The state has reopened, effective today, selective fisheries for hatchery-reared steelhead on the Wenatchee, Icicle and Methow rivers on a short-term basis.
Anglers also will be allowed to catch whitefish in the Wenatchee and Methow rivers so long as those rivers are open to steelhead fishing.
Steelhead fisheries in all three rivers are scheduled to run through March 31, but could end sooner if fishing impacts on wild steelhead reach annual federal limits, said Jeff Korth, regional fish manager.
“These limited openings are designed to support wild-steelhead recovery by reducing the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds,” Korth said in a news release. “Anglers can play an important role in that effort by removing hatchery fish not needed to meet spawning goals.”
Because the fisheries could close on short notice, Korth recommends anglers check the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or website for updates.
The Similkameen and Okanogan rivers also will remain open for steelhead fishing, although sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks closed today to all fishing to protect wild steelhead staging for spawning.
The daily limit on all rivers open to fishing is two hatchery steelhead, marked with a clipped adipose fin and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Anglers must retain any legal hatchery steelhead they catch until they reach their daily limit of two fish. At that point, they must stop fishing for steelhead.
Any steelhead with an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water.
Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open
Areas that are open to fishing for hatchery steelhead are:
Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to a point 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. Motorized vessels are not allowed.
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 state Route 153 Bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.
Okanogan River: From the mouth upstream to the state Route 97 Bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply. All fishing is closed from the first powerline crossing downstream of the state Route 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Bridge (Fourth Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.
Similkameen River: From the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Areas that are open to fishing for whitefish are:
Wenatchee River: From the mouth to the state Route 2 bridge at Leavenworth.
Methow River: From Gold Creek to the falls above Brush Creek.