Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife FISHING RULE CHANGE
WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

October 7, 2003

Upper Columbia River and Tributaries Open for Steelhead Fishing --- Other Fishery Rules Change

Action: Areas of the Columbia, Okanogan, Similkameen and Methow rivers will open to recreational fishing targeting adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead. The daily limit is two fish, 20-inch minimum size. Rules affecting other species in these areas are changed to be consistent with steelhead rule requirements.

Effective dates:
1) Columbia River: October 8, 2003 until further notice, from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam.

2) Okanogan River: October 8, 2003 until further notice. EXCEPT:
a) a section of the river from Zosel Dam to a quarter mile below the railroad trestle will remain closed.
b) a section from Highway 97 Bridge at Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of Omak Creek will close February 16, 2004.

3) Similkameen River: November 15, 2003 until further notice.

4) Methow River: October 8, 2003 until further notice.

Species affected: Steelhead and other game fish species.

Location & Restrictions:
1) Columbia River from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Chief Joseph Dam: Statewide gear rules for all fish species, night closure, and release of steelhead containing a disk tag.

2) Okanogan River from mouth upstream except closed waters from Zosel Dam downstream to mile below the railroad trestle: The area from the Highway 97 Bridge at Omak to a line across the river 500 feet above the mouth of Omak Creek will close February 16, 2004. Selective gear rules for all species, except motorized vessels allowed. Night closure in effect and release of steelhead containing a disk tag. From the highway bridge at Malott upstream, closed to all species except adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.

3) Similkameen River from mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam: Selective gear rules, night closure, and release of steelhead containing a disk tag.

4) Methow River from the mouth (Highway 97 bridge) upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch (Chewack) River in Winthrop: Selective gear rules except motorized vessels allowed, night closure, and release of steelhead containing a disk tag.

Reason for action: Large numbers of surplus adipose fin-clipped hatchery origin steelhead are expected to return to the Upper Columbia River and its tributaries, harvest of these fish will not impact upper Columbia River wild steelhead recovery. NOAA Fisheries has approved the steelhead recreational fisheries.

Other information: Wild steelhead release rule is in effect. Anglers are permitted to harvest hatchery origin steelhead with an adipose fin-clip and a healed scar in the location of the missing fin. Two (2) fish daily limit, 20-inch minimum size. Anglers fishing for other fish species, where legal to do so are required to follow the same gear restrictions and night closures as steelhead anglers. Night Closure and Selective Gear Rules are defined on pages 15 and 16 of the 2003/04 Fishing Rules pamphlet. All steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

Information contacts: Kirk Truscott, District 6 Fish Biologist (509) 664-1227, Joe Foster, Regional Fish Program Manager (509) 754-4624, Art Viola, District 7 Fish Biologist (509) 665-3337.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet