Updates to freshwater game fish rule making

The public comment period for these rule proposals is now closed.

The following proposals would update game fish rules around the state, including some that were previously updated during the first round of rule simplification in 2017.

For additional information, see the notice of proposed rule making

Proposal No. 1: Apply beaver ponds rule statewide

Short Description: Applies the rule “Beaver ponds located within or adjoining streams that are listed as open to trout and other gamefish follow same rules as the stream, except otherwise listed” to the entire state.

Explanation: Applying this rule statewide was inadvertently overlooked during game fish rule simplification. Changing this rule will clarify and eliminate any confusion that occurs around rules for beaver ponds.

Proposal No. 2: Include Kokanee in statewide trout bait rule

Short Description: Adds Kokanee to the species of fish that “When fishing with bait, all trout equal to or greater than the minimum size are counted as part to the daily limit weather kept or released.”

Explanation: Kokanee as a species were separated from trout during Sport Rules simplification process.  Inadvertently this removed Kokanee from this bait rule.  This rule change will include both trout and kokanee in this rule.

Proposal No. 3: Remove daily limit of lake trout in Lake Chelan

Short Description: Reverts the rules for Lake Trout back to “No min. size. No Daily limit”.

Explanation: During rule simplification trout rules were streamlined in lakes to a standard 5 fish daily limit.  Lakes with an old and/or unneeded separate trout species rule were changed to the standard rule.  However, exceptions to the standard rule were allowed based on relevant data.  The old rule for Lake Trout in Lake Chelan was no minimum size or daily limit, but was changed in error to the standard trout rule.  The non-native Lake Trout population in Lake Chelan is very robust and has significant negative impacts on other gamefish species present in the lake, most notably Westslope Cutthroat Trout that are indigenous to the lake. The rule needs to be changed back to “No min. size. No Daily Limit” so that anglers targeting these fish have the opportunity to harvest as many of these fish as possible.  There are anglers that regularly target these fish that have the ability to remove more than 5 Lake Trout per day.  This targeted harvest does reduce the spawning population and subsequent progeny Lake Trout in Lake Chelan.

Proposal No. 4: Reciprocity rule added to WAC and change to trout rule on Rufus Woods Lake

Short Description: Changes the current trout rules from daily limit 2 and minimum size 14” to daily limit 2 and no minimum size to align rules with the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) fishing rules.

Explanation: During sport fishing rules simplification, trout rules on all lakes statewide (to the greatest extent possible) were changed to one of the four standardized trout rules.  Staff is recommending the 14” minimum size limit be changed to align with the CCT rule in the lake.

Proposal No. 5: Eastern Brook Trout removed from trout daily limit in Patterson Lake (Okanogan County)

Short Description: This rule will remove the current “Eastern Brook Trout (EBT) count toward trout daily limit” on Patterson Lake.

Explanation: Non-native Eastern Brook Trout were annually stocked into Patterson Lake, but that practice ended a few years back and there are no plans in the future to plant that species again.  The “EBT count toward the trout daily limit” is an unnecessary rule for this lake.

Proposal No. 6: Remove Trout and Cutthroat special size restriction on Black Lake (Thurston County)

Short Description: The current trout rule is “Statewide minimum size/daily limit, except cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout minimum size 14 inches”. This proposal will revert the rule for trout to statewide 8 inch min. size/daily limit of 5 fish with no special regulation for cutthroat trout and wild rainbow trout.

Explanation: During gamefish rule simplification a minimum size was introduced to some trout rules in anadromous waters where ESA listed steelhead and/or small populations of cutthroat trout are being monitored.  Black lake does not represent critical habitat for steelhead therefore this rule is unnecessary and the statewide rules provide protection for coastal cutthroat.

Proposal No. 7: Technical changes

Short Description: Corrects Washington Administrative Code language to reflect rule adoptions made by the Commission (technical changes). Formats the language in a clear structure and removes redundant language.

Explanation: This proposal is a technical fix to provide clearer language reflective of Commission intent, and to streamline the information by reducing redundant language in multiple WACs. See Table.





Yakima River whitefish clarification.

Remove the words “Open for whitefish only.” in the section of the Yakima River: From Roza Dam to 400 feet below Easton Dam; including the portion of Wilson Creek from the mouth upstream to BNSF railroad bridge. WAC 220-312-050. This proposal does not modify existing fisheries on the Yakima River. The proposal simply removes potentially confusing language and clarifies that during the whitefish season (Dec. 1-Last Day of February) other game fish and catch-and-release trout seasons remain open as well.


Tieton River NF

Clarify the river stretches; No rule change. WAC 220-312-050. This proposal is a clarification and does not modify existing fisheries in the North Fork Tieton River.


Landlocked Salmon rules in locations with Adipose Clipped Trout Rule Clarification

Landlocked Salmon Rules in Lake Roosevelt and San Poil River have been changed to “Salmon count toward trout daily limit” and “No catch record card required”. WAC 220-312-050