Fishing rule changes will begin June 6 until further notice on several Puget Sound area rivers to provide more protection for wild steelhead, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“These conservation measures are necessary to increase protection for wild steelhead in river systems with known weak stocks and provide a more precautionary approach to the management of waters where the status of the wild run is uncertain,” Heather Bartlett, a state Fish and Wildlife salmon and steelhead division manager said in a news release.
Anglers fishing the South Fork Nooksack River and North Fork Skykomish River will need to catch and release all game fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead daily may be retained. Selective gear rules and a night closure are in effect.
In the Tolt River and Canyon Creek anglers may catch and release all game fish, and may keep up to two hatchery steelhead daily with selective gear rules in place.
Finney Creek will be closed to all fishing.
On the South Fork Skokomish River anglers must catch and release all game fish with selective gear rules in place.
On the Dungeness River anglers may catch and release all game fish with selective gear rules in place. However, up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained daily below the Dungeness Forks Campground.
On the Skokomish River anglers must catch and release all game fish June 6 through July 31, and selective gear rules are in effect, except fishing from a motorized vessel is allowed.
The Gray Wolf River from the mouth at Dungeness Forks Campground upstream to the Olympic National Park boundary is open June 6 until further notice for catch and release of all game fish with selective gear rules in effect.
Bartlett said the changes are consistent with state Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which was approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008.
The statewide plan sets out a variety of conservation policies to guide fisheries management, hatchery operations and habitat-restoration programs, and provides a framework for regional steelhead management plans currently being developed.