The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that starting the first week in June, a mark selective fishery for hatchery spring Chinook will open on the Wenatchee River. Spring Chinook fishing has not been allowed on the mainstem Wenatchee River since the mid 1990’s, so this season opener marks a significant achievement and a great opportunity for anglers to fish for a stock of Upper Columbia River spring Chinook. The Icicle spring Chinook fishery will be concurrently open. Between the two rivers (mainstem Wenatchee and Icicle), anglers will have a daily limit of two (2) adipose-fin-clipped hatchery spring Chinook, which must measure at least 12 inches in length.
Hatchery-origin spring Chinook in excess of desired escapement are forecast to return to the Wenatchee River. New section 10 permits were recently issued by NOAA fisheries that allow WDFW to conduct this type of mark-selective fishery as a management tool to reduce the number of hatchery spring Chinook that reach the spawning grounds. The fishery is intended reduce the number of excess hatchery-origin spring Chinook and consequently increase the proportion of natural-origin spring Chinook on the spawning grounds. Higher proportions of naturally produced spawners are expected to improve genetic integrity and recruitment through perpetuation of spring Chinook stocks with the greatest natural-origin lineage. In-season run analysis has predicted that about 6,000 Carson stock (Icicle River spring Chinook) and 2,300 hatchery reared Chiwawa River spring Chinook salmon are currently enroute to the Wenatchee River.
This fishery will be carefully managed to ensure that federally listed natural-origin spring Chinook returning to the upper Wenatchee River Basin will survive to spawn. WDFW will closely monitor the fishery and enforce fishing rules to ensure protection of wild Chinook, Bull trout and any steelhead that may be incidentally caught and released. Listed fish cannot be removed from the water! The Chinook fishery is scheduled to remain open until further notice. Anglers should keep in mind that the fishery can close at any time if the allowable incidental impacts to wild spring Chinook are reached.