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

October 5, 2005

Upper Columbia, Okanogan, Methow rivers open for steelhead fishing

Action: Areas of the upper Columbia, Okanogan, 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, 2005 through March 31, 2006, from Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport.

2. Okanogan River: October 8, 2005 through March 31, 2006. EXCEPT: a. a section of the river from the Lake Osoyoos Control Dam (Zosel Dam) downstream to 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 March 1, 2006.

3. Methow River October 8, 2005 through March 31, 2006. EXCEPT: a. the area from the second power line crossing upstream of Highway 97 Bridge to the first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros will remain closed

Species affected: Steelhead, other game fish species and salmon

Location & Restrictions: 1. Columbia River: From the Rocky Reach Dam upstream to Highway 17 Bridge at Bridgeport: Statewide gear rules for all fish species, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

2. Okanogan River from mouth upstream except closed waters from Lake Osoyoos Control Dam (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 March 1, 2006. Selective gear rules for all fish species, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor. Night closure in effect and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed. From the highway bridge at Malott upstream, closed to all species except adipose fin-clipped hatchery-origin steelhead.

3. Methow River From the mouth (Highway 97 bridge) upstream to the confluence with the Chewuch (Chewack) River in Winthrop: EXCEPT closed from the second powerline crossing upstream of the Highway 97 Bridge upstream to first Highway 153 Bridge north of Pateros: Selective gear rules, except it is lawful to fish from a floating device equipped with a motor, night closure in effect, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

Reason for action: The wild run returning to areas above Priest Rapids Dam is large enough to meet minimum spawning requirements. The recreational fishery will reduce the proportion of hatchery-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds, thereby minimizing impact to wild steelhead spawning in upper Columbia River tributaries. This will increase the proportion of wild steelhead on the spawning grounds and improve natural production.

Other information: The Similkameen River, from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam, will open to the harvest of adipose fin-clipped hatchery origin steelhead November 15, 2005 through March 31, 2006. The Similkameen River fishery rules will be: selective gear rules, night closure, and all steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

During the December 1 to March 31 whitefish seasons on the Methow and Similkameen rivers whitefish gear rules will not apply.

In corresponding areas open to salmon and other game fish, a night closure will be in effect.

In the areas open to steelhead fishing 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 21 and 22 of the 2005/06 Fishing Rules pamphlet. All steelhead with an intact adipose fin and steelhead containing a disk tag must be immediately released unharmed.

Information contacts: Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist Omak, (509) 826-7341, Joe Miller, Region 2 Fish Program Manager Ephrata (509) 754-6066.

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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