'Wild steelhead irks anglers on Peninsula'

Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
>I have been thinking about giving the kill boys the
>town of Bellevue. I mean, maybe this would settle
>things. They get Bellevue and we get the respect
>accorded to normal citizens, say like those of the
>hamlet of Forks.

Give the kill boys Bellevue? Not in my backyard you don't. Send 'em to Port Ludlow instead. And by the way, they can build that new prison for sex offenders there too :-D

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
Matt, I sure hope your letter does something to shake those Times writers out of their jounalistic stupor. What a lame article!

One other factor that has been disturbing me (and that I have not heard much, if any discussion about) is the effect of Global Warming on future runs. One very likely scenario is that there will be less rainfall in the Summer, more severe flooding in the Fall, followed by less precipitation later in the Winter resulting in less snowpack. The glaciers in the Cascades and the Olympics are already shrinking in size, and Global Warming does not portend a healthy situation for the fish. Thus I think it is imperative that we do as much as possible right now to increase the size of these runs of native fish so that they will be able to better survive the coming periods of adverse conditions.
Of course, many people do not believe that global warming is happening or is even a threat, even though climatologists say that solid evidence exists to verify the theory.
So, is everybody involved just looking out for Numero Uno?
The WDFW managers just want to keep their jobs and fat salaries. The guides want to keep guiding. The poachers will keep poaching regardless. The climatologists want to get press for their theories to further their careers in academia. If there is controversy over what is actually going on, then more studies are needed and the fish biologists stay employed. Fly fishers want plenty of fish to C&R. The rural unemployed want to be able to take home meat to feed their families. The Tribes want to keep what they've got going.....etc, etc, etc, ad nauseum. Too much "us vs. them."
I believe we must somehow pull together and error on the side of conservation, even going as far as preservation in many cases, to ensure that these runs of native fish survive, come back to healthier levels, and prosper. A pie-in-the-sky daydream? An impossibility?


Oh, and to show that people can become educated a bit on the issues and perhaps change their way of thinking, just a little over two years ago I used to be irked over "catch-and-release" regs and knew absoulutely zippo about any of the issues involved here....I just wanted to go out and enjoy catching fish, and then take 'em home and eat 'em (although I have always enjoyed angling, the wonders of Nature, and being out in some unspoiled place).
>>>I especially loved the tribal natural resources guy's opinion that too many wild fish might be a bad thing because a stream has only so much "carrying capacity." What an idiot<<<

It is a fact that too many spawning fish in a system can lower the amount of future returns, for a variety of reasons. One of which is that an abundance of redds presents an extra food source for predators that feed off these eggs, and so there is a population boom in predators in future years, meaning less surving eggs.

Some fisheries managers have been criticized for allowing too many fish to spawn, such as on the Kvichak River in Alaska, where 10-15 years ago they were allowing 10 million sockeye upriver (which is much higher than they normally do) and now the run has dwindled to miniscule numbers.

My point: do your research before you call someone an "idiot."


o mykiss

Active Member
Bristol Red: are we at that point on the OP?

I still find it an amusing proposition that too many wild fish is potentially a "problem" and the solution is to keep harvesting them. But then I guess the next thing you're going to tell me is that the reason 60,000+ fish were harvested annually in the 1950s and only 3,500 in 2003 is because we let too many natives spawn in the wild over the last 50 years, which cause increased predator populations which in turn caused steelhead populations to decline. Makes total sense. Guess this wild steelhead C&R regulation spells doom for other systems as well.


Active Member
I read the article and while I didn't find the information incorrect, I do feel that it could have been written more tightly.

One fact that people don't seem to want to discuss is that when the trees were overly harvested, that OP industry went into the tank. When all the cedar stumpage was gone the shake mill industry went into the tank. When the salmon runs along the coast declined, the commercial fishery went in the tank. If there is not a message here, somebody is not listening.

As a founding member and board member of the Wild Steelhead Coalition who attends club meetings, keeps up with most bulletin boards and answers a lot of phone calls, I can say that I've never heard anyone on the east side of Puget Sound call Mayor Reed, "The catch-and-kill queen".

Please remember that it was WDFW harvest manager Bob Leland and his associate Bob Gibbons that "managed" all of those previously "healthy" rivers into their present condition. If not for the moratorium, the Olympic Peninsula rivers would very quickly make the same early closure list.

Not one person that I've been involved with has said one word about tribal netting. The tribes can harvest their share of the steelhead any way they want. It is part of the Boldt Decision. Enough said.

People complained years ago when the Yakima River went catch-and-release. Today there are more guides than the river can easily handle, fly shops on the river and restaurants and gas stations all the way through town heading for the canyon. C&R fishing has helped to restore the economy in Ellensburg.

Conversely, when the Wenatchee River was closed in 1997 the guide business disappeared along with the fly shops in town.

Local residents complained when all the streams around West Yellowstone, Montana went catch-and-release. At the time Bud Lilly had the only shop in town. Now that are many shops and a bustling guide service.

These are just a few facts that should be surfaced often to keep a true perspective on the steelhead moratorium.

Finally, where do the people in Forks think that people who hire guides come from? These "urban elistits who want the Olympic Peninsula as their playground" come from the urban centers. And, President Teddy Roosevelt was the one who implemented the National Park System so that we could have these marvelous playgrounds in perpetuity. Olympic National Park is a large part of the Olympic Peninsula.

