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Rivers open to steelheading

Officials expect 14,000 adult fish for return trip

— The Methow and Okanogan rivers are among those opening Wednesday, Oct. 16, for hatchery steelhead.

The opener also includes the upper Columbia, Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.

Also, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention starting Nov. 1.

About 14,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year – enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries, regional state fish manager Jeff Korth said.

Fishing will be more tightly regulated than last year because fewer hatchery steelhead are projected to return this year and wild steelhead are expected to make up a higher proportion of the run, Korth said.

“Careful management is required to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Korth said. “While these fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, we may have to close fishing early due to the higher number of encounters with wild steelhead expected this year.”

Anglers should check the state’s website throughout the season for possible changes in fishing regulations.

On all rivers, anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead, marked with clipped adipose fins and measuring at least 20 inches in length. Anglers are required to immediately release any steelhead with an intact adipose fin without removing the fish from the water.

All steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin must also be released.

Anglers fishing tributaries to the upper Columbia River are also required to retain any legal-size hatchery steelhead they catch until the daily limit of two fish is reached. Once they have retained two fish, anglers must stop fishing for steelhead.

Selective gear rules apply to all areas where steelhead seasons are open, although bait may be used on the mainstem Columbia River. All anglers are required to follow selective gear rules and restrictions described in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife sport fishing rules, which are available online.

Anglers should also be aware that motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee or Icicle rivers under Chelan County ordinances.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Oct. 16 until further notice include:

Mainstem Columbia River: Open from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply, except bait is allowed.

Wenatchee River: Open from the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 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: Open 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 Highway 153 bridge. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Okanogan River: Open from the mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 97 bridge in Oroville. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

Areas that will open to fishing for hatchery steelhead Nov. 1 include the Similkameen River, which is open from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam. Night closure and selective gear rules apply.

All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River salmon-steelhead endorsement to participate. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many Columbia system rivers.

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