Tucannon steelhead fishing restrictions to be weighed

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DAYTON — Options for restrictions in the Tucannon River steelhead fishing season will be the subject of a meeting Wednesday.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Dayton Elementary School at Park and 2nd streets in Dayton.

In a press release, Glen Mendel, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist, said restrictions to the steelhead fishery will be in place for fall and winter.

The restrictions are to comply with National Marine Fisheries Service requirements to protect wild steelhead that are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act as threatened.

“We’ve already made several changes in Tucannon steelhead hatchery production and management to protect this small wild steelhead population,” Mendel said. “But we can’t maintain the current fishery structure. We don’t want to close this fishery altogether so we’re trying to craft fishing rule options that help remove hatchery steelhead while still protecting wild steelhead.”

Mendel and other WDFW staff will present summaries of the Tucannon River steelhead harvest, natural population estimates and management issues involved. They will also take comments on several options for a restricted fishery. All options include a hatchery steelhead retention requirement to reduce hatchery fish on the spawning grounds.

One option being considered is to allow steelhead fishing Aug.1 to Dec. 31 when 40-50 percent of the hatchery fish and only 20 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing from Jan. 1 to June 7 when trout fishing opens.

A second option would allow steelhead fishing Aug. 1 or Sept.1 through Feb. 28 when 55-62 percent of the hatchery fish have entered the Tucannon River and when only 36 percent of the wild steelhead are present. The river would be closed to fishing March 1 to June 7.

Information about other possible options will be posted online after Friday. Comments may be sent by June 7 to teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov with a “Tucannon River” subject line.

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