WDFW and tribal co-managers currently fail to complete written management plans before steelhead angling begins. When this happens, and a particular steelhead run is projected to be below the escapement goal, the tribes often fish directly for wild steelhead when there is no harvestable surplus.
With no management plans signed before the season starts, some tribes fish for and kill wild steelhead when there is no harvestable surplus. Without a written management plan, there is limited recourse that can be taken.
During the spring of 2008, Washington’s Skagit and Hoh rivers closed early to recreational catch and release fishing, yet the tribes continued to netting wild steelhead into the month of April. The Hoh River also has closed early to sport fishers, even though the tribe took almost 80% percent of the allocated wild surplus for both groups. The Hoh Tribe refused the proposed harvest management plan in 2010-2011 and demanded more allocation of wild fish, resulting in no signed harvest management plan last season.
These poor harvest practices could have been avoided with a written, enforceable management plan. Yet, if the tribes continue to net steelhead beyond terms of a signed management plan, violators are vulnerable to court action, including a temporary restraining order.
Send a message to WDFW and your legislators now; tell them they MUST implement a management plan with the tribes before opening any river system to steelhead fishing.