Now matter how you spin it, this is good news, my hope is that we will learn enough from this to force change on other fisheries in our state that need it so badly. Read the full article here:
The Seattle Times is now posting reports from I am not sure who on what was caught where and when both in saltwater (which is about all we have at the moment) and freshwater. Looks as though this will be updated on Tuesdays and obviously won’t be fly fishing specific but could prove to be useful to those just wanting an idea of where someone caught something.
Hopefully they will continue to add locations to the map because at the moment one can breeze through this pretty quickly! Not sure if they are going to cover all anadromous species or just salmon and if all, is it just saltwater or will fresh be included. Also not sure if they are going to include trout fisheries like our beloved Yakima and if they will actually extend into the steelhead rivers of the southern part of WA and the O.P.
In short, this looks like a short winded resource or one that will require a lot of work to keep updated every week, which as we also know means that with each rainstorm that blows through, the info will be dated and useless anyway! We will see I guess.
For those who live in the state of Washington, it is of little surprise to see or hear of poaching of water for our beloved steelhead. Few steelheaders in the region know that there are wild steelhead that return to the Yakima River at all and of those that do most know it is illegal to target them, most abide by the law and do not but obviously some can’t resist or think it is cool to be doing so. At any rate, enough of this has occurred to force the hand at least the Yakima Tribe to close a portion of the river to curtail it happening where they can control it. See the rest of the piece here:
I have seen this on other rivers in our state, namely the Methow and the Klickitat where the f–king whitefish loop hole allows anglers to go pursue steelhead under the guise of fishing for whitefish. How many anglers, especially fly anglers actually go target these fish around here??? What a joke, close that stupid whitefish fishery at the same time steelhead are closed so enforcement is easy, on a river fishing while closed, busted! Jesus, how hard can it be?
We will be booking for this immediately and spaces will fill quickly so…
OLYMPIA – Starting Wednesday (Sept. 28), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will open a selective fishery for hatchery steelhead on the upper Columbia River above Rock Island Dam, and on the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Okanogan rivers.
Salmon fishing will also reopen Wednesday from Wells Dam to Brewster, and the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov 1.
The steelhead fisheries will remain open until further notice, while the salmon fishery will run through Oct. 15.
Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fish manager, said approximately 18,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year – enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries for the eighth straight season.
However, both wild and hatchery-reared fish are expected to return in significantly lower numbers than in the past two years, requiring additional constraints on those fisheries.
“Allowable impacts on wild steelhead will be tighter this year, so we may have to close earlier than in the past two seasons,” Korth said. Three areas of the Columbia River – Vernita, Priest Rapids and Wanapum – will not open at all for steelhead fishing this fall.
Steelhead fisheries are carefully managed to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Korth said WDFW will closely monitor the fisheries and enforce fishing rules to protect wild steelhead.
The daily limit on all rivers is two hatchery steelhead, marked with a clipped adipose fin and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Any steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water. Anglers must also release any steelhead with one or more round holes punched in their tail fin.
Like last year, anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. Once they have retained two fish, they must stop fishing for steelhead.
“These selective steelhead fisheries are specifically designed to help maintain a high proportion of wild steelhead on the spawning grounds and enhance recovery of the region’s wild steelhead,” Korth said. “Anglers can play an important role in that effort by removing hatchery fish above the number needed to meet spawning goals.”
Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open, except that bait may be used on the mainstem Columbia River. All anglers are required to follow steelhead gear rules and restrictions described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .
Anglers should also be aware that motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.
In the chinook salmon fishery between Wells Dam and the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, anglers will have a six-fish daily limit, which can include up to three adult chinook, only one of which can be a wild fish. The salmon fishery has been closed since Aug. 31 to protect wild steelhead until managers were sure there would be sufficient numbers of steelhead to open the season.
Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Sept. 28 include:
Mainstem Columbia River: From Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except bait is allowed.
Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. Motorized vessels are not allowed.
Entiat River: Upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge, near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery outfall. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
Methow River: From the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing to the first Hwy 153 Bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
On the Similkameen River, which opens for hatchery steelhead Nov. 1, the fishery will extend from the mouth of the river to 400 below Enloe Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
This is going to be an interesting year for the Elwha River and what should be one of the most prominent live experiments in natural recovery of wild fish ever. Many of you likely know this already but if not, a hatchery is planned to allow for stocking of fish throughout much of the Elwha River, even above where fish have been cut-off from migration for decades. In the paper today a piece on the impending litigious battle brewing over this controversial decision.
