OLYMPIA — The Methow and Chewuch rivers closed March 17 to fishing for steelhead and whitefish.
The closure on the Methow River is from the mouth at the U.S. Highway 97 Bridge in Pateros to the falls above Brush Creek.
The closure on the Chewuch is from the mouth in Winthrop to the Pasayten wilderness boundary.
The closure follows recent analysis by the state of the current whitefish and steelhead fisheries within the Methow and Chewuch river systems indicating the maximum take limits on natural origin steelhead have been met.
In addition, take limits for the Chewuch and upper Methow River whitefish fisheries have been reached as well, necessitating a closure on whitefish as well as steelhead angling.
Areas that will continue to be open for steelhead angling until one hour after sunset March 31 includes the Columbia, Okanogan and Similkameen rivers.
The mainstem Columbia River remains open from Rock Island Dam to boundary markers below Wells Dam and from state Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
Open areas on the Okanogan are from the mouth to the U.S. Highway 97 bridge in Oroville, except closed one hour after sunset on March 17 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).
Also open until the end of the month is the Similkameen River from the mouth on the Okanogan River to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
Areas open on the Wenatchee River until the end of the month run 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.
Rules remain with mandatory retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and a 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. Adhering to the mandatory retention of adipose clipped steelhead is vital in allowing the fishery to continue and to provide the maximum benefit to natural origin fish.
Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
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, no bait is allowed. Daily whitefish limit is 15 fish.
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.