State Fish and Wildlife has announced the Upper Columbia tributaries including the Methow, Wenatchee and Icicle rivers will close on Sunday (March 25) to fishing for steelhead and whitefish.
Areas that will close one hour after sunset on Sunday for steelhead are:
Wenatchee River from the mouth to the Icicle Road Bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
Methow River from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
Areas that will close one hour after sunset on Sunday for whitefish are:
Wenatchee River from the mouth to the Highway 2 bridge at Leavenworth.
Methow River from Gold Creek to Foghorn Dam (1 mile upstream of Winthrop).
The closures are necessary because the maximum allowable mortality of wild steelhead due to angling in the affected fisheries has been reached.
The ESA Section 10 Permit sets the incidental take of listed species separately for each fishery to accommodate variation in the run strength and angling effort within the fisheries from year to year.
The 2011-12 steelhead run is less than recent years and has a relatively high proportion of natural origin steelhead. In addition, steady angler effort has increased the number of steelhead encounters and subsequent catch and release mortality.
Fishing area locations remaining open to steelhead fishing until one hour after sunset Sunday are:
Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to the Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, except closed waters from the first powerline crossing downstream of the Highway 155 Bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Credit Union) upstream to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket Lagoons boat launch upstream to the Tonasket Bridge (4th Street).
Similkameen River from the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
General rules for locations remaining open to steelhead fishing:
Mandatory retention of adipose fin clipped steelhead, daily limit two (2) hatchery steelhead, 20 inch minimum size. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.
Adipose present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect.
Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and/or whitefish fishing;
Mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Chief Joseph Dam.
Entiat River (steelhead) upstream from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery.
Entiat River from the mouth (Alternate Highway 97 Bridge) to Entiat falls.
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.