OUTDOORS: Credit card test for Hoko steelhead

EXPECT MORE UNCLIPPED steelhead to return to the Hoko River than normal this season and in coming seasons.

Beginning today, the definition of hatchery steelhead returning to the Hoko River has been altered to include steelhead with a dorsal fin height of less than 2 1/8 inches or those with a clipped adipose or ventral fin.

Returning hatchery steelhead are typically identified by a clipped adipose or ventral fin and a healed scar at the location of the fin.

But hatchery steelhead smolts reared at and released by the Makah Tribal Hatchery on the Hoko River in the spring of 2016 and 2017 were not fin clipped because of fish health concerns due to warm river temperatures.

Credit card test

These fish will begin returning in the coming winter steelhead season. Dorsal fin heights of hatchery steelhead are shorter than comparably sized wild steelhead. The standard of 2 1/8 inches has been used elsewhere to identify unclipped hatchery steelhead — it’s also known as the credit card test since the size of most credit cards is 3.370 inches long by 2.125 inches wide.

Hatchery steelhead are released as yearlings, and return after 1½ or 2½ years at sea as 3-year-old and 4-year-old fish. Identifying these fish by the height of the dorsal fin will remain an option, along with clipped fins, for the next several seasons to allow the harvest in the Hoko River of most returning hatchery steelhead from the 2016 and 2017 releases.

Hoko River steelhead smolts scheduled to be release in spring of 2018 have been marked with a clipped adipose fin.

As for the Hoko River fishery, anglers are required to keep legal sized hatchery steelhead.

Anglers can keep two trout per day from the river’s mouth up to the cement bridge on the Lake Ozette Highway.

Closed waters are found from the hatchery ladder downstream 100 feet.

Only fly fishing is allowed from the upper Hoko Bridge to Ellis Creek (river mile 18.5). In that stretch, anglers can keep a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead. All other fish must be released.

Dungeness back open

The Dungeness River re-opened to hatchery coho fishing from the mouth to the Dungeness River Hatchery after broodstock egg take goals were realized thanks to recent heavy rains.

Judging from the coffee-colored, roaring stretches of the Dungeness River I witnessed at various vantage points yesterday while driving through the Dungeness Valley, I’d recommend plugging for the time being until the river gets back in shape.

Anglers meeting

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Environmental Planning Program Manager Robert Knapp will speak at tonight’s meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

Knapp has been with the tribe for more than five years, first as a planner and now as manager. He works with landowners along the Dungeness River to conserve and restore salmon habitat. He will talk about the progress made and what the plans are for the future.

The meeting will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.

The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. for viewing of raffle prizes and fish stories.

A short club business meeting begins at 7 p.m. and includes fishing reports from members, followed by Knapp.

A raffle of fishing gear will be held, as well as a membership drawing (must be present).

Refreshments will be served and the public is welcome.

Fly fishers to meet

The Sequim Greywolf Fly Fishers will meet Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Sequim Prairie Grange, 290 Macleay Road.

There will be a brief business meeting followed by fishing reports on local lakes and favorite flies that successfully catch fish.

The remainder of the meeting is reserved for individual fly tying. Attendees may observe or tie a fly of their choice (bring fly-tying equipment and materials).

There will also be a fly raffle, discussion about recent adventures and a quilt auction.

For more information, call Erik Simpson at 360-683-6684.

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