Steelhead fishing\conservation question?

Steelie Mike,

Just a quick one. Can you tell me of where else there is a commericial fishery on Steelhead? I am just wondering as you said others are commercial fishing these same fish. I love to learn about issues would like to be educated.



Active Member
ironically, if anyone really feels that they can only support, by spending their dollars and time, fishing in and around areas where sound fish management practices are in place, you had best leave washington state.
I know several people who pay to fish the Quinault pay-to-play fishery. They admittedly are out to catch a lot of steelhead, not looking for an inspiring fishing experience (camping, sitting under a tarp during an Olympic Peninsula rain, or having a dram of bourbon in the evening around the campfire). I believe that more people today are out to catch steelhead with far less importance placed on the entire experience. I'm sure that this phenomanon is in part due to a lack to time for recreation in today's fast-paced society. In part is is certainly industry and media driven.
I am not so naive to believe that everyone should leap into and wallow around in the works of Roderick Haig-Brown or Steve Raymond to get a feel for the steelhead fishing experience. I do sense that there is an overriding umbrella of desparation casting a shadow over today's steelheader, particularly those who have taken up the sport within the last decade or so. This is due in some measure at least, to the fact that we have the same number, or possibly more steelheaders in Washington and a declining steelhead population. Anyone on this thread who wants to look at numbers can check out the Wild Steelhead Coalition website and look at the charts on the population trends and losses in some of our Washington rivers. It is pretty grim.
Perhaps the proposed hatchery reform will help the steelhead. I certainly hope so. In my opinion, increasinlgy stringent regulations (for instance, a 10-fish annual punch card) and a more realistic price for a steelhead tag would help; including a significant fee for killing a wild fish. Increasing good outreach/education programs for young, upcoming fly-fishers might help bring us back to the importance of the entire fishing experience. This would be a long-term endeavor.
However, I read years ago, a line by a writer whose name has slipped my aging memory; "It used to be about the fishing. Now its just about catching fish." I expect steelhead fishing to fit into this quote for some years to come.
Just my 2-cents.
Good Fishing,
Les Johnson

James Mello

Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"
Steelheadjunky said:
Steelie Mike,

Just a quick one. Can you tell me of where else there is a commericial fishery on Steelhead? I am just wondering as you said others are commercial fishing these same fish. I love to learn about issues would like to be educated.

Another thing to tack onto that question would be the percentage (estimated?) of bycatch by other fisheries?

-- Cheers
-- James

Will Atlas

certainly bycatch is a huge problem. And since retaining wild steelhead in marine waters off washington is illegal most of it goes unreported. Up north the Thompson is plauged with bycatch problems from chum fisheries, and alot of those fish are actually being caught stateside in the striait of J de fuca. Also, as I understand it, many years up to 3/4s of the run no the Dean is caught as bycatch in the dean channel....thats just obscene. I realize sport fishermen arent the only user group, but honestly. Thats scientficially and biologically inexcusable.
Steelheadjunky said:
1) Do people feel, that use this fishery, that they are supporting what the quinalts are doing and continuation?
2) Do people continue to support places, cities, and shops that support the kill of wild fisheries or that support others that support the kill of wild fishery?
3) Do people that fish for steelhead feel a responsibility to get involved.
1. I’m with Steelie Mike. While I do not agree with some of the Quinault fisheries management practices, I also don’t agree with some of Washington State’s fisheries management practices.
Since I have fished Quinault Tribal waters and have hired their now famous flyfishing guide… I guess it’s yes on supporting the Quinault fishery

Then again, I buy a Washington State fishing license, I fish state water, I catch their hatchery fish. Does that mean I support what the Washington State fishery does and continues to do? Yes, I guess it does.

2. I don’t know what this question actually mean??? Urban growth, strip malls, bad logging practices, and dams will contribute to the decline of the native steelhead population, just as well as commercial fishing, bad hatchery programs, gill nets and legal retention of the species. I guess I better move to another state.

3. Yes, I do. Actually I work for a county agency mapping and locating the storm-water drainage systems and their outfalls in compliance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which is a part of The Clean Water Act. We also regulate and implement Better Management Practices for roadside construction, public and private in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. I have helped with fish exclusion with the restoration of Hylebos Creek and tributaries of the Sammamish River blah, blah, blah,… you get my point. But yes I could do more….everyone can.

There are many interest groups that have a stake in this battle and with comments from Softwaterstucture that alienates a large portion within the flyfishing community …it divides us and becomes counter productive to what he probably wants to achieve.

We bicker about swinging vs. nymphing, gear vs. fly fishing, point fingers at this group and that group. Pointless. We as a sports fishing community need to come together and unite. We need get our own house in order before we start criticizing others.

Lastly, I fish to have fun…..if it isn’t fun, why would I do it. Catching is not my priority but I like to catch fish. Pretty simple.
Do you all remember why you go fishing?
Steelheadjunky said:
Steelie Mike,

Just a quick one. Can you tell me of where else there is a commericial fishery on Steelhead? I am just wondering as you said others are commercial fishing these same fish. I love to learn about issues would like to be educated.

