Steelhead outlook


Piscatorial predilection
Saw an interesting story in the Seattle Times-On Line edition about the projected Steelhead returns for this year. Can't get it to copy right, or would post it.

If someone could look it up and copy here, others might think it interesting also.

Fishing Notes: Olympic coast offers good winter steelhead fishing
By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter

While turkey dinners are the hot topic today, many anglers are deciding where to go winter steelhead fishing.
The northern and southern Olympic coast will offer the best opportunities.
"The Quillayute river system is looking really good, and it will provide plenty of opportunity for wild and hatchery fish," said Bill Freymond, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.
The hottest river tends to be the Bogachiel, but anglers shouldn't overlook the Calawah and Soleduck.
"The Hoh is not going to be a bright spot," Freymond said. "We will have about 600 harvestable fish, and we're probably going to have to do something to restrict fishing because we haven't made escapement for three years in a row."
The predicted Hoh run size is 3,000 winter steelhead with an escapement goal of 2,400 fish.
On the southern coast, winter steelhead run sizes look fairly good.
"I think we'll be OK in the Queets," Freymond said. "Since it has such a restrictive fishery, we'll be able to harvest a run of just over 6,000 fish."
State and tribal fish managers are still working out winter run sizes for the Chehalis and Humptulips river systems.
"It looks like there will be some surplus of wild fish in both, but we haven't harvested wild fish in the sport fishery for those rivers in several years," Freymond said. "We'll have to sit down and figure out what to do in those systems."
Closer to the Puget Sound region, most rivers aren't expected to meet winter wild steelhead spawning escapement goals, and hatchery runs are predicted to be ordinary.
"The unfortunate thing is we don't have tons of hatchery fish in all Puget Sound rivers, and wild fish are under-escaped everywhere except the Skagit," said Bob Leland, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist. "The Skagit catch-and-release wild steelhead fishery will happen again this year."
The Skagit expects a return of 1,300 hatchery and 6,600 wild fish. The Stillaguamish is predicted to get 2,100 hatchery and 643 wild fish, with a 1,800-wild-fish spawning escapement goal.
Despite the Snohomish system being stocked with 437,792 hatchery steelhead smolts, only 6,500 hatchery and 2,300 wild fish are forecasted to return. This means slightly more than 1 percent of the hatchery fish will be returning this season.
In South Sound, the picture doesn't look much brighter.
The Green River should get 650 hatchery and 1,700 wild fish, with a 2,000-wild-fish escapement goal. The Puyallup is predicted to see 182 hatchery and 635 wild fish, with a 2,000-wild-fish escapement goal.
In southwest Washington, the once promising Cowlitz River won't see a very good return of hatchery steelhead this season and should be considered just a fair run. The better bets will be the Kalama, Grays, Willapa, Elochoman, Washougal and Lewis rivers.


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
I would bet there may have some type of closure on the Hoh this year. That won't stop the netting and will increase the pressure on the other OP rivers.

As far as the Chehalis system goes, you can tell by the biologists statement that the state would like to open it up to a native kill fishery. The Chehalis system was netted five days a week last year. The tribal quote was meet nearly two months before they stopped netting. The state needs to do a better job of monitoring in-season catch rates for both tribal and sport catches. How they would do it I'm not sure, but to continue fishing once a quote has been met is bad news for the fish. The season should stop once the quota is met, no matter how long the pre-season netting schedule is.
Bad news all around for wild steelhead.


Piscatorial predilection
Thanks Brian,

The article speaks for it's self...(if it's to be believed) to the quality of fish management...:mad:

could someone point me to numbers of wild and hatchery steelhead for north sound rivers for the last two seasons. Also, can anyone tell me why the cascade hatchery is putting out only 1,300 steelhead this year?


Too many hobbies.....
I try to take these "forecasts" with a grain of salt. I still don't fully understand how they come up with these projections, but it's obvious that our steelhead are hurting right now in a lot of areas. Only 1% return on the Snohomish system, and only 643 wild fish returning on the Stilly - that's pitiful. Close to home, the Puke-allup doesn't look good either.

