 09-21-2020, 06:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

I've been around 10 hens in a row for fall chinook this year. I'd love to see a big buck.
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Old 09-21-2020, 07:50 AM   #5
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Even the hatcheries don't often get a 50/50 M/F ratio. Last year, some hatcheries got 75% males. Some of this is random, but some of it is harvest in the ocean. Females need to spend more time in the ocean to grow big enough to produce eggs. If the ocean harvest is high enough, the females will get caught in higher proportion than the males since the females need to spend more time out there. If the males mature early, they will return at an earlier age, and therefore skew the sex ratio to mostly males. This is particularly true for Fall Chinook.

In a good year, the ratio in hatcheries might be around 50/50. Getting alot more males than females is the norm. Getting more females than males is very unusual.
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:20 AM   #6
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Our crew has bonked 25 fish this season I believe. only 7 or 8 hens.

Week we were there for B10, we only got 2 hens of the 15ish we bonked.
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Old 09-21-2020, 09:01 AM   #7
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Early in the fall season , I was getting vast majority of hens both above the damn and at buoy 10, this last week all have been bucks, saturday my boat went 11 for 16 we kept 5 adults all bucks and 4 jacks kinda strange or just coincidence.
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Old 09-21-2020, 11:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

My ratio of bucks and hens have been more hens. This includes spring and fall chinook. I am not complaining, as its kept me from having to buy eggs all year. This past weekend, I got 3 fish and 2 were hens. One was a upper 20s pound hen with HUGE berries. Bucks sure are better eating, IMO.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

From what I understand, it is normal for most runs to have the females arrive first. They run up and find a spot in the gravel then the males arriver to pair up.

In human terms. The women know that we will chase them, not the other way around.
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Old 09-21-2020, 03:32 PM   #10
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Been close to 50/50 for me this fall when usually its predominantly bucks.
Picked up another 20+ lb hen this am and have more eggs than I can use at this point.
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:09 PM   #11
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

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Originally Posted by Coastalhounddog View Post
Been close to 50/50 for me this fall when usually its predominantly bucks.
Picked up another 20+ lb hen this am and have more eggs than I can use at this point.

I can help with that...................
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:13 PM   #12
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All bucks for us, and I've wondered the same.
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

If you fish only periodically, like most, your sample size only gives you anecdotal evidence. Fish a small river all year long and you will get a better "feel" for what I'm talking about. Fishing the Columbia and it's random.
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Old 09-21-2020, 08:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Maybe 60::40 males::females this fall season
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Old 09-22-2020, 08:58 AM   #15
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

I can't catch hens for the life of me. Most seasons, I end up having to buy eggs from the natives just to get me through the season. I can catch 10 fish in a row, all bucks and zero hens. Maybe I give off the wrong (or right?) scent? I don't know, but I've been having the most frustrating seasons (yes it's been this way for years) of being able to catch enough fish to keep me and the fam happy, but never hens, blowing TONS of money on poor quality eggs and never really being able to catch a break...Pun intended. If anyone has any sympathy for a poor, broke soul, I'd love to read a few messages in my inbox, I'm starting to make excuses to NOT go fishing because of just how expensive it is for me, and how immensely frustrating it is to watch everyone else pull in huge hens w/5lb skeins, only to always pull in bucks (ok maybe not 5lb skeins but my mental is in the tank). Otherwise, my ratio is basically, 1 in 12 fish are hens.
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Old 09-22-2020, 09:21 AM   #16
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

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Originally Posted by roadster99 View Post
I can't catch hens for the life of me. Most seasons, I end up having to buy eggs from the natives just to get me through the season. I can catch 10 fish in a row, all bucks and zero hens. Maybe I give off the wrong (or right?) scent? I don't know, but I've been having the most frustrating seasons (yes it's been this way for years) of being able to catch enough fish to keep me and the fam happy, but never hens, blowing TONS of money on poor quality eggs and never really being able to catch a break...Pun intended. If anyone has any sympathy for a poor, broke soul, I'd love to read a few messages in my inbox, I'm starting to make excuses to NOT go fishing because of just how expensive it is for me, and how immensely frustrating it is to watch everyone else pull in huge hens w/5lb skeins, only to always pull in bucks (ok maybe not 5lb skeins but my mental is in the tank). Otherwise, my ratio is basically, 1 in 12 fish are hens.


The only thing I can say is, do you really need eggs?


I think I catch almost as many fish as many here and I RARELY use eggs.

Sure there are seasons and species and water levels that are primarily egg bite times. Think Springers. But even those fish can be taken on MANY other lures.

