First The Hatchery Fish, Now A Hatchery In WFC’s Aim

Not happy with merely kiboshing the release of 88 percent of all early winter steelhead into Puget Sound rivers this spring, the Wild Fish Conservancy is now going after a state hatchery where some of those fish were reared.

On Wednesday, the Duvall-based outfit announced it was challenging a King County permit allowing the Department of Fish & Wildlife to upgrade its Tokul Creek Hatchery, bringing it into compliance with ESA.

This after previously suing the agency to get it to fix the facility and bring it into compliance with ESA.

Yes, you read that right.

In the past WDFW has appeared ready to wash its hands of the historic hatchery, which has been vigorously defended by anglers, but it now it plans to spend $5 million on Tokul, which raises clipped steelhead for release into the nearby Snoqualmie River, as well as rainbow trout for local lakes.

It’s also where golden trout are reared for — and we quote straight out of WFC’s press release — “novelty purposes.”

Yes, you read that right, Mike Quinn, Jim Ledbetter, Bob Heirman, and all ya’ll Hi-Lakers and Trailblazers.

WFC’s press release gives little information about what precisely is wrong with WDFW’s shoreline development permit application through King County.

But it does apply the usual haughty talk about how wild steelhead are being suppressed by harvestable hatchery fish, never mind the widespread decline of all steelhead stocks in Pugetropolis and southwestern British Columbia due to massive habitat alterations, dams, ocean conditions and saltwater predation, and the lack of recovery in river systems where hatchery steelhead smolts have not been released for decades.

WFC paints Tokul as ancient and attempts to play the fiscal conservative card — even while they’re driving up the costs themselves.

WDFW is spending $5 mil on the hatchery because WFC — then known as Washington Trout — sued it in 2002 over fish passage past the facility, and now with WDFW trying to fix that, they’re complaining again.

Let’s tally up some of the expenses so far.

It cost WDFW an estimated $1 million to raise this spring’s crop of hatchery winter steelhead at Puget Sound hatcheries.

Due to the out-of-court settlement with WFC over WDFW’s lack of a federal permit for that program, it’s going to cost another estimated quarter million dollars to transport 881,000 smolts to lakes that don’t drain to the ocean — including Sprague Lake, way over near Spokane, where 369,000 are going — or continue growing them for release later this year.

Who the hell knows how fish that want to go to sea will deal with the confinement of lakes.

Then there’s the $45,000 check WFC got from WDFW for court costs, even as the agency has sharply reduced winter fishing seasons, smolt releases and altered hatchery practices to help out wild steelhead.

That 2002 lawsuit over Tokul fish passage was settled out of court with former WDFW director Jeff Koenings writing a $15,500 check to WFC’s lawyers.

More and more, it appears that WFC’s goals aren’t actually about recovering wild steelhead, but bleeding/roadblocking WDFW and what State Senator Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) wrote a couple weeks ago, “the elimination of all fish hatcheries.”

For more, see this discussion on Piscatorial Pursuits.

8 thoughts on “First The Hatchery Fish, Now A Hatchery In WFC’s Aim”

  1. As the person who has worked and lived at Tokul Creek Hatchery for 25 years, I have seen and heard about all I can from this group! Thank god for Steelhead and trout clubs, locals, tribes and businesses in this valley and beyond who are determined to save the #1 game dept in Washington state. The production here is and has always been stellar. The historic value of this facility is priceless! It may be ancient but it certainly is efficient. Maybe that’s why the steelhead return here has always been the best in Pugent Sound!
    The golden trout stocked in high lakes come from a small group of eggs that go into hi lakes by volunteers who at their eon expense pack them in, thanks guys!
    WFC needs to get their facts straight and quit trying to manipulate the truth with their own agenda!
    I personally will stand with anyone who is willing to defend this incredible hatchery and it’s program! Come on DFW step it up!

    1. The comment “novelty purposes” by WFC in regards to high lakes trout stocking is one of astounding, unprecedented and out-of-touch arrogance. Simply stunning.


  2. These self appointed dirtbags and their fly fisherman supporters will not quit until they close all the hatcheries and sport and commercial harvest
    of all kinds are a thing of the past. Everybody needs to wake up to the serious threat that they are. The steelhead are just a start. Anti hatchery is a disease that only serves to let dam builders, habitat destroyers, and water takers off the hook for mitigation for the past damage to the resource.

    1. Steve,

      Not all fly fishermen/women are elitists nor do we support WSC. I was a one time supporter of WT, but their agenda wasn’t/isn’t in line my own thoughts and beliefs.

      It is easy to point fingers, but please don’t point them my direction! I just want to fish!

      1. Agreed; we need to be careful of broad generalizations. Once upon a time yours truly did nothing but fly fish for trout and bass (while also drifting bait and Corkies for steelies). Though I have returned to gear fishing for all species, I’ll still fish a fly, though off a spinfishing setup. Some of the best places to drag a Woolly Bugger around are in lake fisheries powered by hatchery rainbows.


  3. Being raised by a fisherman dad would be the first to say save the fishing. Without the hatcheries there won’t be enough fish to worry about. For as long as I can remember their has been hatcheries. Leave them alone and let them do, the great job that they do.

  4. I realize not all fly fisherman support the wfc, nfs, wsc, mff, etc. I used to fly fish myself. And that is all I am going to say at this point. I am hoping that others wake up to the threat and that means others with the muscle to put an end to this charade.

    Otherwise it will be just lawsuit after lawsuit making a self chosen few rich and the rest of us losing more and more opportunity.

  5. I have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley my whole life! I am 28 years old now and the Snoqaulmie River is where my dad taught me how to steelhead and Salmon fish and where i caught my first Steelhead and salmon! I was hooked on steelhead fishing from then on! at the Sno. River! When i was a kid the steehead runs actually were pretty good on the Snoqualmie! But the runs have just gotten so bad people barely fish down there no more! I love the Snoqualmie River and Tokul Hatchery, I grew up on the Banks of Tokul Creek and the Sno. River, and it has taught me a lot! The Hacthery and Steelhead fishery are really really worth saving! Please save the Hatchery and the Steelhead runs and Salmon, Ect..!

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