Policy Proposals for Sport Fishing Rule Simplification 2017-2019

Details on rule changes to specific waters are now available for comment.

Public comments accepted through November 30, 2017

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

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

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.

Action: Remove mandatory steelhead retention requirements.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

SpeciesDaily limitSize restrictions
Trout5None
Trout214 inch minimum
Trout118 inch minimum
TroutNoneCatch and release
Kokanee10None
Largemouth bass5Bass less than 12 inches or greater than 17 inches, no more than one over 17 inches daily
Smallmouth bass10No more than one 14 inches or greater in length daily
Walleye8Minimum size 12 inches only 1 over 22 inches
Channel catfish5None
Tiger musky1Minimum length 50 inches
PanfishNoneNone
Burbot5None
Whitefish15None
All other gamefishNoneNone

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

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

  • 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.