Hopefully you are right in the middle of a great run of salmon on your local river as chinook, pinks and coho all steam into streams all over Western Washington.
While, summer seems to have just ended (emphatically) with the latest edition of the atmospheric river arriving this weekend and continuing into next week, it’s never too early to start previewing what we can expect during the 2023-2024 winter steelhead season.
The Chehalis River is the most significant coastal river in the state of Washington not named the Columbia River.
The Chehalis River has also been the subject of significant controversy over the past few years revealing the fault lines between user groups, conservation objectives and a variety of other concerns.
One dynamic that does seem to be clear for the 2023 season is that in-river fisheries will once again bear the brunt of the conservation concerns, being the lowest on the totem pole of perceived value and having the smallest voice. Let’s dig in!
The Skookumchuck river emerges below the dam which creates the boundary for Skookumchuck Reservoir. Most of the salmon fishing is done in the roughly 1 river miles below the dam, though there are some other access points as well.
The Wynoochee River originates from the south slopes of the wild and rugged Olympic mountains and winds its way south until it dumps into the Chehalis near Montesano. The often overlooked cousin of the Satsop River when it comes to salmon fishing can still provide decent fishing for coho and chum salmon.
We are about half-way through the month of January, and for many folks, the steelhead season in the state of Washington has been predictably frustrating. However, there are some bright spots you should certainly be aware of and some updates to the content here that I want to highlight.
What’s really going on with the Chehalis River winter steelhead season of 2022-2023? Why are recreational anglers being denied access to consume hatchery steelhead and coho which have been raised for the purpose of consumption via the license fees we’ve spent?
Is this all to protect and conserve the vital wild stocks of steelhead whose numbers have dipped precipitously over the last decade and haven’t shown signs of recovery?