Puget Sound Rivers Close Due to Low Steelhead Returns

Wild steelhead returning to the affected rivers are listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act

Fishing for steelhead and other game fish has closed early in several river systems in Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect wild steelhead, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The early closures affect the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Puyallup river systems, along with several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Pre-season estimates developed by WDFW last fall indicate that wild steelhead will return to those watersheds in numbers far short of target levels, said Bob Leland, WDFW's steelhead program manager.

The early closures are timed in each watershed to coincide with the traditional dates wild steelhead return to those Washington rivers, Leland said.

Wild steelhead returning to the affected rivers are listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Anglers are required to release any wild steelhead they catch in these rivers, though inevitably there is some mortality, Leland said. The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of WDFW's statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the ESA, he said.

For more information on the most current rules visit www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/.