OLYMPIA – Starting Friday (June 6), the Wenatchee River will open to fishing for spring chinook salmon for the first time in nearly two decades.
With almost 10,000 hatchery chinook expected to return to the river this year, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced openings on two sections of the river:
- From the Washington State Parks foot bridge at Confluence Park (just upstream from the confluence with the Columbia River) to 400 feet below Dryden Dam.
- From the confluence with Peshastin Creek to the downstream side of the confluence with the Icicle River and from that point to a marker on the opposite shore.
The fishery will be open seven days a week in both areas until further notice.
Anglers will have a daily limit of two hatchery spring chinook measuring at least 12 inches long and marked with a clipped adipose fin. Under statewide regulations, anglers may retain only one daily limit of salmon, regardless of how many waters they fish.
All wild chinook must immediately be released back into the water unharmed.
Jeff Korth, regional WDFW fishery manager, said this year’s fishery was made possible under a new permit issued by NOAA-Fisheries that allows the department to conduct mark-selective fisheries to reduce the number of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.
“We are pleased that we’re able to provide this fishery, which will reduce excess hatchery fish while increasing fishing opportunities in the area,” Korth said. “We’ve done this successfully in other watersheds and now we’re bringing it to the Wenatchee River.”
Korth noted that WDFW will closely monitor the fishery and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild chinook, bull trout and any steelhead that may be incidentally caught and released.
In addition to the mark-selective rules in effect for the fishery, anglers are required to:
- Retain any legal hatchery spring chinook they catch until they reach their daily limit, then stop fishing for spring chinook.
- Release any spring chinook with one or more round holes punched in the tail fin. These fish are vital to ongoing studies in the upper Wenatchee River Basin.
- Observe selective gear rules in effect on the Wenatchee River wherever chinook seasons are open. No gear restrictions are in effect on the Icicle River, and anglers may use bait on both rivers.
- Heed the prohibition of internal combustion motorized vessels and observe night closures on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers.
To participate in this fishery, anglers must possess a valid 2014-15 fishing license and a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement. 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 spring chinook fisheries.
Because the fishery is open until further notice, anglers should check WDFW’s Fishing Rule Change website (wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations) before heading out.