Correspondence RE: Protecting the Peninsula Native Runs
<font size="1">I am not sure about the netiquette of posting the response I received from WA F&W but I thought I should share the exchange here for the purpose of raising awareness and soliciting discussion on the topic...</font><!--1-->
Thank you for your response.
I wish I could agree with the assumptions that the majority of the fishing on the peninsula is C&R or wild release. I have fished the region for nearly 20 years and have directly witnessed the extensive harvest of native steelhead on the Peninsula throughout those years - as recent as last spring. I have photographic journals of these trips as well. From the gravel bars at the mouth of the Hoh all the way to Nelson Creek and up into the park, native steelhead are fished for without gear restrictions and kept for consumption. I won't mention the Indian harvest of these magnificent fish that end up on crushed ice at Pike's Place.
It may be true that a portion of the incremental pressure will consist partly of C&R anglers like me - but the issue is not just the pressure shift - it's the fact that the current harvest policies for native fish on the peninsula need to be revised to protect our national treasure, the native steelhead.
In fact the assumption that people will not harvest native fish when they visit the peninsula is faulty. People will stay in the Puget Sound area to enjoy convenient fishing even while C&R and restricted gear regulations are in place - but if they drive out to the Peninsula and are allowed to harvest a prime brood native adult steelhead they will quickly bonk it. Gasoline is expensive nowadays and people will take whatever they are allowed to take. I contend that the majority of anglers who will visit this season are only C&R anglers where and when they are forced to do so. Therein lies my point - we need strict regulation in these areas.
With all due respect, your reply can be summarized as "do nothing, things are fine as they are". It is my strong belief that this is untrue - and failure to act is to defy your apppointment as stewards of this resource.
cc: Members of the Flyfishing Forum
-------- attached message -------
March 8, 2001
Dear Mr. Mukai:
hank you for your e-mail to the Fish and Wildlife Commission advocating more conservative fisheries on Olympic Peninsula rivers. The Commission has forwarded your letter to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife WDFW) Fish Program for direct response.
The WDFW has tried to address the potential increase in fishing pressure on the Olympic Peninsula due to the closures in Puget Sound. We expect to see the greatest increase of fishing pressure during the months of March and April time period.
In recent years, steelhead fishing in Puget Sound during the months of March and April was managed for wild release or catch and release opportunity only, with few exceptions. Most anglers interested in harvesting a wild steelhead began making the trip to the coast during these months several years ago. Thus, we believe that the majority of new anglers moving to the coast will be individuals who are interested in wild release opportunities.
Many miles of rivers are open to steelhead fishing on the coast and many sections of rivers open to only wild steelhead release. In most cases, we think the amount of open area and strength of the run sizes on the coast will accommodate an increase in fishing pressure, especially when the majority of the anglers will likely be interested in releasing wild steelhead.
Thank you for your interest in conservation of the steelhead fishery resources.
cc: Fish and Wildlife Commission</i>