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WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE     Print Version
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091


January 06, 2012
Contact: Bob Leland, (360) 902-2817

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Fishing in rivers around Puget Sound
to close due to low wild steelhead returns

OLYMPIA Fishing for steelhead and other game fish will close 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 will affect the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Puyallup river systems, along with several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Most river systems will close Feb. 1. However, the Puyallup River system will close Jan. 16, and some waters near WDFW fish hatcheries are scheduled to close Feb. 16.

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, WDFWs steelhead program manager.

By taking this action, we can protect wild steelhead that do make it back to these river systems, he said.

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 most of the rivers scheduled to close are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although anglers are required to release any wild steelhead they catch in these rivers, some of those fish inevitably die from the experience, Leland said.

The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of WDFWs statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the ESA, he said.

Meanwhile, WDFW is proposing to make these early closure dates permanent to help protect future runs of wild steelhead, Leland said. The deadline for submitting written comments to the department on that and other proposed sportfishing rules was Dec. 30, but the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept both written and verbal comments at its Jan. 6-7 meeting in Olympia. For contact information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during a meeting Feb. 3-4. For more information on the proposed rules, visit the departments website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/.

Waters closing to fishing Jan. 16, 2012, by emergency rule include:

Puyallup River System

  • White River from the mouth to the R Street Bridge in Auburn.
  • Carbon River from the mouth to the Highway 162 Bridge.
  • Upper Puyallup River from the mouth of the Carbon River upstream.

Waters closing to fishing Feb. 1, 2012, by emergency rule include:

Nooksack River System

  • Nooksack River mainstem from the Lummi Indian Reservation boundary to the confluence of North and South forks.
  • North Fork Nooksack River from Maple Creek to Nooksack Falls.
  • Middle Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to the City of Bellingham diversion Dam.
  • South Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Skookum Creek.

Skagit River System

  • Skagit River mainstem from the mouth to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport.
  • Skagit River from the mouth of the Cascade River to the Gorge powerhouse at Newhalem.
  • Sauk River from the mouth to the Whitechuck River.
  • Cascade River from the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge upstream to headwaters.

Snohomish River System

  • Snohomish River from the mouth (Burlington Northern railroad bridge) upstream to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers.
  • Skykomish River from the mouth to the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access.
  • Pilchuck River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Snohomish city diversion dam.
  • Sultan River from the mouth to 400 feet downstream of diversion dam (river mile 9.7).
  • Wallace River from 200 feet upstream of water intake of salmon hatchery to Wallace Falls.
  • North Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 1,000 feet downstream of Bear Creek Falls.
  • South Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 600 feet downstream of Sunset Falls fishway.
  • Snoqualmie River from the mouth to the boat ramp at Plum access.
  • Tolt River from the mouth to the USGS trolley cable near confluence of North and South forks.
  • Raging River from the mouth to Highway 18 Bridge.

Stillaguamish River System

  • Stillaguamish River from Marine Drive upstream to forks.
  • Pilchuck Creek from the mouth to Highway 9 Bridge.
  • North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to the mouth of French Creek.
  • South Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to 400 feet below the Granite Falls fishway outlet.
  • Canyon Creek from the mouth upstream.

Strait of Juan de Fuca

  • Dungeness River from the mouth upstream to the forks at Dungeness Forks Campground.
  • Morse Creek from the mouth to the Port Angeles Dam.
  • Salt Creek from the mouth to the bridge on Highway 112.
  • Deep Creek from the mouth upstream.
  • Pysht River from the mouth upstream.
  • Clallam River from the mouth upstream.
  • Sekiu River from the mouth to forks.

Waters closing to fishing Feb. 16, 2012, by emergency rule include:

  • North Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Maple Creek.
  • Skykomish River from the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access to the confluence of North and South forks.
  • Wallace River from the mouth (farthest downstream railroad bridge) to 200 feet upstream of the water intake of salmon hatchery.
  • Snoqualmie River from the boat ramp at Plum access to Snoqualmie Falls.
  • Tokul Creek from the mouth to the posted cable boundary marker.
  • North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth of French Creek to the Swede Heaven Bridge.
  • Skagit River from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the mouth of the Cascade River.
  • Cascade River from the mouth to Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.

Leland reminds anglers that the Samish River, from the I-5 Bridge to the Hickson Bridge, closed to fishing Dec. 1. The stretch of the Samish River, from the mouth to the I-5 Bridge closed Jan.1.

For more information on the closures, check the emergency rule changes on WDFWs website at http://1.usa.gov/hfDjYl.