Tag Archives: whitefish

WA Fish Commission Tightens Mining Rules On Stream Stretch Now Hosting Coho, Steelhead

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has changed the work times for mineral prospecting in and around the Sultan and Similkameen rivers to avoid periods when incubating eggs and young fish are present.

WITH THE 2016 REMOVAL OF A SLUICEWAY 9.7 MILES UP THE SULTAN RIVER, COHO AND WINTER STEELHEAD WERE ABLE TO ACCESS THE SULTAN RIVER IN THE GORGE BELOW SPADA LAKE (RIGHT CENTER), LEADING TO TIGHTER CONTROL OF MINERAL PROSPECTING RULES IN THE STREAM. (USGS NATIONAL MAP AERIAL IMAGERY)

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the changes on Friday, April 20. The commission also authorized the department to remove 1 to 1.5 million board feet of timber from the 4-0 Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains of Asotin County to improve wildlife habitat, restore forest health, and reduce the risk of severe wildfires.

Until recently, a section of the Sultan River in Snohomish County was open to mineral prospecting using a variety of equipment, including suction dredges, sluices, and high bankers, for more than seven months each year.

That changed in 2016, when a fish-passage project at the City of Everett diversion dam opened an additional 6.3 miles of the river to spawning salmon and steelhead, said Randi Thurston, WDFW habitat protection manager.

“Last year, the department adopted an emergency rule that prohibited the use of certain types of prospecting equipment in that area, except during August,” Thurston said. “This year, the commission adopted that new work window as a permanent rule.”

The new rule applies to the use of mineral prospecting equipment in the water, Thurston said.

In a separate action, the commission agreed to expand the work window for mineral prospecting on the Similkameen River to include the month of June from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek in Okanogan County. That decision was based on a new study by WDFW that found no evidence of incubating trout or whitefish eggs there in June, Thurston said.

“Prospectors urged us to conduct the study, and they were right about the results,” she said.

Under the new rule, the work window for prospecting on the Similkameen River from Enloe Dam to Palmer Creek will extend from June 1 through Oct. 31.

For more information about mineral prospecting in Washington, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/mining/.

State wildlife managers plan to conduct the 4-0 forest restoration project this summer, but work may not be completed until the summer of 2019. Logging operations will be limited by fire restrictions and during periods of high recreational use, including deer and elk hunting seasons, said WDFW forest manager Richard Tveten.

STATE WILDLIFE MANAGERS PLAN TO THIN PORTIONS OF THE 4-O WILDLIFE AREA IN SOUTHWEST ASOTIN COUNTY TO RESTORE IT TO A MORE NATURAL OPEN PONDEROSA FOREST. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

In addition to the commercial logging operation, WDFW will also thin small trees from approximately 250 acres on the 4-0 property, he said. Project managers plan to burn logging debris in slash piles and will notify the public if they decide plan to conduct prescribed burns.

Middle Methow Won’t Open For Whitefish On Dec. 1

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE

Whitefish fishing will close in lower section of Methow River

Action: Close fishing in the Methow River from Gold Creek to the Twisp River.

TO PROTECT A LOW RUN OF METHOW STEELHEAD, LIKE THIS ONE JOHN BRACE CAUGHT ON THE RIVER SEVERAL SEASONS BACK, WDFW IS CLOSING WATERS BETWEEN GOLD CREEK AND THE TWISP RIVER FOR WHITEFISH TO REDUCE THE ODDS OF INCIDENTAL HOOK-UPS WITH STEELHEAD. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Dates: Dec. 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018

Species affected: Whitefish

Reason for action: Allowable impacts to steelhead listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act in the upper Columbia River are very low. The whitefish season in the Methow River from Gold Creek to the Twisp River has a high steelhead encounter rate. Closing this section of the Methow River will protect listed steelhead and provide greater assurance the other whitefish seasons will remain open as long as possible.

Other information: The whitefish seasons in the Methow (from Twisp River to Foghorn Dam and from the Weeman Bridge to the falls at Brush Creek) will open Dec. 1 as scheduled, as will those on the Similkameen, Chewuch, and Entiat rivers and Sinlahekin Creek. Those seasons are described in the current Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet.

WDFW will monitor those fisheries closely, and may close additional seasons if federal impact levels on listed steelhead are reached. Anglers are advised to check the WDFW website (https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/) for new emergency regulations before going fishing.