Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife FISHING RULE CHANGE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

October 11, 2017

Snake River steelhead fishery changes

Action: Portions of the Snake River will remain closed to steelhead retention and portions will open to steelhead retention.


Regulatory reach 1 - From the mouth of the Snake River (Burbank to Pasco railroad bridge at Snake River mile 1.25) to the Washington/Idaho State line, at Clarkston Washington.

Catch and release only for all steelhead

Regulatory Reach 2 - From the Idaho/Washington state line (at Clarkston Washington) upstream to the Couse Creek Boat Ramp.

2 fish daily limit, release all steelhead 28 inches or greater in length

Regulatory Reach 3 - From Couse Creek Boat Ramp upstream to the Idaho/Oregon state line.

2 fish daily limit, no size restrictions

Dates: Oct. 15, 2017 until further notice

Species affected: Steelhead

Reason for action: Lagging steelhead returns during the summer of 2017 led fisheries managers to close or reduce daily limits for steelhead fisheries in most of the Columbia River and its tributaries. Recent upturns in the abundance of migrating steelhead over Bonneville Dam and the Snake River Dams indicates to fisheries managers that there are adequate numbers of wild and hatchery Group A steelhead to allow for increasing steelhead harvest opportunities during the Fall 2017 and Winter 2018 in the Snake River and select tributaries to the Snake River. The 2017 preseason forecast was 112,100 Group A steelhead at Bonneville Dam, current adult steelhead counts indicate that this stock of fish will return at or near the preseason forecast. Fisheries managers believe there are enough hatchery Group A steelhead in the basin to allow for increasing bag limits, while also reaching hatchery broodstock needs at all Group A steelhead hatcheries, including those in Oregon, Idaho and Washington.

Based on current passage numbers of adult Group B steelhead at Bonneville Dam and the Snake River Dams, there continues to be ongoing concerns between co-managers for Group B steelhead abundance in the Columbia Basin. Not opening the lower portion of the Snake River and instituting size limits in a portion of the Snake River is a conservation measure taken by Washington fishery managers to reduce encounter rates and harvest on Group B steelhead. These measure should ensure that sufficient numbers of both wild and hatchery Group B fish return to their natal tributaries and hatcheries of origin in Idaho. WDFW will continue to monitor the steelhead run, if additional conservation measures need to be taken to curtail the harvest fishery or additional harvest opportunity can be offered without negatively impacting wild or hatchery steelhead abundances, seasons and harvest rules may be adjusted in coming months.

Other Information: WDFW is also monitoring PIT tag returns of fish to individual drainages and will be making determinations on seasons in Snake and Columbia River tributaries in Southeast Washington. Please continue to check emergency rules if you are planning to fish for steelhead within the affected area. The Fall chinook fishery remains open through Oct. 31, 2017 and anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead for the day once they have retained their adult chinook limit.

Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of their daily limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because unmarked chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery.

Anglers are reminded to refer to the 2017/2018 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc. Anglers should continue to check emergency regulations for new and changing seasons.

Information Contact: Jeremy Trump, District 3 Fish Biologist (509) 382-1005

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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