Just got off the phone with Curt Kraemer (district 4 biologist), and the bad news is that it's all true: No spring catch and release season in 2001 on the Snohomish system or the Stilly. No word yet on other Puget Sound rivers. He also said that since there isn't any way to do an in-season run size assessment, there is no chance of an emergency opener. The decision has already been made, and it will be signed into law early next week. So that's the bad news. The good news is, well, I still haven't figured that out. Apparantly, this closure is based on low returns the last two years coupled with poor in-stream survival of smolts for the returning year classes of wild steelhead. The escapement goal on the Snohomish system is 6500, and last year their numbers were only 2800. They arrive at this figure by counting redds from air, floating and walking. Although we may find flaws in their technique, since it's been the same year to year, it appears that at least the numbers relative to the goal are probably good. Of course, this doesn't account for exceptional ocean survival, which may have taken place on our returning 2-salt fish, but as Mr. Kraemer said,"We can't bet the house on that." This also doesn't account for the continued kill fishery we've seen over the last few "down" years, or a policy of management that always puts a priority on killing fish wherever and whenever possible. It seems like the WDFW is constantly looking for any tiny "surplus" to allow a kill fishery, then having to have emergency closures--but maybe that's just the political climate of this state. So, what do we do now? I'm not sure. I'm still reeling from the loss of a fishery I look forward to all year, and wondering what to do with the extra 40 days I will now have in March and April. We should be thankful that if there is a depressed run, the resource will be protected--but it's pretty darn tough to take. If the Skagit system stays open, I can only imagine the pressure it's going to get. Anyway, just thought you guys might want to know so you can go ahead and make plans for the spring. Golf, anyone?