Half a dozen north-central Washington rivers will close to all fishing Nov. 1 to
protect endangered steelhead trout from accidental catch.
The rivers, closed until further notice by emergency rule of the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), are: Wenatchee River from the mouth to
Lake Wenatchee; Icicle River (Creek) from the mouth to Leavenworth National Fish
Hatchery rack; Entiat River from the mouth (Hwy. 97-A bridge) to Fox Creek; Methow
River from the mouth (Hwy. 97 bridge) to Lost River; Okanogan River from the highway
bridge at Malott to Osoyoos Lake; and Similkameen River from the mouth to Enloe
Also closed to fishing for trout and steelhead is the Okanogan River from the
mouth to the highway bridge at Malott.
The federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of steelhead that originate
within the Upper Columbia River and its tributaries went into effect Oct. 17.
Last month, in response to the federal announcement of the upcoming listing,
WDFW closed the Columbia River from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco upstream to
Chief Joseph Dam to steelhead and trout fishing. At that time, tributaries like the
Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow, and Similkameen, also were closed to steelhead
fishing but trout fishing remained open with selective fishery regulations extended.
Now, to be in compliance with the ESA listing, all fishing must close to avoid any
accidental hooking and loss of steelhead in the tributaries.
The mainstem Columbia River and the lower portion of the Okanogan River
remain open to fishing for "warmwater" species like bass, walleye, and others. For the
most part, fishing gear and techniques for these species do not pose the same threat to
steelhead that trout fishing does.
WDFW steelhead program manager Bruce Sanford explained that little trout
fishing occurs on these tributaries after October anyway. Fishing for whitefish later in
winter may be the exception, he said, and a January or February re-opening for that
fishery in some waters might be considered.
Sanford expects that trout fishing will re-open in these waters, as usual, next