OLYMPIA – The Methow River will close to fishing Thursday (Sept. 18), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.
The early closure of the catch-and-release fishery, which was originally scheduled to run through Sept. 30, is necessary to avoid additional incidental catch of protected wild steelhead, said Bob Leland, WDFW steelhead program manager.
The fishery, which is directed at resident trout, is allowed under a federal permit that prescribes strict limits on the incidental catch of wild steelhead, listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a rise in the number of steelhead in the river, as well as a significant increase in anglers participating in the fishery,” Leland said. “With that combination, we quickly reached the catch-and-release fishery’s ESA limit for incidentally caught wild steelhead, necessitating the closure.”
Leland said fishery managers are assessing the steelhead return to the region and, based upon wild and hatchery returns, could open a fishery in the next few weeks for hatchery steelhead on portions of the upper Columbia River and some tributaries, including the Methow River. That hatchery steelhead fishery would be allowed under a separate federal permit.
Anglers should check for updates on fishing seasons on WDFW's website.