LAPUSH — Quileute Tribal Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Chief Tony Foster points the bow of a patrol boat upstream.
Salmon jump in the shallow water of the Quillayute River beneath the hull, swimming freely where buoys that once supported nets bob without purpose.
“There’s a lot of fish down here,” Foster said.
He led us right to them. Hundreds of chinook and coho salmon scattered as the boat pushed farther upriver through the schools.
A blue heron flew low over the water and seals and sea lions were seen poking their heads above deeper pools.
“If the rain comes, they’re just going to shoot up there,” Foster said, indicating the higher stretches of the Quillayute system, where the fish spawn, thus assuring future runs.
The Quileute tribe only fishes for salmon in the mainstem Quillayute, just 4 miles long, Foster said.
Sometimes for steelhead, tribal fishermen will go as far as the state Highway 110 bridge over the Bogachiel River, perhaps another mile upstream.
That leaves the rest of the Quillayute system, countless miles of rivers and tributaries to the headwaters high in the Olympic Mountains, for sport anglers only.
None of it’s open right now due to emergency closures — tribal and sport angling have both been halted on the Quillayute system along with the Hoh River — but you get a feel for how limited tribal fishing on the river network really is.
—————The rest of the story appears in the Wednesday Peninsula Daily News. Click on SUBSCRIBE to get the PDN delivered to your home or office.