Outdoors

Steelheading opens Tuesday on Upper Columbia and tribs

Greg Knab of Winthrop with a steelhead form the Methow River caught Sept. 28, 2011.
 (Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service)
Greg Knab of Winthrop with a steelhead form the Methow River caught Sept. 28, 2011. (Darrell & Dad's Family Guide Service)

FISHING – Starting Tuesday (Oct. 16), hatchery steelhead fisheries will open on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan rivers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

In addition, the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

All of these fisheries will remain open until further notice.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for WDFW, said approximately 18,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year – enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries.

However, wild steelhead are expected to return in lower numbers than last year, requiring additional constraints on those fisheries.

“We carefully manage these fisheries to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Korth said. “These fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, but with lower numbers of wild steelhead and tighter allowable impacts on those fish we may have to close early.”

Korth said anglers should check WDFW’s website throughout the season for any regulation changes.

Read on for details about the fish you can and cannot keep, and specifically where fishing is allowed.

On all rivers, anglers will have a daily limit of two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead, which must measure at least 20 inches in length. Steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed without being removed from the water. Anglers also will be required to release any steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin.

Anglers on all rivers will be required to retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit of two fish is reached. After they have retained two fish, anglers must stop fishing for hatchery steelhead.

Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open, except that bait may be used on the mainstem Columbia River. All anglers are required to follow steelhead gear rules and restrictions.

Anglers should also be aware that motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Oct. 16 include:

  • Mainstem Columbia River:From Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except bait is allowed.
  • Wenatchee River:From the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. Motorized vessels are not allowed.
  • Entiat River:Upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery outfall. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
  • 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. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
  • Okanogan River:From the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 include:

  • Similkameen River:From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

 Three areas of the Columbia River – Vernita, Priest Rapids and Wanapum – will not open at all for steelhead fishing this fall.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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