Seattle/ Parks & Nature
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Published on May 15, 2024
Icicle River Opens for Spring Chinook Season, Fishermen Eye Bountiful Haul in Chelan CountySource: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Thanks to an abundant hatchery spring Chinook salmon return, the Icicle River is opening for prime fishing this season. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that sportsmen can cast their lines from one hour before sunrise on Thursday, May 16, through sunset on June 30. The decision was made due to a higher-than-needed number of Chinook returning to the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

The fishing zone, primarily in Chelan County, extends from the river's mouth upstream to near the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam and also includes a stretch from the Sleeping Lady Resort to the Peshastin Irrigation Footbridge. Enthusiasts should gear up to potentially catch two hatchery Chinook per day, with a minimum size set at 12 inches. To maintain species integrity, officials have mandated the retention of these specific salmon and require anglers to return any others to the waters. This regulation aims to manage the fish population selectively, ensuring the continued vitality of the hatchery stock while allowing recreational fishing to thrive.

Stricter rules are in place to safeguard this opportunity and the river's ecosystem. To comply with local ordinances, fishermen must abide by night closures, and unlike other areas, the use of motorized vessels isn't permitted here. Moreover, those hoping to double their chances with a two-pole endorsement must stick to single-rod tactics in this fishery. Yet, with the promise of an ample salmon run, these regulations are a small compromise for what's shaping up to be quite the seasonal haul.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a robust return of spring Chinook is forecasted to exceed the hatchery broodstock requirements at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, which is the primary reason behind this recreational boon. This surplus has opened up the opportunity for sport anglers to enjoy the fishing experience and participate actively in the management of hatchery fish populations.