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Trouts Journal

NEWS: Good News For Wild Steelhead

Will Rice / Dec 9, 2020

Not all anglers are going to be happy about the most recent announcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Here is a sound bite from the December 9th WDFW release:

“State announces changes to coastal steelhead recreational fishing season to meet conservation objectives while preserving angling opportunities. The restrictions will begin Dec. 14 and are expected to last through April 30 and affect all sportfishing in coastal tributaries. Among the changes:

  • Fishing from a floating device is prohibited.
  • Selective gear rules are in effect prohibiting the use of bait (including scents or scented materials), except only one single-point barbless hook is allowed.
  • Anglers must release all rainbow trout.”

If you have ever spent time fishing for wild steelhead in the Pacific Northwest, you most likely understand how this pursuit is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one side, the places steelhead return to are amazingly beautiful – the challenge of hooking and landing a steelhead on the fly is apex. If you are lucky enough to feel the grab from buck or hen fresh from the salt the experience is electric and can be almost life changing. On the other side of the blade, news and data over the last few years of the declining steelhead and salmon returns from California north to British Columbia have been beyond concerning.

More from the recent announcement:

“As fishery managers, we’re concerned with the declining abundance of wild steelhead in coastal rivers and recognize that significant changes to the status quo are needed in order to support healthy wild steelhead populations and long-term fishing opportunities,” said James Losee, Fish Program manager for WDFW’s Coastal Region. “For that reason, this measure prioritizes wild fish by meeting the objectives of the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan while still offering some limited fishing opportunity.”


While this new conservation approach and regulation from Washington State is sure to be controversial unpopular with some anglers, hopefully wild steelhead will benefit over the long run. To read the entire article make the jump, HERE.

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