This year on the Cowlitz, I was wishing I had better eggs for side drifting but other than that, I keep my few eggs for springers and use everything else for all other seasons. ( you should have seen the look on peoples' faces as I side drifted a spinner down the Blue Creek run and hooked a 15 pound buck at the boat ramp )

Here's the REAL kicker though. Given the state of our fisheries, I tend to NOT want to keep the carriers of our next generations. Overwhelmed hatcheries are not as common as they used to be. Even hatchery hens are needed for brood. States keep closing runs because they can't make return numbers for their hatcheries.


I'm well aware of the efficacy of eggs. I grew up in the day of drift fishing. All the best fisherman used eggs all year long. Everybody I knew carried ONE ROD, wore a torn up vest, had a white egg towel hanging from their belt and had a plastic bait box on their belt. Long ago, I decided to try and break away from eggs. I've caught at least 10 or 11 fish since.

Bottom line, don't fret a lack of eggs. Embrace your inner environmentalist.
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Old 09-22-2020, 09:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Great post KG. I've been catching mainly hens in the Columbia and other than my first one let them all go looking for bucks and higher quality meat.

Last edited by Snopro; 09-22-2020 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 09-22-2020, 09:40 AM   #18
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

This year, my ratio was 6 bucks and 1 hen. I'm used to that ratio though from our college house party days.

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Old 09-22-2020, 10:30 AM   #19
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Quote:
Originally Posted by roadster99 View Post
I can't catch hens for the life of me. Most seasons, I end up having to buy eggs from the natives just to get me through the season. I can catch 10 fish in a row, all bucks and zero hens. Maybe I give off the wrong (or right?) scent? I don't know, but I've been having the most frustrating seasons (yes it's been this way for years) of being able to catch enough fish to keep me and the fam happy, but never hens, blowing TONS of money on poor quality eggs and never really being able to catch a break...Pun intended. If anyone has any sympathy for a poor, broke soul, I'd love to read a few messages in my inbox, I'm starting to make excuses to NOT go fishing because of just how expensive it is for me, and how immensely frustrating it is to watch everyone else pull in huge hens w/5lb skeins, only to always pull in bucks (ok maybe not 5lb skeins but my mental is in the tank). Otherwise, my ratio is basically, 1 in 12 fish are hens.
You don't need eggs to catch salmon. They are a nice arrow to have in your quiver, but you must have an array of different things to throw at em. Go buy some spinners or spoons you can chuck, go get a sand shrimp gun and pump free bait, get some spin and glows, maybe some jigs, and don't forget kwik fish. All of this also costs some money, but at least you have better odds of finding something they can't resist to bite.
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Old 09-22-2020, 01:18 PM   #20
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

I don’t even put eggs up anymore. George is right no need for eggs....I always hated seeing people in upper tribs in the old days killing the hens for eggs only. I’m sure it still goes on but I rarely fish upper rivers nowadays so haven’t witnessed it ....


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Old 09-22-2020, 01:51 PM   #21
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Derrick, theres definitely still hen hunters out there. I will say that I've ran into alot of responsible eggheads, though. Ive seen a couple people even release wild hens, and wait for a hatch hen. I wouldn't go so far as to say there's no need for eggs, especially in upriver trips, but there's alot of other techniques that work well if you don't have eggs readily avail.
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:07 PM   #22
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

We've got 3 in the boat this year, all bucks. (two weekends ago, got shut out this last weekend).
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:49 PM   #23
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Derrick, theres definitely still hen hunters out there. I will say that I've ran into alot of responsible eggheads, though. Ive seen a couple people even release wild hens, and wait for a hatch hen. I wouldn't go so far as to say there's no need for eggs, especially in upriver trips, but there's alot of other techniques that work well if you don't have eggs readily avail.

I was probably referring to myself as my personal style of fishing has changed. Back when I side drifted a lot I loved egg fishing and then there was back bouncing and that was a egg only deal for me to. Seems I mainly pull herring, Anchovy’s or plugs any more on the big water. Do miss smaller water although.....
I will say when I fished smaller rivers for Chinook the plugs accounted for much brighter aggressive fish then the eggs.


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Old 09-22-2020, 03:43 PM   #24
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Great post KG. I've been catching mainly hens in the Columbia and other than my first one let them all go looking for bucks and higher quality meat.

BINGO!!

If you're eating them, bucks are the way to go. Hens use too much energy in egg production. That energy is FLAVOR to you and me!!

This topic deserves it's own thread. Sorry for the highjack.
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:29 PM   #25
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I just quit fishing where eggs are needed. A chunk of shrimp works as good as eggs for Steelhead.



Like Derrick mentioned, egg harvesting, not fish harvesting. In a previous life I was certainly in the middle of that. Not the upriver snagging part.
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:45 PM   #26
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Derrick, my biggest, and most memorable salmoniods have come from plugs or kwiks. I can definitely relate to that. And, I might add, they were all bucks.