By Lynda V. Mapes of the Seattle Times
Just as dam removal gets under way on the Elwha River, wild-fish advocates say a hatchery built as part of the restoration threatens the recovery effort, and they have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue.
The notice says that various agencies did not seek adequate consultation before deciding in a 2008 fish-recovery plan to use a new $16 million hatchery to “jump-start” recovery of wild fish in the Elwha River.
The groups say hatchery fish reduce the vigor and survival of fragile runs of native fish, and that the decision to plant nonnative Chambers Creek winter steelhead in the river poses particular risk. The filers are far from alone in their concern: Scientists from every agency that has weighed in on the question of stocking nonnative steelhead in the river have opposed it as an unreasonable and unnecessary risk to wild-fish recovery.
The lead fish biologist for Olympic National Park, the habitat biologist for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are all on record opposing the practice.
“This is the world’s largest river-restoration program and it should reflect the world’s best science,” said Kurt Beardslee, head of the Wild Fish Conservancy, one of the groups involved. “We think the hatchery is threatening the recovery of wild fish and we really don’t think it went through the proper review process.”
Also joining in the action are the Wild Steelhead Coalition, The Conservation Angler and Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee. The recipients were the Olympic National Park, the NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The notice is intended to spur negotiations between the parties to work out their differences within 60 days. If that is not successful, a lawsuit could be filed.
The hatchery was built for the tribe as part of the $325 million Elwha restoration program because taking out the dams will render the tribe’s old hatchery inoperable. The tribe has for years stocked the river with nonnative steelhead to provide a fishing opportunity for tribal members.
Native steelhead in the river are listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, as are chinook, bull trout and eulachon. Robert Elofson, river-restoration manager for the tribe, notes that without stocking nonnative fish, the tribe might not have anything to catch at the end of a five-year fishing moratorium, because wild runs will still be too fragile.
But critics warn that the hatchery will prevent recovery from ever taking off.
Will Stelle, northwest regional director of NOAA Fisheries, said the hatchery program has been open to review and will remain so, as details for the stocking program — and dialing it back — are developed.
“Do we need the lawyers and litigation in order to compel a continued substantial engagement?” Stelle said. “That is going to happen anyway and you can count on it.”
The tribe must be assured an exercise of tribal-fishing rights over the next 10 years while fish runs are still diminished, in part because the river will be carrying elevated levels of sediment long trapped behind the dams, Stelle said.
The hatchery has been sharply controversial, including during a science symposium this week in Port Angeles as part of the commemoration of dam removal.
At a gathering Thursday night, Dylan Tomine, an ambassador for the clothing company Patagonia, which champions dam removal, said wild fish in the Northwest evolved to cope with elevated sediment levels brought by everything from landslides to volcanoes.
“My wish,” Tomine said, “is that we could have the patience and faith to let Mother Nature do what she has always done.”
Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736
OLYMPIA – A fisheries worker for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) died yesterday (Aug. 18) while participating in a steelhead survey on the Wind River. Mark Snepp, 47, apparently died while walking the bank of the river and recording fish data reported by his diving partner, said Pat Frazier, southwest regional fish program manager for WDFW. Team members called 911 and notified the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the cause of Snepp’s death. An autopsy will be conducted within the next few days. “This is a sad day for the department,” Frazier said. “Mark joined the department just last year and showed a real dedication to fish and wildlife stewardship.”
Very sorry to hear about this, our best wishes to Mark’s family, WDFW and Pat Frazier.
From our friends at Wild Steelhead Coalition…
Dear Friends and Supporters of Wild Steelhead,
Some of you may already be aware but the BPA has proposed funding a significant expansion of hatchery facilities on the Klickitat. The programs which alleges to be designed to reduce the impact of non-native fall chinook and coho on ESA listed wild stocks would actually lead to an overall increase in the total number of fish released in the watershed, including continuing to release 4 million fall chinook. Equally disconcerting, they would expand the number of skamania smolt released annually to 130,000 and possibly (likely) initiate a wild broodstock steelhead program with a production goal of 70,000 smolts. They also plan to expand the spring chinook hatchery program by 200,000 smolts taking broodstock from the extremely fragile spring chinook stock. The YKFP with the free money they get from the BPA is completely out of control with pro-hatchery mania and in my opinion this proposal would place the future of wild summer steelhead and spring chinook in the basin in serious peril. Any idea what we might do to stop it?
