OLYMPIA – Thirty-seven changes to the state’s sportfishing rules were approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission during a meeting here Feb. 2-3.
The new fishing rules approved by the nine-member commission will be incorporated into the 2007-08 Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, which will be available statewide in early May.
One approved rule change defines a boundary for regulatory purposes between the Snake and Columbia rivers at their confluence in Pasco. The new boundary provides additional protection for Snake River steelhead and salmon, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“Fish often congregate at the confluence of the two rivers before heading up the Snake River,” said Jerry Gutzwiler, chair of the commission that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “So it’s important that we provide additional protection and define a clear boundary for anglers.”
Another approved rule will re-open the Lewis River power canal from the fishing pier to the access road at Swift Dam to fishing from the last Saturday in April through Oct. 31. Nearly five years ago an embankment at the power canal collapsed and the fishery had to be closed. That embankment has been repaired and once again can be used by anglers.
Other rule proposals approved by the commission include:
- Prohibiting green sturgeon retention statewide.
- Requiring anglers fishing on the Columbia River from Bonneville Dam downstream to the Hamilton Boat Launch to stop fishing for sturgeon once they’ve retained their daily limit of one.
- Closing Murray Creek in Pierce County to fishing.
The commission, however, did not adopt a proposal that would have expanded a catch-and-release steelhead fishery in the Skagit River, and another that would have prohibited the use of lead sinkers weighing a half-ounce or less at Ferry and Swan lakes in Ferry County and Pierre and Bonaparte lakes in Okanogan County.
In other business, the commission approved a measure that will allow more flexibility for hunters with a disability to hunt near the roadway, and adopted a North of Falcon policy, which provides direction to fishery managers in defining annual non-treaty salmon fishing seasons in Washington.
In addition, the commission received reports on a number of different topics, including low levels of dissolved oxygen in Hood Canal, the status of Dungeness crab in Puget Sound, recreational halibut fisheries, the status of pinto abalone in Washington, the Landowner Hunting Permit Program and WDFW’s marine fish culture policy.