Washington: Drought Conditions Prompt Fishing Closures, Restrictions on Numerous Rivers

State fishery managers have closed or restricted fishing on more than 30 rivers throughout Washington to help protect fish in areas where drought conditions have reduced flows and increased water temperatures, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The closures and restrictions took effect July 18 and will remain in effect until further notice.

Fishing will be closed in some waters, and limited in others each day to the hours between midnight and 2 p.m. These “hoot-owl” restrictions will go into effect on rivers where fishery managers want to reduce stress on fish during the hottest time of day.

Absher's Blog 4-2-15 washington-department-of-fish-and-wildlife-logoHigh water temperatures can be deadly for fish, such as trout, while diminished stream flows can strand migrating salmon and steelhead, said Craig Burley, fish program manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“With such extreme drought conditions in several areas of the state, we needed to take these steps to help protect vulnerable fish in waters where we have concerns,” Burley said. “We’ll continue monitoring stream conditions throughout Washington this summer and take additional actions if necessary.”

Here are some precautions to take when fishing during the drought.

  • Fish in the morning, when water temperatures are cooler.
  • Use barbless hooks to release fish quickly.
  • Use good judgement. If water conditions are unfavorable – hot temperatures, low water flow – fish elsewhere.
  • Land fish quickly and avoid extensive handling of fish.
  • Keep fish fully submerged when releasing back to the water.

For details on the closures and restrictions, check the emergency regulations, which are on WDFW’s webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

For more information about drought’s impact on fish and wildlife, visit WDFW’s drought webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/drought/.


Guide Outdoors Readers in Washington: Tell us how the drought has impacted your time on the water.

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