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« Pacumageddon! | Main | Swing the Fly Issue 1.2 »

Whistling Past the Graveyard

Graphic and images courtesy of Rich Simms and Jeff Bright

Despite being one of the crown jewels for wild steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula, the Hoh River once again failed to meet its wild steelhead escapement goal this last season. The wild run was forecasted at 3,943, with a projected escapement goal of 2,400, the actual escapement included only 2,218 wild fish. The numbers are truly depressing when compared to historic abundance and the fact that habitat is warranted through the Olympic National Park and efforts by Hoh River Trust and Western Rivers Conservancy. Meanwhile harvest by both sport and tribe remains and intensive angling pressure continues.

Below is the wake up call issued by Dick Burge in his 2009 article, Hoh River Wild Steelhead on the Brink.

Time has become short; we all need to stand up and speak out now for changes in Washington wild steelhead management or place our last memories of fishing for those wild fish in our photo albums! The Hoh is one of four major rivers (along with the Quinault, Queets and Quillayute rivers) in the state’s last region of fishable wild stocks,the Olympic Peninsula. These rivers are all mismanaged in the same manner for maximum harvest benefits at the expense of future runs and they all appear headed toward depletion and Endangered Species Act listing unless change is quickly made. If we do not set new standards for wild steelhead management now, we will loose the last area where large rivers still provide a full season for wild fish sport fishing and a real future for all steelheaders.

Here we are four years later and Washington's management practices are still pushing the Hoh's wild steelhead run towards extinction. Four years later, and sound science based policy proposals put forth by the Wild Steelhead Coalition, and others, to protect wild steelhead were rejected by the state.

Four years later and we're still whistling the same tune.

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Reader Comments (2)

I am not surprised to see this failed escapement of Hoh River wild steelhead again. There has been a gradual increase in anglers coming out here every winter, focused on these wild fish, ever since the puget Sound rivers were closed under the Endangered Species Act. There is no rational excuse for the way that this state manages these wild fish. This run now represents a faint single digit percentage of the historic abundance of Hoh wild steelhead runs. And still they allow harvest. This is utterly corrupt. All of this has gone too far. They should shut it down.

October 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob Triggs

In agreement with Bob, the rivers out here have become much more crowded since the WDFW shutdown the Puget Sound and other Juan de Fuca rivers. This has concentrated more and more anglers into the remaining 'open' rivers. Wild steelhead retention is still permitted on the Hoh, though most coming to fish are coming for catch and release. Even using the most optimistic mortality rates for catch and release, a large amount of released fish will die when there are hundreds of fisherman on the river on the fishable days.

October 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWest End Wanderer

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