OUTDOORS: Wild steelhead review urged on West End, presentation set Friday in Forks

A PRIVATE PUSH for an annual wild steelhead review on West End rivers will begin in earnest Friday with a presentation at the Olympic Natural Resource Center in Forks at 7 p.m.

Sekiu’s Roy Morris, a retired charter boat captain/fishing guide and educator is spearheading the movement with a goal of ensuring one of the North Olympic Peninsula’s most iconic forms of fauna retains that status long after his last cast.

“When I returned home this January from attending the Boise Fly Fishing Expo having learned of all they are trying to do to save their wild steelhead, I was certain we could do more here than we are,” Morris wrote in a letter to the Forks Forum.

“It certainly should be easier here on the Olympic Peninsula to be confident of our wild steelhead survival than in Idaho, considering all those dams and their wild steelhead traveling through the waters of the Columbia River to the Snake to the Clearwater, Salmon and other rivers all the way to northwest Nevada.”

He has launched the 2019 Wild Steelhead Review hoping that this series of presentations, which will be archived and made available for all to review, will become an annual event and lead to actions that allow wild steelhead to survive.

“Wouldn’t we all want to know how many wild steelhead there are spawning in which tributaries and main stems on the Olympic Peninsula,” Morris asked. “We can do that using tools like pooling research dollars and supplementing the efforts with citizen science to answer the questions we all have. Working together we will be a potent force for protecting wild steelhead.”

The first voices to be heard in Friday’s initial presentation will be Trey Combs, an angler and author of one of the earliest books on the history of steelhead fishing, “The Origins of Our Wild Steelhead,” will open the conversation.

Combs will share his experiences studying discrete races of steelhead with their own distinct DNA.

Discoveries in the last 25 years place the split between Atlantic and Pacific salmonids far earlier than originally thought.

Combs also will discuss differences between spawning steelhead that average 20 inches in the Klamath River in Oregon and California and 20 pounds in British Columbia’s Kispiox River.

Companion presenter John Aho, a retired Olympic National Park biologist, educator, and trained mediator will share ecosystem management concepts, his experience with the Elwha Dam removal and share factors that influence the survival and abundance of wild steelhead.

Talk planned for April 18

Another presentation in Forks on April 18 will focus on the life history of West End wild steelhead led by Trout Unlimited’s Wild Steelhead Initiative’s science director, John McMillan.

Future events will see tribal and government agency staff, as well as suggested speakers.

“We want to invite all those who have a commitment to saving wild steelhead, to share what they know and use the knowledge we gain to guide our future,” Morris said.

“Matters of policy, practices, regulations and decision-making will take place in other arenas at other times.

“This 2019 Wild Steelhead Review is dedicated to sharing what we know from all those who know and can contribute to our understanding.”

North of Falcon meeting

Representatives from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife will discuss the progress of North of Falcon, the annual salmon fishing season setting process, at tonight’s meeting of the North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

The event will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

State fisheries biologists will be on hand to answer questions.

The fishing public is encouraged to come and let your voice be heard.

One idea that hit a bit of a snag during a Fish and Wildlife-sponsored North of Falcon meeting in Olympia on Tuesday was the prospect of non-selective coho opportunity in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

Puget Sound Salmon Manager Mark Baltzell said such a coho fishery is not likely to happen again this season.

He briefly went over the recent history for non-selective coho fisheries in the Strait, of which there is none.

“Non-selective coho opportunity in the straits and Area 9 have been constricted since 2015,” Baltzell said. “If you remember that was a bad return for coho year due to the warm blob and bad ocean conditions. [Ever since] we’ve been building up hatchery coho but there’s been no non-selective time.

“I’m not sure this is the year it is going to happen with regard to the Juan de Fuca (listed as overfished by NOAA) and Thompson River (British Columbia) stocks (due to low returns).”

Kalaloch clam dig

A risk/reward option exists for diggers eager to find a limit of razor clams at ocean beaches in a four-day opening beginning today, including three open morning digs at Kalaloch.

Tonight’s dig at Mocrocks is on evening tides (-0.5) at 7:48 p.m.

The shorter trip to Kalaloch is a benefit, but with low tides not likely to expose as much of the clam beds, that dig is much more of a risk.

A longer trip to Twin Harbors or Mocrocks will likely resort in better results.

Here’s the weekend digs, with no digging allowed after noon at any of the three open beaches.

•Friday, 8:14 a.m.; -0.2 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Kalaloch

•Saturday, 9:01 a.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Copalis, Kalaloch

•Sunday, 9:49 a.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Kalaloch

Under state law, diggers at open beaches can take 15 razor clams per day and are required to keep the first 15 they dig. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

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