Opinion Columns & Blogs

Eastside steelheading closures start

Three upper Columbia River steelheading venues shut down at sunset today (Sunday, Dec. 8) as anglers their collective limit of introductions to protected wild fish.

Closing by emergency order to the targeting of steelhead are:

  • The mainstem Columbia from Rock Island Dam up to the downstream deadline below Wells Dam.
  • the Wenatchee River (mouth to Icicle River Road bridge.
  • Icicle River (mouth to the deadline below the Leavenworth Hatchery barrier dam).

Besides these steelhead season sayonaras whitefish angling ends in the Wenatchee River as well.

Winter anglers still have the Wells Pool of the Columbia together with reaches of the lower Methow, Okanogan and the lower Similkameen rivers to ply for hatchery steelhead.

Anglers are banned from fishing these waters at night or with bait (except the Columbia) and they much keep the first two adipose fin-clipped steelhead they land and immediately stop fishing. Additional limitations apply.

A Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement 

But these, too, can and will close when the wild fish maximum interaction trigger figure is attained in each of the waters.

These fisheries are made possible by issuance to the State of Washington of an annual permit by NOAA Fisheries which acknowledges that some ESA protected native upper Columbia River steelhead will be lost through angler catch/handling mortality.

State managers are required to limit this loss to a small percentage of each year's wild run-size. Following an upcoming re-evaluation of angler interview data fisheries could reopen.