Just my 2-cents
Good Fishing,
Les Johnson
I only mentioned the tribal netting thing because it may be an antiquated idea. It just makes me warm and fuzzy to know that we were able to give this to the natives, but the Boldt decision and our commercial treaty with Canada, along with a plethora of other factors, needs to be taken into account. The runs are gone. The WDFW needs to be revamped in order for the runs to be retuned to there former self. We don't need a WDFW, we need a PCDF. The Pacific Coastline Department of Fish management program with the authority to deal with the big picture. The BC guys are having a heck of a time too. Without all the facts and the entire west coast getting involved, the fish are screwed. This isn't a local issue, it spans the globe. At least with the moratorium, it may span the globe a little while longer.

By the way, YOU ROCK LES! When is that book coming out?

Matt Burke
I don’t know much about the science of preserving steelhead runs. But I do know something about negotiation and, to a somewhat lesser degree, diplomacy. And it seems to me that the moratorium supporters are really stubbing their toes on this one. All of us can see clearly that eliminating (or at least sharply reducing) the kill fishery will be good for the fishing & tourism industry over there. But they can’t see it because they feel “railroaded” and they’re mad as hell about it.

Maybe it’s because they’re too stupid, but I doubt that’s the reason. I think it’s because no one has had the foresight or skill to raise up a few allies within the town of Forks (or surrounding area). If you want to bring about meaningful change, you must learn how to influence people, particularly people who don’t see things the way you do. If our best ideas on influence and diplomacy are to walk into the sporting goods store and go nine rounds with the manager . . . (no offense, Bob. I’m glad you did. We just need to realize it won’t win anyone over).

The locals’ resentment toward the “Seattle area” residents appears to be deeply rooted. We are naïve to think we can tell them “this is for your own good” and not expect them to give whatever pushback they can muster, even if it really is for their own good. They’ll resist our ideas based on principle alone, and I don’t blame them.

If we want long-term solutions, we need to be smarter about this. Look at Les Johnson’s observations about the Yakima, the Wenatchee and West Yellowstone. Begin building friendly relationships with the “thought leaders” within the Forks area. Then educate them about what a limited kill fishery could mean to their economy. In time, I believe a few key influencers within Forks would come around and, when the do, we offer to help those insiders promote “their ideas.”

Or, we could just steamroll 'em. That'll work to, but it virtually guarantees the issue will never go away.

Maybe I haven’t followed this story closely enough and maybe I am missing something obvious. But it seems to me that in this case the incompetence with which we’ve handled the steelhead is rivaled only by the incompetence with which we’ve handled the people.


Piscatorial predilection
You can always tell a backwoods hick, but you can't tell him much!

I sure would be cautious about the bumper-sticker thing, if you want to return to a serviceable vehicle that is.

Although the red stamp on your money is a great idea. If they are as provincial as they sound, and I hope they are not, they might even refuse to take your money, but I doubt it.

Well Bright Rivers, what you say is true, of course, but only in a text book sort of way is it so. Sure I'd like to have a few powerful leaders in Forks and other places but it would be a miracle to have that happen. Those people are just plain beaten down and very few of them understand why this is so. They spend their days cursing the powers that be, and those powers include us unfortunately. I have the feeling that you just can't talk to them anymore than you can convince the Natives to pull their nets.
But, as a lawyer, you would be my first choice as a mediator in this thing, not just the steelhead thing, but the whole hatred of "us versus them" phenomena.
Les Johnson would represent our side. Maybe a chief from the Macahs or Quillyutes would work. And, of course, Nedra. You should meet in the Native Lodge and a big, fat pipe full of something good should be passed around before anyone says a word.
Bob, the My Job Would Be To Keep The Pipe Lit.:smokin
"Every system has a carrying capacity," Moon said. "How many fish can you put in the system before there's crowding? There's only so many places where the ideal conditions exist for spawning."

We have to keep the facts on the table

While it won't convert many people, if any, I am a believer in maintaining a basic stream of facts for everything that is said off the cuff, even with the best of intentions.

FACT - I've been spending a fair amount of my disposable income in Forks since my high school days in Aberdeen in the 1950s when gas was 22-cents a gallon. Those were the days when there was a three-steelhead-per-day limit and we all bonked our share of wild fish.

For a long, long time a hefty amount of the outside fishing money dropped in Forks has been by "Seattle area elitists", a title that probably covers everyone between Olympia and Bellingham (and probably west to Port Townsend). Any business owner in Forks who caters to anglers knows this whether they want to admit it or not.

FACT - Strange as it seems, we have all the data that influenced the F&W Commission to vote for the moratorium and we got it from the WDFW. I'm not sure that very many people in Forks have actually seen this information.

Les Johnson
You'd send a lawyer? And from Bellevue, no less? They'd show me what I could do with that pipe, I'm sure. Nope, I'm not the guy, but I appreciate the nomination.

I'd leave Chief Wahoo and Nedra out of it too.

Aren't there some local guide-types over there that some of our guide-types could become drinking buddies with. Talk shop & swap stories. Become fast friends and then brainwash 'em?

Baby steps.