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Triploid trout fishery below Chief Joseph Dam to close early

FISHING — The special fishery for triploid rainbow trout below Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River will close Aug. 26 at midnight, five days earlier than initially announced.

State fishery managers decided to close the fishery to minimize the risk to wild steelhead moving into the area, said Jeff Korth, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fishery manager.

The special fishery, launched to remove triploid trout that escaped from a net-pen facility on Rufus Woods Reservoir in June, was originally scheduled to run through Aug. 31.

Triploid trout are “voracious” eaters and can pose a threat to juvenile steelhead, many of which listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, Korth said.

“Just as we’d hoped, anglers caught hundreds of runaway triploids over the past few weeks,” Korth said. “But now, with increasing numbers of steelhead passing Wells Dam, we decided it was time to close the fishery.”

During the triploid fishery, anglers were required to release any steelhead they intercepted, said Korth, noting that creel checkers found no steelhead in the catch.

“Anglers demonstrated they could distinguish a steelhead from a triploid trout and were diligent about releasing the few steelhead encountered during the fishery,” he said.

The triploid fishery has been open since Aug. 1 on a 17-mile stretch of the Columbia River between the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in Bridgeport.

Angling for runaway triploid trout opens below Chief Joseph Dam

FISHING —  Triploid trout that escaped a comercial net pens upstream in Lake Rufus Woods are creating a new fishery and a rare opportunity to harvest huge rainbows starting today (Monday) on a 17-mile stretch of the Columbia River between Bridgeport and Brewster, Wash.

From Aug. 1-31, anglers will be allowed to catch and keep triploid rainbow trout in the mainstem Columbia River from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in Bridgeport, under a new regulation issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The target of the fishery is a large number of triploid trout that escaped from a net-pen facility on Rufus Woods Reservoir in June and have passed downstream into the Wells pool area below Chief Joseph Dam, said Jeff Korth, the agency's fisheries manager in Ephrata.

Anglers must know the difference between triploid rainbows and steelhead, which must be released. The long, slender fish with the properly proportioned head pictured above is a steelhead. The triploid rainbows (left) have large, rotund bodies with proportionally small heads.

Pacific Seafoods, which owns the net-pen facility, estimates that 117,500 triploids escaped in June through a breach in a net-pen. Many of those fish run 4 to 5 pounds apiece, Korth said.

“Anglers have been catching those fish in Rufus Woods Reservoir for the past couple of months, which is great,” he said. “But we do have some concerns about the growing number of triploids turning up below Chief Joseph Dam, because they could interfere with juvenile steelhead downstream.”

Read on for more details.