Hoh River “Test?”

Dear Editor,

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) abolished fishing from a floating device in many coastal rivers, allegedly to reduce the number of steelhead encounters i.e catch and release. They purported that the mere catch and release of steelhead accounted for a mortality rate somewhere between 10 and 15%, and that their action was absolutely necessary to ensure survival of the species. Unfortunately, they have absolutely nothing in their bag of information that substantiates this statistic, nor action. I personally have drifted peninsula rivers extensively for over 60 years and have never witnessed a dead, or dying, steelhead. Am I to believe that these fish just dematerialize? I am pretty sure a 10 to 15% mortality rate would leave some carcasses strewn about somewhere….

Based on pressure from the public – WDFW relented and gifted the recreational “coastal” steelhead fishermen two sections of the Hoh River, for the 2023 – 2024 season, that may be fished from a floating device on alternating days of the week, on a test basis. No further information regarding the “test” has been released.

1. What is the scope of this test?

2. What data will be collected?

3. Who will be collecting data?

4. Where and how will data be collected?

5. How / who will evaluate the data?

6. What are the specific criteria against which data will be evaluated?

WDFW really needs to be pinned down. Considering the fact that fishing from a floating device was abolished based on bogus criteria, I am extremely concerned regarding WDFW’s intent. We really need to know more. I am highly suspicious that the result of this so-called test has already been pre-determined and will be utilized by WDFW to overcome public pressure – most likely resulting in even more restrictions for recreational fishing in the future.

Recreational fishing, catch and release, fishing from a floating device are not factors contributing, in any significant degree, to the year after year reduction in returning steelhead! The continual annual decline of coastal steelhead returns can be traced directly back to 1974.

Steelhead were introduced to the Great Lakes in the late 1800’s. Although there have certainly been seasonal fluctuations in annual returns over the years, Great Lakes steelhead are thriving… Difference: No Nets!!!

Jerry Effenberger,

Concerned Citizen