The Chehalis River and its tributaries are closed to all fishing due to low projected steelhead returns, fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced late last week.
With only 6,616 Chehalis basin steelhead projected to return this year, returns of wild Chehalis steelhead are forecast to come in well below the escapement goal of 8,600 fish for the fourth year in a row, said Mike Scharpf, district fisheries biologist with WDFW.
Given this recent history, the closure represents a conservative approach to ensure conservation goals can be met, Scharpf said.
There are many factors affecting steelhead in the Chehalis, said Scharpf. Given that steelhead populations are returning in low numbers statewide this year, poor ocean conditions are likely one of those factors.
The closure includes the Chehalis River and all tributaries, including but not limited to Elk, Johns, Hoquiam, Newaukum, Satsop, Skookumchuck, Wishkah, and Wynoochee rivers.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.