Quinault, Salmon, and Queets rivers close to sport fishing

Multiple rivers on the Olympic Peninsula close for steelhead.

According to officials, due to protect declining populations of wild steelhead, Olympic National Park is closing the Queets, Salmon and Quinault Rivers to sport fishing on November 27, 2023. 

Due to low forecasted returns, these conservation closures are necessary to eliminate any sport impacts to wild steelhead making their way to spawning areas inside and outside the park. Olympic Peninsula steelhead were recently petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. 

Figure 2. Declining trend in total run size of wild steelhead in the Quinault River System, 1985-2023. Data courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The sport fishing closures are due to low forecasted returns, anticipated commercial harvest outside of the park, and declining trends in total run size with chronically low escapements of wild steelhead. The park and State escapement goals are 4,200 and 1,600 wild steelhead in the Queets System and Upper Quinault, respectively. 

“Given the low numbers, we are compelled to use the one remaining tool to minimize impacts on wild steelhead – pausing sport fishing inside the park. We understand that these closures affect sport anglers and fishing guides, and we appreciate their cooperation in helping to protect these precious wild resources.” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs.  

Olympic National Park has significant conservation concerns for wild steelhead in these rivers based on long-term declines in annual run sizes and escapements dating back to 1980 (See Figures below). Notably, record low returns of wild steelhead were recorded in the Queets and Quinault systems in the last few years. Of additional concern is that wild steelhead have failed to reach the State and National Park Service escapement goals in 8 of the last 10 years in the Queets and 6 of the last 10 years in Upper Quinault.  

Fisheries within Olympic National Park are managed to provide diverse fishing opportunities, allow for the harvest of hatchery steelhead, and preserve wild salmonid populations. The National Park Service appreciates the cooperation and understanding of recreational anglers and professional guides during this time. Olympic National Park is implementing the following in-season changes:  

  • Queets River: Closed to recreational fishing beginning November 27, 2023 
  • Salmon River: Closed to recreational fishing beginning November 27, 2023 
  • Quinault River (upper bridge downstream to park boundary): Closed to recreational fishing beginning November 27, 2023 

The sport fishing regulations in Olympic National Park are implemented in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Queets, Quinault, and Salmon Rivers within Olympic National Park are expected to reopen to recreational angling on June 1, 2024. For current fishing regulations and information, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/fishing.htm