One hundred and forty-six lakes across Washington have been identified for elimination of bass, walleye and channel catfish limits after state lawmakers earlier this year passed a bill aiming to increase salmon numbers for starving orcas.
WDFW is taking public comment on the proposal which would affect 108 waters in Puget Sound, 14 in coastal watersheds, 12 in Southwest Washington and another dozen on the Eastside.
Most if not all don’t actually have walleye or channel catfish in them, let alone any preying on young Chinook, coho and steelhead, but some popular largemouth and smallmouth fisheries are on the list.
Those include Ballinger, Big, Bosworth — home to the state record bucketmouth — Clear (Skagit), McMurray, Osoyoos — which features the heftiest tournament bags — Riffe, Sawyer, Sammamish, Silver, Stevens, Tanwax, and Washington, among others.
Dozens upon dozens of other “secret” bass lakes are also on the list.
Because they’re classified as anadromous waters, they are targeted by Second Substitute House Bill 1579.
It passed 26-20 in the state Senate and 57-37 in the state House before being signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.
At the pushing of federal fishery overseers to do more to protect outmigrating smolts preyed on by the three nonnative spinyrayed species, as well as to align with Oregon regs, WDFW several years ago waived daily and size limits on the Columbia system.
Biologically, it’s questionable if applying the same rule on these new lakes, ponds and reservoirs would have any effect whatsoever, either on reducing highly fecund warmwater populations or increasing salmon availability for killer whales.
Bass aren’t as coveted on the table as other species in our region; channel catfish have only been stocked in select landlocked lakes and can’t breed in our cooler waters; and walleye are also only found in the Columbia-Snake system, though some jackass(es) put a few in Lakes Washington and Sammamish.
Chinook, the primary feedstock for orcas, as well as steelhead mostly originate in our large river systems, though coho make use of smaller streams often connected to all the lakes left behind by the Great Glacier.
But now with this new state law, which came out of the governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force last year, WDFW will hold five public meetings in the coming weeks in Mill Creek, Olympia, Ridgefield, Ephrata and Spokane on the proposal, as well as take comment online through Oct. 17.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission will also take testimony at its mid-October meeting, with a final decision expected in December.