OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved a two-year ban on wild steelhead retention late last week.
Steelhead anglers on the North Olympic Peninsula will be affected far more than any others.
By a 5-3 vote, the understaffed commission mandated wild steelhead release at all times and in all places from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2006. The vote took place at a regularly scheduled meeting in Olympia.
Of the 17 Washington state streams where wild steelhead retention is allowed, 16 are on the North Olympic Peninsula.
The decision is sure to evoke emotion on both sides of an issue which for years has been at the forefront of rule-change proposals.
A similar call for an end to wild steelhead retention was rejected in February 2002. However, at that time the commission decided by a 9-0 vote to lower the annual limit from 10 to five in rivers and creeks with healthy runs.
The commission currently has only eight members and Gov. Gary Locke has exceeded his 60-day window to name a replacement for former commissioner Dawn Reynolds.
—————–The rest of the story appears in the Wednesday Peninsula Daily News.