Tag Archives: fishing pamphlet

WDFW Fish Reg Simplification Proposals Head To Commission For Final Vote

Due to strong angler pushback, Washington fishing managers will recommend against allowing chumming statewide and eliminating special panfish rules, but say other simplifications they’re supporting will help shrink the gamefish section of the regulations pamphlet by between a quarter and a third.

They’ll take the complete package to the Fish and Wildlife Commission next Friday for a final vote, then begin work on the next project: streamlining the saltwater and salmon fishing rules.

Among the freshwater proposals that WDFW managers Steve Thiesfeld, Chad Jackson and Chris Donley will ask the citizen panel to accept as is:

  • Eliminating minimum length and daily limit on eastern brook trout;
  • Eliminate mandatory steelhead retention
  • Consistent language for game fish possession limit
  • Removing duplicative landowner rules
  • Separate trout and steelhead rules
  • Standardize juvenile only waters
  • Steelhead incidental retention
  • Stream season for game fish (Saturday before Memorial Day through October 31)
  • Whitefish only season standardization

They’ll ask the commission to modify eight proposals having to do with applying standard statewide rules on still and moving waters.

For instance, requiring wild rainbows and cutthroat to be released in native steelhead gene banks such as the Nisqually, East Fork Lewis and other rivers.

But they’re scrapping statewide chumming, special panfish regs and a trout bait-fishing rule in favor of retaining the status quo.

“We didn’t recommend adoption because online public comment and public testimony at last month’s Commission meeting were overwhelmingly opposed to adoption of these rules,” says Donley, who is the far Eastern Washington fishing manager. “In a nutshell, we actually do listen to the public.”

As the agency gathered online comment on proposals, an overwhelming 247 out of 272 people were opposed to the panfish rule, with many saying that reservoirs such as Banks, Potholes and Moses should be excluded because species like crappie and bluegill would be wiped out and other fish species would also lose out on dinner.

At least 59 people were against allowing statewide chumming, while only 31 were for. “This is a bad idea and will lead to unnecessary overfishing and collateral damage to other species,” one cogent argument went, according to WDFW.

And 46 out of 69 were against doing away with the requirement that trout caught with bait but released be counted towards the daily limit of five.

But there was stronger, though not unanimous, support for other simplifications, and those will mostly move forward or be slightly tweaked.

“Adopting the proposed changes would reduce overall gamefish rules by approximately 30 percent,” says Donley. “This is a substantial reduction in the number of special rules that are required to be listed in the pamphlet but it is important  to keep in mind that marine and salmon rules haven’t been simplified yet,  but we are working on it.”

WDFW Gets 933 Comments On Freshwater Reg Simplification Ideas

Simplifying Washington’s fishing pamphlet might not be so simple.

When state fishery managers asked for feedback on their first round of proposals — making lake and river regulations more uniform and easier to understand — they snagged a ton of comments, 933 to be exact.

Everybody had an opinion. Many were for the tweaks, many others were against them.

(Who knows how many comments the agency will get when they tackle salmon and saltwater rules in the coming years.)

It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t deal.

With fishery managers acknowledging that their regs “are complex and can be difficult to follow” — it’s been stated by more than one angler they need an attorney by their side to interpret things — the review represents an effort to make them more user-friendly, which I think we can all appreciate, even if it also flies in the face of what anglers also want: rules tailored to their specific fishery or style of fishing.

With this go-around, just four subjects accounted for more than half of all the comments, with eliminating special limits on panfish at select lakes receiving a griddle-sized 29.1 percent, mostly against.

According to a presentation prepared for a public hearing before the Fish and Wildlife Commission at its meeting next week, 247 of 272 who expressed opinions on the idea were opposed.

Many said that reservoirs such as Banks, Potholes and Moses should be excluded and that species like crappie and bluegill would be wiped out and other fish species would also lose out on dinner, according to the WDFW summary.

“Numerous eastern Washington resorts, sport fishing clubs, local guides, and warmwater anglers have expressed concerns over eliminating bag limits on major waters,” the agency stated.

A proposal to allow chumming on all waters also saw strong opposition, with 59 shooting holes in the chum bucket while 31 filled it up.

“This is a bad idea and will lead to unnecessary overfishing and collateral damage to other species,” one cogent argument went, according to the agency.

On the flip side, others said, “I am in favor of being able to chum, and don’t think it has any negative impact on the water quality,” and “I believe it increases opportunity for anglers, especially when pursuing stocked trout.”

Another proposal that saw strong negative response was scrapping the requirement that trout caught with bait but released be counted towards the daily limit of five.

Forty-six bonked the idea, arguing, “Bait should not be considered acceptable for catch-and-release situations,” while 23 want it added to their stringer, saying it “Would allow more flexibility and opportunity for anglers” and “This rule was always unenforceable anyway.”

But the tape measure had to come out for several subjects with much closer splits among commenters:

Removing duplicate landowner rules had nine comments for (“If these restrictions are not set by the department then they should not be listed in the pamphlet”) and nine comments against (“The rules set by the landowners or managing authorities may not be readily available or easily known”).

Different daily and size limits for steelhead and trout had 21 comments for (“Separating steelhead from trout should make reading and understanding the fishing regulations much easier” and 19 comments against (“Allowing retention of ‘trout’ in waters containing steelhead would pose another unnecessary risk to steelhead populations).

Standardized seasons and regs for stillwaters had 30 comments for (“Fewer rules, and the fewer exceptions, avoids confusing anglers”) and 26 comments against (“Why not simply reduce to a year-round season in some fisheries and a March 1st (or last Saturday in April) through November 30th season?”).

As for standardized regs for rivers and creeks, it had support from 27 (“Simple is better, when exploring a new water having to remember a whole new set of rules is a burden”) but opposition from 35 (“The current approach of having waters closed unless listed as open is the best approach. Puts a number of species of conservation concern at risk”), especially bass and walleye clubs worried about dropping daily and size limits.

However, there were some proposals nearly everybody could admire, such as:

Standardizing whitefish season to Dec. 1-last day in Feb. (18-1);
Standardizing language for juvenile waters to allow seniors and disabled anglers (15-1);
Consistent terminology for possession limits (26-5);
Eliminating daily and size limits on brook trout (30-6);
Retention of incidentally caught hatchery steelhead (23-5);
Ending mandatory hatchery steelhead retention (34-10);
And opening game fish season in rivers, streams and beaver ponds from the start of Memorial Day Weekend through Halloween (25-9).

After the Dec. 9 public hearing in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building on the grounds of the state capital complex, the Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to make final decisions at its Jan. 18-20 meetings in Vancouver, with any changes they make coming out in the new pamphlet that goes into effect July 1, 2018.

Next up in WDFW’s rule simplification drive will be salmon, followed by shellfish and saltwater species in 2019.