Catch-and-release trout fishing on the Methow River is set to close at 12:01 a.m. Saturday to protect incoming steelhead, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced Friday afternoon.
The early closure of the catch-and-release fishery, which was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 30, is necessary to avoid additional incidental catch of protected wild steelhead, said Jeff Korth, regional fish program manager for WDFW.
Federal guidelines to protect the endangered wild portion of the Methow returns allow only a small number of steelhead to be caught by anglers during the trout season. If too many are caught, a season for hatchery steelhead would not be allowed, Korth said.
“We’ve recently seen an increase in the number of steelhead returning to the Methow, as well as in the number of anglers on the river,” Korth said. “That combination has resulted in quickly reaching the catch-and-release fishery’s ESA limit for incidentally caught wild steelhead.”
Korth said fishery managers are assessing the steelhead run to the region and - based upon wild and hatchery returns - could open a fishery within the next week for hatchery steelhead on portions of the upper Columbia River and some tributaries.
The biggest run of hatchery steelhead in years is headed up the upper Columbia and tributaries such as the Methow.
Anglers should check for updates on fishing seasons on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm .