FORKS — A group of steelhead anglers estimated at around 50 protested recent regulation changes that impact steelhead fishing on coastal rivers, including a controversial move to bar fishing from floating devices.
The drift-boat rally and protest brought anglers from as far away as Covington to voice support for a move away from the new blanket approach to river management and a removal of the fishing from a floating device ban.
Organizers of the effort said that while drift boats filing through town would normally be a common sight, the number of anglers going fishing for steelhead has steeply declined since the rule changes went into effect Dec. 14.
The group is advocating for state Department of Fish and Wildlife managers to use different management tools to support reaching conservation goals, including providing equal and fair access to all users to help lift the sagging economies of communities like Forks that are hurting from a loss of winter steelhead angler revenues along with COVID-19 restrictions.
Trailered drift boats lined U.S. Highway 101 and filed into the Forks Outfitters parking lot, protesting the moves with signs and banners and pointing others opposed to the new rules to an online petition at www.fishsteel.com.
Free days at parks
Entry to Hurricane Ridge will be free Monday as National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone Monday to honor the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s the first of six free days planned this year for the National Park Service.
The others are April 17 to recognize the first day of National Park Week; Aug. 4 to mark the first anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act; Aug. 25 to celebrate the birthday of the National Park Service; Sept. 25 for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 11 to honor Veterans Day.
Washington State Parks also will offer free admission to parks Monday.
Other Discover Pass-free days at state parks in 2021 include: the 108th birthday of State Parks on March 19; a free spring day April 3; Earth Day on April 22; National Trails Day June 5; National Get Outdoors Day June 12; Free Fishing Day June 13; National Park Service Birthday on Aug. 25; National Public Lands Day Sept. 25; Veterans Day on Nov. 11 and an Autumn free day on Nov. 26.
Razor clam update
No future razor clam dates will be announced by Fish and Wildlife until domoic acid levels in razor clams drop below the action level. We will continue to test every two weeks.
Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres said razor clams are following the historical pattern of slowly losing domoic acid, but tests conducted Jan. 11 show levels are still too high to consider allowing digs.