Puyallup Salmon Fishery Negotiations Continue

With the traditional start of pink salmon season on the Puyallup River less than two months away but a sport fishery still in flux, negotiations between state and tribal managers have risen to the highest level.

An indication about the seriousness of the issue for both parties, WDFW director Phil Anderson and the Puyallup Tribal Council are now involved in the talks, according to a source close to the discussions which began several months ago during the annual North of Falcon salmon-season-setting process.

At issue are 54 late-summer days that tribal netters want to have exclusive access to the 7 miles of river from the 11th St. Bridge in Tacoma upstream to the mouth of the White River at the town of Puyallup, a stretch that includes some of the best lower-river public access and fishing for the odd-year, all-native humpbacked salmon.


Gear and angler conflicts have occurred in recent years on this history-marked salmon fishery, and could again this year with the Puyallup expected to see 1.2 million pinks as well as smaller numbers of Chinook and coho. Anglers often wade well out into the glacial stream to target the fish; netters and their gear move downstream. Though the lower river has been straightened, there are a couple sharp curves.

When negotiations during North of Falcon failed to resolve the problem, WDFW put the line “To be determined” in the rules pamphlet, and that understandably caught sport anglers’ eye. Fishermen have been contacting the agency and Northwest Sportsman for updates.

As pinks begin to filter towards and into Washington saltwaters and August comes ever closer on the calendar page, a state official acknowledges that it’s the closest to a fishery that discussions have continued, but says WDFW is talking face to face with their counterparts at the tribe to resolve the issue.

Through the twin pillars of a 1974 federal court order and Endangered Species Act listings of some Puget Sound salmonid stocks, harvests are comanaged by the state and tribes.

Sport fisheries also remain “to be determined” on the Skokomish.

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10 thoughts on “Puyallup Salmon Fishery Negotiations Continue”

  1. Slight correction on the photo…that looks Like the hole across the river from Kmart…down river from the Fred Meyer area.

    This closure makes little sense based on the premise of negative interaction between sport anglers and the tribes. Quite honestly…when the nets go in Most anglers go home because the ‘fish faucet’ tends to shut off. I have personally not witnessed any altercations….but it’s a big river.

    Seems like there is some other issues causing this demand by the tribe that are not being laid on the table. Anything I would say would be pure speculation and therefor would not be right to post.

    One thing that does seem strange is that the times I have seen the tribal nets catch pinks they throw them back (based on a handful of times seeing this, not overall retention numbers).
    granted there are Chinook and coho in there at the same time.

    I hope the truth comes out..honestly…I am already assuming I wont be fishing Sunday thru Tuesday based on this request…

    This is just my opinion…I hope we can work together to share the resource EQUALLY.

  2. does the state and city of Puyallup along with the Puyallup tribe not know how much in business they will be loosing putting off the rule or even closing the lower river. I usually spend 10 to 20 dollars every day I go down to the river now multiply that times hundreds to figure out the cost it will be for the area. It is bad enough that the city of Puyallup has taken most of the parking from fishermen, now they are taking away the fishing as well. Havent we payed already to fish when we bought our licence and now you are taking that away. when will we stop getting taxed and everything taken away. You are now taking food out of our mouth as well in these times that are still so close to not being called a depression. Government get it together and stop the B.S. Do we need to replace the few to provide for the many.

  3. From reading this bit of news on the Puyallup river being still to be determined. I want to express my disappointment in the sports fisherman, and all those associated that fish the river. I have fished the Puyallup river for 2 years now. I have to say when its the odd year that I fished only just one time the river becomes pretty trashed with everybody’s garbage. people who don’t respect the other fisherman and the river itself need to not fish the river if your just going to make a mess. Another issue I have is with the Puyallup tribe requesting 54 days to net the river. that’s almost 2 months of just netting the river. that’s too much on the river itself the Kings and Silvers are a threatened species the pinks are not. I think even though the tribe has a right to fish the river with nets needs to fish with a rod and reel like everyone else. Just my opinion take it for face value or whatever those of you who read this may please. But I really want people to respect everyone else on the river if it does open like 2011 and if netting days are made just don’t fish those days. that’s all I have to say.

