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

Sportfishing Rule Changes for 2016-2017

WFDW schedules meetings on
proposed freshwater gamefish rules

OLYMPIA – State fishery managers are seeking public comments on proposed sportfishing rules for the freshwater areas of Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

View and Comment
on Rule Proposals

Rule proposal comments accepted
through November 4, 2015

As part of that effort, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled four meetings to discuss rules proposed for the 2016 season with the public. All but one of the proposals is specific to the rivers and lakes of the Puget Sound and coastal regions.

The exception is a proposal for the lower Columbia River that was held over from last year in order to coordinate with fishery managers in Oregon.

Comments will be accepted through Nov. 4. For a hard copy of the proposed rules, please call (360) 902-2200.

More than 300 proposals were submitted by department staff and the public in March. State fishery managers are recommending that 50 of the proposals move forward for additional review. This website has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.

The public meetings are scheduled for:

  • Mill Creek: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 13, WDFW Region 4 headquarters, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd, Mill Creek
  • Vancouver: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 17, WDFW Region 5 headquarters, 2108 Grand Blvd, Vancouver
  • Aberdeen: 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 18, Aberdeen Rotary Log Pavilion, 1401 Sargent Blvd, Aberdeen
  • Olympia: 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 1, Natural Resources Building - Room 175, 1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia

The public will also have the opportunity to provide testimony on the proposed rule changes during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s meeting Nov. 13 and 14 in Olympia. Check the commission’s website for details on the meeting.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the proposals during a meeting in December.

WDFW is recommending further discussion on proposals that would:

  • Eliminate size restrictions and daily limits for eastern brook trout in most western Washington streams and crappie in several western Washington lakes.
  • Provide trout-fishing opportunities in sections of several streams currently closed to fishing. These streams, which include the Little Quilcene and Snoqualmie Rivers, would open to fishing in sections farther upstream from where endangered fish return.
  • Require anglers to retain hatchery steelhead they catch in some western Washington waters in order to reduce the effects of hatchery fish on wild stocks.
  • Remove 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.
  • Eliminate size restrictions and daily limits for bass, channel catfish and walleye for areas in the Columbia River and tributaries contiguous with Oregon.

The department is also considering several proposals to protect wild steelhead on the north coast of Washington. Those proposals include implementing selective gear rules on some north coast rivers and prohibiting the harvest of wild steelhead in several coastal rivers including the Clallam, Bogachiel, Hoh and Sol Duc. WDFW is working with an advisory group to refine options for the commission’s consideration.

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.

November 4

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