Walleye and bass anglers headed out this spring to Washington state waters face new size limit rules.
The new statewide daily limit for walleye, which went into effect May 1 as part of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) 2002/2003 "Fishing in Washington" rules pamphlet, is five fish, with a minimum size of 16 inches, and no more than one fish over 22 inches.
WDFW's better understanding of the harvest, production, predator/prey relationships and impacts of regulations on walleye populations led to the changes.
There are exceptions to the new statewide walleye rule on Lake Roosevelt, the Spokane River and the Colville River, designed to increase the harvest of walleye of the size that prey on juvenile kokanee and native minnow species. As listed under "Special Rules" in the new regulations pamphlet, these waters now have no minimum size, a five fish daily limit and no more than one walleye over 18 inches.
Moses Lake and the Snake River, retain the old rules of 18-inch minimum size, with no more than one over 24 inches, as listed under "Special Rules" in the regulations pamphlet.
The Columbia River, below the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco, also retains the old walleye rules: no minimum size, a 10-fish daily limit, no more than five over 18 inches and no more than one over 24 inches. Retaining the old rules for the Columbia and Snake rivers matches Oregon's rules.
In addition, the I-82 ponds in Yakima County that had been closed to walleye fishing are now open under the new statewide rules.
The new statewide rule for bass is now a daily limit of five fish, and only bass less than 12 inches or greater than 17 inches may be kept. Also, no more than one bass over 17 inches may be retained.
There is no catch limit for bass under 12 inches on the Yakima River from the Highway 223 Bridge downstream to the mouth of the river. WDFW research has shown that the smaller bass, under 12 inches, eat significant numbers of juvenile salmon in this portion of the river, and fishers are encouraged to harvest as many of the smaller bass as desired.
Several waters retain the old rules of no more than three bass over 15 inches, as listed under "Special Rules" in the new regulations pamphlet, including: Columbia River, below Priest Rapids Dam, Snake River and Moses Lake. Coffeepot Lake and Stan Coffin Lake in Grant County now have catch-and-release fishing seasons for bass.
The new regulations, along with all other fishing and shellfish rules, are outlined in WDFW's 2002/2003 "Fishing In Washington" regulations pamphlet, available at fishing license vendors, WDFW offices, and on-line at /fishing/regulations