Steelhead fisheries on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries — the Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat and Methow — closed Monday, leaving just the Okanogan and Similkameen open.
The federal permit authorizing the fisheries allows a certain incidental mortality rate on wild-stock steelhead under the Endangered Species Act, and the number of wild fish encountered has been higher this winter, according to state biologist Jeff Korth at the agency’s Ephrata office. Steady angler effort, combined with a run smaller than in the past few years, combined to create the higher wild-stock encounter rate this season, Korth said.
He said a portion of the hatchery steelhead that have not been harvested will over-winter in the Columbia and return to tributaries in the spring, when they may again be targeted for harvest. Fisheries manageres will analyze catch data and could reopen some areas at a later date for additional fishing opportunity.