Fly Fishing Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

· Premium Member
19,140 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<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-->

Lew -

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.

Juro Mukai
Boston, MA

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.


Lew Atkins
Assistant Director
Fish Program

cc: Fish and Wildlife Commission</i>

· Registered
62 Posts
Hey Juro--

Very interesting correspondence--I agree with your points, and share your disappointment in the response, which basically seems to make the assumption that "everything's gonna be fine." A familiar attitude with results we have all seen. One other point I would like to make is that when the state says it's okay to kill wild fish, I think a lot of anglers then think, "well, it must be a healthy run out there, so it must be fine to kill a fish or two." Even law abiding, well-meaning Sound area anglers who obey the C & R where it's instituted are then given the wrong idea, and will mistakenly feel fine about harvesting a few. I guess that's one of the faults I see in the assumptions Lew made in his response. Do you guys think this is a good point? I mean that the state is not only condoning, but encouraging people who don't usually take fish to do so? What are your thoughts?

· Steelhead-a-holic
595 Posts

I agree 100% with your point.

There are, i would argue, a percentage (you, me, the rest of this board's readers, the WSC members) that would release wild fish on the OP rivers based on our own beliefs about wild steelhead conservation. Hell, just ask any long-time guide about how the fishing was in the 70's in the Hoh and I guarantee you'll get some outrageous stories! The fishing over there isn't near what it could be. The populations may be sustainable at this level, but not with any safe margin of error.

But to many what we're doing is like still driving at 55 MPH after the limit has been raised to 65! They (the Fish Police) told us it's OK - so what's your problem???

They (Curt & Co) talked about planning for the Worst Case Scenario in many aspects of their fisheries management, but they sure don't seem to be doing it on the Peninsula!

· Registered
105 Posts
There seems to be some very faulty logic going on, or maybe it's simple denial, when the agency claims to be managing for sustainability and erring on the side of conservation, yet frequently fails to meet their own escapement goals. The MSY philosophy WDFW uses to set harvest rates simply does not allow for the big swings in productivity that are always going to come with year-to-year changes in snowpack, streamflows, and ocean
conditions. Yet they manage for the "average" year until there's a crash. Then they close it down hoping that enough fish remain and the environment improves to get back to that only-sometimes-sustainable MSY run-size.
This kind of management has already allowed for a number of lasting fishery crashes ... I hope we're not witnessing one right now.

Hell, the North Sound fish have just shown them that even in the presence of catch and release seasons in March-April the populations can plummet. Yet there's still room for harvest on the Peninsula? Huh?

· Registered
262 Posts
Thats the same e-mail I got from them. I was very dissapointed with it. It is very similiar to the answers they gave us here in Southwest Washington in the early 80's. Now the rivers here are almost viod of wild steelhead. I know i am preaching to the chior here but noone needs to kill a wild steelhead for ANY reason even the rare mortally hooked fish. WDFW can't seem to understand that 3001 wild steelhead spawning is better than 3000 In my mind every single fish is extremely important and worth the closure of a harvest fishery.
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.