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FISHING — Since Sept. 1, Tucannon River anglers have been required to comply with several rule changes that are not in the current regulations pamphlet to protect wild steelhead and the future of the fishery.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife posted on its website an emergency rule change on Aug. 22 as follows:
- All steelhead landed in the Tucannon River with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) must be retained. Catch and release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed. (As usual, all wild steelhead must be released.)
- The daily limit is reduced from three to two hatchery steelhead.
- Barbless hooks are required for all fishing.
- The area from Marengo (at Turner Road Bridge) upstream is closed to all fishing (it had been open under selective gear rules and motor prohibition.)
- The fall / winter fishery season for all game fish species closes Feb. 28, 2015 (it had been open through March 31.)
- The boundary description is modified to define the Tucannon as the water lying south of a line of sight from an orange diamond shaped sign attached to the Hwy. 261 guard rail (northwest of the Tucannon and adjacent / downstream from the rest area turn off), running southeast across to the eastern, un-submerged shoreline of the Tucannon (point of land spit). (The large embayment between the eastern shoreline of the Tucannon River and the rock bluff to the east along the south shore of the Snake River is considered part of the Snake River.)
John Whalen, the agency's Eastern Region fish program manager, said the changes were needed because natural origin steelhead returns to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation.
“We have to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in late summer or early fall to prevent them from spawning,” Whalen said. “We also need to provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.”
Anglers must cease fishing for steelhead for the day once they have retained two hatchery steelhead or their two trout per day limit.
Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. Anglers cannot remove any steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.
Chinook and coho salmon, as well as bull trout are also present in the Tucannon River during this steelhead fishery, and must be released unharmed.
A portion of the funding to monitor the Tucannon River fishery comes via funds generated through sale of the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsements. All anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Snake River and Tributaries are required to have this endorsement.
Game fish seasons are scheduled to re-open in the Tucannon River on the first Saturday in June as described in the 2014-2015 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
Tucannon River impoundments – small man-made lakes on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area that are stocked with hatchery trout – remain open through October, as published in the fishing rules pamphlet.
FISHING — All fishing on the Tucannon River, including fishing for hatchery steelhead and whitefish, will close March 1 through June 6, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has announced.
Reason for action: A large component of Tucannon River wild steelhead enters the river in March. The recreational hatchery steelhead fishery emphasizes the removal of hatchery fish to prevent them from spawning. The incidental impact to wild steelhead from a recreational fishery is anticipated to increase to unacceptable levels in March. The fishery is being closed to conserve this weak stock of wild steelhead.
Other information: The Tucannon River will reopen the first Saturday in June when game fish seasons open as identified in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fishing-rule pamphlet.
FISHING — In a correction to the S-R's weekly Hunting-Fishing report, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries managers remind steelheaders that, according to a rule enacted Aug. 30, anglers MUST RETAIN all hatchery-marked steelhead they catch in the Tucannon River up to their daily limit of two.
Following are some specific emergency regulations that anglers need to be aware of when fishing the Tucannon for steelhead:
- All steelhead reduced to possession (landed) in the Tucannon River with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) MUST BE RETAINED. Catch and release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed
- The area from Marengo (at Turner Road) upstream is closed to steelhead fishing
- The daily limit is reduced to 2 hatchery steelhead per day.
- Barbless hooks required.
- Release all wild steelhead.
Reason for action: Steelhead returns to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation or for maintaining fisheries and therefore, the fishery for hatchery steelhead must be constrained to provide more protection of naturally produced steelhead in the Tucannon River. The emergency regulations are intended to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in late summer and fall to prevent them from spawning naturally, as well as provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.
FISHING — Starting toaday, Sept. 1, a new fishing rule designed to protect critically low levels of wild steelhead and reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds will take effect on the Tucannon River.
An emergency rule approved today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will:
- Close the river to steelhead fishing upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge and define the downstream boundary of the fishery where the Tucannon flows into the Snake River.
- Reduce the daily catch limit from three to two hatchery steelhead in the area open to fishing.
- Require anglers to keep any hatchery steelhead they intercept, and stop fishing once they catch their daily limit of two hatchery steelhead or two trout.
Glen Mendel, WDFW southeast district fish biologist, said returns of natural origin steelhead to the Tucannon River are falling short of meeting conservation goals, which could potentially affect the department's ability to open future recreational fisheries. Anglers can help by retaining every hatchery steelhead they catch, he said.
“Stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon in late summer and fall need to be removed to prevent them from spawning naturally,” Mendel said. “At the same time, we need to provide a refuge area above Marengo for early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.”
In addition, barbless hooks are required when fishing for steelhead. Anglers must release any steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar at the location of the missing fin.
Anglers cannot remove any steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily catch limit. Chinook and coho salmon, as well as bull trout, are also present in the Tucannon River during the steelhead fishery and must be released immediately if caught, Mendel said.
The new fishing rule defines the mouth of the Tucannon River as waters “lying south of a line of sight from an orange diamond-shaped sign attached to the Hwy. 261 guard rail (northwest of the Tucannon River and adjacent to the highway rest area turn off), running southeast across to the eastern, un-submerged shoreline of the river (point of land spit).”
The large embayment between the eastern shoreline of the Tucannon River and the rock bluff to the east along the south shore of the Snake River is considered part of the Snake River, Mendel said.
Anglers fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Tucannon River and all other tributaries and mainstem of the Snake River are required to have the Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement, which helps pay for monitoring the fisheries. Anglers should check the fishing regulation pamphlet for all details.
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 email@example.com with a “Tucannon River” subject line.