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Hatchery Fish Theft Closes Icicle River Salmon Fishing

June 13, 2006

Fishing for spring chinook salmon on Chelan County’s Icicle River will close tomorrow (June 14) as a result of the theft of broodstock fish from a federal fish hatchery last week.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ordered the early closure to preserve remaining fish for broodstock.

The closure follows the June 9 theft of 200 of 250 chinook salmon being held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery needs 1,000 salmon to produce fish for future runs and fishing seasons.

The fishing closure will remain in effect until the federal hatchery collects 950 more fish. Based on the most recent run counts over Rock Island and Rocky Reach dams on the Wenatchee River, WDFW District Fish Biologist Art Viola estimated about 1,250 fish are heading up the Icicle River.

“At the rate these fish are now coming up river we might be able to re-open this fishery after the broodstock goal is met,” said Viola.

Viola said this year’s spring chinook run was later than expected but fishing had recently picked up and was more consistent than past years. Recreational anglers had harvested about 150 fish when the theft occurred.

The fishing season, on the portion of the Icicle River 400 feet upstream of the mouth at the Wenatchee River to 500 feet downstream of the hatchery fish rack, originally was scheduled to run through July 31. Fishing was open because the estimated run size appeared sufficient for both recreational harvest and hatchery collection for reproduction. The fishery had opened May 26.

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