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Ecology and salmon related articles

Washington Closes Part of Snake
to Steelhead Fishing

by Eric Barker
Lewiston Tribune, September 3, 2021

State officials have decided to allow angling from Lower Granite Dam to the Oregon border

Snake River Steelhead Triggers Early Warning Indicator, NOAA is trying to ignore that fact. Washington anglers will have the chance to catch and keep steelhead from part of the Snake River this fall, including the section that runs from Lower Granite Dam to the Oregon border.

But fishing for the sea-run trout will be closed on a large stretch of the river downstream of the dam and on several of its tributaries.

On Thursday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced emergency measures the agency is implementing to protect what is likely to be a record-low or near-record-low return of the fish. The agency closed steelhead fishing from the mouth of the river near the Tri-Cities to Lower Granite Dam. But fishing with a daily bag limit of one hatchery steelhead will be allowed from Lower Granite Dam to the Washington-Oregon state line upstream of Heller Bar.

The agency said late last week that it “intended” to close the Snake River to steelhead fishing from its mouth to Clarkston. The Tribune mistakenly reported that decision had already been made. Instead, the agency opted to close a shorter stretch of the river.

Washington will also allow a daily bag limit of one hatchery steelhead on the Grande Ronde River starting at the county bridge 2-1/2 miles upstream of the river’s mouth and extending to the Washington-Oregon state line.

The Tucannon, Walla Walla and Touchet rivers are closed to all steelhead fishing starting today.

“We understand the attention and share in the concerns about this year’s low steelhead run and the status of wild steelhead in the Columbia basin,” said Chris Donley, Eastern Region fishery manager for the agency at Spokane. “There are many factors impacting steelhead, and to do our part to conserve steelhead, these regulations are intended to support agency conservation goals, which include a limited harvest on surplus hatchery steelhead as part of hatchery reform efforts.

From July 1 through Wednesday, just 37,929 had been counted at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. That is a record low for that time period and well below the 10-year average of 134,577. The second-lowest July-through-August count -- 38,877 -- was recorded in 1943.

From July 1 through Wednesday, just 924 steelhead had been counted at Lower Granite Dam. That is the third-lowest count recorded there since 1975. The lowest count for that time period is 760 and was recorded in 2017.

“The forecast for this year’s upriver steelhead return was already low, but these numbers are below what anyone expected,” said Ryan Lothrop, Columbia River fishery manager for Washington “These are necessary steps to further protect a fish run that’s already in trouble. We hope that anglers can understand how important these restrictions are for preserving future runs on these rivers.”

Related Pages:
Amid Poor Runs, Idaho Officials Propose Limited Steelhead Harvest by Eric Barker, Lewiston Tribune, 8/31/21
Spring Offers Big Steelhead Fishing Opportunities in Smaller Rivers by Idaho Fish & Game, EIN Presswire, 2/18/21
Steelhead Closure Extended In Eastern Oregon by Staff, KXI, 12/26/19
Steelhead Closure Extended on Columbia River by Staff, The Astorian, 12/23/19
Limited Steelhead Season Approved by Eric Barker, Moscow-Pulmman Daily News, 12/19/19

Eric Barker
Washington Closes Part of Snake to Steelhead Fishing
Lewiston Tribune, September 3, 2021

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