Grande Ronde Rule Change

Sean Visintainer - 02/07/15

Wild Steelhead being released on the Grande Ronde River

Hatchery Retention Rule Change on Grande Ronde

If you fish the Grande Ronde River in Washington, you will want to make sure that you are up to speed on the new rules that will be taking place soon. A proposal for making it mandatory to retain hatchery steelhead has been adopted by the state, but altered to better fit the angling community request.

Here is the article posted in the Spokesman Review from Rich Landers:

A proposal that would have required Washington anglers to keep all hatchery steelhead they catch from the Snake and Grande Ronde rivers was adopted but altered by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had floated a rule that would make anglers keep all hatchery steelhead they catch in the two rivers.

But the proposal was watered down by the commission, at the recommendation of the department, during its meeting in Tumwater last week, the Lewiston Tribune reports.

The commission adopted a suite of fishing rule changes for the Columbia River basin on the east side of the state.

But it completely dropped the mandatory steelhead retention rule for the Snake River and reduced the scope of the proposal in the Grande Ronde.

John Whalen, fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife at Spokane, said the catch-and-release only regulations for steelhead on the lower 2.5 miles of the river will remain in place during the fall and early winter.

Starting Jan. 1 each year, anglers fishing both the upper and lower portions of the Grande Ronde in Washington will have to keep all hatchery steelhead they catch.

But rules that prevent anglers from using bait and require them to use single, barbless hooks on the river’s first 2.5 miles will remain in place throughout the steelhead season.

The mandatory retention rule was designed to reduce the number of hatchery fish that end up spawning in Grande Ronde tributaries, where it is feared they will dilute the genetic traits of wild steelhead.

Whalen said the prospect of opening the lower section to harvest early in the season risked leading to crowded fishing conditions.

The state also heard comments from fisheries officials in Oregon, who said making anglers keep all hatchery fish earlier than Jan. 1 would target steelhead bound for the upper reaches of the river across the Oregon-Washington state line.

Also under the rules adopted by the commission, Spring and Blue lakes along the Tucannon River will be open year-round.

Link to the Article