Lower White Salmon River reopens for steelhead fishing

By Allen Thomas, Columbian outdoors reporter

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UNDERWOOD, Wash. — Closed since the late October breaching of Condit Dam, fishing for hatchery steelhead in the lower White Salmon River resumes Wednesday.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday the river will be open from the confluence with the Columbia to a closed, former county bridge downstream of the Condit powerhouse.

The daily limit is two hatchery-origin steelhead. The old bridge is about two miles up the river.

John Weinheimer, a state fish biologist, said 20,000 young winter steelhead were stocked in the river in 2010 and will be returning. The stream also got 24,000 summer steelhead.

A good number of fin-clipped winter steelhead have been noted passing Bonneville Dam, he said.

"I expect fish to be around,'' Weinheimer said. "It's going to hunt-and-peck type fishing in brand new water. It will be interesting to see how it goes. The locals who have the time will figure it out. I'd not count on just fishing the historical spots.''

Condit Dam, 125-feet-high, was breached on Oct. 26.

Weinheimer said the stream continues to change as almost a century of silt from behind the dam moves downstream.

With deep snow falling in the mountains and warmer rains expected to follow, the White Salmon River might change significantly in the next 10 days.

"This is a start,'' Weinheimer said about sport fishing in the river.

Upstream of the former county bridge, including the former Northwestern Reservoir, remains closed to angling.