Olympic Peninsula fishing regulations a step towards realizing a world-class fishery

Do you fish the the Olympic Peninsula? Do you dream of fishing it?

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Hoh River looking into Olympic National Park

It is time to speak up!

Make your voice heard on the OP by Nov 4th!

Every few years, anglers have an opportunity to shape the rules and regulations for winter steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula(OP). This is such a year, and it could not come at a better time for wild steelhead. The steady downward trends in wild steelhead abundance on OP rivers and increasing angling pressure cry out for better regulation. Run sizes of wild steelhead have declined since the mid-1980’s in the Quillayute system (Sol Duc, Bogachiel, Calawah) and the late-1970’s in the Hoh and Queets, and it is time to try and turn the tide. Rebuilding the abundance and diversity of wild steelhead is not only critical to the future of these magnificent fish, it is also critical to future fishing opportunity.

 

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Warren Colyer with an OP buck

There is no simple solution to sustaining wild steelhead on the OP. But there is tremendous opportunity, now more so than ever. Large-scale land purchases in the Hoh and Queets have protected thousands of acres of habitat for salmon and steelhead, and the Washington State legislature recently appropriated more than $11 million to restore steelhead and salmon habitat. Now is the chance for us, as anglers, to do what we can to guide management in a way that helps the wild steelhead realize the benefits of all the great habitat work.

 

Rebuilding wild steelhead runs on the OP will take more than good angling regulations, but they are an important piece of the recovery puzzle. With improvements in technology, information sharing, and access, anglers are more successful than ever and, as a result, in some rivers we are catching-and-releasing the entire population. We can do better for the fish and for our future fishing opportunity.

 

We at Trout Unlimited and Wild Steelheaders United ask that anglers get involved in the upcoming management process by providing written comments and testimony in support of several new rules that are being proposed. There are currently two rules that we are most interested in supporting, and another rule that we support on an experimental basis. The regulations are below:

 

  1. Rule #48: Prohibit wild steelhead and rainbow trout harvest on select OP rivers – Comment on Rule #48

Rationale: Get more steelhead on the spawning grounds and protect Rainbow trout, which can mate with and provided essential genetics for steelhead. More Rainbow trout maximizes the number of potential steelhead.

 

  1. Rule #47: Implementing selective gear rules during the wild winter steelhead fishery. Comment on Rule #47

Rationale: Go to barbless hooks to minimize handling; prohibit use of bait to reduce angler encounters and minimize effects on juvenile steelhead, smolts and trout.

 

  1. Rule #46: Identifying one river section to experiment with a “no fishing from floating device’ rule. Comment on Rule #46

Rationale: The regulation would provide refugia for steelhead within heavily fished river sections, but experimentation would be needed to determine if the regulation reduces encounters with steelhead and/or facilitates better sharing of the resource. This should be accomplished on one section of river on an experimental basis.

 

Make your comments heard by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission follow this link

For an opportunity to give public testimony on these rule proposals, be sure to attend the WDFW Commission Meeting on November 14th at 8:00am 

What: WDFW Commission Meeting

When: November 14th, 8:00 am

Where: Natural Resources Building

1111 Washington St SE

Olympia WA 98501

First Floor, Room 172