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August 15, 2001
Contact: Curt Kraemer, (425) 775-1311, ext. 101

Weighted flies banned on North Fork Stillaguamish River to protect wild spawning chinook

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is prohibiting the use of weighted fishing flies on a 30-mile stretch of the North Fork Stillaguamish River to protect natural spawning chinook salmon.

The prohibition will take effect on Monday, Aug. 20, and run through Oct. 15 of this year on the north fork Stillaguamish River from the confluence in the Arlington area upstream to the Swede Heaven Bridge, said Curt Kraemer, WDFW fisheries biologist.

"The drought has created extremely low water conditions in stretches of the river, and the chinook are concentrating in just a few pools," Kraemer said. "Anglers using weighted flies are intentionally targeting wild spawning chinook salmon in this stretch of the river. The fish are being foul-hooked, and they are getting stressed out with the unusually warm water temperatures."

Kraemer said the rule change is intended to protect the spawning chinook while at the same time providing fishing opportunity for sea-run cutthroat and steelhead. However, Kraemer said the entire North Fork could be closed to all fishing if the chinook harassment doesn't stop.

Puget Sound chinook were listed as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act in 1999.