OLYMPIA - An exceptionally strong return of hatchery chinook salmon to Chelan County's Icicle River this year has cleared the way for a recreational salmon fishery beginning May 16.
This year's fishery can occur because fisheries managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) expect a return of 9,000-12,000 adult spring chinook salmon to the Icicle River this season. About 1,000-1,200 chinook are needed for hatchery broodstocking at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, leaving a large surplus of harvestable fish, said WDFW Regional Fish Biologist Art Viola.
"Based on this year's abundance of hatchery chinook stocks, we expect fishing in the Icicle to be very good," Viola said. "This fishery is a continuation of the excellent recreational fishing opportunities on healthy hatchery stocks that we've had throughout lower and middle reaches of the Columbia River and its tributaries."
While Upper Columbia River spring chinook are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), Viola said no ESA-listed salmon are present in the Icicle River.
The daily bag limit is two salmon, with a minimum size of 12 inches. Anglers can fish from 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth hatchery to the mouth of the Icicle River. Fishing hours are from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset, and the non-buoyant lure restriction is in effect. The fishery is expected to close for the season on July 31.