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FISHING — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish managers will present information and take public input on proposed Tucannon River steelhead management changes at a May 29 meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. at Dayton Elementary School (Park Street and 2nd Street) in Dayton.
New restrictions will apply to the steelhead fishery this fall and winter to comply with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requirements to protect wild steelhead that are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, said WDFW southeast district fish biologist Glen Mendel.
“We’ve already made several changes in Tucannon steelhead hatchery production and management to protect this small wild steelhead population,” Mendel said, “but we can’t maintain the current fishery structure. We don’t want to close this fishery altogether so we’re trying to craft fishing rule options that help remove hatchery steelhead while still protecting wild steelhead.”
Biologisgts will present summaries of the Tucannon River steelhead harvest, natural population estimates, and management issues involved, and take comments on several options for a restricted fishery. All options include a hatchery steelhead retention requirement to reduce hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
Options being considered to focus on removal of hatchery steelhead while minimizing catch-and-release and incidental mortality of wild steelhead, include:
- Option 1- Allow steelhead fishing Aug.1 – Dec. 31 when 40-50 percent of the hatchery fish and only 20 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing Jan. 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
- Option 2- Allow steelhead fishing Aug. 1 or Sept.1 through Feb. 28 when 55-62 percent of the hatchery fish have entered the Tucannon River and when only 36 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing March 1 – June 7 (when trout fishing opens).
Information about these and other options will be posted online sometime after Friday.
Email input by June 7 to firstname.lastname@example.org with a “Tucannon River” subject line.