Poor steelhead returns are forcing the state to close fishing on more rivers. Five major systems around Puget Sound will close on Thursday, including the Puyallup River.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said the closure also will affect the Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Samish and Snohomish rivers and their tributaries.
Pre-season estimates developed by the department indicate that returns of wild steelhead will fall far short of target levels in all five river systems, said Bob Leland, WDFW steelhead manager.
“This is the fourth straight year that we’ve seen a downward trend in wild steelhead returns,” Leland said in a news release. “These closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of our statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the federal Endangered Species Act.”
Wild steelhead in the Puget Sound region have been listed as “threatened” under the ESA since 2007. Although anglers are required to release any wild fish they catch in those rivers, some of those fish inevitably die from the experience, Leland said.
Rivers closing to steelhead fishing are:
Puyallup River system
* Puyallup River mainstem from the 11th Street Bridge in Tacoma upstream to Electron Power Plant Outlet
* Carbon River from the mouth to Highwa.162 Bridge
* White (Stuck) River from the mouth to R Street Bridge in Auburn
Nooksack River system
* Nooksack River from the mouth to the confluence of the North and South Forks
* North Fork Nooksack from the mouth to Nooksack Falls
* South Fork Nooksack from the mouth to Skookum Creek
* Middle Fork Nooksack from the mouth to headwaters
Samish River system
* Samish River from the mouth to the Hickson Bridge
Stillaguamish River system
* Stillaguamish River from sloughs south of Marine Drive to the forks
* North Fork of the Stillaguamish from the mouth to Swede Heaven Bridge
* South Fork of the Stillaguamish from the mouth to the Mountain Loop Hghway Bridge (above Granite Falls)
* Canyon Creek from the mouth at the South Fork of the Stillaguamish to the forks
Snohomish River system
* Snohomish River from mouth (Burlington-Northern railroad bridges) to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers including all channels, sloughs, and interconnected waterways
* Snoqualmie River from the mouth to the boat launch at Plum Landing (~1/4 mile below Tokul Creek)
* Skykomish River from the mouth to the forks
* North Fork of the Skykomish from the mouth to Deer Falls (about ¼ mile upstream of Goblin Creek).
* South Fork of the Skykomish from the mouth to the Sunset Falls Fishway.
* Pilchuck River from mouth to the Snohomish city diversion dam.
* Sultan River from mouth to the diversion dam at river mile 9.7.
* Tolt River from mouth to the confluence of the North and South Fork.
* Raging River from the mouth to the Highway 18 Bridge.
The Wallace River, Tokul Creek and Snoqualmie River above the boat ramp at Plum Landing will close Feb 28.
Reopening dates for all of these waters will be noted in the 2010-11 Fishing in Washington fishing rules pamphlet.