Limits At Popular Washington Bass Fisheries Could Be Scrubbed For Orcas

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.

6 thoughts on “Limits At Popular Washington Bass Fisheries Could Be Scrubbed For Orcas”

  1. I’m not in the area but i would think most of the issue would come from overfishing in the area for commercial purposes. if there are more salmon in the pacific then the orcas will have more to eat

    1. Long-term, systematic habitat destruction and its subsequent affect on rivers, estuaries, etc., to produce Chinook, along with decreased hatchery Chinook production. We’ve already decreased Chinook fisheries by 90 percent in Puget Sound but the orcas are not responding.


  2. Though you may think this would help the orcas, and it might. The impact on businesses on these lakes and surrounding areas far outweighs this. First and for most the problems with California lions in the Columbia river system needs to be addressed. The numbers of salmon and other species killed by this non-native animal is outrageous! They not only kill salmon, steelhead and any other fish they can catch they have damaged docks and other structures they take over. They have impacted not only the sport fisheries but the commercial fisheries as well. It seams as though the idea of throwing darts at a board is common place with the DFW.

    If you look at numbers of returning fish killed by the California sea lions and the numbers of young that could have been produced by these fish the first step is clear. Control the sea lions first and see what happens. Don’t destroy one of the largest income review streams the states have!

  3. I couldn’t get past the picture you guys used on the cover of this story.
    Do you guys have no one at your paper who can tell you that holding a bass like that could break its jaw. SMH

  4. Just better take a good look at all the money in fishing licenses that will be gone when fishermen say we will not purchase licenses anylonger. There may no longer have monies coming into Washington state for licensing fishermens boats. People are now saying their boats will be for sale out of Wa state. Better revisit your fishing changes.

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