The northern Puget Sound region hatchery winter steelhead fishery has been so good that one particular river will close beginning Saturday.
The Cascade River has been pretty good for steelhead, and fishing is so good that they aren’t getting back to many fish to the hatchery,” said Brett Barkdull, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist in LaConner.
“We’re a long ways away from getting our spawning egg take escapement and only have about 15,000 eggs, and (Wednesday) they spawned two more fish so you’re looking at 21,000 or 22,000 eggs on hand,” Barkdull said. “Everyone believes there’s plenty fish around, and fishing has been too good. The low water levels in the river means the fish don’t move into the hatchery, we’ve had virtually no new fish in three weeks.”
The Cascade River from the Rockport-Cascade Road downstream to the mouth will close to all fishing from this Saturday, Jan. 5 through Jan. 31, and will reopen Feb. 1 to fishing.
Further to the north, the Nooksack River is seeing the same story with pretty good steelhead fishing.
“We have a vew more eggs on hand there, and six hens sitting (in the hatchery),” Barkdull said. “We are worrying about the Nooksack too, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet.”
Barkdull says the same holds true for the North Fork Stillaguamish, and steelhead fishing has been OK.
“They’ve been getting fish back to the Stilly, and the water is so low the fish have been getting caught and not getting back to the hatchery,” Barkdull said. “It appears that hatchery steelhead returns overall are better than in the past, and numbers this year are improving.”
(Photo courtesy of a Seattle Times Reel Time Trivia winner)