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: DFW470179

Original Rule Proposal     See comments

Reference ID: DFW470179
Critical Conservation Need      Submission Type: Public
Rules Category:
Puget Sound Region Marine
Species covered in proposed rule
 • Steelhead
Rule to Change:
One fish annual bag limit for wild steelhead on selected streams.
New Rule Proposal:
Eliminate the one wild fish annual bag limit currently used in steelhead management or, alternatively, impose a 32 inch total lenght maximum size limit for retention of wild steelhead.
Why the change is needed:
The one fish annual bag limit is functioning in practice as a "Trophy Fish Regulation", with the largest steelhead being selectively removed from the spawning population (the largest fish are primarily males). This approach violates a fundamental principle of professional fisheries management - never selectively kill the largest individuals in any wild fish population. A detailed justification statement is attached.



Survivors during natural salmonid egg incubation come from the deepest egg pockets (van den Berghe and Gross 1984; De Vries 1997) in larger, more stable spawning gravel (Burner 1951; Hawke 1978). The eggs were placed there by large females (Hankin and McKelvey 1985; Forbes and Peterman 1994) who deliberately select large males as their mating partners (Schroder 1981; Hankin et al. 1993) and are better at defending their nests against dig-up by other fish (van den Berghe and Gross 1989). These same females also have larger eggs (Hankin and McKelvey 1985; Beachham and Murray 1990; Heath et al. 2003) which produce fry with higher pre- and post-emergence survival rates (Shelton 1955; Forbes and Peterman 1994).
Net result of these processes is that large female salmonids have demonstrated a productivity that is much greater than can be explained by increase in fecundity alone. For coho, van den Berghe and Gross (1989) estimated that the largest females within a population had a 23-fold fitness advantage (measured to time of fry emergence) over the smallest females. Only about one-third of this reproductive differential was attributable to differences in fecundity. Helle (1989) compared the largest and smallest size-classes of chum salmon and found only a 1.2 fold difference in fecundity per parent but a four-fold difference in surviving offspring per parent.
A single reference (McLean et al. 2004) seemingly contradicts all other references on the same subject. However, the basic study design was flawed. All data collection was confined to a single tributary of a larger river system. It is not reasonable to expect that all sizes of steelhead would return in equal proportions to a single tributary versus downstream areas of the river system.
Beacham, T.D., and C.B. Murray. 1990. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 119:927-945.
Burner, C.J. 1951. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bulletin 61(52):97-110.
DeVries, P. 1997. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54:1685-1698.
Forbes, L.S., and R.M. Peterman. 1994. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 51:603-616.
Hankin, D.G., and R. McKelvey. 1985. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 42:393-394.
Hankin, D.G., J.W. Nicholas, and T.W. Downey. 1993. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 50:347-358.
Hawke, S.P. 1978. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. 12:167-171.
Helle, L.H. 1989. Journal of Fish Biology 35(Supplement A):99-107.
McLean, J.E., P. Bentzen, and T.P.Quinn. 2004. Ecology 85(11):2979-2985.
Schroder, S. 1981. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, Seattle WA.
Shelton, J.M. 1955. Progressive Fish-Culturist 17:20-35.
van den Berghe, E.P., and M.R. Gross. 1984. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 41:204-206.
van den Berghe, E.P., and M.R. Gross. 1989. Evolution 43:125-140.

Names of individuals or groups with whom you have discussed this change:
Describe their support and/or concerns:
Submitted by: WRIGHT, SAM G — OLYMPIA, WA

Date submitted: 05/07/2012

WDFW Rule Proposal Recommendation

Not Recommended for further consideration     Reference ID: DFW470179

Our Hoh River creel data does not support the supposition that the sport fishery preferentially harvests larger wild steelhead. Also, the North Coast tribes would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the ramifications of the State going to non-retention of wild steelhead prior to adoption of the regulation. The current regulation allowing only one wild steelhead per angler per year statewide, has resulted in a large drop in wild harvest by the sport fishery (roughly a 70% drop over pre-2004 harvests), and our rivers where wild steelhead are harvested are regularly making or exceeding escapement goals. On the other hand, recreational effort, both guided and non-guided, appears to be growing on the North Coast, especially during the March and April time frame when wild fish are present in largest numbers. The recreational fishery is catching and releasing (C&R) far more fish than it is harvesting, and though we assume a 10% mortality on C&R fish, there may be other less understood effects to these fish. A conservative approach to managing the wild stocks that will forestall any long term declines in the runs may therefore be advisable. That strategy might include finding ways to decrease or limit the effort on the rivers, and possibly eliminating or further restricting harvest of wild steelhead. Prior to making any major regulation changes, however, we should consider investing in a creel on the Quillayute system that could better inform us of effort, catch, and C&R trends.

Online Public Comments    (3 comments)

DUNN, RONALD C  October 29, 2012
Please make sure this rule change proposal stays on the do not recommend for further adoption. This is another attempt to stop access to Native Steelheed where nubers still allow some harvest. Stop the elitests from ruling us all.
URABECK, FRANK   January 29, 2013
This proposal should not get any further consideration
HOPPLER, WES C  January 29, 2013
Oppose this proposal. However: Once a better job has been done in getting foregone sport angler harvest to the spawning beds, and we have reduced the impacts from non-residents by eliminating out of state guides as well as the harvest option for nonresidents, and we need further reduction of impacts, a ban on killing female wild fish and or a maximum size limit might be appropriate further actions.

Other Comments Received