WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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February 13, 2008
Contact: Bob Leland, (360) 902-2817

WDFW adjusts recreational steelhead
fisheries in Skagit River basin

OLYMPIA With low returns of steelhead expected this year to the Skagit River basin, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is adjusting recreational fishing seasons on the Cascade, Sauk and Skagit rivers and Fisher Slough to protect wild steelhead.

Beginning Feb. 16, anglers fishing the Cascade, Sauk and Skagit rivers and Fisher Slough must follow selective gear rules. Those rules require anglers to use unscented artificial flies or lures with single-point barbless hooks and knotless nets.

Those and other selective gear rules scheduled to take effect on those waters are listed on page 26 of WDFWs Fishing in Washington regulation pamphlet, which is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations. There will be some exceptions, however, for the use of motorized vessels on the Skagit River.

On all three rivers and the slough, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead.

Were expecting a down year for wild steelhead to the Skagit River basin, said Bob Leland, WDFW's steelhead program manager. These emergency changes will allow anglers to continue to harvest hatchery fish, while reducing impacts to this springs wild steelhead return.

Only about 5,100 wild steelhead are expected to return to the Skagit River basin this year, about 900 fish below the spawning escapement goal. The low steelhead returns are likely due to poor ocean survival, impacts of flooding in 2005 and several other factors, Leland said.

Puget Sound wild steelhead, which are identified by an intact adipose fin, were listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act last year. Anglers fishing the Cascade, Sauk and Skagit, as well as Fisher Slough must release any wild steelhead they intercept.

By moving to selective gear requirements, and closing portions of the Skagit and Sauk rivers early, more wild steelhead should have an opportunity to reach the spawning grounds this spring, Leland said.

More information on the Skagit River basin emergency rule changes can be found on WDFWs website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.

New rules for the Skagit River:

  • From mouth upstream to the Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) effective February 16 until May 31. Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From Memorial Highway Bridge (Highway 536 at Mt. Vernon) upstream to Gilligan Creek effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From Gilligan Creek to Dalles Bridge at Concrete effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport effective February 16 until March 31 (closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Release all fish, except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River effective February 16 until March 31 (closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From Cascade River to Gorge Powerhouse (Dam) effective February 16 until March 15 (closed March 16 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply, internal combustion motors allowed. Unlawful to fish from a floating device while under power. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

New rules for the Sauk River:

  • From mouth to the Darrington Bridge effective February 16 until March 31 (closed April 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

  • From the Darrington Bridge to Whitechuck River effective February 16 until February 29 (closed March 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

New rules for the Cascade River:

  • From mouth upstream (entire river) effective February 16 until February 29 (closed March 1 through May 31). Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.

New rules for Fisher Slough:

  • From mouth to Highway 530 Bridge effective February 16 until May 31. Selective gear rules apply. Release all fish except up to two hatchery steelhead may be retained per day.