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Hatchery steelhead fishing reopens

— As of today, portions anglers can retain hatchery steelhead on portions of the upper Columbia River and portions of the Wenatchee, Entiat, Icicle, Methow, Okanogan, and Similkameen rivers.

Sections of the Okanogan River will close March 1, to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning.

Hatchery fish have their adipose fin clipped.

Locations immediately open until further notice include:

  • The Methow River from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing (1 mile upstream from the mouth) to the first Hwy 153 Bridge (4 miles upstream from the mouth).
  • The Okanogan River from the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
  • The Similkameen River, from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
  • The mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
  • The Wenatchee River from the mouth to the Wenatchee River at the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
  • The Entiat River from the mouth to approximately ½ mile upstream to a point perpendicular with the intersection of the Entiat River Road and Hedding Street.

General Rules:

  • Mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead, identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
  • Daily limit two (2) adipose fin clipped hatchery steelhead.
  • Selective gear rules and night closure are in effect for all steelhead fishery areas, except the use of bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
  • Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
  • Release all steelhead with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or one or more round 1/4 inch in diameter holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin.
  • Motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers (Chelan County ordinance 7.20.190 Motorboat restrictions).

Close steelhead fishing:

Effective one hour after sunset Feb. 28

Locations:

  • Okanogan River: From the first power line crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek.
  • Okanogan River: From the Tonasket Bridge (4th street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.

Hatchery-origin steelhead have returned to the upper Columbia River in excess of desired escapement. The fishery will reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead, and consequently increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds.

Higher proportions of naturally produced spawners are expected to improve genetic integrity and stock recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage.

Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks will close early to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning within those tributaries.

Other information:

Anglers should be aware that fishing rules are subject to change and that rivers can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead. Adhering to the mandatory retention of adipose clipped steelhead is vital in allowing the fishery to continue and to provide the maximum benefit to natural origin fish.

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for state DFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.

Information contacts: Travis Maitland, District 7 Fish Biologist, 509-665-3337; Ryan Fortier, District 6 Fish Biologist, 509-997-0316; Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager, 509-754-4624.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the state DFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at 360-902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call 360-796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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