WDFW Looking at restrictions for steelhead season


Big Time Hater
Esa needs to go after the tribes treaty rights.
As any strict constitutionalist would know, treaties are the Supreme law of the land...
Supremacy Clause and all that.

Unless of course a treaty runs counter to your individual view, then they can be abrogated by government agencies that you don't even believe should exist under your strict constructionist read of the constitution...

Intellectual inconsistencies abound here...



Active Member
Even though option 3 has a bait ban and more boat restrictions it is the only option that allows full seasons for all the rivers regardless of their individual forecasts -the most access and probable largest recreational handle of the limiting wild populations.



Active Member
Even though option 3 has a bait ban and more boat restrictions it is the only option that allows full seasons for all the rivers regardless of their individual forecasts -the most access and probable largest recreational handle of the limiting wild populations.

Curt, fair enough. So you are potentially suggesting that Option 3 doesn't go far enough from a conservation standpoint in maintaining a 10% encounter rate? I was a little dubious as well, which is why I stated I'd like to see how they came up with that in their calculations. Are you also suggesting that you don't believe their own graph, which stated that it met the four criteria they outlined? While that may certainly be true (and you would likely know better than anyone) I'd like to trust WDFW staff to present accurate data on which decisions will be made.


7x Puget Sound Steelhead Guide of the Year
Folks will be constantly chasing their tails until there is no steelhead fishing without a major paradigm shift in Manager and angler approach to the resource. The only chance to reverse things (and it is a small chance) is proactive approach identifying specific limiting factors and concrete plans and approaches to address those factors.

This x100. Depressing on so many levels. We are chasing our tails and soon the tail will be gone. Unlike an iguana though the tail might not regrow.

Shut it down.
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Active Member
I believe the policy was 10% impacts (dead fish) not 10% encounters. Typically that is that sort of impact on a wild stock is what is allowed while targeting say hatchery fish or another species. It seems to me that is a reach for wild only steelhead fishery that is expected to be under-escaped.



A collector never stops collecting!
WFF Supporter
While probably the least popular, I think #4 is the answer, if escapement isn't met and the numbers are accurate. @Salmo_g

No fishing from the boat seems reasonable, but for me I haven't been out to the OP for quite a while now. Am planning on a few Skagit and Sauk trips, got an opportunity to float the Sauk and actually never had. Closer and can do a day trip!

I do miss the Queets and would love to explore that further, even float it. James Mello took me out there a few times and it was one of the prettiest areas that I've been in WA. Hope it's stayed the same.

Don't know what the answer is, but for me I say leave the fish alone for a bit. Been tried, but it's better than the cluster that can go on out there. Won't be popular with guides and I sympathize, but it will be interesting to see what the WDFW does and how all of the affected stakeholders take it.

Happy Thanksgiving! Time to head down south, Belize, and chase bones and tarpon. The water is warm and the beer is cold!! Sounds good to me!

Cougar Zeke

Active Member
Won't option 4 actually result in the highest impact on wild steelhead? If one comanager voluntarily decides to not take their 50% then the other can claim it. The state claims their portion as C&R mortality. If all fishing is shut down tribal fisheries can claim 100%, and they will encounter and harvest far more fish.
Look at the charts in the presentation slides. The difference between run size and escapement is harvest. There are systems where the the take is regularly larger than the escapement goal. If the state wanted to do something to protect returns, then go after that number.
Anyone have a definitive answer to Andy's question?


Active Member
Given the huge role that resident rainbows played in the recovery of steelhead (summer-runs) in the Elwha our argue to WDFW has to be that only chance our steelhead have in the near future lies in a robust resident rainbow population. Those rainbows will represent that major genetic reserve of our once great steelhead.

Given the ages of those rainbows (age 3 to age 10) and the high mortality of released bait caught trout (30%) to develop that resident rainbow population strict catch and release of all trout under selective gear rules on any anadromous stream during any fishery; includes those directed towards salmon.

The State has demonstrated that it has been unable to improve the habitat to meet the resources basic needs. Equally the excessive early smolt survive in Puget Sound has not bee addressed. Literally the last bullet remaining in the gun for our O. mykiss in anadromous streams is those resident rainbows. It will likely take a focused concerned angler effort hammering on WDFW for as long as it may take to accomplish the needed change. Unfortunately I doubt that we as a group have the will to carry that task to completion.



WFF Supporter
I don't check the regs often enough. I find it incredulous that WDFW allows retention of any unmarked rainbow trout in any anadromous stream. Possibly one of the best pieces of news coming from the Elwha is how significant resident rainbow are in contributing to a steelhead population.


Active Member
Plant the hell out of every ditch, creek, and river with summer steelhead and keep the rivers open to Jan31. Steelhead will be available from May to Jan to catch and keep, you can call your December summer run a winter if it makes you feel better. A limited number of true winters will be encountered before shutdown...That's my idea. It won't fly, but oh well....

Chris Johnson

Active Member
Here is an excerpt from a paper I posted earlier this year by Jim Lichatowich, it's in the conservation forum if you care to read the whole thing.

Author Richard Powers has condensed the importance of genetics into an easily understandable statement. He was speaking of plants and forests, but the idea is applicable to salmon.

"At some time over the last 400 million years, some plant [or for our purposes some fish] has tried every strategy with a remote chance of working. We’re just beginning to realize how varied a thing working (emphasis added) might be. Life has a way of talking to the future. It’s called memory. It’s called genes. To solve the future, we must save the past.51
Life tells a story of survival to future generations of trees, wild salmon and all living beings. That story is written in their genes."
The future of salmon depends on the how well the present generation of salmon can talk to future generations of salmon about the lessons acquired during their long evolutionary testing. The best hope for the future of salmon is to save the past, save those priceless lessons. Unfortunately, the hatchery, which is the primary tool of commodity-oriented salmon management, rewrites the story of wild salmon survival acquired through evolutionary trial and error. Adaptation to the hatchery environment occurs rapidly in a single generation. The change can be significant. First generation hatchery steelhead trout showed a difference in the expression of 723 genes compared to wild steelhead.52
The question is, which survival story, the one contained in the genes of wild salmon and steelhead or the altered story in the genes of hatchery salmon and steelhead, will be more beneficial to future generations? If the answer is the wild salmon’s survival story, the region must quickly change salmon management’s status quo.


Active Member
Personally I think we should make some rivers basically put n take systems. Something like the Cowlitz, the Wilson or the Clackamas. Then some rivers get turned into well managed rivers for wild fish. Yes, I realize this doesn't work with ESA listed fish. And yes, nobody wants "their river" to turn into this way or the other. Basically its way too rational to work....

They figured out some kind of a management hack on the Clackamas. The hatchery winter steelhead they stock don't return, so few people bother to fish the river. Keeps the pressure down!

It seems to be working though, the wild steelhead, springers, and coho have been improving, and wild coho have done really well this year.

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