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Tue., Sept. 13, 2011, 5:02 p.m.

Lower Hanford Reach steelhead fishery to open early as fish pour in

FISHING -- The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced it will open catch-and-keep steelheading earlier than scheduled on the Columbia River between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and the wooden power line towers at the old Hanford townsite.

The season for hatchery-raised steelhead will open Friday (Sept. 16) and run through Oct. 31.

Read on for details.

Other information:

  • Mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead.  All hatchery steelhead caught must be harvested and count towards the daily bag limit. Anglers may not continue to fish for steelhead after the daily limit is retained. Mandatory harvest of hatchery steelhead used as a population management tool under the Endangered Species Act to remove excess hatchery fish on the upper Columbia tributary spawning grounds.
  • Daily limit of two (2) hatchery steelheadHatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.  Minimum size is 20 inches. 
  • Wild steelhead(adipose fin intact) must be immediately released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.

This action allows anglers to retain hatchery steelhead prior to the Oct. 1 opening listed in the Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules (Page 77) from the Hwy. 395 Bridge to the old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers (Lower Hanford Reach), and removes the requirement for both an adipose fin clip and ventral fin clip for hatchery steelhead retained prior to Nov. 1. The Lower Hanford Reach will remain open for hatchery steelhead fishing after Oct. 31 under the current permanent regulation listed in the fishing rules pamphlet and is scheduled to run through March 31, 2012.

Reason for action:  Returns of hatchery and natural-origin steelhead to the Upper Columbia River have exceeded the run criteria of 8,300 counted over Priest Rapids Dam.  This number (8,300) are required to open a conservation-based fishery under the Endangered Species Act.

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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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