02/03/2016 – J. W. Snyder – Northwest Fishing News
Steelhead fishing expands on Wenatchee River and Icicle River
Actions: Open the Icicle River and an additional section of the Wenatchee River above Leavenworth on February 4, 2016 to fishing for hatchery steelhead.
Species affected: Steelhead
Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead one hour before sunrise on Feb. 4, 2016 until further notice include:
- Wenatchee River: From the Icicle Road Bridge to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam.
- Icicle River: From the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Reason for changes: Recent analysis of ongoing steelhead fisheries in the upper Columbia River shows that extending the fishery in the upper basin of the Wenatchee River should not exceed impact limits on natural-origin steelhead established by NOAA-Fisheries under section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act. Expanding the fishery on the Wenatchee River will increase fishing opportunities for hatchery steelhead, reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, and further reduce competition between natural origin and hatchery juvenile production.
Areas that will continue to be open for steelhead angling until further notice include:
- Columbia River: From Rock Island Dam to the powerlines crossing the Columbia River at Daroga State Park.
- Columbia River: From the Hwy 173 bridge at Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam
- Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Icicle Road Bridge. Fishing within 400 ft downstream of Dryden Dam is prohibited.
- Entiat River: From the mouth to approximately 1/2 mile upstream to a point perpendicular with the intersection of the Entiat River Road and Hedding Street.
- Similkameen River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
- Okanogan River: From the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
General rules for all locations open to steelhead fishing:
- Mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead, as identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
- Daily limit of two (2) hatchery steelhead; 20 inch minimum size.
- Daily limit of five (5) hatchery rainbow trout of less than 20 inches in total length, as identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
- Anglers must stop fishing when a daily limit of two (2) hatchery steelhead are obtained, regardless of the number of hatchery rainbow trout obtained.
- Selective gear rules and night closure are in effect for all steelhead fishery areas, except the use of bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
- Steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
- Release all steelhead with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or one or more round ¼ inch in diameter holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin.
- Motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers (Chelan County ordinance 7.20.190 Motorboat restrictions).
Anglers should be aware that fishing rules are subject to change and that rivers can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead. Adhering to the mandatory retention of adipose clipped steelhead is vital in allowing the fishery to continue and to provide the maximum benefit to natural origin fish.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
Information contacts: Travis Maitland, Wenatchee District 7 Fish Biologist, (509) 665-3337; Ryan Fortier, Methow-Okanogan District 6 Fish Biologist, (509) 997-0316; Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager, (509) 754-4624.