FEATURED ACTION: Help Score a Big Win for Wild Steelhead in Congress    Take Action Now >


  • Your source for steelhead news and resources
  • Click "The Adipose" below to read our most recent newsletters
  • For instant updates, become a WSC fan on Facebook!
Photo by Luke Kelly

2013 WSC Sportfishing Rule Proposals – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Category: WSC Updates | Posted by: Jonathan | 6/12/12 | Comments: 9

Summary: These are the 2013 Rule Proposals developed by the Wild Steelhead Coalition's Science and Policy Committee and submitted to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to help protect wild steelhead.


Download (PDF, 598KB)

Similar Posts

9 Responses

  1. Nicholas Kunkel says:

    The ESA listing of wild steelhead is often based on erroneous or missing data. Simply because a particular anadromous stock is not well documented through surveys, such as spawning grounds surveys or recreational catch reporting, the stock is added to the ESA as threatened or endangered. Nooksack River steelhead are a prime example of this. As a spawning grounds survey coordinator for an NGO in Whatcom County I have personally collected and overseen data which strongly suggests that the wild steelhead population is nearly equal to the population of all five species of Pacific Salmon combined in the Nooksack Watershed. I believe the ESA listing is in place with a “better safe than sorry” attitude. This position detracts from a pool of funds that may be better suited for stocks that are in more need of restoration, such as Spring Chinook or Summer Chum. I ask that the coalition remove the ESA listing as reasoning for protection in of itself and conduct their own research into matters by going over data and analyses that has been collected by WDFW biologists and regional fisheries enhancement groups (RFEGs) before attempting to limit recreational fishing in any capacity. Limiting recreational fishing detracts from licensing which pays for habitat restoration, education programs, and enforcement of existing regulations.

    • Superfishial says:


      While I agree with you that there have been many historical gaps in the data surrounding winter steelhead in the Nooksack Basin, I must inform you that some of the information you stated is false. Since 2009 WDFW has conducted extensive winter steelhead spawning ground surveys in the Nooksack Basin by foot and aircraft. The escapements from these years are far from erroneous and have been agreed upon and signed by the co-managers. It is my understanding that last spring (2012) was the first year the regional NGO helped out on these surveys so I am assuming you were are a part of that. Less than 2k winter steelehad returned to the entire Nooksack Basin last spring, which is roughly 70,000 fewer fish than the 2011/2012 chum escapement alone (speaking of chum, there is no summer run). It is my understanding that the contributing efforts from the NGO were insufficient but still I can’t imagine anybody could miss 70k fish…

      • Nicholas Kunkel says:


        1. The NGO has been heavily (30-60%, varying by year, of the labor for the project) involved in spawning grounds surveys for Winter steelhead.

        2. The NGO has been involved in that capacity since basin wide surveys (if you can call them basin wide) began in 2009.

        3. You may want to ask area biologists what method they use for establishing escapement for chum, you’ll see that data collection methods for chum are significantly skewed when compared to steelhead and other salmonid species. Due to the mass spawning behavior that chum exhibit, an arbitrary and unusually high quantity of fish are attributed to a redd.

        4. There are summer run chum in the South Fork Nooksack River (unpublished data from the Lummi Nation).

        5. Aerial surveys (a survey method I reluctantly assisted in the calibration of) are not practical for determining redd counts in the mainstem and forks of a river that is as turbid as the Nooksack is during Winter months.

      • Nick says:

        PS – Hi Turnbull

  2. Patricia Decker says:

    I think this is long over due! I fish this area every March and the amount of boats and fishermen has exploded. The next step is doing something about the netting of these wonderful fish.

  3. Jeff Brazda says:

    NO fishing from a floating device on OP rivers.
    Very nice, and exactly what should be established to give the swing fisherman an advantage. It would be very beneficial for specific angling types like PIN fishermen and Spey fishermen.
    However having Spawning reds at jeopardy from WALKING anglers to my knowledge is not mentioned in any study and would be extremely increased with the addition of these regulations. After all we know how much fishing pressure increases when this type of regulation is applied.
    I fear the mentioning of C&R as a problem causing mortality, that in it self could be used against sport fishing by tribal and nontribal commercial anglers.
    Either way if even a fraction of these proposals make it through it will be good for fly fishermen on the fore front; it’s the backlash that remains to be seen. The analogy of be careful of what we ask for comes to mind.
    I believe that certain rivers have a better chance of this type of regulation, like the Hoh or Queets as they can actually be fished from the bank without danger to the anglers. DO we really want to take rivers like the Sol-Duc and Calawah away from our elder anglers, think about it if your really know anything about these rivers this regulation will remove those anglers all together from fishing them. There are very few places to stand and fish between Feb 1 and April1 just from water levels on these two rivers.
    Would this regulation keep some steelhead from being caught? Yes it would, it would also legally propagate two certain styles of fishing for steelhead, either way it’s a win for me business wise but it’s the steelhead I worry about. Is it best in the long run for wild steelhead, after all we know the real issue is gill netting, the more we regulate ourselves the more the commercials will take and they take them to market. IF this regulation even equaled one extra day of fishing by commercials there KILL could far exceed any potential kill by sport fishermen. Are we willing to trade the exaggerated potential C&R mortality for the further fracturing of sports groups AND the potential for extra days of gill nets in those rivers?
    The C&R movement if you will was established by wild steelhead enthusiast long before it was regulation and it has been the biggest savior of what steelhead we have, lets not turn that against us, if we want bank fishing only ask for bank fishing only but relating C&R as the problem only fuels the argument against sport fishing for Tribal anglers. Why not just jump to the issue and regulate ALL pressure, have outfitter permits with angler days and non guide days in certain stretches a real regulation of sports fishing pressure the entire length of the river regulate it from choice for a better fishing environment not backstabbing the C&R momentum. Regulate for what you really want, less fishing pressure on your fishing day and steelhead that will take the swung fly because of it. All of which will be good for us the fly fisherman, but its not about us it’s about the big picture of steelhead survival, don’t conk em gill em or eat em, they will survive.