  4. I agree with Ryan, I would venture to say that given all of this controversy the “Special” people that trash the river likely don’t even purchase licenses, not to mention I’ve seen these parties leaving with well over their limit in addition to stashing fish and coming back. Hopefully there will be closer watch and enforcement of sportsmanship this season. I’d be willing to bet that even with a “closure” that river will be stacked with illegal fisherman that have no regard for the rules and regs…

  5. To close the river all the way up to the White is ridiculous.
    The way the regs on the Puyallup have been the last few years are fine. I’ve read and heard so many rumors on way this is happening, that I can’t even believe any of it anymore. I’m so mad that I do not know the truth. I believe we won’t have a season till the last minute, and it will be not in our favor.
    But we will all just be happy to fish what little we can, and that is not right. I no longer fish places I once fished, I no longer have access were I used to, I don’t hunt anymore. One user group should not have more rights, more say, or more power over other user groups. I don’t believe this is about trash, or conflicts. I bet there are beer bottles, cans, trash and left over fireworks up at 115th, 116th hole. Not from fisherman. Lower river has homeless camps and trash from others not fisherman. I have seen few conflicts between tribe, but not to the point of closure. I have witnessed both parties behaving wrong. I have fished the Puyallup for 15 years, before Humpies were in huge numbers. Coho were plentiful, and you had a good chance at nice Kings. In my opinion this is all about greed. And come August 1st I will be fishing my same spot down river above Clarks creek because I feel its my RIGHT to fish

  6. I live up river but I do venture down to river road to fish. I am very disappointed to hear that it has come to this but I have seen the netters being harassed first hand and I understand why they don’t want to have the anglers out there. I do not believe it is good policy to net the river with our runs in decline, but I also don’t believe in huge commercial boats scooping up fish by the millions and then have to dump tons of dead non target species back into the ocean just wasted!
    How many people would be ok with a tribal member .fishing with a rod and reel right next to you and taking 20 or 30 fish home when you only get 2 or 4 . There will always be issues because the system is flawed and needs fixed.. ultimately it is the salmon that loses to human greed and bickering!
    We can be a part of the problem or start being part of the solution, I always take a bag with me fishing and pick up trash and walk the beach until the bag is full. It is very easy to stop at the gas station and put it in a proper receptacle. I am sorry people don’t care but I do..am I alone? I am always reminded of the “Crying Indian” commercial from the 70’s.

  7. I care also about our resource Shane. I also pack out garbage and piles of fishing line that is left behind. But for the amount of people that fish this river, its not that bad. Like RM said, the river is not open to fishing yet, but there are other user groups that have already left garbage behind. The problem is 54 days of closed fishing all the way up to the mouth of the white. During humpie years every fishing hole is packed full of fisherman up and down the river. How can we close half the river and cram more fisherman into these fishing spots that are left. Not every piece of river is fishable water. Once you get above sumner there is private property and no treaspassing on the levee, you’re limited to a few good holes.I catch and keep humpies for food and I find the quality of fish much better down river. I don’t wanna keep pink salmon passed the white bridge. The closure needs to stay around clarks creek like years past. And no to 54 days of netting, the nets are far to effective at cleaning out the river. More days are not needed.

  8. My whole thing about the Puyallup river and the pinks is that its the last truly abundant run of that type salmon. comes once every 2 years. I care about it cause I do live 15 min away from the river. but I hope that a notification/ update is made soon about if its going to open or not. I hope that it doesn’t get ruined for this year if we can manage it as a resource together responsibly

    1. Hey, Bumerr25, I asked our Puyallup River salmon hound Jason Brooks for some ideas. He offers this advice:

      “Any gravel bar in the open part of the river. Seriously, with this many fish [forecast: 1.24 million] just find a spot and fish. But this early in the run, it’s better to stay below the White River. Try walking the Riverwalk Trail in downtown Puyallup, which has several parking lots and access along the river. The main (and very popular holes) are the KMart hole (access across the river from KMart off of North Levee Road), 5th St Bridge (limited parking and access is off of the Riverwalk Trail), Blue Building hole (look for the huge blue glass building in Main St.; parking is limited but it’s part of the Riverwalk Trail) and also below Mama Stortinis off of Main St (don’t park in their lot or you will get towed, and this is above the White River so it won’t be hot fishing for another week or two).”

      Here’s a link to this season’s fishing dates for the lower Puyallup to be aware of: http://nwsportsmanmag.com/editors-blog/finally-good-news-on-the-puyallup-skoke-sport-salmon-openers/

      Good luck!


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