Sept. 8 Opener For North-Central WA Steelheading

Word from Olympia this afternoon that steelheading on the mid-Columbia gets under way as early as tomorrow, Sept. 4, with more upstream fisheries opening from the middle of next week to midfall.

Saturday, the Hanford Reach section of the Columbia opens while Sept. 8 it’s go time on the upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Entiat and Methow rivers.

The Okanogan will open Oct. 1, the Similkameen Nov. 1.

Daily limit on the Reach — that part of the big river from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam – is two adipose fin-clipped hatchery steelhead.

On the other five rivers and upper Columbia, anglers have a four fin-clipped-fish bag limit.

Anglers will be required to retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit is reached. After they have reached their daily limit, anglers must stop fishing for steelhead.

On all rivers, anglers may keep only hatchery steelhead measuring at least 20 inches in length. Steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be immediately released unharmed and must not be removed from the water. Steelhead anglers must have a valid fishing license and possess a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement.

The fisheries come on the backs of “strong” runs of wild and hatchery-produced steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River.  As of Aug. 31, about 16,600 steelhead had been counted above Priest Rapids, nearly double the overall return’s 10-year average of 8,600.

The selective fisheries, which target returning hatchery fish that exceed the number needed for spawning, were approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. The fisheries will not impede recovery of the region’s wild steelhead, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Steelhead fisheries are carefully managed to assure that natural-origin steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River Basin survive to spawn. WDFW will closely monitor the fisheries and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild steelhead.

Fishing for hatchery steelhead opens Sept. 4 at:

* Hanford Reach – From the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam. The section of the river from the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco to the old Hanford town site wooden powerlines is scheduled to remain open through March 31. The section of the river from the old Hanford town site wooden powerlines to Priest Rapids Dam is scheduled to remain open through Oct. 22.

Areas that will be open from Sept. 8 until further notice include:

* Mainstem Columbia River – From Priest Rapids Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except bait is allowed. Floy tagged rainbow trout may be retained.  There is no limit or minimum size on floy tagged rainbow trout.

* Wenatchee River – From the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge.  Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

* 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 outfall. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

* Methow River – From the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.  Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing to the first Highway 153 Bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Beginning Oct. 1, the Okanogan River, from the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, will open for hatchery steelhead. The Similkameen River, from the mouth to 400 below Enloe Dam, will open Nov. 1 for hatchery steelhead. A night closure and selective gear rules will be in effect on both rivers, which will be open until further notice.

For more information on the hatchery steelhead fisheries, check the fishing rule changes on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

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