OUTDOORS: Steelhead season includes Hoh River study

SPECIAL RULES ALLOWING fishing from a floating device on two sections of the Hoh River and expanded boat fishing on the Sol Duc River are highlights of the state’s 2023-24 coastal steelhead fishing season.

The Quillayute River system will follow similar rules as last year’s emergency regulations with some expanded boat fishing on the Sol Duc River.

Fishing from a floating device will be allowed in the mainstem Quillayute, downstream of the concrete pump station at the Sol Duc Hatchery, below the Highway 101 bridge on the Calawah River and downstream of the mouth of Mill Creek on the Bogachiel River (approximately ¾ mile above the Bogachiel Hatchery).

The Hoh River will be open to boat fishing on certain days of the week in an effort to determine impacts on wild steelhead.

In the Hoh River, fishing from a floating device will be allowed Sunday through Tuesday only from the Morgan’s Crossing boat launch downstream to the state Department of Natural Resources Hoh Oxbow Campground boat launch, and Wednesday through Saturday only from the Hoh Oxbow boat launch downstream to the Olympic National Park boundary near the mouth.

“With a focus on the long-term decline of coastal steelhead, especially in the Queets and Quinault watersheds, the Region 6 team has designed recreational fishery regulations that support WDFW’s conservation goals while integrating what we’ve heard from the public,” said James Losee, WDFW Coastal Region fish program manager. “With this in mind, we are implementing a one-year study in the Hoh River to determine the wild steelhead impacts from fishing from a floating device to better inform future rule making.”

Fishing is scheduled to be open through March 31 with some opportunities to fish from a floating device. Selective gear rules and single point barbless hooks will be required on all systems open to fishing.

In waters open to fishing, the bag limit is two hatchery steelhead, and anglers must release wild steelhead and rainbow trout. All anglers are advised that additional emergency Fishing Rule Changes could occur throughout the season.

Low forecasted returns and possible commercial harvest outside of park boundaries caused Olympic National Park to close the Queets, Salmon and Quinault Rivers to sport fishing Nov. 27.

For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/PDN-WDFWSteelhead.

Ridge update

A lack of snowpack up at Hurricane Ridge will delay Sunday’s scheduled start of the winter sports season. And with the snow level expected to rise to 9,500 feet in the Olympics on Monday thanks to a pineapple express warm front, snow sports operators don’t see operations opening any time soon.

A recent Facebook post said “the operations crew has done a great job and all three lifts are ready to go, snowcats and snow machines are on the hill and ready to roll. The ONP crew has removed all the debris from the Lodge fire and installed some nice winter ready restrooms, that are quite a bit closer to the ski area.

“So here is where we stand on operations for this season. We will not be open on 12/3 and at this time with the current weather forecast we will probable not be open for the weekend of the 9th and 10th.”

The ridge needs at least three feet of heavy, dense snow for snow sports operations.

Orca review

Public input is sought on a draft Periodic Status Review for orcas that includes a recommendation to keep the species on Washington’s endangered species list due to the status of the Southern Resident orca population. The public comment period is open until Feb. 19.

The draft Periodic Status Review for orcas is at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-KillerReview.

The public can submit written comments on the document via email or by mailing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ATTN: Taylor Cotten, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504.

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