Guess I see Washington's management differently than you do. My understanding of WDFW policies is that wild fish harvest is to be allowed only when the expectation is that run size will be above estalished escapement goals (no goals no wild fish harvest - for example many of Puget Sound's summer steelhead). The amount of harvest (usually based on adjusting season length) to limited so that expected escapement (run size minus harvest) is at or above the goal. Clearly such an approach places the priority in achieving escapements over providing harvest.
When I compare the details of Washington's approach to that of Oregon (I only looked closely at the North Umpqua - the only readily available plan electronically) I found significant differences. Based on my read of the informatin I found Oregon allows wild fish harvest under the following conditions (of course I could have mis-read the Oregon information in which case I'm sure that some of our Southern friends will correct me)
On the North Umpqua wild fish harvest is dependent on the dam counts at Winchester Dam. As far as I can tell harvest is allowed based on total run size and not the expected escapement after harvest. Harvest is allowed only on healthy populations which in turn is defined as one at equilibrium abundance without fishing which is further defined as where the spawner/recruit line intersects the replacement line - in other words carrying capacity.
I can hear you all now - aha!! managing for carrying capacity - exactly what we want. However the plot thickens a tad as what was used on the North Umpqua was the lower end of the 95% confindence limit of the point estmate of the carrying capacity.
What does that mean?
For the N.Umpqua the estimated equilibrium abundance was:
Wild summer steelhead = 3,900
wild winter steelhead = 7,800
or a total wild population of 11,700.
The lower limit was 1,700 summer steelhead and 3,400 winters or a total of 44% of the point estimate.
Fishing would be allowed if the running six year average is above that threshold. When fishing is allowed the limits are 1 wild fish a day and 5 per year with a season length that runs from the first of January through the end of April.
The recent Oregon news release on the emergency opening of wild fish harvest on the Chetco and elk rivers (as well as 4 smaller streams) that started some of this discussion seem to indicate that the decision to allow harvest was based on high abundance of steelhead parr - not expected run size or escapements.
Just for fun I used the estimated redd density (redds/mile of habitat) from the North Umpqua at carrying capacity and applied that to the Snohomish system - Now I full realize that kind of comparison is very much like comparing apples and bananas but is interesting never-the-less.
When I did that comparison I got an estimate of carrying capacity of 6,324 wild winter steelhead for the Snohomish with a harvest run size threshold of 2,783 (lower end of the 95% confidence interval). For comparison the established escapement goal for the Snohomish is 6,500 and last year is the only year in the data base that the wild run size was below 2,783.
Perhaps because I'm more familar with the Washington approach I'm more comfortable with it than Oregon's.
For any who may still be with me - Wish you a happy New Year and may it bring you clear rivers and willing fish.