Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission resident native trout harvest management policy development process

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Vibrantly colored cutthroat trout hooked with its head partially out of the water
Photo by Jim Cummins
Cutthroat trout

In 2024-25, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is developing a resident native trout harvest management policy that will provide high-level harvest management guidance. The policy will apply to resident native rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and their subspecies including coastal cutthroat, westslope cutthroat, and redband and coastal rainbow trout. 

This policy will not address:

  • Native hatchery-origin trout.
  • Any non-native trout or char species.
  • Bull trout or Dolly Varden (native char).
  • Anadromous life histories of any trout.

Policy development and purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide clear and concise guidance as to where, when, and how WDFW will manage recreational fishing impacts on resident native trout species.​ This policy will:​ 

  • Acknowledge that O. mykiss and O. clarkii as species exhibit diverse life-history strategies, with both resident (including fluvial and adfluvial life histories) and anadromous forms providing some contribution to each other.​ 
  • Conserve resident native trout populations.​ 
  • Use appropriate fishing rules to conserve native resident trout.​ 
  • Use analyses and management strategies within WDFW’s available budget to conserve native resident trout.​ 
  • Be consistent with state laws, rules, commission policies, and native species conservation plans.​ 
  • Use conservative approaches to the harvest management of resident native trout species.​ 
  • Use analysis and management approaches that are within the WDFW’s available budget.​ 
  • Use a science-based approach to decision-making. 

Policy background

After receiving questions from the public about native trout management in Washington rivers and streams, the Fish and Wildlife Commission asked WDFW staff to develop a policy that provides broad guidance for staff when determining management options for these native species. 

How to participate

WDFW has several ways for the public to offer feedback and shape the direction of the policy. There are several upcoming hybrid public meetings throughout the process. 

Public input

The public may submit comments about the policy development beginning July 2024.  

Timeline

DateActivity
June 2024WDFW staff share progress with WDFW Commission Fish Committee 
July 17, 2024Public town hall #2: share draft policy 
Summer 2024WDFW staff evaluate and incorporate public comment into the policy 
Winter 2024-25Public town hall #3: share updated draft policy 
Winter 2024-25Tribal coordination and input 
Spring 2025State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) review 
Spring 2025 Share SEPA review with WDFW Commission Fish Committee 
Summer 2025  WDFW Commission briefing and public comment 
Fall 2025  Commission decision 
Fall 2025Share final policy

Materials and recordings

Learn about native resident trout

Resident native trout in Washington 

Learn more about resident native trout at the links below, including information about physical descriptions, range, where you may encounter each species, and more.