  4. No!! and I’m a yes vote for Romney.

    P.S. Stop the tribes from netting the rivers first, then we can talk.

  5. Pabst Blue Ribbon says:

    Are you guys nuts! First off I would like to state, I respect what you guys are trying to do. Unfortunately trying to model our Washington rivers after the Skeena and its tributaries is not going to help you catch steelhead on the swing. If we can’t fish out of a boat, does that mean we can run a jet sled like they do in BC? I just dont see what this will accomplish. Do you really want to share your favorite swing runs with every angler that floats by in a boat? The problem is, if you can’t figure it out, there is no fish in the rivers. If you put a gill net at the mouth of a river, what happens? What is the escapement ratio of fish through the gill nets versus mortality from catch and release fishing? NO one knows do they? Have you ever been to a catch and release fishery? The fishing is pretty damn good in most cases. The fish are big and there are a lot of them. Yet they may be wise to a fly, since they have been caught a few times. I realize trout fisheries don’t correlate with steelhead rivers, but the theory is the same. I agree that we should not in any way shape or form be able to keep a wild steelhead! Let them go! It seems to me these propositions are flyfishing biased. I’m sorry that the average fly guy cannot go out and catch a steelhead on the swing. For many that takes years of frustration and patience. I’ve been there, I have flyfished for almost 20 years and I love the sport. I have caught and released many steelhead on the fly, there is nothing better! Unfortunatley for me, I love to catch steelhead more than flyfishing. After time it became evident that no matter how good you are at flyfishing, the fish where not there. My solution was to pick up a gear rod, if you can’t beat them, join em. The common misconception is that it is easier than flyfishing. Not the case it is more complex and just as frustrating as flyfishing. My point is that no matter what you are doing on the river, we are all trying to accomplish the same goal. Catching steeelhead, a big one! What will these propositions do for the flyfishing guides? From what I have seen, the majority of the fish those guys catch is from the boat, using bobbers and gear on fly rods. Excuse me “strike indicators”. If they can’t resort to that, how are they going to get clients into fish? I can’t imagine paying big money to swing flys next to a hoard of gear guys. Standing shoulder to shoulder swinging sounds fun! In reality, my opinion of what needs to happen to keep fly guys happy, is to designate at least one Olympic Penninsula river to fly fisherman. That way, the state can maybe do its do diligence and record data on how successful the returns are. That way you can prove to the state that flyfisherman are less of an impact on rivers, before you regulate all of the best steelhead rivers in the state to favor fly fisherman, which is completely unfair. The Klickitat was a great fishery until all of the fly guides moved in, now its ridiculous! Maybe regulating guide pressure might help too? Sorry guides, I respect what you do, but guides from other states don’t need to be here. The fishing is not that good! The future of our steelhead, is not the fate of the angler, sportfishing is not the cause of dwindling runs, so why make it harder for us to catch them? It doesn’t make sense. If there was enough fish in the river for everyone to catch, there would not be this anomousity between fly guys and gear guys. My advice is if you want to catch steelhead on a regular basis fishing flies, fish during the middle of the week or move to British Columbia. Until then, realize the real problem! Nets!

  6. Pabst Blue Ribbon says:

    The WDFW is also one of the biggest problems! I have lived in several states and have never seen such poorly managed fisheries as the state of Washington. I don’t think fisheries are even a concern in the state of washington. You can put all the restrictions you want on a river, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen. Take that Cedar River for example, closed for ten years, opened up, fishing was amazing. How is it now? Terrible, if you don’t catch any fish, you can at least go back to a car that has been broken into. Perfect example of trying to do the right thing and not following trough. Unfortunately the only law enforcement is on the OP and the salt water. Washington does not care about anything that happens in other parts of the state. I have witnessed atrocities on almost every river in the state of washington. How can we regulate these proposals if there is no one there to regulate?. Who is gonna catch the poacher, or the guy fishing from the boat? Regulations mean something to most people, most people care, but how do you regulate the rest? I have been fishing in Washington for over 30 years, I have been checked for a fishing license twice.I lived in Idaho for 2 years, got checked 4 times. My point is, you can have all the angler restrictions you want, but that wont save the steelhead, because there is no one there to enforce it. Maybe you should propose to bring back law enforcement to our forest and fisheries. If you can do that, you may have a chance of your proposals meaning something. Otherwise things will continue to be the same.

Leave a Reply