Here’s a link to the EIS on the proposed changes, none of which result in a net reduction in hatchery releases:
The Wild Steelhead Coalition
I have spent my life in this sport having fly fished or been exposed to it since I was in diapers, led the entire time by my dad. I can say with ease that the ONLY reason I am where I am today was the long leash and exposure he afforded me at a young age consistently through my life, and always, hand in hand with a fly rod was a camera. Thank you dad, enjoy the photos everyone!
Anyone reading this or any other blog from our industry is in the same boat to some degree, we love to fly fish. Many take that amorous feeling and apply it to the sport in a variety of ways; tying exquisitely dressed flies sans vice, producing leaders to exact measurements for specific purposes using instruments from the engineering world I have no understanding of, throwing themselves headlong into conservation and at the extreme sacrificing job, family and friends to pursue fish on a fly ALL the time at any cost. This passion is THE reason I love this sport so much, anyone can take it as far as they like in any direction without limitation. Fly fishing is the proverbial rabbit hole!
On to my point, while guiding the other day, I “accidentally” left my old aluminum net with rubber basket leaning against my car when we left a particular beach on Puget Sound. Rather than throw the usual tantrum in my head of “how blonde can you be…”, I immediately called a good friend who exemplifies the afore mentioned passion, and works it into some of the finest fishing nets around, Robert Nelson at Fisknat.
When my net was ready, I asked if I could come down and pick the net up in person as I wanted to see how he does it, save the shipping cost and get a little insight into Fisknat. What is obvious is Bob does this because he loves to work the wood, use his hands and create a tool he is excited to have anglers use. Not an ego thing just pride in having done the best work possible. Bob still does this the old fashioned way. Selecting the wood in person and by hand, scribing out each section for each net with a pencil and then working them out with the bandsaw. Some hand sanding and then on to the construction, placing the frame and clamps on each net himself. Amazingly he manages to do this at a very relaxed pace and keeps a very low key and composed nature about him as he works, most of the time solo in his shop creating his next masterpiece. Why I asked him, “For the love of fish.”
I have had one of his large boat nets for nearly 10 years almost since the beginning of when he dropped everything in 2002 to do this full time, and I have received countless comments on its craftsmanship. Today, after 10 years of 200 days a year or more on the water, it is still in amazing shape which is a testament to not only its construction but also the meticulous attention to detail that Bob puts into each net.
Back when I received my first Fisknat, it was on the cutting edge of rubber netting for fish safety. That old rubber net weighs nearly 3 times as much as the new modern rubber does making the nets much easier to handle from the boat as well as lighter for carrying around on longer hike in trips. Since the net I lost was my saltwater net, I was hesitant about using a wood net for the saltwater but Bob assured me that with some care, this net would look as good as my other in 10 years as well, even if used only in the salt.
Reasons for the clear and rubber netting are simple, the rubber netting will not host anywhere near as many of the diseases going around freshwater fisheries around the country and secondly it makes for some fantastic photo opps. Rubber also maintains shape when submerged, not collapsing on or around the fish you have caught, allowing it to relax while removing the hook so that the fish, never actually has to leave the water if you don’t want it to. Rubber also allows for the fly or flies to not tangle as easily when netting a fish and finally it has virtually no abrasion on the fish so scale damage is minimal.
So if you are looking for a gift for someone who fishes, a thank you or graduation present, an upgrade or simply just stepping into the foyer of this rabbit hole called fly fishing, do yourself and the fish a favor and seek out one of these nets. Bob makes these in Tacoma, WA so you would also be supporting a business here, not just in the U.S. but regionally and that is important as we watch legendary businesses in our industry fall around us.
Thank you again Bob for the beautiful net, photos are coming soon and John Hoven who was with me when I left the old one, yes, subconsciously I may have disposed of the other intentionally, but come on, look at this thing, can you blame me??
Get your net here www.fisknat.com
Upper Columbia River above Priest Rapids Dam
and tributaries close to steelhead fishing April 1
Action: Close the Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Chief Joseph Dam and the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, Okanogan, and Similkameen Rivers to steelhead fishing.
Species affected: Steelhead.
Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Wenatchee River from mouth to Icicle River Road Bridge.
Icicle River from mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery barrier dam.
Entiat River upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery outfall.
Methow River from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Effective Date: 12:01 a.m. April 1, 2011.
Reason for action: The steelhead sport fishery that opened by emergency rule on September 8, 2010, will close effective April 1, 2011. This action is necessary to protect spawning steelhead listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program manager, (509) 754-4624 or Bob Jateff, District 6 fish biologist, (509) 997-0316.