Just found this thread- thought I'd add some comments as I love those native char! First- Nice fish Leyland! Awesome to see the photos. I would hope we can see C&R salt fishery for them in Puget Sound. Similar rules to the current SRC would open a great spring/early summer fishery. That said they are illegal to target in the salt, so I can see how the photos (2x) might rub some the wrong way- similar to photo of any native fish landed and photo in closed waters. I would never question Leyland's ethics, just an observation.
Juro- I don't agree with ESA listing for sea run bull trout in our Puget Sound. They are a very different fish then the threatened fluvial/river dwelling bull trout of inland waters. Currently they are very healthy, compared to most other salmonids with a open season. I would think many species would be ahead of our SRB (sea run bulls) in line for regulated protection- steelhead first in line. I agree with the current basin by basin management approach.
DoubleSpey- not sure if you're referring to the Upper Skag in BC or the WA. In WA the Skagit and Sauk currently have a 2 over 20" bag limit. Raising the limit from 14" in 93(?) seems to have improved their lot immensely (Thanks to Curt Kraemer). It bums me out to see the photos of bait caught/killed 6-10lb bulls in the Sauk. I would vote for C&R protection on the Skagit basin, as long as it doesn't lead to a premature full closure of the fishery.
A note about fishing them in the salt. These fish are notorious basin jumpers. Fish tagged the Frasar have been recorded in the Skagit. Fish in the Snohomish have been in the Skagit as well. This summer, one tagged fish was recorded up north sound, down to the Ballard locks area, and recently up in the Stilliguamish. So you never know if that salt chuck Skagit Bay fish is headed into a healthy spawning population, or a struggling population, or even establishing a new population (i.e. SF Sky). Something to consider.
I fished the recent upriver run of the north Sound fish. One recorded going 18 miles in 12 hours up the Skagit. Had fun fishing them- but these tired fish deserve a quick fight and release. Chrome bright and full of fight, they are a true magnificent native fly fishing challenge. They will be spawning shortly, I hope the water levels don't set them up for a bad year. They'll drop back in October, and I look forward to seeing them (I don't fish them upriver during spawning run and I would advocate closure of upriver water to retention).
Leyland- let's go fishing! I'll show you my spot if you show me yours
PS- I'm no expert on Char. Info passed along here is primarily from private emails with regional bios and experts, mixed with my own observations and thoughts.