OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled meetings to discuss with the public a proposed recreational steelhead fishery in the Skagit Basin, where rivers have been closed to steelhead fishing for several years.
The public meetings are scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. and include the following dates and locations:
- Mill Creek: Jan. 12, WDFW Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek
- Sedro-Woolley: Jan. 16, Sedro-Woolley Community Center, 702 Pacific St., Sedro-Woolley
At the meetings, state fish managers will discuss a proposal to allow fisheries for wild steelhead in the Skagit, Sauk and Suiattle rivers. These rivers have been closed to steelhead fishing since 2010 due to low numbers of returning fish. WDFW is proposing catch-and-release recreational fishing for wild steelhead.
“In recent years, we’ve seen more steelhead returning to the Skagit Basin than before we closed the rivers to fishing,” said Edward Eleazer, WDFW regional fish program manager. “Given the low number of steelhead mortalities associated with this sport fishery, we don’t expect it will harm efforts to recover steelhead populations.”
The Skagit Basin steelhead proposal, developed by state and tribal co-managers, is pending approval from NOAA Fisheries. The federal agency is seeking comments through Jan. 8 on the proposal, which can be found on NOAA’s website at http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/salmon_steelhead/skagit-steelhead_proposed_evalu.html.
If the proposal is approved, the state could allow a sport fishery within the next few months. During public meetings, WDFW will gather feedback on timing for the proposed fishery as well as discuss gear regulations.