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Contact: Dave Reynolds, 360-565-2985
Rangers in the Elwha Valley of Olympic National Park cited a Port Angeles man late last month for illegally keeping a bull trout he caught in the Elwha River.
Fishing for bull trout, as well as Dolly Varden char, is prohibited in all Olympic National Park waters. Olympic shelters the largest unaltered tract of bull trout habitat in the contiguous U.S.
The park's fishing regulations require that if a bull trout or other protected fish is accidentally caught, anglers must safely release the fish. Knowingly taking the fish, one of five Olympic Peninsula fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act, carries a fine of up to $1,300.
Currently, all fishing in the Lake Mills reservoir and Elwha River is catch-and-release only.
While releasing fish, anglers are advised to allow the fish to remain in the water and avoid dragging the fish across land. Always wet hands before handling the fish, and do not squeeze or hold the fish by the eyes or gills. If the fish is hooked deeply, anglers should cut the line and leave the hook in.
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) can be identified by their clear dorsal fin and light, cream-colored spots on an olive-green to brownish background. Adult bull trout range from 10 to 30 inches in length, and some individuals can weigh up to 20 lbs.
Olympic fisheries management program is guided by three primary objectives – to manage aquatic resources as an important park of the park ecosystem, to preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats and to provide recreational fishing opportunities for park visitors.
"Nearly all anglers who fish in park waters understand and comply with fishing regulations," said Olympic National Park Chief Ranger Colin Smith. "We want to emphasize that these regulations exist for good reason, and help the park fulfill its responsibility to protect threatened fish species and preserve their natural habitats."
A full listing of all Olympic National Park fish and shellfish regulations is available on the park's official website at www.nps.gov/olym/fishing.htm.