Can you honestly tell me that that fleet of boats that fish the mouth of the Columbia River does not catch and kill steelhead while they stage for their migration up the Columbia and Snake Rivers? Weather it be a bycatch or not, the these same commericial fishing vessels are increasing fish mortality. Cascade mentioned another example of the once great summer run on the Thompson in BC. The run has bas been desimated over the years due to the commerical fishing of salmon. Are these fish for propogation, no but they are caught, killed and sold in markets throughout the Pacific Northwest?


Active Member
didn't the mesh size get changed to bigger on the columbia R. fishery to combat this exact issue??? just askin.
The net size on the Columbia River is an interesting topic...

At first, the nets were of sufficient size to allow smaller fish, i.e., steelhead, to get through...those, however, were deadly on the unclipped Spring Chinook, which were really limiting the commercial fishery.

So...they came up with the "tangle net"...and don't let the name fool you, it is not some super new is merely a net of the mesh size designed to gill and kill coho and steelhead...but when used for larger fish like Chinook, many, but by no means all of them are "tangled"...the mesh gets wrapped around their snout, but does not gill and kill them.

These small mesh gillnets...misnamed "tangle nets" by the commercial fishing industry and their lackeys at WDFW and ODFW, and at NOAA-F for that matter, too...are absolutely deadly on the steelhead.

They end up swapping back and forth throughout the Columbia River fishery, alternating between killing ESA springers and ESA steelhead, just so that they can access a handful of clipped hatchery springers.

Overall the fishery catches about 2 non-target ESA listed fish for every target fish...yet, the fishery remains.

Ain't politics grand?

Sorry for the thread hijack, but that's the deal with the mesh size on Columbia River nets...oh, and there are no directed commercial fisheries for steelhead outside of tribal fishing, and except for the Columbia River spring Chinook fishery, there is very little commercial interception of steelhead as bycatch in Washington.

Fish on...

softwaterstructure said:
however many a modern day steelheader is not a steelheader in the truest sense of the word. they are trout fishermen who grabbed a handful of glo-bugs, beads and prince nymphs and started catching fish without any regard to the responsibilities that come with territory of being a steelheader.
Just a question.

So the pre-modern "truest sense of the word" Steelheader was taking the responsibility to care for the resource properly?
:rolleyes: Granted I've only been on this planet for 31 years, but in my short life all I've seen of the fishermen who want to save the fish is bickering back and fourth based on junk science in between buying steroid laden meat for dinner, fertalizing their gardens with steroid laden cow krap and pestecides, clocking into their 9-5 er using electricty generated by pumping mercury into the air, all the while their wives are pissing birth control hormones into the water steralizing or mixed sexing the fish. Yeah, great job taking responsibility "true" steelheaders. Keep up the good work. Glad there were no complications coming out of the womb swinging a fly.

somone who was not born with the knowledge of "true" steelheading and unfortunatly learned how to catch a trout first so I will never gain access to that special club.

If you want to fix things, vote for someone who gives a damn.
This type of post makes about as much sense as two women discussing feminism at a strip club.

Swing or nymph, traditional spey fly or glue egg probably make 0% difference to the fish after the metal hook has pierced into it's jawbone.

Let's face it gents, WE NEGATIVELY IMPACT STEELHEAD (and any species we pursue) NO MATTER HOW WE CHOOSE TO PURSUE THEM.

In the raw, we all are all imitating food to lure the fish to strike, we are all pretty savagely hooking fish with sharp metal hooks, we all bring the steelhead to it's life's most exhausted and dangerous point of survival. WE ALL KNOW THAT THERE IS A MORALITY RATE EVEN IN THE SHORTEST FIGHT AND GENTLE RELEASE.

We speak conversation? Can you imagine a marine biologist that works to protect Orcas hooking into one of his off day. Could you imagine a wolf conversationist setting a foot trap to catch a wolf and then discussing why that trap is a "safer trap" or "more traditional trap" than the next guys. The wolfs foot is broken and stuck in the trap, does it really matter?

I'd venture to say that a very, very few of us are abusing any fish cognitively. I also know that without sportsman there would be very few "watchdog" groups to drive any conservation at all (TU, Pheasant's Forever, Duck's Unlimited). So I guess we are a necessary evil?

To have the cavalier attitude that what we do (any type of fishing) is somehow good for the fish is ridiculous. If we were true conservationists we simply would NOT FISH and still support conversation in our fisheries.

So boys, jump off the fly fishing perch we all love to stand on.....

Let's go fishing, respect the resource, and each do the right thing. That's our little peice of conservation that we CAN effect everytime we wet the line.:confused:
Jason Baker said:
This type of post makes about as much sense as two women discussing feminism at a strip club.
Forgive me if you weren't talking about my post. :)

That is a poor analogy. We all have the same goal here. Keeping fish runs healthy enough for us to catch more fish. The feminists goal is to shut down the nudie bar, not keep just enough smokin hot college chicks desperate enough to dance around naked for a few bucks.

Swinging a fly or nymph will have no effect on either situation.
Jason Baker said:
I shoold have said thread, not post. No knives being thrown here, just food for thought.....
Good Food! :)

PS Thanks for making me remember that it is legal to incedentally gill net an endangered chinook but is illegal to get a lap dance. ::beathead: