Ban On Steelhead Fishing From Boats?

Jake Bannon

nymphs for steelhead....
I dont see anything bad about drifting rivers, no more than the guy tredging through 4ft tailouts stepping in redds along the way. I see no issues with the steelhead laws we have except for the wild fish retention deal the state still allows on the Penninsula. As far as ethics on fighting fish and bait mortality on adults, I think it comes down to the experiance of the fisherman. A good steelhead fisherman would know not to overplay a fish just for self satisfaction. Or take a 100pics of the same fish in different shots only to come brag about it on such boards... If the state were to ever ban the use of driftboats when steelhead fishing, to me it would be ridiculous.
i agree with the hook size limits. there should also be minimum tackle limits: rod sizes (though i realize difference in brands and rod types make this difficult), leader/tippet minimums, etc. I shudder every time I hear someone say a 5-6wt rod is plenty for summer steel. I've seen columbia river summer steel turn 7wts in to wet noodles with experienced fly fishermen. A 6wt is just going to put that fish in jeopardy


Ignored Member
Also, while anglers should always be conscientious of not wading on redds it is definitely not a limiting factor in salmonid populations and typically wading anglers aren't wading in spawning areas (fish normally spawn in midriver riffles, glides and tailouts).
Apparently you have never fished the Skagit during the hump or chum spawn. I can show you places where you can watch the people wading on redds. In many places the fish are spawning within a few feet of the bank. Chum readily spawn in areas that can and do become dewatered during low flows. Now I know this thread is about steelhead but are we to place a higher value on a particular species' survival over another just to please our desired way of fishing? I wonder how many potential surviving salmon are killed when a wader steps into the middle of a redd? Could it be more or less than the number of fish that die due to hooking mortality from a boat?

And the truth be known when a ban on fishing from a boat was proposed for the Skagit the Wildcat Steelhead Club of Sedro Woolley did propose a bill in the state senate or the house to ban wading in retaliation. It was defeated but the bill made it to a vote if I remember correctly and yes I said the state senate and/or the house. They didn’t even bother going to WDFW.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
It's convienent to ban something you don't do isn't it?
convenient, but I digress.

Boat vs. Wade or Walk In does not have to be the focus of the thread Jason. It also does not have to break down to bait vs. fly. Perhaps it can be an ongoing and potentially positive discussion on what can be done to improve the sustainability / slow the decline of the steelhead population. As others have said this will take a multiple group approach for any success in steelhead recovery, maybe a ban on fishing altogether. What will ensure the erradication of steelhead is us all not willing to look beyond a Walk In Guide taking a position that is directly opposed by a Drift Boat Guide. Both seek fish, for themselves, or clients now. Both are likely responsible and mature enough to realize that fishing tomorrow is dependant upon there being fish to target tomorrow. My question, for the survival of steelhead, is there any way that fishermen/women of all gear practices and all methodologies can get our collective heads together to make a positively impacting difference? If we practice division by tactics employed, such as has been the case for the past decade I've lived here, then we'll all be fishing for carp and northern pike minnow and telling stories of how it used to be. Don't we all read enough stories of how it used to be from those more experienced in the forum already. Are we destined to continue to :beathead: with little hope of accomplishing anything else.

{off to pop more popcorn}
I would agree with banning fishing from a boat while under power, a total ban is unrealistic. No bait single barbless is some thing I'd like to see, along with state wide wild release. Lack of enforcement is a big problem, I got checksd this weekend for the first time in years! I know a number of people who fish the nooksack after it closes every year, no one there to see them.

John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
I think that it is pretty easy for everyone here to jump on a bash Bob ban wagon. Most of you have never held a conversation with the man and have no clue as to what he stands for or not. He is a very strong advocate for our native Steelhead populations. And does more work for them than many of you na sayers ever will. I think that sticking to the discussion as was introduced by Mr Triggs would be best.

Decker, go find a few fly shops to throw money at.

As for the topic of the thread, I personally like the ban on fishing from a boat on the Deschutes as it gives many people an opportunity to fish a run without having someone cast their gear/flies over your line. I don't know enough about the mortality rates to speak about that so I wont. But as for just pure fishing enjoyment it is nice to not fight with a boat load of guys drifting through your run.


Ignored Member
Again I ask are we to sacrifice the lives of a certain species to satisfy our desired way of fishing. It is easy to say statements to the affect "but do you honestly think Skagit Pink and Chum salmon and being reduced in number because of careless wading?" after a record return of pinks. But, two years ago the Skagit pink season was closed due to low returns. Do you think that it would be right to allow people to walk on the redds in such years or should wading be banned on low return years and people allowed to wade on high return years?
tough to stomach the idea of no fishing from boats when you only catch winter steelhead when paying 400$ a day to fish a glo bug and bobber eh?
And what is wrong with that?

Fishing is about exploiting a resource period. The state is the primary regulator of this exploitation. Not an easy job, nor has it always done a good job.

Just because one may dislike a certain fishing style or technique, that alone is not a reason to limit its use.

Blaming boats seems to be a specious argument, but I am open to any empirical evidence, not some anecdotal story.

You want fishing as good as it was back in the 1800's? Cool, everyone fish the way it was done back then...ride your horse to the river, wade if you want, but no Gortex allowed, it might get chilly in the fall. No graphite, boron, fiberglass, and make sure you properly dry out your line when done to prevent mildew.

Stupid hypothetical? Yes it is, but it would work. Is it practical? Heck no.

Quixotic ideas will not work. Find away to restore the resources that balances the interest of the recreational and tribal fisherman and you will be on to something!

And this thread will have 62 pages next year, still arguing, while they decide at NOF who gets the very last fish. Like rec fishing from boats or wading is the real problem.



Active Member
the deschutes r. in OR has had this rule in effect for decades. what it does is provide sanctuaries for the fish that are not reachable by the casting public. works great and should be the norm everywhere we have threatened or ESA listed fishes.
Maybe we should require watershed specific, fishing from a boat permits that we would have to wear on our hats like f'n cow ear tags. That way, the people that may or may not be adversely impacting a fishery could pay for mitigation that may or may not address the real problems. Did I just say that? No, that's the system we have. I have to get back to work.


Active Member
the deschutes r. in OR has had this rule in effect for decades. what it does is provide sanctuaries for the fish that are not reachable by the casting public.
I guess you have never seen me throw a BC Steel? :rofl:

A statewide proposal for anything is often very difficult to get passed because of the many different angling groups that access the resource. If this were a biological reason, then it would be easier to adopt. But this being primary a values or social issue, they are much harder to implement because of the different values the public has towords the resource.

There are regulations that have been passed that are minor adoptations to this, however. Running the Skagit/Sauk under power during the C&R is illegal. Not sure if that was a biological or social issue; perhaps a little of both.