By Friday morning anglers were already on the banks of the Wallace River at one of two hotspots closed since Dec. 30 to hatchery winter steelhead fishing.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife lifted the ban Thursday, allowing fishing through the end of the season on Feb. 15.
The original emergency rule change was issued because adult winter hatchery steelhead returns were too low. As of Thursday, Jan. 26, 241 adult hatchery winter steelhead have returned to the Reiter Ponds and Wallace River hatcheries, according to the WDFW escapement report.
The WDFW set a goal to recapture 300 adult steelhead during the 2017 winter season to ensure 289,500 smolt, or young trout, could be released back into the rivers starting April 15. Only 30 percent of that goal, 72 adults, had returned by the first week of January.
The areas targeted by the original closure are near the Wallace and Reiter Ponds hatcheries. One spans from the railroad trestle downstream of the U.S. Highway 2 bridge, to 200 feet upstream of the Wallace hatchery water intake structure roughly five miles east of Sultan on the Wallace River. The other reaches 1,000 feet downstream and 1,500 feet upstream of the Reiter Ponds outlet on the Skykomish River.
Anglers fishing the rivers can also catch gamefish, but must throw wild steelhead back.