Early river closures vs. C&R

So we have a multitude of early river closers around the state for steelies due to low predicted returns of wild steelhead. The tribes still get thier alottment of fish out of this. Lets hope that the C&R regulations go through this year and are taken into condsideration when it comes to leaving the season open next year (at least until normal closure times. the tribes will get to fish regardless) on these same rivers. Of course I'm biased, but I'd like to see all fishing on these rivers under scrutinization go to single barbless, artificial rules within the next year after Jan.1. Will most likely be a big debate if something like this is proposed, but why not if, it allows us to fish longer without fear of early closure? This is in response to the Queets closure post earlier, but could be expanded to form more discussion and ultimately result in better regulation for us bug chukkers. Just a thought.

Go Cougars!!

Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
River closure causes the fish to be protected against harrasment by people fishing. Catch and release does not.

Let the runs recover in peace. Support river closure, go fish somewhere else. :THUMBSUP

let the fish be, let them do there thing, playing fish to death and stompin over nests isn't a proven method. to many people out there not being careful, than you got people sneakin fish, if its bad let it recover, tribal rights have to go on nettin these rivers to death


Ignored Member
Catch and releas is a proven method to allow for continued sport fishing and ensure the survival to the fish.

Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Actually its not proven, just tested with short term studies. No one really knows what percentage anadromous fish complete their spawning, and how many redds are trampled during catch and release seasons.

If you're talking about C&R as an alternative to a harvest fishery, sure, that is obviously more conservative. But C&R is not a cure all, nor an adequate substitute for a closure (assuming the closure is warranted).

C&R is not no-kill; it is at best low-kill. Estimates on mortality for winter steelhead from C&R ranges from 3%-10% per fish hooked, and that doesn't include any kind of estimate on how C&R might impact spawning success. Sometimes a run can simply afford no impact whatsoever. I absolutely second the notion to get over it and move on to someplace that is open.

In fact I might go further than that. Let's look at the Queets. The run projection for the entire watershed is 3100. WDFW estimates an appropriate escapement target of 4200, so this year they're predicting a run that will be less than 75% of the MINIMUM spawning target. Remember that the escapement goal is only a percentage of the desired run size, so 3100 could be less than 50% of the normal run (I'm trying to track down the numbers; I'll get back to you; if anybody else has them, great.) No matter how you slice it the run is obviously in trouble this year and doesn't have a single fish to spare. Once you know that, do you really want to fish it (even C&R) even while it's technically open? Sure, you have a legal right to, but does that mean you have to execise it?

Also remember that WDFW's goal of 4200 is not necessarly that conservative. A higher spawning target would likely produce an even bigger run (I'll look for those numbers too), which is of course a good argument for C&R during healthy times.

The last thing worth considering of course is this: what will you really be sacrificing if you forego fishing the Queets this year, voluntarily or not? With a run-projection of 3100, all you'll realistically be giving up is your god-given right to a skunking. That can often be said of most closures.

So yes, support C&R, but try to look at the numbers before you oppose closures.

PS: while I am no particular fan of tribal harvest-management policy, the knee-jerk reaction that "the tribes will always get theirs" is often just that: knee-jerk. This year at least, the Quinaults agreed to stop fishing at the end of Jan, targeting mostly hatchery fish. (I've got serious problems with some of their techniques and assumptions -- for instance they are impacting wild fish more than they claim -- but they did agree to stop early, even though they don't agree with WDFW's escapement target which they believe should be significantly lower.)