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.”

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