OLYMPIA - The hatchery steelhead fishery will close on the Wenatchee River Sunday (Feb. 28) to protect wild steelhead, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
Steelhead fishing will close Sunday on the river an hour after sunset.
The closure is necessary to comply with provisions of a federal permit that authorized steelhead fishing in the river, said Jeff Korth, regional fish program manager for WDFW. The permit prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild steelhead, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"We expect the fishery in the Wenatchee to reach the allowed incidental catch by the closure date," Korth said.
The region’s sport fisheries for hatchery steelhead target an abundant return of hatchery fish that exceeds the number needed to meet spawning goals, Korth said. The fisheries also help with recovery efforts of ESA-listed steelhead by removing hatchery-origin fish, allowing a greater proportion of wild steelhead onto the spawning grounds.
The closure on the Wenatchee does not affect hatchery steelhead fisheries under way on the Okanogan, Entiat, Similkameen and Methow rivers, as well as the mainstem Columbia River. Those fisheries are scheduled to remain open through March.
However, a section of the Okanogan River - from the first powerline crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union Building) to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Bridge (4th Street) downstream to the Tonasket Lagoons Park boat launch - is scheduled to close an hour after sunset on March 14.