Kitsap Sun letter Steve Burns OP Steelhead

In Oregon by steelheaders

LETTERS: State can help restore salmon stocksSTEVE AT KLIKITAT 10.15.2015

3:22 PM, Dec 9, 2015
58 mins ago

Steve Burns, Poulsbo

State can help restore salmon stocks

There are times as anglers where we must evaluate our lot — look at our rivers, their habitat and the health of their fish populations, contemplating the opportunity they provide while comparing it to their potential.

Are they healthy? Are they productive? Are they providing fishable populations of steelhead?

This is where we find ourselves on the Olympic Peninsula, an iconic and storied wild steelhead fishery for anglers the world over.

The problem is, the OP isn’t what it used to be. And it’s time to fix that.

As a guide, I’m intimately familiar with the OP. It’s a place close to my heart and the engine that keeps my business going. I’ve watched the slow slide of wild steelhead populations.

On Friday the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will decide on whether to adopt proposed rule changes that, in my opinion, are a major step toward improving our fishery.

If adopted, the new rules would (among other things) eliminate harvest of wild steelhead and rainbow trout, implement gear restrictions during winter steelhead season, and run a trial on the upper Hoh that would restrict fishing from a boat.

As fish numbers decrease and angling pressure increases, we must do what we can to fortify the resilience of this fishery. Sometimes that means short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.

At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: Healthy wild steelhead populations and lots of fishing opportunities. But to get there, we must embrace change.