Washington was once home to the greatest concentration of quality steelhead fisheries in the Lower 48 and the Skagit River was the crown jewel of them all. Over the past few decades many of those fisheries have been shuttered due to declining populations and poor management strategies. The Skagit was the last to close in 2010 and anglers in the Puget Sound area no longer have a home fishery.
But we do not have to accept this situation as permanent.
The wild steelhead population in the Skagit has rebounded from a low of 2500 fish to a recent average of over 8500, now representing one of the largest wild steelhead winter runs in the Northwest. It’s time to re-open this famous steelhead fishery to angling.
After years of feedback from anglers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife developed a Skagit River Steelhead Fishery Resource Management Plan. This plan would re-instate the wild steelhead fishery on the Skagit but must first undergo a review by federal steelhead managers. Yet the fisheries branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has not made this review a priority. Despite WDFW submitting the plan in November of 2016, with the goal of re-opening the Skagit for a spring steelhead season in 2018, NOAA has yet to initiate the review process.
Re-opening the Skagit would restore a high quality steelhead fishing opportunity currently lacking in Puget Sound. Additionally it would provide some relief to overcrowded Olympic Peninsula rivers.
This prime opportunity, fully grounded in current science, demands prompt action by the oversight agencies. Please sign our petition to NOAA asking the agency to make review and approval of the Skagit River Steelhead Fishery Resource Management Plan a top priority.