News

Area fishing to close because of low wild steelhead returns

Fishing for steelhead and other game fish will close early in several river systems in Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect wild steelhead, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Jan. 25.

The early closures will affect the Nooksack, Snohomish, Stillaguamish and Skagit river systems, as well as several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Most rivers will close Feb. 1, although some waters near state fish hatcheries will remain open through Feb. 15 to provide anglers an opportunity to catch and keep hatchery steelhead.

Pre-season estimates developed by state officials last fall indicate that wild steelhead will return in numbers far short of target levels, said Jim Scott, assistant director for the state’s fish program.

The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of the state’s statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act, Scott said.

“We’re closing these rivers early because of conservation concerns,” Scott said. “With low numbers of wild steelhead expected back, we need to take this action to protect those wild fish that do return.”

Early closures are timed in each watershed to coincide with the traditional dates returning wild steelhead begin to arrive, said Bob Leland, state steelhead program manager.

Wild steelhead returning to most of the rivers scheduled to close are listed as “threatened” under the ESA. Although anglers are required to release any wild steelhead they catch in these rivers, some of those fish inevitably die from the experience, Leland said.
 
Waters closing to fishing Feb. 1 include:

Strait of Juan de Fuca
• Dungeness River from the mouth upstream to the forks at Dungeness Forks Campground
• Morse Creek from the mouth to the Port Angeles Dam
• Salt Creek from the mouth to the bridge on Highway 112
• Deep Creek from the mouth upstream
• Pysht River from the mouth upstream
• Clallam River from the mouth upstream
• Sekiu River from the mouth to forks
 
Nooksack River System
• Nooksack River mainstem from the Lummi Indian Reservation boundary to the confluence of North and South forks
• North Fork Nooksack River from Maple Creek to Nooksack Falls
• Middle Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to the City of Bellingham diversion Dam
• South Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Skookum Creek
 
Snohomish River System

• Snohomish River from the mouth (Burlington Northern railroad bridge) upstream to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers
• Skykomish River from the mouth to the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access
• Pilchuck River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Snohomish city diversion dam
• Sultan River from the mouth to 400 feet downstream of diversion dam (river mile 9.7)
• Wallace River from 200 feet upstream of water intake of salmon hatchery to Wallace Falls
• North Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 1,000 feet downstream of Bear Creek Falls
• South Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 600 feet downstream of Sunset Falls fishway
• Snoqualmie River from the mouth to the boat ramp at Plumb access
• Tolt River from the mouth to the USGS trolley cable near confluence of North and South forks
• Raging River from the mouth to Highway 18 Bridge
 
Stillaguamish River System

• Stillaguamish River from Marine Drive upstream to forks
• Pilchuck Creek from the mouth to the Highway 9 Bridge
• North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to the mouth of French Creek
• South Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to 400 feet below the Granite Falls fishway outlet
• Canyon Creek from the mouth upstream
 
Skagit River System

• Skagit River mainstem from the mouth to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport
• Skagit River from the mouth of the Cascade River to the Gorge powerhouse at Newhalem
• Sauk River from the mouth to the Whitechuck River
• Cascade River from the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge upstream to headwaters
 
Waters closing to fishing Feb. 16 include:

• North Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Maple Creek
• Skykomish River from the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access to the confluence of North and South forks
• Wallace River from the mouth (farthest downstream railroad bridge) to 200 feet upstream of the water intake of salmon hatchery
• Snoqualmie River from the boat ramp at Plumb access to Snoqualmie Falls.
• Tokul Creek from the mouth to the posted cable boundary marker
• North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth of French Creek to the Swede Heaven Bridge
• Skagit River from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the mouth of the Cascade River
• Cascade River from the mouth to Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge
 
For more information on the closures, check the emergency rule changes on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_current_order_by_date.j.

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