Wild Steelhead

Recently while fishing on the Wynoochee river I witnessed bank fisherman "bonk" two wild steelies. Needless to I was in a state of shock to see this and after questioning the guys as to wether or not the "harvesting" of wild steelhead was infact legal they honestly did not know, or at the very least acted as if they did not. What added to the spectacle were the people themselves. they hooked these fish at least 100 yards up river of us and proceeded to play these fish to right in front of us. After a few minutes of show boating this guy drags his fish to the beach and smashed her with a rock. He stood up and showed us the fish and claimed to have hooked 5 like that earlier. It does not matter to me in what method a person chooses to fish, flyfishing for me was a choice I made and it suits me. Anglers of all kinds are "brothers" with a vested intrest in healthy water sheds and healthy populations of fish. What I do not understand is this need to harvest a wild fish to complete your day, and if it is in fact legal to kill a wild fish on the "nooch" what is the state thinking?

Old Man

Just an Old Man
Just read the regs and it depends where you are on the river. And as I never get into that part of the state bounderies don't mean to much to me. But the way it is stated in the regs is that from the mouth to 7400 line bridge you can keep everything as long as it is longer than 14". This is Trout and other game fish only. Above 7400 line bridge it is catch and release but you can keep two hatchery fish.

This is the best I can do as I don't ever fish down there. Or you can check the WDFW for updates.



I understand the argument, however they were doing nothing wrong according to the regs. Unless you were above the 7400 Line Bridge and up to and above Schafer Creek then it is hatchery only water.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Went fishing today on the Sky and found out that you can't have a layoff and still cast right. I thought that I was a newby. So I will leave it at that. I will try to do the spey thing this saturday,I hope.

From one old man that is really lost. Jim:bawling
What percent of hatchery fish return to create wild stealhead? If anyone has more specific info on streams that would be great. I know this is a tough story to read but maybe the state does know something on the Nooch. :dunno
Is this regulation consistant with the rest of the water in the central Puget Sound and King County. Even on the Coast you can only keep 5 wild fish a year and only 1 on a given day. I suppose the issue is with me and my disdain for the killing of wild fish. The reality is that even your starving to death, its still cheaper to buy a burger and fries than to kill and eat a steelhead. Perhaps more work can be done amongest the angling community to promote the release of wild fish.
Any rainbow over 20inches, with no mark, found in waters that contain steelhead is considered a wild steelhead. Unless you are in one of the handful OlyPen rivers where wild retention is still allowed, it must be released. The Wynoochee is NOT one of them, which means they were poaching and should be called in.

That's the way I read the reg., please correct me if I am wrong.

Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
I believe you are correct. On p.21 of the "rule book," under "Statewide Freshwater Species Rules," in the middle of the page, under "Steelhead," it reads, in part:

"Where wild STEELHEAD are listed as open in the Special Rules, no more than 1 wild STEELHEAD may be retained per day."

Looking up the Wynoochee on p.50 in the special rules section, there is no mention of being allowed to retain any wild steelhead.

Those clowns were definitely poaching, and in my experience, these types ALWAYS claim "ignorance." Well, they are right about that!



Active Member
In almost almost all cases, the progeny of hatchery steelhead do not return in sufficient numbers to even replace themselves; a successful recruitment rate of less than 2. Wild x hatchery crosses produce greater numbers of successful offspring than hatchery x hatchery spawnings but are still not as successful as wild x wild. I'm not sure that this is what you're asking, but you might check out the Wild Steelhead Coalition's website for further information

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
The Wynoochees IS NOT a wild steelhead retention river. Only a few of the westside OP rivers are (the Chehalis system is not one of them). Most of those are lower rivers too (Hoh below 101 for example). I'm just curious where this was at on the Nooch. Most places don't afford that much room to move. They may have wanted a better beaching position (I know the river quite well, and some spots just aren't fish landing friendly with deep banks and nowhere to handle fish). Were they older, or younger? I'm curious, since it's pretty much common knowledge of the steelhead fishing conditions. And to have caught some, and a few before, they knew what they were doing (or really lucky).

But, the regs are that all rivers are closed to native steelhead unless otherwise noted (like stated above in regs). Then can only keep a few. Did you have a cell? I'd been calling the WSP or WDFW. Especially since their is a WDFW field office off Hwy 8 at the exit to turn up to Black Creek on the Nooch. I've called a few times, mostly for people hooking trout out of season (pretty much steelhead smolts).
Seems to me that the clear solution would just be to institute release of all wild steelhead in all waters in the state.

It seems to me that this is the inevitable management practice that will be called in eventually, after stocks have plummeted further, so why we can't convince the state to just do it NOW boggles my mind.

If mandatory statewide release of wild fish was implemented, it would allow one clear message to be transmitted effectively. It would remove any potential ambiguity. It would be a logical forward step in progressive resource management.

We've got to maintain a barrage of this type of thought directed not only at one another in the sport fishing community, but directed squarely at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and at the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Friends, if you'd like to do something quick, easy, and constructive right now, send an e-mail to Jeff Koenings, WDFW director, at [email protected] and cc: these three addresses:

[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]

You might say something like this (or copy and paste this exact message):

Prior to the publication of the latest round of sportfishing regulations, I would like to ask that you revisit the issue of release for all wild steelhead on a statewide basis.

Native fish in closed waters continue to be killed because of ambiguous laws, further troubling endangered fish. For that matter, native fish in open waters continue to be killed, also at the peril of future stocks.

Because of the strain on this depressed resource, it is inevitable that we will have to implement this regulation at some point. Why prolong the inevitable, at the risk of it being too late?

I understand that the release of wild steelhead was the topic of some passionate presentations at the commission hearings earlier this year. I am disappointed that proposals for the release of all wild steelhead statewide did not receive overwhelming approval from the commission and from the department of fish and wildlife.

Please make the courageous move to direct the agency in this positive direction to mandate the release of all wild steelhead in all waters statewide, effective immediately. Your efforts will create a tremendous legacy, the benefits of your work will be reaped for generations. I, and others like me, will applaud you.

Thank you,


Then, forward the message to at least three other people, and ask them to do the same thing.

Then, follow up in two weeks. There must be clear, consistent public outcry in order to influence positive change. The Commission and Department have a history of showing apathy on this matter, let's let them know that the sport fishing public is not apathetic, nor will it allow continued apathy at the sake of the resource that we love.

Thanks to all who have taken action already, have fought this battle for so long, and to those who will join in and persevere. You - and your efforts - are outstanding, and are appreciated.


You can be a fish recycler, too. Let 'em swim.
I was located just below the diversion about 200 feet. The guys hooked the fish above the diversion. Trust ne when I say this guy showboated this fish down to us. We have all had our clock cleaned by a steelie or two and had to do some chasing but this was beyond that. Again I didnt have a problem with the landing of the fish it was the smashing of it's skull that got me. I tried a cell phone call but my bats were dead unfortunately.

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Ah, ok. Just checking. Plus, really curious where you were at what guys looked like. Why I ask, my Dad's property on the Nooch is about 100' above the Spillway (diversion dam) you're speaking of. So know that area quite well. Have a feeling now who they are, but curious on descriptions. May be the same morons I know and report all the time. Just nothing seems to get done to them. Unless you have Verizon, you may not have had a signal there anyways (or a really strong phone).
I was just down from the diversion about 2 hundred feet. The guys who hooked their fish were about 50 feet above the diversion on the gravel bar. Both guys were younger, I had my cell but the batts were dead. Next time I wont make that mistake.