Like Steelheading? These WDFW Gigs May Be For You

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river …”

OK, so that’s not exactly how WDFW worded one of its latest job announcements, but the agency is looking for two full-time recreational steelhead test fishing technicians to work Washington Coast systems later this winter.


Besides being able to back a trailer, and launch and row a drift boat, pontoon or raft in up to class III whitewater, the job calls for the ability to hike “six miles a day in streams and off trail … over rough and slippery terrain … in adverse weather and environmental conditions …”

And applicants are warned that shifts could last up to 12 hours, they’ll need to be on call from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. essentially every day of the week “to handle emerging situations and act as check-in at the end of the day,” and that field research could bring them in “contact with individuals who may be frustrated.”

Ahem, by that I don’t expect WDFW means anglers cranky that the chromers ain’t biting, if you get my drift.

But at least it appears that the agency will be supplying fishing rods and tackle, not to mention “iPad, electronic sampling equipment (Coded Wire Tag (CWT) detector), knives, forceps, head lamp, measuring board, tally counter, totes/bins, paper forms, labels, scale cards, pencils, pens, clipboard, and scissors,” plus rain gear, waders and a PFD.

Indeed, the positions are a merging of steelheading and science, given duties such as “collect biological data on steelhead catch to obtain stock composition (DNA), age structure (scales), length information (legal and sublegal proportions) and hatchery/natural-origin (mark-status) proportions.”

The goal? To “provide the information necessary to estimate catch and effort statistics for recreational fisheries management, the assessment of biological information by stock, and the subsequent achievement of spawning escapements,” per the announcement.

In recent weeks, state managers have acknowledged they don’t have good catch, effort or other data around the winter fishery. They’re hoping that the legislature funds a $5.9 million ask that would significantly increase their ability to monitor the rivers and more.

The job announcement was first noticed on Piscatorial Pursuits, where one commenter got fired up to sign up: “If they’d let me use eggs and shrimp I’m in! If restricted to fly fishing only the results of the survey would most likely conclude that steelhead are now extinct.”

Sadly for them, bait again isn’t allowed during this season’s limited and restricted coastal steelhead fisheries.

One of the positions is based out of Forks, the other Montesano. Work starts January 2 and runs through March 31. Pay is $2,957 to $3,821 a month.

Deadline to file a resume, line up three professional sources and fill out a set of online questions is December 19.

Candidates must have at least six months or more of steelheading and boat-rowing experience, though twice that is preferred, plus have spent time conducting creel surveys and working with the public, not to mention be able to identify fish and know the regulations.

And demonstrating WDFW’s ASPIRE values – no, not All Steelheaders Practice Incredible Rod-sets and Egg-loops – will help get you in the door.