Actions: Open the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers on Feb. 8 to fishing for steelhead. In addition, the Wenatchee River will open Feb. 8 to fishing for whitefish.
Species affected: Steelhead and whitefish.
Fishing area locations and effective dates:
Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead one hour before sunrise on Feb. 8 until further notice include:
- Wenatchee River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Areas that will open to fishing for whitefish one hour before sunrise on Feb. 8 until further notice include:
- Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Highway 2 bridge at Leavenworth.
Reason for changes: Recent analyses of the ongoing steelhead fisheries in portions of the upper Columbia River have revealed sufficient impacts to natural origin steelhead still remain under the NOAA-issued ESA section 10 permit. Re-opening steelhead fisheries in both the Wenatchee and Icicle Rivers will help to reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, where their offspring may compete with natural origin juvenile salmon. Opening these areas to steelhead angling also allows whitefish angling opportunity.
Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and whitefish angling until further notice include:
- Mainstem Columbia River: From Wells Dam to the Highway 173 bridge at Brewster.
- Entiat River: Upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery.
- Methow River: From the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
General rules for all locations open to steelhead fishing:
- Mandatory retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead, daily limit two (2) hatchery steelhead, 20 inch minimum size. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.
- Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
- Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect.
- Whitefish anglers must follow selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead fishing, no bait is allowed
Other angler information:
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.
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.
Image courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife