The closures cover almost every river that flows into Puget Sound (think Seattle, Washington area), and much of the Olympic Pen. rivers. One of the major underlying themes that isn't coming into Public Play is most of these same rivers get heavy Indian Netting during the winter.
Under the "Bolt Decision'' the Native Tribes are all allowed to 'harvest' up to 50% of a river's annual run of fish. Well, back up a second. The Game Department must Chrysal Ball what they think the return will be a year down the line. From there they 'estimate' how many thousands of fish must reach their spawning beds.
What's left is 'split' 50-50 with Sports fishermen. What the Sportsman missed (his 50%) the Indian's were allowed to net, retain and sell "in their usual and accustomed places." There's more to it than that, but I don't want to over kill this post.
Don't remember the exact year (typing this without Googleing, but will update in a minute) the "Bolt Decision" went into effect but it has to be at least 35 years ago.
End game is the fishery started to collapse almost immediately. Gill Nets strung 3/4's across a river is very effective .... especially if they're coming off of both banks.
So back to the why of the total closures. (From memory here forward) The only way the Washington State Game Department can close down a fishery (to EVERYONE) is through a 'temporary rule,' or in this case the full closure of a river (or river system). At present in Washington State 'only' fin clipped hatchery fish can be retained. Problem is 'nets' don't look/don't care.
As 'Wild Steelhead' are on the 'Endangered Species' list (and for damned good reason) the State just decided to 'pull the plug.' And there's one more layer of jam on this bit of toast ..... the State is closing down
three (that I know of) major hatcheries that feed into these rivers.
End game is Washington has tossed in the towel with a problem they just can't fix. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Couple of years from now there will be close to zero hatchery introduced fish in many of these streams.