Wild Steelhead Coalition has submitted a long list of rules to be changed by WDFW. Rules that are intended to increase the survival of steelhead gravel to gravel. What will happen remains to be seen, as we all have given our hard earned $ to the WSC for there tireless work during a trying time of DAM removal, and habitat issues and closures on many Puget Sound Rivers, all of which need finacial help by us the steelhead proponents. I personally feel that in a perfect world, were we did not have CO-MANAGEMENT (tribal and WDFW managing the same fishery) these rules would be completely endorsed by all concerned anglers. The issues I have with the changes are only a few and are from many years of fighting the battle for steelhead survival within the co-management arena. The one proposed rule change I have a concern about is:
NO fishing from a floating device on stretches of OP Rivers.
This is a huge reduction of angling opportunity for very little and most likely a negative effect and only should be established to give the swing fisherman an advantage. It would be very beneficial for specific angling types like PIN fishermen and Spey fishermen, of which I am one of.
However having Spawning redds at jeopardy from WADING anglers to my knowledge is not mentioned in any study and would be extremely increased with the addition of these regulations. After all, we know how much fishing pressure increases when this type of regulation is applied.
Mostly, I fear the mentioning of C&R as a problem causing mortality, that in it self could be used against sport fishing by tribal and non-tribal commercial anglers. Does “forgone opportunity” ring any bells, as hopeful as WDFW is against it, we will lose that battle, just as we have lost countless other harvest issues with the tribes.
If even a fraction of these proposals make it through it would appear to be good for us fly fishermen on the fore front; it’s the backlash that remains to be seen and the entire cause for my rebuttle. The analogy of be careful of what we ask for comes to mind.
From the fishing forums: The constant comparison between the Olympic Peninsula Rivers and others, that all ready have this regulation is simply comparing apples to oranges. Many want to form a BC type of fishery, well I can tell you from experience that would be really cool and all BUT our winter spring fish are not the same fish as the BC summer/fall fish, as much as I wished they were there NOT. Again with the constant comparison of the Deschutes in Oregon and how the regulation works great there, well our steelhead don’t follow 75ft after size 10 swung flies on a dry line they just don’t and won’t. Besides there are Jet boats on the D not on the OP and the crowds on the D are much greater than the OP. T0 cap it off neither the Deschutes nor BC has the tribal issue to contend with so any comparison is rediculous, that is not even an argument that deserves a responce.
However: I do believe that certain rivers have a better chance of this type of regulation, like the Hoh or Queets as they can actually be fished from the bank without danger to the anglers. They both have good bank fishing water and plenty of log jams that are refuge to the steelhead. BUT do we really want to take rivers like the Sol-Duc and Calawah away from our anglers, think about it if you really know anything about these rivers this regulation will remove elder anglers all together from fishing them. There are very few places to stand and fish between Feb 1 and April1 just from water levels on these two rivers no matter how well you can wade. Besides the only time these stretches get any real pressure is AFTER a big rain early in the season when all else is blown, they have plenty of water then and the refuge steelhead need. Furthermore: This regulation does not take into effect that ALL of the rivers on the OP under this regulation all ready have many miles of refuge water, 50% of these rivers are closed to fishing or inaccessible by boat all ready during the Winter/Spring season.
Would this regulation keep some steelhead from being caught? Yes it would, it would also legally propagate two certain styles of fishing for steelhead. Either way it’s a win for me business wise, but it’s the steelhead I worry about; Is it best, in the long run for wild steelhead, after all we know the real issue is NON-SELECTIVE gill netting on a DAYS quota, not a fish for fish quota but a 3,4 or 5 days or more each week, the more we regulate ourselves the more the commercials will take (forgone opportunity) and they take them to market. If this regulation even equaled one extra day (via forgone opportunity) of fishing by commercials there KILL could/would far exceed any potential C&R mortality by sport fishermen. Are we willing to trade the exaggerated potential C&R mortality for the further fracturing of sports groups AND the potential for extra days of gill nets in those rivers?
The C&R movement if you will was established by wild steelhead enthusiast long before it was regulation and it has been the biggest savior of what steelhead we have, lets not turn that against us, if you want bank fishing only ask for bank fishing only but relating C&R as the problem only fuels the argument against sport fishing for Tribal/non-tribal commercial anglers. Why not just jump to the issue and regulate ALL pressure, have outfitter permits with angler days and non guide days in certain stretches a real regulation of sports fishing pressure the entire length of the river regulate it from choice for a better fishing environment not backstabbing the C&R momentum. Regulate for what you really want, less fishing pressure on your fishing day and steelhead that will take the swung fly because of it. Don’t throw C&R under the proverbial bus to get it.
After all, it’s not about us, it’s about the big picture of steelhead survival, which is very simple, just don’t conk em, gill em, or eat em, they will survive.
Please understand that we all have a fight ahead of us to maintain the great fishing we have here on the Olympic Peninsula, the WSC is a wonderful organization that I have supported for many years, they are pivitol in the recovery of Steelhead were they are depleted or in need of support.
Keep regulations as is to help reduce the commercial quota’s and spread these good intentions outside the regulation book.
Please continue to support all Steelhead groups as we really do have one common goal.
Thanks Jeff Brazda