Hoh River Wild Steelhead Run Fails Again!

Steve Call

Active Member
Take 5 minutes and call and/or email the Wildlife Commission members.

Fish and Wildlife Commission
Commission Members
Miranda Wecker, Naselle
(Western Washington position, Pacific County)
Occupation: Director of the Marine Program, UW Olympic Natural Resources Center
Current Term: 07/08/2013 - 12/31/18​
Vice Chair:
Bradley Smith, Ph.D., Vice Chair, Bellingham
(Western Washington position, Whatcom County)
Occupation: Dean Emeritus, Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University
Current Term: 06/18/2009 - 12/31/2014​
Commission Members:
Larry Carpenter, Mount Vernon
(Western Washington position, Skagit County)
Occupation: Business owner, Master Marine Services, Inc.
Term: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2016
Jay Holzmiller, Anatone
(Eastern Washington position, Asotin County)
Occupation: Public Works
Current Term: 06/10/2013 - 12/31/2018
Jay Kehne, Omak
(At-Large position, Okanogan County)
Occupation: Conservationist
Term: 04/16/2013 - 12/31/2018
Robert "Bob" Kehoe, Seattle
(At-Large position, King County)
Occupation: Executive Director, Purse Seine Vessel Owners' Assoc.
Term: 07/08/2013 - 12/31/2014
Conrad Mahnken, Ph.D., Bainbridge Island
(At-Large position, Kitsap County)
Occupation: Retired, fisheries biologist
Current Term: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2016
Rolland Schmitten, Lake Wenatchee
(Eastern Washington position, Chelan County)
Occupation: Marine Resources Consultant
Current Term: 06/18/2009 - 12/31/2014
(Eastern Washington position)​
Commission Office Contact:
Tami Lininger, Commission Executive Assistant
PHONE: (360) 902-2267
MAIL*: Fish and Wildlife Commission
600 Capitol Way North
Olympia, WA 98501-1091
E-MAIL [email protected]
FAX (360) 902-2448

*NOTE: all mail for Commission members should be sent to the Commission Office.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
Thank you Steve Call. I have been in touch with the commissioners since the year 2000. They are well aware of my concerns.


Hoh River stocks have been managed at a low escapement level relative to both the

historical and recent run sizes. The escapement goal calculated by WDFW biologists in

1985 was 2,900 fish; however, that number was challenged by the Hoh Tribe and

reduced to 2,400 by the Federal Court appointed Fisheries Advisory Board in 1988.

Recently the Hoh Tribe has pressed to reduce the escapement goal to as low as 1600

fish. A recent stock recruitment model analysis by the Wild Salmon Center found the

maximum recruitment would occur at an escapement level of 3,780 wild steelhead.

Managing at this level would encourage the stocks to recover lost diversity, productivity

and capacity.

One of the premises in using Maximum Sustained Harvest (MSH) management is that

the returning population can be accurately determined without error. However, due to

management forecast error and a very aggressive commercial harvest attitude, the Hoh

wild steelhead run has been under escaped in nine of the last 20 years, including three

of the last six years. As recent as the 2003/04 and 2005/06 seasons, the spawner

escapement has fallen below the escapement goal by 784 and 920 fish, respectively.

During this same 20 year time frame, the Hoh Tribe has taken an average of 62% of the

wild harvest. Since 2004, the year of the Commission’s conservation decision for wild

steelhead, the tribe has taken 82.4% of the harvest and the sport fishery has been

forced to close early in two seasons to assure the run made escapement.

Last year’s (the 2007-08 season) preseason negotiations and outcomes were typical

of recent co-manager disputes in reaching annual harvest plans. The run was predicted

to be one of the lowest in recent history (3,634 wild steelhead), yet the Hoh Tribe

demanded more than 69% of the fish deemed available for harvest. This left too few

fish to allow a complete sport fishery and none to buffer management error. The tribe

refused to come to a fair agreement and commenced fishing. This action alone would

appear to place the tribe in violation of the post Boldt Federal court orders which require

management plans before fishing. The tribe took 904 (77% of the harvest) wild fish,

and would not close their fishery unless the state closed sportfishing at the same time.

The sport fishery took 275 fish (23%), including an estimated catch and release

mortality, and was closed two weeks early by WDFW managers, assuring the

necessary spawner escapement was made.
Hand me one of these, please!



Not to be confused with Freestone
Sad news. Not surprised. So long as they continue to have commercial value, they do not stand a chance. 1000 to 1500 fish taken (well at least documented) annually. Let's say for sake of argument the average fish weighs 15lbs, yields 10 lbs of fillet each and fetches $15/lb on the market. A run being destroyed for between $150-225K per year...pretty damn sad.

