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January 22, 1997
Contact: Chuck Bolland, (360) 902-2255

Warmwater fish license surcharge to improve fishing

OLYMPIA -- Anglers planning to fish for bass, walleye, channel catfish, tiger muskie and crappie now must pay a $5 surcharge in addition to their regular license fees.

The 1996 Legislature enacted the new fee as of Jan. 1 to raise funds needed for a warmwater fishery enhancement program. A number of sports fishing groups, including Walleyes Unlimited and Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society, requested the program.

All surcharge money will be used to improve warmwater fisheries. Thousands of warmwater fish will be produced to stock more than 80 lakes and ponds across the state. In addition, new access areas, fishing piers and underwater habitat structures will be constructed. Some funds will be invested in warmwater fish research and in efforts to prevent the introduction of non-native species that could harm the fishery.

More information about the Warmwater Enhancement Program can be obtained by calling (360) 902-2820. WDFW anticipates the surcharge will raise $1 million by July of this year. Another $1.5 million should be raised in each subsequent fiscal year.

In addition to the $5 surcharge, state residents between the ages of 15 and 69, who are fishing for warmwater species, also must have a valid game fish license. Children under age 15 don't need the license nor are they required to pay the surcharge.

Persons purchasing three-day resident licenses as well as those buying non- resident licenses will be charged $5 above the license costs to fish for the designated warmwater species.

Anglers who haven't paid the surcharge must release immediately any of those species caught while fishing for trout, salmon or other species. Anglers should familiarize themselves with warmwater fish species by reviewing the fish drawings contained in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet or by obtaining a copy of a brochure entitled "Warmwater Fish of Washington" at any department office.