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2015 Upper Columbia River Fishing Report:
Upper Columbia River, tributaries re-open
for steelhead fishing; parts of Okanogan to close
Action 1: Effective immediately, allow retention of hatchery steelhead on portions of the upper Columbia River and portions of the Wenatchee, Entiat, Icicle, Methow, Okanogan, and Similkameen rivers until further notice.
Action 2: Close sections of the Okanogan River on March 1, 2015, to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning.
Species affected: Hatchery adipose fin clipped steelhead.
ACTION 1 – Reopen hatchery steelhead fishery
Effective dates: Immediately, until further notice.
- The mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam.
- The Wenatchee River from the mouth to the Wenatchee River at the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
- The Entiat River from the mouth to approximately ˝ mile upstream to a point perpendicular with the intersection of the Entiat River Road and Hedding Street.
- The 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 (1 mile upstream from the mouth) to the first Hwy 153 Bridge (4 miles upstream from the mouth).
- The Okanogan River from the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville.
- The Similkameen River , from its mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
- Mandatory retention of hatchery steelhead, identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar at the location of the clipped fin.
- Daily limit two (2) adipose fin clipped hatchery steelhead.
- Selective gear rules and night closure are in effect for all steelhead fishery areas, except the use of bait is allowed on the mainstem Columbia River.
- Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
- Release all steelhead with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or one or more round 1/4 inch in diameter holes punched in the caudal (tail) fin.
- Motorized vessels are not allowed on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers (Chelan County ordinance 7.20.190 Motorboat restrictions)
ACTION 2 – Close steelhead fishing
Effective dates: One hour after sunset Feb. 28, 2015.
- Okanogan River: From the first power line crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek.
- Okanogan River: From the Tonasket Bridge (4th street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch.
REASON FOR ACTIONS: Hatchery-origin steelhead have returned to the upper Columbia River in excess of desired escapement. The fishery will reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin steelhead, and consequently increase the proportion of natural-origin steelhead on the spawning grounds. Higher proportions of naturally produced spawners are expected to improve genetic integrity and stock recruitment of upper Columbia River steelhead through perpetuation of steelhead stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage.
Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket creeks will close early to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning within those tributaries.
OTHER ANGLER INFORMATION:
Anglers should be aware that fishing rules are subject to change and that rivers can close at any time due to impacts on natural origin steelhead. 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.
All anglers must possess a valid fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement to participate in these fisheries. Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River steelhead fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin.
See https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1543 for further details.
This concludes our 2015 Upper Columbia River Fishing Report
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