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
Sorry, but why do we care so much about the Hoh? There's a lot of rivers in the state with steelhead. Some under escapement, some over. Why is the Hoh such a big deal? I'm not trying to be combative or anything, just genuinely curious why we see certain rivers as more important than the rest. Because it's accessible, publicized, and has swingable runs?
probably because it is still open to wild fish retention... and the drake says it is the best place in the world to catch wild steelhead ;)

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
we obviously need more nets and masses of side drifters catching wild fish four or five times. then throw in a heavy mass of random "fly" guides with bobbers and you get this. perhaps some more press about the river being the in place to fish would be sweet too. almost every time I've fished here I've wondered what the hell am i doing here. unfishable in my opinion in spring. not that i could give two rips about how anyone chooses to fish, but perhaps this river would benefit from a no fishing from a boat rule. I've watched people repeatedly pound spots day after day catching the same fish again and again. maybe some sanctuary water would benefit the fish some.
if i recall we had an opportunity to make a portion of the hoh no boats recently... except all of the "advocates" decided their fishing was more important than the fish.

just remember the OP has the best, largest, biggest wild steelhead left on the planet (according to the press and guidewhores) except tons of other river systems in the lower 48.
the dechutes works. no fishing from a boat. sign me up. I'll advocate that. I'd even concede to no fishing from a moving boat
I'm wondering if you and I are reading the same article or fishing the same river? Not sure how a sport anglers choice of method has anything to do with how our "co-managers" "manage" harvest. Id prefer to read a thread on this forum regarding wild steelhead and not have to wade through a slough of that kind of garbage. Thanks.


New Member
Such a myriad of complex issues at play, but a couple of things come to mind... 1) indiscriminate harvest methods - i.e. gillnets should be outlawed. Weirs which would permit 100% selective harvest for native harvest, and a higher quality product than a strangled rigor mortised fish collected a day later if the seals don't get it. 2) Zero wild harvest by any party until escapement reached.
The Hoh is no more and certainly no less precious than ANY wild steelhead river anywhere. They are all as individual as the strains that have evolved over eons on their respective ecosystems and because another river thrives it does not mitigate the loss of any one. And if I ever see another 20# wild Hoh steelhead for sale at Pike Place again... :mad:


I smell Cheese
I'm pretty sure the native americans aren't going to stop netting the Hoh, It's been over seven years since I have fished that river. maybe its time for others to be apart of the solution & go fish somewhere else.
Fishing elsewhere will never be a solution to poor management. Never...
i was merely suggesting that sanctuary water where fish can be unreachable might benefit the fish some. i apologize if i offended you with my suggestion. i just find the dechutes an enjoyable situation even though its highly used because of these regulations. i never said anything about methods, just about the use of boats. and no sean we are not likely fishing the same rivers at the same time cause i avoid shit shows like the hoh in "prime season" like the plague. enjoy the drive out from the city and this years annual boat parad. thanks.
Fishing from a boat is a method last I checked. And even with this method and a highly cushioned CNR mortality placed on sporties during the boat parade along with legal wild retention a couple hundred fish MAY die by way of sporties in a season. The tribe fishes when they want and kill what they want and refuses to take any measure of conservation. One look at the spring chinook and it's plain to see. Instead they demand more and more. And when they don't get it... They take it. Over harvest and a dwindling escapement goal will kill the hoh river. Not any sort of boat parade. Sorry boss!

No fishing from boats would be sweet but that's easy for me to say since I would rather swing flies. Angling experience has little to do with protecting the fish when it comes down to it. IMO. I shared your belief until I saw the ugly reality.
Dick's article has been out for a number of years now and paints the picture. I encourage folks to read it and use the information.

Changes in how we approach our fisheries need to change soon, the sooner we are willing to take proactive measures now, even if it infringes on our various techniques, the better. It was disappointing to not see some of the regulation changes moved forward and wished more folks could of taken on the long view of the situation to support them. A closed river with low returns is not easy to reverse and I am sure the regression models currently being developed for the Hoh as well as other OP streams are mapping the future for this scenario unless we are willing to make some changes as a collective.

At the very minimum what currently needs to be advocated is the concept that the fish allocated to us "50%", if chosen not to directly harvest, should not be viewed as wasted, but viewed as a further allocation to the spawning gravel.

"Why the Hoh?" Well, it still is open, has good habitat, which is also protected and it has wild steelhead. We as anglers are crowded in one area in the Spring, due to closures elsewhere and ubiquitous media and advertisement, if we can't see beyond ourselves it will be gone...
There isn't much else to say that hasn't been said. It comes up every year, and it gets beat to death. All we can do is keep up the pressure on the folks that can do something. It's over fished, there is so much animosity between the tribe and state, there is a lot of money at stake. It's political suicide to take a strong stand. I don't fish it, there are too many people. I'd rather fish on the late run hatchery fish GH systems, and then switch straight to springers.