Fish managers encourage anglers to harvest bountiful hatchery fish
With just half a day’s notice, a steelhead fishing season will be opened Tuesday for the Upper Columbia River and portions of the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan Rivers.
These rivers normally wouldn’t open until October and, in some years, not at all to protect threated runs of wild steelhead.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife made the announcement Monday at 5:30 p.m. to let anglers take advantage of a stronger than normal run of steelhead surging up the Columbia.
The daily catch limit on these rivers is four hatchery steelhead. The hatchery fish have a clipped adipose fin to distinguish them from the protected wild steelhead.
In a new twist, anglers are required to keep any hatchery steelhead the catch up to their daily limit.
Fisheries biologists are encouraging anglers to crop the number of hatchery steelhead heading to tributaries to reduce the competition with wild steelhead at spawning areas.
More than 33,000 summer steelhead had been counted at Priest Rapids Dam through Sept. 22, well above the overall return’s 10-year average of nearly 14,500.
The Upper Columbia will open from Rock Island Dam to the Chief Joseph Dam area.
Other rules and details on where fishing is allowed on the tributaries are on the department’s Web site at www.wdfw.wa.gov.