On Thursday, Jan. 14, steelhead anglers converged on Forks, with their boats in tow but no intent to take them off the trailer. With less than 36-hours’ notice, the parade of boats numbered just under 50, with anglers coming from as far away as Covington to support the cause.
While boats filing through town would normally be a common sight, the number of anglers going fishing for steelhead has steeply declined since the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) passed an unpopular emergency ban on fishing from a floating device for winter steelhead on the entire coast.
The rule changes and drastic reduction in fishing tourism have already had a significant impact on the rural economies of the coast since they were enacted on Dec. 14, 2020.
Until the Department can be convinced that other management tools could be used to support their conservation goals, while providing equal and fair access for all users, the financial pressure on these communities will continue.
Boats lined Hwy 101 and filed into the local Forks Outfitters parking lot with signs and banners bringing awareness to the rule changes and of a petition in support of their cause at www.fishsteel.com.
As of Thursday night, over 3,500 people had signed on.
Nearing the end of the rally, a parade of boats made their way through the stoplight in town for one last hurrah before the 8 a.m. House Rural Dev, Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee work session discussing this issue on Jan. 15. (https://app.leg.wa.gov/committeeschedules#/Ho use/31649/01-15-2021/01-15-2021/Schedule///Bill)