Washington: Fishing for runaway triploid trout to open below Chief Joseph Dam

A 17-mile stretch of the Columbia River between Bridgeport and
Brewster, Washington, is about to become a hotspot for triploid
trout fishing.

From Aug. 1-31, anglers will be allowed to catch and keep
triploid rainbow trout in the mainstem Columbia River from the
Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to the Highway 17 Bridge in
Bridgeport, under a new regulation issued by the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The target of the fishery is a large number of triploid trout
that escaped from a net-pen facility on Rufus Woods Reservoir in
June and have now passed downstream into the Wells pool area below
Chief Joseph Dam, said Jeff Korth, a WDFW fish biologist.

Pacific Seafoods, which owns the net-pen facility, estimates
that 117,500 triploids escaped in June through a breach in a
net-pen. Many of those fish run 4 to 5 pounds apiece, Korth
said.

“Anglers have been catching those fish in Rufus Woods Reservoir
for the past couple of months, which is great,” he said. “But we do
have some concerns about the growing number of triploids turning up
below Chief Joseph Dam, because they could interfere with juvenile
steelhead downstream.”

Korth said the triploids are “voracious” eaters and could pose a
threat to juvenile steelhead, some of which are listed for
protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Under the new rule, the daily limit will be four triploid
rainbow trout, with a minimum size 12 inches. All steelhead must be
released, and must not be completely removed from the water.

Most steelhead do not start arriving in the area until
September, but Korth said anglers should be aware of the
differences between a steelhead and a triploid rainbow trout.

Signs will be posted at all boat launches that list
distinguishing features of the two types of fish. The fishery will
be heavily monitored, Korth said.

“The differences are pretty obvious,” he said. “Triploids are
big and fat, while steelhead are long and skinny. But if there’s
any doubt, anglers should release the fish back into the
water.”

 

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