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Hatchery steelhead retention approved in lower Snake River

Dave Morrow and his son Jeremy share their steelhead fishing spot with somebody's dog on a bitter cold day at Wawawai Landing on the Snake River. (Rich Landers)
Dave Morrow and his son Jeremy share their steelhead fishing spot with somebody's dog on a bitter cold day at Wawawai Landing on the Snake River. (Rich Landers)

FISHING -- Washington is opening a harvest season for hatchery steelhead under 28 inches in the lower Snake River starting Saturday.  Following are details just announced by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Action: Opens lower Snake River to retention of hatchery steelhead measuring under 28 inches in length.

Location:

  • Snake River from the mouth of the river (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge at Snake River mile 1.25) to the Washington/Idaho state line, at Clarkston Wash.: Daily limit of 2 hatchery steelhead; release all steelhead 28 inches or greater in length.

Areas already open to steelhead retention:

  • Snake River from the Idaho/Washington state line (at Clarkston, Wash.) upstream to the Couse Creek Boat Ramp: Daily limit of 2 hatchery steelhead; release all steelhead 28 inches or greater in length.
  • Snake River from Couse Creek Boat Ramp upstream to the Idaho/Oregon state line: Daily limit of 2 hatchery steelhead; no size restrictions.

Dates: Nov. 18, 2017, until further notice.

Species affected: Steelhead.

Reason for action: Lagging steelhead returns during the summer of 2017 led fisheries managers to initially close or reduce daily limits for steelhead fisheries to protect both A-run steelhead (fish smaller than 28 inches) and B-run steelhead (those 28 inches and larger) destined for the Columbia and Snake river basins. However, A-run steelhead, both wild and hatchery-origin adults, have returned in adequate numbers to allow opening portions of the Snake River to steelhead retention, including the lower portion of the river.

Allowing retention of fish measuring less than 28 inches in length will give anglers the opportunity to harvest excess hatchery A-run steelhead, while still providing protection to the remaining B-run steelhead within this reach. WDFW will continue to monitor the steelhead run over the coming months, and either curtail the harvest of steelhead if needed, or provide more harvest opportunity if possible. Anglers fishing in this area should continue to check emergency rules for any updates.

Other Information: Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of their daily bag limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because unmarked chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery.

Check the 2017/2018 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, and a definition of a hatchery steelhead. Anglers should continue to check emergency regulations for new and changing seasons.




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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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