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OLYMPIA – Rules changes were announced today with the Methow River reopening for steelhead and whitefish angling March 1.
Meanwhile, portions of the Okanogan River will close March 17 to steelheading.
The Methow River opening is from the mouth at the U.S. Highway 97 bridge to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop. Fishing from a floating device is prohibited from the second powerline crossing (one mile upstream from the mouth) to the first state Highway 153 bridge (four miles upstream from the mouth).
The area closing an hour after sunset March 17 is from the first powerline crossing downstream of the state Highway 155 bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek, and from the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch to the Tonasket Bridge (Fourth Street).
The upper Columbia River steelhead natural-origin steelhead fishery remains under current NOAA permit.
Re-opening steelhead fisheries in the Methow River will help to reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds and further reduce competition between natural origin and hatchery juvenile production, state officials said.
Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks will be closed to protect natural-origin steelhead.
Areas that will continue to be open for steelhead angling until further notice include:
Mainstem Columbia River: From Rock Island Dam to boundary markers below Wells Dam and from the state Highway 173 bridge at Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Okanogan River: From the mouth to the U.S. Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, except for the two closure sections listed above.
Similkameen River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Wenatchee River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Tumwater Dam, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and whitefish angling until further notice are:
Mainstem Columbia River: From Wells Dam to the state Highway 173 bridge in Brewster.
Entiat River: From the alternate U.S. Highway 97 bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to Entiat Falls.
General rules for all locations open to steelhead fishing:
Mandatory retention of adipose fin clipped steelhead, daily limit two hatchery steelhead, 20-inch minimum size. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a clipped adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.
Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed.
Night closure and selective gear rules are in effect, except bait is allowed in mainstem Columbia River.
Whitefish anglers must follow selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead fishing; bait is not allowed. The daily whitefish limit 15.
Remaining additional natural-origin steelhead impacts for fisheries in the Methow River are limited, and this and other steelhead fisheries may be closed.
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Chronicles of the Okanogan
A history of the Okanogan Valley as published in the pages of The Chronicle.
A century ago, The Chronicle was founded, in part, as a voice for the residents and community of unincorporated Omak.
This 100-page, large-format book presents a unique look at the history of the area as told by the newspaper's publishers, editors and reporters.