Tag Archives: SIMPLIFICATION

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.

Here Are Some Of The Fishing Regs WDFW Wants To Simplify

With today’s announcement that WDFW is looking for comment on ways to simplify the @$%@$ confusing as @%$@ fishing @#$@$# regulations, here’s a look at the first round of specific proposals the agency is floating:

Chumming

Action: Eliminate the prohibition of chumming and allow it statewide.

Justification: Provides opportunity for the public to use this method where desired.

IT’S BECOME LESS OF A JOKE AND MORE OF A REALITY TO WANT TO HAVE AN ATTORNEY ON HAND TO PARSE THE FISHING REGULATIONS, BUT WDFW IS PROPOSING WAYS TO SIMPLIFY THE RULES GOVERNING ANGLING IN THE STATE’S WATERS.

Eastern brook trout

Action: Standardize fishing regulations for eastern brook trout statewide by requiring no daily limit and no minimum size.

Justification: This change is intended to help increase harvest of Eastern brook trout, which are a non-native trout species that hybridize with native bull trout and compete with other native species in Washington waters.

Eliminate mandatory steelhead retention

Action: Remove mandatory steelhead retention requirements.

Justification: Creel information in the mid-Columbia indicates that the rule has had limited additional benefits.

Eliminate pan fish special limits

Action: Remove daily limits for pan fish species, such as bluegill and pumpkinseed, on specific waters.

Justification: Special limits are not showing benefits to populations.

Possession limit

Action: Change the game fish possession limit to apply when in field or in transit, aligning the regulations with the definition of the general possession limit rule.

Justification: Provide consistent language for possession limits.

Removing duplicative landowner rules

Action: Remove fishing regulations in WAC and in the pamphlet that are duplicative of local landowner rules and regulations (e.g., county ordinances stating “no use of a floating device equipped with an internal combustion motor.”)

Justification: This will reduce the complexity of regulations in the pamphlet and rely on local landowners to post access regulations on site.

Separate trout and steelhead rules

Action: Provides separate daily limits and sizes for trout and steelhead. Would allow both limits to be retained daily (e.g., two trout and three steelhead). Modify the definition of trout to: “rainbow trout (except steelhead).”

Justification: This will help anglers better understand the daily

catch limits and allow them to retain the daily limit of trout and the daily limit of steelhead.

Standard regulations (apply to lakes, ponds and reservoirs unless listed as an exception)

Action: Reduce the number of seasons and regulations that apply to lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

Justification: Simplifies seasons and regulations for lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

Seasons:

  • Year-round (default)
  • March 1 through September 30
  • March 1 through November 30
  • Fourth Saturday in April through September 30
  • Fourth Saturday in April through October 31
  • Friday after Thanksgiving through March 31

Catch limits and minimum sizes:

Species Daily limit Size restrictions
Trout 5 None
Trout 2 14 inch minimum
Trout 1 18 inch minimum
Trout None Catch and release
Kokanee 10 None
Largemouth bass 5 Bass less than 12 inches or greater than 17 inches, no more than one over 17 inches daily
Smallmouth bass 10 No more than one 14 inches or greater in length daily
Walleye 8 Minimum size 12 inches only 1 over 22 inches
Channel catfish 5 None
Tiger musky 1 Minimum length 50 inches
Panfish None None
Burbot 5 None
Whitefish 15 None
All other gamefish None None

Action: Standardize language regarding eligible participants to allow juveniles, seniors and disabled anglers.

Justification: Provides consistency regarding who can fish at these waters.

Statewide standards (apply to all rivers and streams unless listed as an exception)

  • Gamefish Season: Open Saturday before Memorial Day through October 31 unless listed otherwise.
  • Wild trout, except brook trout and dolly varden/bull trout: Daily limit 2, minimum size 8 inches.
  • Dolly varden/bull trout: Closed.
  • Brook trout: No daily limit, no minimum size. Open when open for gamefish or salmon.
  • Hatchery trout: daily limit 2, no minimum size. Open when open for gamefish or salmon.
  • Bass, channel catfish, and walleye in rivers and streams: No daily limit, no minimum size. Open when open for gamefish or salmon.

Action: Modify language to allow the retention of hatchery steelhead in freshwater statewide when open for game fish or salmon.

Justification: Allows for broad implementation statewide. Currently incidental retention of hatchery steelhead is only allowed in Puget Sound and on the coast.

Action: Standardize statewide the annual season for rivers, streams and beaver ponds to the Saturday before Memorial Day through October 31.

Justification: Currently there are three dates around the start of June. Reducing this complexity to one season will provide predictable fishing opportunities.

Action: Eliminate provision that states all trout caught are counted as part of the daily limit whether kept or released.

Justification: Provide opportunity for anglers to continue fishing for the day.

Action: Provide consistent standard seasons for fisheries only open to white fish.

Justification: Maintain predictable seasons for fisheries only open to white fish that are consistent with wild steelhead protection.