Fishing seasons and limits are going down
"The Fish Journal" Issaquah Press, Published February 2 2011

By Dallas Cross

Just announced, and effective Feb. 2, is a sudden closure of rivers and streams for steelhead fishing in the Eastern Puget Sound watershed.

This is a result of the forecast of returning wild steelhead, a protected species, being well below the goal required for spawning and maintenance. Fishing for hatchery steelhead is included in the closure to reduce the mortality of wild steelhead when incidentally hooked. The nearby rivers included in the closure are: Snoqualmie, Snohomish, Raging, Tolt, Skykomish, Pilchuck, Sultan and Wallace. Although the list looks all inclusive of these rivers, check the state Department of Fish and Wildlife website - - for particular areas.

Despite the record chinook or king salmon run last fall and a projected increase in spring chinook numbers this year, several other sea-run fish have gone down and are projected to continue to diminish in numbers.

The 2010 silver or coho salmon run in Puget Sound, and especially those returning to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, was practically nil and a fishing season for them was curtailed. Expectations for a good run next season are not good.

For decades, smelt have returned to the Columbia River system and have been dipped and netted for food and bait. The sea run of smelt started to decline about 10 years ago. The Washington and Oregon fishery departments have now announced that in 2011, all sport and commercial dipping for smelt in the Columbia River system is closed.

Currently, the Washington winter sturgeon season rules remain the same as 2010. You may fish for white sturgeon seven days per week with a daily bag limit of one sturgeon between 38 and 54 inches fork-to-snout length and an annual limit of five fish.

However, Oregon and Washington fishery officials have finally gotten together and agreed to jointly regulate the fishery for white sturgeon in the Columbia River and its tributaries. On Feb. 8, fishery managers from the two states will decide on new harvest limits for the remainder of 2011. Their current, draft proposal is based on a projected 29 percent reduction of sturgeon population in 2011. It's expected to result in a shorter fishing season and fewer allowed fishing hours.

So, join me in focusing on spring chinook and the local trout, bass and panfish for our diminishing piscatorial protein.

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