See proposed rule
language (CR-103)
2013 Recreational Fishing Rules Concise Explanatory Statement
Fish & Wildlife Commission
Meeting Feb. 8-9, 2013

2013 – 2014 Sportfishing Rule Proposals – Briefing and Public Hearing. Audio available.

Sportfishing Rule Changes for 2013-2014

Sportfishing Rule Proposals & Comments

View proposals and comments on proposals that were submitted by the public and WDFW staff.
There are two types of rules available for viewing.

for Public Comment
Not Recommended
for further consideration
View by Category
Statewide Coastal Region
Puget Sound
Region Freshwater
Coastal Region
Puget Sound
Region Marine
Eastern Washington and
Columbia Region Freshwater

Reference ID: DFW306243

Original Rule Proposal     See comments

Reference ID: DFW306243
Critical Conservation Need      Submission Type: Public
Rules Category:
Species covered in proposed rule
 • Steelhead
Rule to Change:
New Rule Proposal:
No wild steelhead may be retained at any time. No exceptions. Catch and Release fishing only for wild steelhead statewide.(Change the present rule(s) that allow wild steelhead retention February 16 to April 30 to no retention at any time with no exceptions.)
Why the change is needed:
Of the seven wild steelhead DSP’s in Washington, five are now ESA listed and the other two are in long term decline. In the 1950’s, 100 plus streams produced good harvests (WDG 1950’s), but today only 9 rivers make the WDFW modeled spawner escapements and can be open to limited harvest. The Wild Steelhead Coalition recommends the state manage in a more conservative manner to assure these few remaining populations are not depleted. CnR fishing is the rule in all rivers in British Columbia and it is well respected by the sport fishing community. This rule will prevent further erosion of Washington wild populations and help rebuild their runs to the higher abundances documented in recent history (McMillan 2006; Gayeski 2012). We need to recognize that the Olympic Peninsula Rivers are the only waters where wild steelhead fisheries can now occur; that steelhead are highly vulnerable to CnR impacts, and if these stocks become depleted, fishing will end for wild steelhead in Washington.
Names of individuals or groups with whom you have discussed this change:
The Wild Fish Conservancy - Trent Donohue and Nick Gayeski Native Fish Society - Mike Moody American Rivers - David Moryc, Senior Director River Protection Program Bill McMillan, Biologist and Outdoor writer John McMillan, Fish Research Scientist Wild Salmon Center - Devona Ensmenger Conservation Angler - Pete Soverel Will Atlas, Steelhead Conservation Committee – Federation of Fly Fishers Doug Schaad, Conservation Committee - Washington Fly Fishing Club Dave Steinbaugh, Waters West Dave McCoy, Emerald Water Anglers Bill Robinson, Fish Advocate and Chair of the WDFW SCPAG Mike Gross, WDFW Fishery Biologist
Describe their support and/or concerns:
Discussed in Detail with Mike Gross of the WDFW. This Rule proposal is supported by all others listed.

Date submitted: 06/14/2012

WDFW Rule Proposal Recommendation

Not Recommended for further consideration     Reference ID: DFW306243

Escapement data do not suggest that wild retention in recreational fisheries limits production to an extent that makes this addtional conservation measure necessary.

Online Public Comments    (12 comments)