Worst of all, the glorious Hoh is only 600 wild fish above the so-called "escapement" goal - assuming the crystal ball used to estimate the return wasn't too dirty when they looked at it. It's been below escapement for the past few years, but it's still treated as a "harvest opportunity". :beathead:

Zen Piscator

Supporting wild steelhead, gravel to gravel.
I serously can't beleive that. We get more summer steelhead in the walla walla river system than the Hoh does winter steelhead. Thats amazing...and discusting. The state of salmonid fisheries in western washington is appualing in my opinion.



Well-Known Member

The Cascade, as part of the Skagit system, release from 300,000 to over 400,000 winter steelhead smolts per year. Unfortunately, the Skagit hatchery steelhead have one of the lowest smolt to adult survival rates in Puget Sound. I don't know why. The 1,300 forecast is for returning adult steelhead, which is about the lowest I can recall. I remember some projected hatchery returns down around 4,000, but never 1,300 before. Maybe Smalma has more info. Perhaps a lot of juveniles were lost to disease or hatchery accident or something. Those things do happen.


Salmo g.


Active Member
Here is a link to the smolt plants that will be contributing to this years two-salt returns.

Salmo G. was correct in that the Skagit hatchery steelhead survive at low levels. Several factors likely contribute -

Through out Puget Sound the best survivals are found in the Snohomish basin as one moves either north or south of that basin the survival rates of the hatchery (maybe even the wild fish) drops pretty sharply.

Many of the smolts are released further upstream on the Skagit than what is typcial for many of the Puget Sound streams. There are indications that the farther hatchery smolts travel on their out the lower their survival. More predation?

The hatchry return rates used in the pre-season modeling on the Skagit are likely artificially low. There are decent estimates of hatchery returns to the hatchery, to the tribal fishery and the sport fisheries. However there are not good estimates of how many fish are uncaught that don't return to the hatchery. Because of the heavy and fluctuately flows of the main stem Skagit I have long thought that the recreational fishery doesn't access the fish nearly as well as they do on say the Snohomish. This especially true when looked at over a longer time period where some years because of the prolong releases of stored flood waters there are significant stretches of time during the peak of the hatchery returns that the main river is marginally fishable -this is especially true below the Baker.

Tight lines
Remember that the Hoh River was one of the remaining 16 healthy rivers (according to WDFW) just a year or so ago; down from the original 125+ rivers in Washington? So, now it must be 15. I wonder how healthy the remaining 15 are? This is really disgusting, particularly when the tribes continue to net the Hoh straight into oblivion. Closure of the Hoh should be done nowl; probably some of the other 15 as well.
Good Fishing,
Les Johnson
Since (H)arvest is likely the most important factor explaining the decline of steelhead escapement on the Hoh, I cannot help but wonder how last year's reduction in Steelhead harvest opportunity (From 5/yr to 1/yr) for sportfishers will impact future steelhead returns on the Hoh. Was there a net reduction in the number of steelhead harvested last year on the Hoh because of the reg. change (assuming the number of sportfishers didn't change from years past) or did the Hoh Tribe harvest what us sportfishers sacrificed? How does this scenario compare to the other rivers where wild steelhead retention is permitted and tribal netting takes place?
does anyone know if any numbers of hatchery fish are released above the cascade? obviosly I understand that these fish could only be taken out the system by recreational means being above the hatchery but those planted below would seem too fall into the same catagory. As too mixing with the wild stocks are ther returning stocks above the sauk [mmn I ponder ] living down on the lower river I daily see the condition of the main stem, this last summers salmon runs are a perfect example of flows and color below the baker eliminating oppurtunity to target skagit fish with flies
just a thought and a question


Ignored Member
The reason the Skagit is above escapement is they keep lowering the escapement levels. It has been several years since the last time they lowered them but I think that if the number of fish returning falls below the current escapement levels they will just lower them again.

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