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Portions of Okanogan River to close for steelheading

Methow River to re-open for steelhead, whitefish;

portions of Okanogan River to close for steelheading

Actions: Open the Methow River on March 1, 2013 to fishing for steelhead and whitefish. Close two sections of the Okanogan River to fishing for steelhead on March 17, 2013.

Species affected: Steelhead and whitefish.

Fishing area locations and effective dates:

Areas that will open to fishing for steelhead and whitefish one hour before sunrise on March 1, 2013 until further notice:

  • Methow River: From the mouth (Hwy 97 Bridge) 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).

Area that will close to fishing for steelhead one hour after sunset on March 17, 2013:

  • Okanogan River: From the first powerline crossing downstream of the Hwy 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 (4th Street).

Reason for action: Recent analysis of the steelhead fishery in the upper Columbia River revealed additional natural origin steelhead impacts remain 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. Sections of the Okanogan River around the mouth of Omak and Tonasket Creeks will be closed to protect natural origin steelhead staging prior to spawning within those tributaries.

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 Hwy 173 Bridge at Brewster to 400 feet below Chief Joseph 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.
  • Okanogan River: From the mouth to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, except for the two closure sections listed above.
  • Similkameen River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Areas that will continue to be CLOSED for steelhead and/or whitefish angling until further notice include:

  • Mainstem Columbia River: From Wells Dam to the highway 173 Bridge in Brewster.
  • Entiat River: From the alternate 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 (2) 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 fifteen (15) fish.

Other information:

Remaining additional natural origin steelhead impacts for fisheries in the Methow River are limited, and this and other steelhead fisheries may be closed on short notice depending on participation and catch rates of natural origin fish. Anglers are advised to check daily the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the webpage at WDFW -- Washington State Sport Fishing Rules https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/rules_all_freshwater.

Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.

Information contacts: Jeff Korth, Region 2 Fish Program Manager (Ephrata), (509) 754-4624, Bob Jateff, District 6 Fish Biologist (Methow, Okanogan), (509) 997-0316, Travis Maitland, District 7 Fish Biologist (Wenatchee, Entiat), (509) 665-3337.

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