Are you suggesting that the various people involved in working at the hatcheries and running the programs from Salem are conspiring to artificially inflate (lie) about the numbers of smolts being released?I’m always suspicious of what ODFW claims as are many others. Look at Jagman’s post. River was filled with outgoing steelhead smolts in the spring. Not so any more. If they’re being released, where are they?
Maybe it is possible that river physical conditions from year to year affect how long smolts hang around and are visible to anglers ... or maybe the hatchery managers adjust rearing and feeding practices from year to year in order to encourage faster outmigration and less residualization.
I am pretty sure that both natural and management factors affect the rate of smolt migration. I am less sure that there is an ODFW conspiracy to falsify smolt release data, though that could be ready for some investigative journalism. I did see with my very own eyes a crap-ton (official unit of measurement) of smolts this weekend on the mainstem Willamette, a bit upstream of Salem. They were tiny shiny salmonids of some sort, feeding actively on bugs.