Tuesday, February 24, 2015/lk
WINTHROP A section of the Methow River in Winthrop and a pair of tributaries on the Okanogan River are closing to fishing for steelhead.
Areas that will close to fishing for steelhead one hour after sunset on March 1 (Sunday) until further notice runs from the upstream boundary of Heckendorn Park (across from East 20 Pizza) to the state Highway 20 bridge here.
The closed area will be utilized by Winthrop National Fish Hatchery personnel to capture natural origin steelhead broodstock to meet hatchery production and genetic management goals.
Areas of the Okanogan River that will close to steelhead angling one hour after sunset Saturday include:
From the first power line crossing downstream of the Hwy 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek.
From the Tonasket Bridge (4th street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.
Also, a section of the Wenatchee River above Leavenworth opened Feb. 21 to fishing for hatchery steelhead.
The stretch until further notice on the Wenatchee River runs from the Icicle River Road Bridge to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam.
Recent analysis of ongoing steelhead fisheries in the upper Columbia River shows that opening the new fishery in the upper basin will not exceed impact limits on natural-origin steelhead established by NOAA-Fisheries under section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act.
Expanding the fishery on the Wenatchee River will increase fishing opportunities for hatchery steelhead, reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, and further reduce competition between natural origin and hatchery juvenile production.
Ongoing fishing area open for steelhead until further notice include:
Mainstem Columbia River - From Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Wenatchee River – From the mouth to the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Entiat River – From the mouth to approximately half mile upstream to a point perpendicular with the intersection of the Entiat River Road and Hedding Street.
Methow River – From the mouth to the upstream boundary of Heckendorn Park in Winthrop and from statae Highway 20 bridge in Winthrop to the confluence of the Chewuch River. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing (1 mile upstream from the mouth) to the first state Highway 153 Bridge (4 miles upstream from the mouth).
Similkameen River – From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Okanogan River – From the mouth to the U.S. Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
- 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).
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 WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.