Ban On Steelhead Fishing From Boats?

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
From what I have seen on the rivers here it seems like we could take a huge step in reducing mortality and stress on our Wild Steelhead by outlawing the practice of fishing from boats in the rivers, anchored or drifting etc. There are some places where this is already illegal to do. But I feel that it would be a very good Statewide Rule to enact as we see the vary last of our Wild Steelhead imperiled by so many factors, especially Winter Steelhead. Out here on the Olympic Peninsula in wintertime it is a daily flotilla of hooks, jigs, lures, heavy flies, plugs, baits etc; all hung vertically down the central drifts, the entire boatable lenghts of the rivers, with very damaging consequences. We could take a big step in conservation by eliminating this kind of ruthless approach.


Ignored Member
Some years ago that rule was proposed for the Skagit. Went over like a lead balloon. Next thing we know the wildcatters proposed a rule banning wading. At some point it all gets ridiculous. If we are at a point where we try to ban certain types of fishing why not just ban fishing, period?

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
i agree that many rivers should have regulations like this, but the time to do it is really before the genie is let out of the bottle. now that side drifting has become a predominant technique, no matter how much positive impact this would have on fish stocks.... it likely would never happen.

you might likely not even find much support among flyfishers, due to the explosion of nymphing from a boat becoming as or more popular among guides than swinging flies from shore.

i support it because it automatically creates large amounts of sanctuary water, and can further reduce impacts on rivers currently seeing more pressure than ever before. not only does it protect the fisheries targeted species (steelhead) but juvenile and resident fish would face less pressure.

of course, banning bait during wild steelhead c&r seasons might be a more realistic first step in reducing the amount of fish hooked and released.

it aint gonna save wild steelhead, but can help alleviate the impacts of more anglers.

From what I have seen on the rivers here it seems like we could take a huge step in reducing mortality and stress on our Wild Steelhead by outlawing the practice of fishing from boats in the rivers
Translation: I was swinging flies the other day, not catching anything, when A man in a boat floated through my water and caught a fish.
Don't ban fishing from boats ban BAIT.

I statewide rule banning bait makes so much more sense!

I talk to guys side drifting from sleds and they say they catch a lot of fish deep in the throat using bait.


Well-Known Member

From from a boat on rivers is much more a social issue than it is a conservation one.

Although boat fishing exposes more of a river's fish population to gear (bait, lures, flies) on a daily basis and increases the exploitation rate, there are other management alternatives that could decrease exploitation (assuming that is the objective). A river could have close santuary areas, closed periods - kinda' what we have now when rivers are closed and fish are present.

When you're referring to coastal, as in OP, winter steelhead, you're looking at a far greater obstacle. WDFW's official position is that OP wild steelhead are harvestable, despite not making escapement repeatedly on several rivers. Since WDFW believes there are harvestable wild steelhead, they are likely to argue that the stocks are under-exploited by recreational anglers, and that the sport fishery needs to become even more effective, not less. Given that position as a backdrop, banning sport fishing from boats for winter steelhead is DOA.



Active Member
jcalderon--perfect translation
This will never happen.
Don't get me wrong I love to fish from a boat and also from shore.
I have seen more fish die from anglers wading or standing on shore because they could not follow the fish down stream . After a long battle then they attempt to drag them up stream. Same goes for guys on anchor who don't want to give up that special spot or are to lazy to row back up stream. In Alaska the are starting to ban fishing from an achored boat which I am a huge fan of. Better for the spawning areas and better for the adult fish.


Active Member
Actually, I talk to lots of guys that sidedrift using nothing but trimmed yarn in the shape of an egg; a Glo-bug. And, they still smack the heck out of them. However, the Descutes has such a rule where fishing from the boat is prohibited, and the steelhead fishery there seems to be doing well.
If you get into that argument it becomes similar to the bowhunters vs. the gunners, segregating the fishing population which has a hard enough time getting together as it is.

KerryS...that was funny...ban the waders.

I've am however a proponent of Selective Gear Rules during Winter Steelhead Season.

I am all for banning wading in rivers. This could be the next hot topic.
if people werent allowed to wade we could reduce the potential transfer of non-native species to our waters. As well as protect spawning fish and reduce the damage that wading fishermen incure upon redds.
I like your thinking Kerry.
The fact that bait is allowed during the peaks of the wild runs has never made sense to me. For hatchery fish, throw all the chunks of eggs and shrimp you want.


Well-Known Member

That is an interesting observation. How many steelhead have you seen die because a wading angler couldn't follow downstream? A close approximation will do, but I need details. I continue to try to enhance my library of empirical observations relating to the effects of fishing on fish.


Bait is significant to mortality in trout fisheries, but not so much with steelhead fisheries. So far, the main reason for bait bans in steelhead fishing has been to protect juvenile fish, not adults.


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