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

June 24, 1997
Contact: Chuck Bolland, (360) 902-2255

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Department protects wild summer steelhead

OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has taken emergency action to rebuild wild summer steelhead populations in the Kalama and Washougal rivers.

Effective immediately, the department will:

  • Kalama River - Limit to 500 the number of hatchery fish that pass above the Kalama Falls Hatchery fish ladder. All other hatchery fish collected will be tagged and moved downstream to give anglers additional fishing opportunities. The action is necessary because wild summer steelhead returns are poor.
  • North Fork Washougal River - Use fish traps to reduce the number of hatchery fish reaching the upper river where wild steelhead spawn. The captured steelhead will be used for hatchery brood stock or will be tagged and moved downstream.
The actions on both rivers will continue until this fall, at which time all hatchery steelhead will be removed and released in nearby lakes or donated to local food banks.

WDFW biologists say removing hatchery steelhead will reduce interbreeding between hatchery and wild fish to protect genetic diversity.

Plastic tags, two inches in length, will be attached at the base of the dorsal fin of all hatchery steelhead that are moved downstream. Biologists want anglers to return the tags so that the program can be evaluated. Tags may be delivered in person to either of the Kalama fish hatcheries, located at river mile 3 and river mile 10. Anglers may also mail the tags to: WDFW, P.O. Box 999, Battle Ground, WA, 98604.

WDFW has adopted additional short-term strategies, following a public meeting, to protect and rebuild the wild steelhead populations. They include:

  • Increased enforcement of wild steelhead catch-and-release regulations.
  • Increasing enforcement to reduce poaching in the region.
  • Strict compliance with hydraulic permits for any in-stream activities.
  • Increased education of the public on issues involving the wild steelhead.
WDFW fish biologists also encourage any anglers who many normally release hatchery steelhead, to keep them as another way to remove potential hatchery spawners from the two rivers.

WDFW biologists encourage anglers who normally release hatchery fish to keep their catches to minimize hatchery fish from spawning in the wild.