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Angler Cited For Keeping Bull Trout Caught in Olympic National Park


A Washington state man has been cited for keeping a bull trout he caught in Olympic National Park. U.S. Forest Service graphic.

An angler who caught, and kept, a bull trout in Olympic National Park has been cited for the catch, according to National Park Service officials.

Rangers in the Elwha Valley issued the citation to a Port Angeles man late last month for illegally keeping a bull trout he caught in Lake Mills. Fishing for bull trout, as well as Dolly Varden char, is prohibited in all Olympic National Park waters, park officials noted, adding that Olympic shelters the largest unaltered tract of bull trout habitat in the contiguous United States.

The park’s fishing regulations require that if a bull trout or other protected fish is accidentally caught, anglers must safely release the fish. If convicted of knowingly taking the fish, one of five Olympic Peninsula fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act, anglers can be fined up to $1,300, according to park officials.

Currently, all fishing in the Lake Mills reservoir and Elwha River is catch-and-release only.

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) can be identified by their clear dorsal fin and light, cream-colored spots on an olive-green to brownish background, according to a park release. Adult bull trout range from 10 to 30 inches in length, and some individuals can weigh up to 20 pounds.

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 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


Given that it was a catch and release area, the angler has no excuse. But if it were not catch and release, many anglers have a hard time distinguishing brook trout from bull trout if they do not fish them very often. Personally, I don't keep Brookies if I'm fishing Bull Trout waters. The price of a mistake is too high for my wallet and the species.

Bull trout are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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