WDFW Launches New Mobile App For Anglers To Check Waters’ Regs

Evergreen State fishing managers are starting to put out word that they’ve launched a new app to help you figure out the regulations for the water you’re on or headed to.

The free Fish Washington Mobile App is available now for downloading onto iOS and Android devices.

Doing so early this afternoon, I learned that the Duwamish River, which flows maybe 80 yards from my desk, is “currently closed to fishing.”

I could’ve figured that out, of course, by looking through WDFW’s 130-some-odd-page 2017-18 rules pamphlet, but this app will be a valuable one for those exploring Washington’s rivers and streams, lakes and beaver ponds, ocean and inside saltwaters without a copy of the regs tucked in their door panel.

“WDFW has been working on this for quite some time, both in Olympia with the app development team and by regional Fish Management Division staff across the state to populate the geo-database with the current rules for waters across the state,” said John Easterbrooks, who oversees fisheries in South-central Washington, in an email message this morning. “As this new tool is refined and expanded, we believe it will largely replace the need for a hard copy rules pamphlet for anglers who carry a smartphone.”

The app actually first became available about two weeks ago, and staffers were handing out info on it at last weekend’s Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show in Pasco.

Subsequent to this blog being originally published, WDFW spokesman Jason Wettstein added that the purpose of the early release at sports shows is to test the app for bugs, test the app’s capacity for high usage and whatnot. The official launch will come ahead of the lowland lakes opener, but the department welcomes initial testers who want to try the app out now too, he said.

It is meant to complement WDFW’s Fish Washington page.

With GPS mode turned on, a geodatabase matches waterways with the regs.

“Tap on a lake or river/creek segment and it will be highlighted in light blue and the current regulation will pop up (drag up to see the full regulation),” says Easterbrooks. “Notifications and emergency rule changes are updated to the database that feeds the app in real-time — useful to the angler who is on the water and wants to check the current rules at his/her location.”

Messing around with the map, I had to chuckle when I saw that a water hazard at Jackson Park Golf Course just down the street from my house is defined as open to year-round fishing under statewide rules.

But just as quickly my jaw dropped upon seeing that Thornton Creek, which flows through said golf course, is open in summer to juvenile anglers.

Hey, I’ve got two juvenile anglers!

The crick is said to hold cutthroat and there is access here and there, though we’ll need to be careful about wading because of the mud snail infestation.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, yeah, WDFW’s app.

I don’t know if this was operator error or what, but I did get an error message not long after downloading it to my phone, something about my Gmail crashing.

So far the app has a 3.5 rating at the Google Play Store, with basser Brent Davis commenting on Jan. 10, “Great idea, but its super buggy right now. After more developing Ill re rate but for now I’m having problems with it crashing every time I open it.”

On iTunes, Mr. TXSmith gave it five stars, noting, “It’s off to a good start! I like it. It’s a little slow sometimes, but it’s not a big deal. Can’t wait for a hunting app!”

The app does ask for access to your phone’s images, which one person responding to the initial post of this story on Facebook didn’t like. WDFW’s Wettstein said that’s also being evaluated with the early release.

“The thinking was that people can share images on social media or in other ways directly from the app if they choose,” he said.

In the meanwhile, the fishing regs app is available, “nearly complete and is useful now,” according to Easty, so check it out when you get a chance.

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