LYNCH, CRAIG T  October 02, 2012
Excellent proposal and supported by more individuals and organizations every year. The time for killing wild steelhead is long past and there is little public support for the practice. Spawning wild steelhead are our best and least expensive option for population recovery.
TACHELL, JONATHAN T  October 08, 2012
The fact that the release of all wild steelhead statewide is not mandatory already is very sad and shows the lack of ability to manage the resource properly. All populations of wild steelhead in the state are below historical numbers or in very real danger of going extinct period!
BINDER, JOE   October 30, 2012
I support this proposal. The WDFW response is narrow-minded, and does not acknowledge the increasing conservation challenges for the rivers in question. The "escapement data" in question here is not a biological metric; it is a legal tool used to negotiate harvest. The escapement data in question clearly denote a long-term decline in wild steelhead stocks from their historic numbers. Please consider the impact of this proposal. There are very few anglers who would stop fishing if they couldn't keep a wild steelhead; but the increased harvest from that select few does have a notable impact on the fishing opportunities for the larger--and more conservation-minded--angling population. There is no panacea for steelhead conservation, and we must consider that anything that isn't bolstering conservation goals may very well impair them: we may not be able to demonstrate that keeping a wild steelhead will cause us not to meet escapement goals, but doing so certainly wo
GEARHEARD, MICHAEL F  December 03, 2012
You really ought to move this into the recommended category. There is no reason ANYONE should retain a wild steelhead, including the tribes, the guides, and us regular folk. Just because one party fails to adopt that common sense view does not mean biology takes a holiday. Dozens of guides with hundreds of clients mean the death of many thousands of wild steelhead. It is way past time to put and end to this absurd management practice. Mike Gearheard
JOHNSON, KENNETH B  December 10, 2012
Even though you have stated you will not honor taxpayer input on this recommendation, I would still like to go on record and state that yes, the data does indeed suggest that retention of wild steelhead decreases the number of wild spawning adults. This is a simple subtraction problem. If you truly believe wild retention does not effect the number of wild spawning steelhead adults and the numbers of wild steelhead, especially early run wild steelhead, then why do you not allow retention of wild fish on the rest of the rivers across the State? This conservation measure is necessary and we sport anglers do not want to wait until you get the data correct. Why should the guides decide the fate of Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead? Why do wild steelhead need to be harvested at all?
WHITAKER, DAN   December 12, 2012
Everyone knows the dire situation native steelhead are facing. There is zero reason to let anyone kill a wild steelhead at any time, anywhere. We are past the point of pandering to people who feel like it's their 'right' to kill one. They just need to open their eyes and realize there aren't enough left, and it is extremely important that as many as possible get a chance to spawn. Please, please quite kidding yourselves by using 'escapement data' to continue to allow Wild fish to be killed.
CLARK, GARY   December 27, 2012
You have got to be kidding me that you guys continue to support a wild fish kill fishery on the last remaing strong holds in Wahsington state.. These are the poeple of Whaingtons fish and they deserve pertection now.
DALAN, DAVID   January 22, 2013
The converse of the WDFW opposition is just as valid. There is no reason to not prohibit the retention of wild steelhead. Very few anglers (as a percentage of all steelhead anglers) take advantage of wild steelhead harvest, and wild fish harvest has little economic, cultural or recreational value. While on the other hand, there is a growing chorus of concerned citizens trying to stop the intentional take of wild Steelhead.
LAWRENCE, ANDREW R  January 23, 2013
I support this proposal for all of the reasons listed above.
CLARK, GARY   January 23, 2013
You have got to be kidding me... Your hatcheries have failed.. Stop allowing wild fish harvest state wide period. There are over 600 remote streams along the northern coast of BC that do not have any angling pressure. But are still closed to the harvest of wild fish.. Not Recommended for further consideration Reference ID: DFW306243 Escapement data do not suggest that wild retention in recreational fisheries limits production to an extent that makes this addtional conservation measure necessary.
COPE, ED L  January 29, 2013
Do not support wild steelhead catch and release only.
HOPPLER, WES C  January 29, 2013
Oppose this proposal. I think the current rules are just about perfect. Limited wild harvest offers some harvest opportunity to those that might desire it,but with significantly reduced impacts from historic regulatory regimes. Limited harvest also protects our rights to participate in the fishery as envisioned under various treaties. I believe there is a bid difference between a minimally exercised, but allowed harvest regime and a no harvest regime with respect to how it might affect co-management and legal precedent. Past opportunity/harvest reductions have not been passed fully (some years at all) to the spawning beds and we hear phrases like "putting those fish to best purposes", which code for "you did not want them so we used them to make other issues go away". Until such time as a better track record can be established on the disposition of the potential stock benefits from reduced sport opportunity can be established, no further reduction in harvest opportunit

Other Comments Received