Got a question for you effishynados out there... would you say you hook more hens off of eggs than bucks?
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:22 PM   #27
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KG, and others............ I don't post much anymore but had to chime in. As a long time salmon fisherman 50+ yrs, who has had many many years of 200+ Chinook, ( springers, URBS ( when the CR was open back then), B-10 and Fall coastal fish, I applaud for releasing hens. I have not kept a hen (except for the occasional springer) in 20+ years, Especially fall costal fish. Fact is, bucks taste better and there are ALLWAYS enough bucks to fertalize the reds, Those male fish and not that fare from us humans..

SO YES, please release any hens that you feel Ok doing so. Let them go to the gravel and make babies. The future depends on these hens.

I have very few regrets in my life as I enjoy my 65th trip around the sun, but if there was one thing I could do over it would be to let more girls go so they could spawn............ FB
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:44 PM   #28
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Whethole... Great question. I would say more hens on eggs. But, one day on the Trask tidewater I landed nine bucks, lost two fish one of the two was a hen for sure. Released everything. One of the bucks was awfully close to 50.
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:59 AM   #29
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I wasn’t really paying attention to the sex of the fish I catch until this thread popped up. My last 4 fish (3 chinook, 1 coho) have been hens. I do agree trib hens don’t eat as well, but the hens I’ve caught have cut really well. For example
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Old 09-23-2020, 07:59 AM   #30
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Default Re: Buck to hen ratio

Quote:
Originally Posted by KalamaGeo View Post
The only thing I can say is, do you really need eggs?


I think I catch almost as many fish as many here and I RARELY use eggs.

Sure there are seasons and species and water levels that are primarily egg bite times. Think Springers. But even those fish can be taken on MANY other lures.

This year on the Cowlitz, I was wishing I had better eggs for side drifting but other than that, I keep my few eggs for springers and use everything else for all other seasons. ( you should have seen the look on peoples' faces as I side drifted a spinner down the Blue Creek run and hooked a 15 pound buck at the boat ramp )

Here's the REAL kicker though. Given the state of our fisheries, I tend to NOT want to keep the carriers of our next generations. Overwhelmed hatcheries are not as common as they used to be. Even hatchery hens are needed for brood. States keep closing runs because they can't make return numbers for their hatcheries.


I'm well aware of the efficacy of eggs. I grew up in the day of drift fishing. All the best fisherman used eggs all year long. Everybody I knew carried ONE ROD, wore a torn up vest, had a white egg towel hanging from their belt and had a plastic bait box on their belt. Long ago, I decided to try and break away from eggs. I've caught at least 10 or 11 fish since.

Bottom line, don't fret a lack of eggs. Embrace your inner environmentalist.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whethole View Post
You don't need eggs to catch salmon. They are a nice arrow to have in your quiver, but you must have an array of different things to throw at em. Go buy some spinners or spoons you can chuck, go get a sand shrimp gun and pump free bait, get some spin and glows, maybe some jigs, and don't forget kwik fish. All of this also costs some money, but at least you have better odds of finding something they can't resist to bite.
You don't need them to catch them, but where I fish, you're not going to catch one without them. I take that back. Sand Shrimp will work, but not consistently enough for me to be able to rely on it. Plus the truck only comes thru once a week. I can count the amount of times guys have pulled in a salmon on a any type of gear besides eggs on one hand.

I've spent hundreds upon hundreds on spinners, spoons, jigs, tying materials, wiggle-worts, etc. To think I haven't tried any of that is misleading. Of course I've tried it. I just don't have very much success with it. "Can't resist to bite" isn't something that this kind of gear has shown me. I find that using bait. I do ok with twitching on certain bodies of water, and I really enjoy that. Catching something on a home-made is always lit. I just find the most consistency and confidence fishing eggs...In the end we always default back to what we know works. This is it for me.

I can go to another river, you are right. But when the fishing is so good where I'm at, it's difficult to go elsewhere. I pass it on the way to work and on the way home. Hard to say no to that..But I do agree with the sustainability argument. My only counter would be that I enjoy feeling confident when I fish. I've put in the time and effort with other gear and it doesn't pay off the way eggs do. Now whether that time and effort was the correct way of fishing this gear, judging by my success rate, probably not. It's hard to not just throw a jar of eggs and a container of sand shrimp into the truck and stop by the bank on the way home...

EDIT: I will add as well, I can't afford a boat, even a small one. So getting to good spots is much more difficult. I can't troll. Guys hammer when they troll at where I fish. Yeah, if I could deploy all that I would. Costs too much money. I'm already broke trying to be a bank fisherman. Boats put you in a whole other ball game and a whole new level that can't compete with catch rates vs a bank fisherman, at least in my opinion.

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Old 09-23-2020, 08:15 AM   #31
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I can help with that...................
Have the eggs uncured in the fridg if you want to drive to Vancouver.....https://www.ifish.net/board/images/smilies/wink.gif
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