Amid forecasts for low returns, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and tribal co-managers at the Hoh Tribe, Quileute Tribe, and Quinault Indian Nation, announced restrictions to sport and tribal fishing on Washington coastal rivers. 

These measures are said to be aimed at protecting wild steelhead populations, provide sport fishing opportunity where possible, and support tribal treaty rights.

In effect from Dec. 1, 2021 through April 30, 2022, state-managed steelhead sport fisheries will close in the Quinault and Queets rivers and their tributaries. During this time, both tribal and state fisheries will close in the Chehalis River and its tributaries as well as the Humptulips River. Steelhead fishing in Willapa Bay rivers and the Quillayute and Hoh rivers will allow catch and release of unmarked steelhead and harvest of two hatchery steelhead. Fishing from a boat will not be permitted except on the mainstem of the Quillayute River below Highway 101 bridges on the Calawah and Bogachiel rivers.

“Grounded in a commitment to cooperative management, this joint approach unfolds under the stark reality of these dwindling coastal runs,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW fish program director. “We continue to share the same concern for recovering these wild fish as well as preserving a deep-rooted angling heritage that we’ve heard echoed in public feedback throughout this pre-season planning process. We applaud tribal co-managers in their work to champion these recovery efforts.”

“Fish and fishing are central to our culture and way of life, providing food, income, and recreation,” said Ed Johnstone, fisheries policy spokesperson for the Quinault Indian Nation. “It’s hard to restrict fisheries, but it has to be done. We have a shared responsibility to make tough decisions as stewards for the resource and to work together as co-managers to find the will and the means necessary to protect fish for future generations.”

Final fishing regulations for sport fisheries follow an extensive public engagement process, which included a four-part virtual town hall series during summer and fall 2021 and several WDFW staff updates to the Fish and Wildlife Commission. More than 1,000 people joined WDFW fishery managers during these virtual meetings, with over 600 people providing feedback on the Department’s coastal steelhead management web page. 

This year’s season follows similar actions taken last season to help achieve conservation objectives, including restricting the use of bait and fishing from a boat, ultimately ending in an early closure to help increase the number of wild steelhead that returned to the spawning grounds.

Tribal co-managers along the coast continue to enact measures to restrict their fisheries alongside the Department to address concerns for declining returns of steelhead.  The co-managers expedited data exchange, shared concerns, and supported more advance public notice and engagement throughout the pre-season planning process.

WDFW continues to operate under its Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which requires the Department to prioritize the sustainability of wild coastal steelhead runs by focusing on healthy levels of abundance, productivity, diversity, and distribution.

For more information about coastal steelhead management, the pre-season planning process, and recordings of prior public meetings, please visit wdfw.wa.gov/coastal-steelhead.

For the full fishing rule change, please visit fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=2782. Anglers must release all wild steelhead.

 

 

Locations (the following waters will follow the above rules and will close to all fishing until further notice beginning on the date listed next to the water; any exceptions to the rule will also be listed next to the water):

Grays Harbor County

  • Black River (Grays Harbor Co.), from mouth to bridge on 128th Ave SW: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Chehalis River (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth upstream, including all forks: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Cloquallum Creek (Grays Harbor/Mason Co.), from the mouth to the outlet at Stump Lake: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Copalis River (Grays Harbor Co.): Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Elk River (Grays Harbor Co.): Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Hoquiam River including West and East forks (Grays Harbor Co.): Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Humptulips River (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth to confluence of East and West forks and West Fork from mouth to Donkey Creek: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Joe Creek (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth to Ocean Beach Rd. Bridge: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Johns River (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth (Hwy. 105 Bridge) to Ballon Creek: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Moclips River (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth to Quinault Indian Reservation boundary: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Queets River (Grays Harbor/Jefferson Co.): Contact Olympic National Park for regulations. (360) 565-3000. www.nps.gov/olym/fishing.htm
  • Quinault River, Upper (Grays Harbor/Jefferson Co.), from the mouth at upper end of Quinault Lake upstream to Olympic National Park boundary: Closed beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Satsop River and East Fork (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth to bridge at Schafer State Park, and from 400′ below Bingham Creek Hatchery dam to the dam and all Forks: Closed beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Satsop River Middle and West forks (Grays Harbor Co.): Closed beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Stevens Creek (Grays Harbor Co.), from mouth to Hwy 101 Bridge: Closed beginning December 1, 2021
  • Van Winkle Creek (Grays Harbor Co.), from mouth to 400′ below outlet of Lake Aberdeen Hatchery: Closed beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Wishkah River (Grays Harbor Co.), from the mouth to 200? below the weir at the Wishkah Rearing Ponds and from 150′ upstream to 150′ downstream of the Wishkah adult attraction channel/outfall structure (within the posted fishing boundary): Closed beginning December 1, 2021.
  • Wynoochee River (Grays Harbor Co.): Closed beginning December 1, 2021.

Pacific County

  • Bear River (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Fork Creek (Pacific Co.), from Fork Creek Hatchery rack upstream 500 feet at fishing boundary sign: Closed beginning Apr. 1, 2022.
  • Naselle River (Pacific Co.), from the Hwy. 101 Bridge to the North Fork: Closed beginning Apr. 1, 2022.
  • Naselle River, South (Pacific Co.), from the mouth to Bean Creek: Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Nemah River, Middle (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Nemah River, North (Pacific Co.), from Hwy. 101 Bridge to Cruiser Creek: Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Nemah River, South (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Newaukum River, including South Fork (Lewis Co.), from mouth to Hwy. 508 Bridge near Kearny Creek: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Newaukum River, Middle Fork (Lewis Co.), from mouth to Taucher Rd. Bridge: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • Newaukum River, North (Lewis Co.), from mouth to 400′ below Chehalis City water intake: Closed beginning Dec. 1, 2021.
  • North River (Grays Harbor/Pacific Co.), from the Hwy. 105 bridge to Raimie Creek: Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Palix River (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning Mar. 1, 2022.
  • Smith Creek (near North River) (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning March 1, 2022.
  • Willapa River (Pacific Co.), from mouth (City of South Bend boat launch) to Hwy. 6 Bridge (near the town of Lebam): Closed beginning April 1, 2022.
  • Willapa River, South Fork (Pacific Co.): Closed beginning March 1, 2022.