OLYMPIA -- The low number of winter-run hatchery steelhead returning to the
state's waterways has prompted Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
biologists to undertake a review of the fishery to determine if emergency harvest
restrictions should be adopted.
Data collected by agency biologists indicate very poor returns to many
Washington rivers and streams. This, in turn, has created concern over whether
enough fish will return for spawning purposes, according to WDFW fisheries manager
"The department will be reviewing the data on a statewide basis early next week
to determine if emergency actions, including possible closures, are needed to ensure
hatchery steelhead broodstock needs are met," Lincoln said.
Winter-run hatchery steelhead fishing typically begins in November in
Washington. However, early January is generally considered the peak time to fish for
Biologists said they are uncertain why so few winter-run hatchery steelhead have
returned this year.
Moreover, the phenomenon does not appear to be confined to Washington, they
said. Both Oregon and British Columbia have experienced similar declines.
While winter-run hatchery steelhead start returning to the state's waterways in
November, winter-run, wild steelhead generally start returning around January. A
statewide, in-season status review of wild steelhead also will be undertaken once data
becomes available, according to Lincoln.