Steelhead season includes Hoh River study

By Michael Carman

SPECIAL RULES ALLOWING fishing from a floating device on two sections of the Hoh River and expanded boat fishing on the Sol Duc River are highlights of the state’s 2023-24 coastal steelhead fishing season.

The Quillayute River system will follow similar rules as last year’s emergency regulations with some expanded boat fishing on the Sol Duc River.

Fishing from a floating device will be allowed in the mainstem Quillayute, downstream of the concrete pump station at the Sol Duc Hatchery, below the Highway 101 bridge on the Calawah River and downstream of the mouth of Mill Creek on the Bogachiel River (approximately ¾ mile above the Bogachiel Hatchery).

The Hoh River will be open to boat fishing on certain days of the week in an effort to determine impacts on wild steelhead.

In the Hoh River, fishing from a floating device will be allowed Sunday through Tuesday only from the Morgan’s Crossing boat launch downstream to the state Department of Natural Resources Hoh Oxbow Campground boat launch, and Wednesday through Saturday only from the Hoh Oxbow boat launch downstream to the Olympic National Park boundary near the mouth.

“With a focus on the long-term decline of coastal steelhead, especially in the Queets and Quinault watersheds, the Region 6 team has designed recreational fishery regulations that support WDFW’s conservation goals while integrating what we’ve heard from the public,” said James Losee, WDFW Coastal Region fish program manager. “With this in mind, we are implementing a one-year study in the Hoh River to determine the wild steelhead impacts from fishing from a floating device to better inform future rule making.”

Fishing is scheduled to be open through March 31 with some opportunities to fish from a floating device. Selective gear rules and single point barbless hooks will be required on all systems open to fishing.

In waters open to fishing, the bag limit is two hatchery steelhead, and anglers must release wild steelhead and rainbow trout. All anglers are advised that additional emergency Fishing Rule Changes could occur throughout the season.

Low forecasted returns and possible commercial harvest outside of park boundaries caused Olympic National Park to close the Queets, Salmon and Quinault Rivers to sport fishing Nov. 27.

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