Steelhead fishing opened one hour before sunrise today on the Wenatchee and Icicle rivers to anglers possessing a Columbia River salmon/steelhead endorsement, according to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The open waters include the Wenatchee River from the mouth to 400 feet below the Tumwater Dam and the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet below the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
WDFW stated that reopening the steelhead fishery on the rivers “will help to reduce the proportion of hatchery fish on the spawning grounds, where their offspring may compete with natural origin juvenile salmon.”
WDFW fish biologist Travis Maitland said the fishery could remain open through March — the prime time to catch steelhead — but that depends on steelhead conditions.
“This provides an angling opportunity and produces a better environment for wild cohorts,” Maitland said.
Whitefish also opened from the Wenatchee mouth to the Highway 2 Bridge at Leavenworth. Whitefish anglers have to abide by selective gear rules in areas open to steelhead.
Maitland said access to the open waters is clear in many areas. WDFW sites in Peshastin are plowed out, the East Leavenworth Road should be clear, and pullouts in Tumwater Canyon look good.
The fishery will close March 31, regardless of conditions, because WDFW wants the fish left alone at that stage of their spawning, Maitland said.
Based on current projections, the Methow River from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop might open for steelhead March 1.
Fishing rules are subject to change due to the changing conditions. The WDFW website will stay up to date on any changes.