Fishing for Hatchery Steelhead on the upper Columbia River Begins Nov. 6

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Columbia River steelheadOLYMPIA – A hatchery steelhead fishery opens Nov. 6 on the upper Columbia River from Rocky Beach Dam upstream to 400 feet below Wells Dam, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

Anglers will have a daily limit of two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery steelhead, which must measure at least 20 inches in length. Steelhead with an intact adipose fin, and those bearing an anchor floy tag, must be immediately released unharmed without being removed from the water.

Approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Services (NOAA Fisheries), the fishery targets the abundant return of hatchery fish that exceeds the number needed to meet spawning goals.

“Removing hatchery-origin steelhead and allowing a proportionally greater number of wild steelhead onto the spawning grounds will help further fish recovery efforts aimed at protecting and recovering wild steelhead populations,” said Jeff Korth, WDFW regional fish program manager. “Besides offering a great fall fishing opportunity, this fishery also will provide an economic boost to communities along the Columbia River.”

Steelhead fisheries are carefully managed to assure that natural-origin steelhead returning to the upper Columbia River Basin survive to spawn. WDFW closely monitors the fisheries, enforcing fishing rules to ensure protection of wild steelhead, Korth said. Although the fishery is scheduled to remain open through March 31, 2009, it could close earlier if the allowable incidental impact to wild steelhead is reached.

Korth reminded anglers that night closure and selective gear rules apply. While anglers are required to use single, barbless hooks and knotless nets, motorized vessels and bait are allowed. To further protect the population, anglers are strongly encouraged to keep the first two hatchery steelhead they catch, said Korth.

“During previous fisheries, most anglers have done a good job of following the selective fishing rules,” Korth said.

Additional regulations for the fisheries are available on WDFW’s website at .