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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

July 29, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Triploid rainbow trout fishery opens next month in section of Columbia River

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Triploid trout that escaped in June from the Rufus Woods Reservoir net pens will now become fair game for anglers on a 17-mile stretch of the Columbia River between Bridgeport and Brewster.

Beginning Aug. 1-31, anglers will be allowed to catch and keep triploid rainbow trout in the from the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in Bridgeport.

Many of these triploids have now passed downstream into the Wells pool area below Chief Joseph Dam, according to Jeff Korth, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist.

Pacific Seafoods, which owns the net-pen facility, estimates that 117,500 triploids escaped in June through a breach in a net-pen. Many of those fish are 4 to 5 pounds apiece.

“Anglers have been catching those fish in Rufus Woods Reservoir for the past couple of months, which is great,” Korth said in a news release. “But we do have some concerns about the growing number of triploids turning up below Chief Joseph Dam, because they could interfere with juvenile steelhead downstream.”

Korth said the triploids are “voracious” eaters and could pose a threat to juvenile steelhead, some of which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The daily limit will be four triploid rainbow trout, with a minimum size 12 inches. All steelhead must be released, and must not be completely removed from the water.

Most steelhead do not start arriving in the area until September, but Korth said anglers should be aware of the differences between a steelhead and a triploid rainbow trout.

Signs will be posted at all boat launches that list distinguishing features of the two types of fish. The fishery will be heavily monitored, Korth said.

“The differences are pretty obvious,” he said. “Triploids are big and fat, while steelhead are long and skinny. But if there’s any doubt, anglers should release the fish back into the water.”

(Photo of triploid rainbow trout courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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