WDFW steelhead and whitefish update

Okanogan and Similkameen open through March 31

Actions: Close the Methow and Chewuch Rivers one hour after sunset on March 17, 2013 to fishing for steelhead and whitefish.

Species affected: Steelhead and whitefish.

Locations and effective dates: One hour after sunset on March 17, 2013.

Methow River: From the mouth (Hwy 97 Bridge in Pateros) to the falls above Brush Creek.

Chewuch River: From the mouth (Winthrop) to Pasayten wilderness boundary.

Reason for action: Recent analysis of the current whitefish and steelhead fisheries within the Methow and Chewuch river systems indicates that 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 on March 31, 2013 will 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 closed one hour after sunset on March 17th 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).

Similkameen River: From the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam

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 is fifteen (15) fish.

Other information: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.