A Masterclass On Shifting Baseline Syndrome


Photo: Copi Vojta

Shifting baseline syndrome describes a gradual change in the accepted norms for the condition of the natural environment due to a lack of human experience, memory and/or knowledge of its past condition.

Some analysis on the recent announcement of a catch and release season on the Skagit and Sauk rivers courtesy of the Wild Steelhead Coalition.

This week the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WFDFW) announced the Skagit and Sauk rivers catch-and-release wild steelhead season will reopen this spring. The popular fishery remained closed last year due to low projected fish returns. The season will run from February 1st through April 13th and be operated under conservation measures, such as only fishing four days a week, to reduce anglers’ impact on struggling wild steelhead runs.

News of the upcoming spring 2021 catch-and-release steelhead season has traveled fast. The announcement has been met with a mix of celebration and concern across the angling community, especially in light of recent emergency rule changes affecting Washington’s coastal rivers, and how they could shift angling pressure to the Skagit.  

For our part, the Wild Steelhead Coalition is deeply concerned about the Skagit system’s depressed steelhead run counts and the potential impact of this season. As passionate steelheaders, we want to fish these iconic rivers as much as anyone, but we also recognize that steelhead numbers in the Skagit and Sauk are currently on a razor’s edge. 


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