OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding anglers that new regulations took effect January 1 reducing the number of lingcod and certain species of rockfish they can have in their possession in coastal waters.
Under new regulations approved late last year by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the daily bag limit for lingcod is now one fish measuring at least 24 inches. The previous limit was two lingcod per day.
New limits are also in effect for yelloweye rockfish and canary rockfish. Although the overall catch limit for rockfish is still ten per day, anglers are restricted to two yelloweyes and two canary rockfish in their possession. The two species, commonly called "red snapper" but actually members of the rockfish family, are distinguished by their orange and red coloring.
The new bag limits are now in effect in Marine Areas 1-4 from the Columbia River to the Seiku River on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Greg Bargmann, WDFW marine fish manager, said the new regulations are designed to help reverse the decline of lingcod, yelloweye and canary rockfish populations detected in recent years.
"The changes in recreational harvest are part of a wide-ranging effort to recover these species," Bargmann said. "We've heard from a number of anglers who are generally aware of the new regulations, but aren't exactly sure when they take effect. We need to get the word out that the new regulations are in effect right now."
For lingcod, fishing seasons have been reduced along with the bag limits. In Marine Areas 1-3, this year's season is open from April 1 through October 31 seven days a week. Last year it was open year round.
For Marine Area 4, the lingcod season will be open seven days a week from April 16 through October 31. The closure date is a month earlier than last year.
In Puget Sound east of the Seiku River, hook-and-line fishing for lingcod remains closed until May 1, when a one-fish-per-day limit will be in effect. Allowable "keepers" must measure at least 26 inches but no more than 40 inches. The spearfishing season opens May 21 in Puget Sound east of the Seiku River, where the bag limit for lingcod is one fish of any size. A limit of one rockfish per day will also be in effect as of May 1 for all recreational fisheries in Puget Sound east of the Seiku River.