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Wenatchee, Icicle and Methow rivers opening for coho fishing

SALMON FISHING -- With a strong run of coho moving up the Columbia, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced a coho fishing season that starts Wednesday (Oct. 5) on the Wenatchee, Methow and Icicle rivers, expanding fishing opportunities already under way in those waters.

Predicting a strong return of coho to the upper Columbia River system, state fishery managers scheduled coho fisheries through Oct. 31 on all three rivers.

Read on for the details.

The Icicle River had a small coho fishery in 2009, but the Wenatchee and the Methow rivers have not opened for coho fishing in at least 30 years, said Jeff Korth, northcentral region fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Korth said 20,000 adult coho are expected to return this year above Rock Island Dam, more than enough for spawning escapement and hatchery broodstock needs.

"Coho salmon nearly disappeared from the upper Columbia River in the early 1930s, but they’ve really made a comeback in the past decade,” said Korth, crediting re-introduction programs conducted by the Yakama Nation. “This gives anglers fishing for hatchery steelhead and chinook salmon more opportunities to take home some fish.”

Steelhead fishing is currently open on the Wenatchee, Methow and Icicle rivers with a daily limit of two hatchery fish per day. Anglers fishing the Wenatchee River may also retain up to two hatchery-marked adult and jack summer chinook salmon with clipped adipose fins per day.

Areas opening to coho fishing Thursday (Oct. 5) include: 

  • The Wenatchee River, from the mouth of the Wenatchee River to the mouth of the Icicle River. Anglers should be aware that the upper boundary of the coho fishery on the Wenatchee River is downstream from the boundary for the chinook and steelhead fisheries.
  • The Icicle River, from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. 
  • 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 to the first Highway 153 Bridge. 

On all those rivers, anglers can catch up to three coho salmon – with or without an intact adipose fin – in addition to the catch limits for other species. Coho must measure at least 12 inches to be retained.

Selective gear rules and a night closure will be in effect to help protect wild steelhead, some of which are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“By law, all fisheries in these areas must close immediately if the allowable incidental impact to wild steelhead is reached,” Korth said.

Anglers also will be required to release any coho fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin. Motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.

To participate in these fisheries, anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. 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.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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