MONTESANO - Public access to the "fishing pontoon" on the east side of the Hood Canal Floating Bridge will end July 7, when the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) begins preparations for a major retrofitting project.
WSDOT has made it clear that the new bridge retrofit, scheduled for completion in 2006, will not accommodate fishing access, said Sue Patnude, regional director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
"We're looking for alternative sites, but replacing that kind of fishing access is not going to be easy," Patnude said. "Because of its unique configuration, the fishing pontoon made it possible for people without a boat to fish in deep water where the fish are running."
For more than a decade, WDFW has paid the transportation agency a monthly fee to maintain the pontoon as a public fishing site. That arrangement will end after the Fourth of July weekend, when preparations will begin to widen the bridge and add new approach sections on both ends.
Several sites near the bridge provide access to beach fishing, including Salsbury Point State Park and Kitsap Memorial State Park. Neither site, however, provides fishing access to deep water for people without boats, Patnude said.
"We're really sorry to lose fishing access from the bridge," she said. "We'll do our best to find an alternative, but it's going to be tough."