Steelhead managers are opening eastern Columbia Gorge waters to the retention of hatchery steelhead in the coming days.
The rule change takes effect Sunday, Nov. 1, on the big river from The Dalles Dam to the Highway 395 bridge in Tri-Cities, as well as the John Day River downstream of Tumwater Falls. The bag limit is one a day.
The bulk of this year’s steelhead run has cleared these waters, dam counts show, but anglers who like to fish the McNary Dam area should find some stragglers, and they might be larger.
B-run fish typically come in later than A-runs and their forecast is up significantly over the preseason prediction, 32,300 to 9,600.
Since July 1, 107,536 steelhead have been counted at Bonneville Dam, 65,513 of which were fin-clipped, while 75,122 and 46,118 have been tallied at McNary.
The news comes thanks to “a better-than-expected return of B-Index summer steelhead and low cumulative impacts to wild ESA-listed fish,” according to ODFW.
B-runs return to several rivers in Central Idaho, including the Clearwater and Salmon. They stay at sea a year longer than As.
This is also the first time since 2017 that these waters have been open in late fall for hatchery steelhead. Recent years have seen poor returns and very conservative management approaches that have included rolling block closures and lower limits.
The daily limit on salmonids remains two adults. Unclipped coho must be released downstream of the Hood River Bridge but may be kept above there.
Hatchery steelhead retention also opens Nov. 1 from Buoy 10 to The Dalles Dam.