As returning sockeye salmon to the Columbia River continue to exceed preseason expectations, fishery managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced this week that Lake Wenatchee will open to sockeye retention beginning Monday, Aug. 3, while anglers will also be able to keep additional sockeye on the mainstem of the upper Columbia above Priest Rapids Dam.
The preseason forecast for sockeye at the Columbia River mouth was 246,300 fish, but the run size was later upgraded to 343,400. The forecast for sockeye returning to Lake Wenatchee, located about 15 miles north of Leavenworth, is expected to exceed 35,000 fish, well above the escapement target of 23,000, said Chad Jackson, Fish Program manager for WDFW’s North Central Region.
“This is a very popular fishery in a beautiful part of Washington, and we’re optimistic that anglers will see plenty of success this August,” Jackson said. “Even with the strong numbers, we’ll still be keeping a close eye on catch rates to make sure we’re achieving all of our conservation goals.”
The Lake Wenatchee fishery will open from Aug. 3 to Sept. 7, with a daily limit of four sockeye (minimum size 12 inches). Anglers must release all bull trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon unharmed and without removing the fish from the water.
Selective gear rules are in effect — up to three single barbless hooks per line, no bait or scent allowed, knotless nets required. Two-pole fishing is allowed with a valid two-pole endorsement. A night closure is also in effect.
Also beginning Aug. 3, anglers will be able to keep up to four sockeye on the Columbia River in the pools upstream of Priest Rapids Dam.
Effective dates for each section of river are as follows:
•From Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam: Aug. 3 through Aug. 31.
•From Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam: Aug. 3 through Oct. 15.
•From Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster: Aug. 3 through Sept.15.
•From the Highway 173 Bridge at Brewster to the rock jetty at the upstream shoreline of Foster Creek (Douglas County side): Aug. 3 through Oct. 15.
The daily limit in each of these areas is six salmon. Up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to four may be sockeye. Minimum size 12 inches. Anglers must release wild adult chinook and coho.
For more information, see the Lake Wenatchee and mainstem upper Columbia emergency rule changes at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/index.jsp. For additional permanent regulations, see the 2020-21 Washington Sport Fishing pamphlet at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations
As Washington continues to battle the spread of COVID-19, anglers are asked to recreate close to home and practice physical distancing by keeping 6 feet apart. Be prepared to change plans if your destination appears too crowded.
Popular state parks – including Lake Wenatchee – have been seeing high numbers of visitors this summer, and some day-use areas may be closed to additional visitors after parking lots are filled. For more information, see the news release from Washington State Parks at https://parks.state.wa.us/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=633