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WDFW Fish Program
600 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501-1091

Sportfishing Rule Changes for 2016-2017

Commission adopts new sportfishing regulations

OLYMPIA - The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday adopted nearly 50 new sportfishing rules, including a requirement that anglers release all wild steelhead they catch on several streams on the Olympic Peninsula.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved the sportfishing rule changes during its public meeting Dec. 11-12 in Port Townsend.

View Rule Proposals
Comment period ended November 12, 2015

The rule changes modify fishing seasons, daily catch limits and other regulations for freshwater areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

One new rule prohibits the retention of wild steelhead on the Quillayute, Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, Hoh, Clearwater and Quinault rivers – the only rivers in Washington where anglers are currently allowed to catch and keep a wild steelhead. The rule also prohibits the retention of wild rainbow trout on those eight rivers and their tributaries.

The change, designed to provide further protections for Olympic Peninsula steelhead, takes effect July 1, 2016. The other rules adopted by the commission also take effect that day.

Other sportfishing rule changes include:

  • Eliminating size restrictions and daily limits for eastern brook trout in most western Washington streams and crappie in several western Washington lakes.
  • Removing rules limiting anglers to keeping only two trout that are larger than 14 inches in several western Washington lowland lakes. WDFW is stocking these lakes with larger trout, making the requirement unnecessary.
  • Providing trout-fishing opportunities in sections of several streams currently closed to fishing.

The commission did not, however, adopt a proposal to close a portion of the North Fork Nooksack River near the Kendall Creek Hatchery. Commissioners asked fishery managers to evaluate other potential options to clarify fishing boundaries at the mouth of Kendall Creek, which meanders at different times of the year.

The commission also did not include Summit Lake (Thurston County) in a list of lakes that will be open for fishing year-round. Instead, the commission maintained the current season at the lake, where anglers can fish from the fourth Saturday in April through Oct. 31.

Summaries of the changes will be available on WDFW's website at by late January.

In other business, the commission discussed this year’s harmful algal bloom off the West Coast; conservation of Puget Sound rockfish; the status of a proposed boat launch at Point No Point in Kitsap County; and recent meetings of the department’s Wolf Advisory Group.


Timeline for 2016-2017 Sport Rule Adoption Process

End of February through March

Solicit proposals online for freshwaters of the Puget Sound and Coast through an online process.

March 31

Deadline for submitting proposals.

April through Mid-July

Agency review of proposals.

July through September

Regional meetings with public to discuss proposals.

Mid-July through October

Proposals placed on website for public

September 18-19

Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting: Staff will brief the commission on proposed regulation changes.

Extended to November 12

Deadline for the public to submit written comments on proposed sport rule changes.

November 13-14

Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting: Public testimony will be received for sport proposals

December 11-12

Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission takes action on sport rule proposals

July 1, 2016

Rules take effect