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

March 15, 2012

Changes to upper Columbia River tributaries for steelhead and whitefish angling

ACTIONS: Open the Methow, Wenatchee, and Icicle Rivers on March 16, 2012 to fishing for steelhead. In addition, the Wenatchee and Methow Rivers will open on March 16, 2012 to fishing for whitefish. Close two sections of the Okanogan River to fishing for steelhead on March 16, 2012.

SPECIES AFFECTED: Steelhead and whitefish.

FISHING AREA LOCATIONS AND EFFECTIVE CLOSURE DATES:

Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead one hour before sunrise on March 16, 2012 until further notice:

Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Wenatchee River at the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.

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 (1 mile upstream from the mouth) to the first Hwy 153 bridge (4 miles upstream from the mouth).

Changes to areas currently open to steelhead fishing until one hour after sunset on March 31, 2012:

Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville. Except CLOSED WATERS effective one hour before sunrise on March 16, 2012 from the first powerline crossing downstream of the Hwy 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Bridge (4th Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.

Similkameen River: From the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Areas that will open to fishing for whitefish one hour before sunrise on March 16, 2012 until further notice:

Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Hwy 2 bridge at Leavenworth.

Methow River: From Gold Creek to the falls above Brush Creek.

Reason for changes: Recent analyses of the previous steelhead fisheries in the upper Columbia River revealed additional natural origin steelhead impacts remain under NOAA permit. Re-opening steelhead fisheries in both the Wenatchee and Methow Rivers will help to reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds and further reduce competition between natural origin and hatchery juvenile production. Opening these areas to steelhead angling also allows whitefish angling opportunity.

Remaining additional natural origin steelhead impacts to fisheries in both the Wenatchee and Methow Rivers are limited, and these fisheries may be closed on short notice depending on participation and catch rates of natural origin fish. Anglers are advised to check daily the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the webpage at WDFW -- Washington State Sportfishing Rules Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket Creeks will be closed to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning within those tributaries. Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and/or whitefish fishing;

Mainstem Columbia River: From Rock island Dam to Chief Joseph Dam

Entiat River (steelhead): 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.

Entiat River (whitefish): From mouth (Hwy 97 Bridge) to Entiat Falls.

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 are in effect.

Whitefish anglers must follow selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead fishing, no bait is allowed. Daily whitefish limit fifteen (15) fish

OTHER ANGLER INFORMATION:

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.

Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager (Ephrata), (509) 754-4624, Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist (Methow, Okanogan), (509) 997-0316, Travis Maitland, District 7 Fish Biologist (Wenatchee, Entiat), (509) 665-3337.

Fishers must have a current Washington fishing license, appropriate to the fishery. Check the WDFW "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet for details on fishing seasons and regulations. Fishing rules are subject to change. Check the WDFW Fishing hotline for the latest rule information at (360) 902-2500, press 2 for recreational rules. For the Shellfish Rule Change hotline call (360)796-3215 or toll free 1-866-880-5431.

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