It's been 15 years since wild steelhead in lower Columbia River tributaries were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. And while there have been recovery plans written, habitat restoration started and angling rules tweaked, the hit on fishermen has been relatively mild.
But Tuesday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife started the process of developing a regional management plan for steelhead in the North Fork Lewis, East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers along with Salmon Creek.
One of the outcomes of this process likely will be elimination of hatchery steelhead releases in one of the streams in order to create a genetic bank for wild fish.
That made for a room of surly fishermen, most who seemed to view the process as another incremental deterioration in the sport they love.
The days of having hatchery steelhead and their harvest in every local watershed will end soon, said Bryce Glaser, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Federal fishery officials, along with Washington's 2008 Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, are calling for designation of a network of watersheds for wild steelhead so the wild genetics are not diluted by hatchery fish.
"Sounds like lost fishing opportunity,'' said Keith Hyde, president of the Columbia River chapter of the Association of Northwest Steelheaders.
Clark County has a big population of aging anglers who have a long history of fishing the local streams, Hyde added. More....