OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has taken
emergency action to rebuild wild summer steelhead populations in the Kalama and Washougal
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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
- Increased education of the public on issues involving the wild steelhead.
WDFW biologists encourage anglers who normally release hatchery fish to keep their
catches to minimize hatchery fish from spawning in the wild.