Fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced regulations for the state’s 2023-2024 coastal steelhead fishing season. Included are special rules allowing fishing from a floating device on two sections of the Hoh River during certain days of the week to help determine impacts to wild steelhead.
“With a focus on the long-term decline of coastal steelhead, especially in the Queets and Quinault watersheds, the Region 6 team has designed recreational fishery regulations that support WDFW’s conservation goals while integrating what we’ve heard from the public,” said James Losee, WDFW Coastal Region fish program manager. “With this in mind, we are implementing a one-year study in the Hoh River to determine the wild steelhead impacts from fishing from a floating device to better inform future rule making.”
Fishing is scheduled to be open from Dec. 1 through March 31 with some opportunities to fish from a floating device. Selective gear rules and single point barbless hooks will be required on all systems open to fishing. These include:
- Quillayute River System
- Hoh River
- Willapa Bay River System (select tributaries will close Feb. 28)
WDFW fishery managers are continuing discussions with Quinault Indian Nation to secure agreements on fishery plans in Grays Harbor rivers and tributaries.
In waters open to fishing, the bag limit is two hatchery steelhead, and anglers must release wild steelhead and rainbow trout. All anglers are advised that additional emergency Fishing Rule Changes could occur throughout the season.
The Quillayute River System will follow similar rules as last year’s emergency regulations with some expanded boat fishing on the Sol Duc River. Fishing from a floating device will be allowed in the mainstem Quillayute, downstream of the concrete pump station at the Sol Duc Hatchery, below the Highway 101 bridge on the Calawah River, and downstream of the mouth of Mill Creek on the Bogachiel River (approximately 3/4 mile above the Bogachiel Hatchery).
In the Hoh River, fishing from a floating device will be allowed Sunday through Tuesday only from the Morgan’s Crossing boat launch downstream to the Washington Department of Natural Resources Hoh Oxbow Campground boat launch, and Wednesday through Saturday only from the Hoh Oxbow boat launch downstream to the Olympic National Park boundary near the mouth.
Fishing from a floating device will also be allowed in rivers that flow into Willapa Bay throughout the scheduled season (Dec. 1 through March 31).
State-managed recreational fishing closed Nov. 30 in the Chehalis, Humptulips, Quinault, and Queets rivers due to chronic low wild steelhead abundance. WDFW is still pursuing agreement with tribal co-managers through signed fishery management plans in these systems.
Final fishing regulations followed an extensive public engagement process, which included a two-part virtual town hall series this past fall and several WDFW staff updates to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
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’s website.