Adjustments are definitely in the wind as we move along in the current fishing season. As of today, anglers will undoubtedly have less fishing options available while pursuing steelhead.
Friday marked the closure of several small rivers to all fishing for the season. Some of those streams include Stevens Creek, the West Fork of the Humptulips River, Elk River, John’s River, Hoquiam River (including the West and East Forks), Wishkah River and several other rivers outside the county such as Salmon River.
These closures certainly set the trend for a wind down of what we know as the 2013-14 season. Our larger rivers will remain open throughout the March and April closures. That is, there are staggered closures. Some will close mid-March, the end of March, mid-April and even the end of April.
This is done for two apparent reasons. First, by closing the small rivers, branches or tributaries, this provides a protected portion of the river for steelhead spawning. The larger rivers, and in particular the main trunks, serve as passage ways for migrating fish and are not as critical in terms of interfering with spawning activity.
Secondly, as we move into the latter stages of the season, the Department of Fish &Wildlife makes a provision for anglers to retain a wild steelhead on select rivers. Some anglers get very excited about hooking wild fish, and rightly so. They fight differently and will give anyone a battle. This does not mean we are done with hatchery fish. It does mean that the further we get into the year, the likelihood of seeing hatchery fish in any great numbers diminishes. Therefore, the attention turns to wild fish, but this is a very guarded and protected fishery in the state of Washington. Anglers should be extremely clear about the rules and parameters that surround this option. Anyone interested in pursuing this unique opportunity should make a complete study of the “what and where” of these matters.
However, in my opinion, the lack of major rainfalls this year has contributed to the late arrivals of all steelhead whether hatchery or the upcoming wild fish. So, I would hazard the guess whereas, steelhead success has been spotty in recent weeks, it could very well mean there are yet more fish to come. Since their waterway has been somewhat limiting, they may choose to migrate later in March (their actual spawning month) and provide anglers with the trickle in affect. I realize this is speculation on my part, but it may account for why fishing success has been down. A real factor in moving fish is always the weather and more specifically the amount of rain we receive.
We are in that portion of the year when we are uncertain about a lot of things. We are unsure whether more fish will come in, the actual weather pattern or even the size of runs. Mother nature has a way of setting the pace when it comes to fishing for sure.
I guess this is one of the intriguing factors anglers need to deal with. In a few weeks we will all find out the outcome of this matter. maybe this is why it is called fishing.