Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One More Week to Submit Comments on Washington State Regulation Changes

The latest round of rule change proposals is coming to end and there is one more week for the public to give WDFW input on which of the proposed rule changes they would like to see adopted. Despite a concerted effort by a coalition of groups led by the Wild Steelhead Coalition to encourage proactive changes in sport fisheries, the state appears poised to continue with the status quo. Please follow the below links and tell the state you support these rule changes. It is also important to note that for all the rule changes regarding No Fishing from a Floating Device, boats could still be used for transportation and anglers would still be able to fish with whatever method they choose, however fishing from the boat would be restricted. These types of regulations have been successfully implemented on several of the more popular steelhead rivers in Oregon and BC.

1. Mandatory Hatchery Steelhead Retention Statewide. harvest of hatchery steelhead is a vital tool for the conservation of wild stocks.

submit comments in support of this rule changehttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/comments/original.php?id=DFW234122

2. Selective gear only February 1-April 30th on Westside Rivers: February through April corresponds with the time of year when the majority of wild winter steelhead return to rivers on the West side of the state. The use of bait and barbed hooks is still allowed in some locations despite the fact that they can cause significantly higher catch and release mortality. Selective regulations (no bait, barbless hooks) should be uniformly adopted.

submit comments in support of selective regs. February 1-April 30:

3. Hoh River: No fishing from a floating device February 1 - November 30 above Morgan's crossing: Pressure has grown immensely in recent years. This is the primary spawning area outside of the Olympic National Park (where fishing from boats is already banned). In light of growing sport fishing pressure and declining returns in the Hoh River, proactive management is needed to ensure that fish are not being hooked repeatedly and harassed during spawning.

submit a comment in support of this rule change:

4. Sol Duc River: No fishing from a floating device February 1 - November 30 above the Sol Duc Hatchery. This area supports  much of the spawning and staging of wild Sol Duc steelhead, particularly the fragile early run component. The River above the Sol Duc hatchery is relatively small and a ban on fishing from boats would give the fish much needed refuge from growing angling pressure.

submit a comment in support of this rule change:

5. Klickitat River: No fishing from a floating device September 15th to June 30th above the Little Klickitat confluence. Steelhead in the Klickitat are listed as Threatened as part of the Middle Columbia DPS. Not much is known about the status of this stock as monitoring estimates have been highly unreliable, however angling pressure has exploded  in the last decade. Many summer run steelhead in the Klickitat enter the river in the late spring or early summer and have protracted residence in the portion of the river that is open to fishing prior to spawning. This leaves them subject to repeated hookings, harassment and an increased probability of catch and release mortality. Closing the Klickitat to fishing from boats would be an important step towards reducing the overall exploitation of steelhead in the watershed while allowing more anglers to enjoy a quality fishery. Under these rules anglers could use boats for transportation but could not fish from a floating device.

submit a comment in support of this rule change:

6. No fishing from boats on the Wenatchee River above Cashmere: Steelhead in the Upper Columbia DPS are listed as Threatened under the ESA and the Wenatchee opened to fishing for the first time in a decade in 2007. Since then the fishery has grown in popularity with each passing year. During the fall the river typically runs clear and below 1000 cfs and water temperatures are ideal for steelhead activity. The combination of these conditions coupled with WDFWs current strategy of emergency openings in the fishery lead to extremely high effort and catch rates in the first weeks the river is open. While the fishery in the Wenatchee is intended to target hatchery fish for removal from the spawning population, wild fish make a majority of catch in most years. Restricting fishing in boats to the area of the river above Cashmere would give wild fish refuge from anglers in boats in the upper portion of the river while still allowing WDFW to meet its goals of removing hatchery fish from the population and providing a quality fishing experience for all anglers.

submit a comment in support of this rule change:

7. Methow River: No fishing from a boat above the Hwy 153 bridge in Carelton. Like the Wenatchee, the Methow sees a tremendous amount of pressure each fall. This rule change is designed to give ESA listed steelhead in the watershed a refuge from the constant onslaught of anglers fishing from boats while still providing a quality fishery and allowing WDFW meet its goal of harvesting surplus hatchery fish. WDFW has already flagged bad behavior by boat based anglers in the Methow as an issue and has closed a small portion of the river to fishing from the boat. It's time for this regulation to be more widely adopted.

submit  a comment in support of this rule change:

8. Grande Ronde River: No fishing from boats year round below Boggans Oasis. Like the Wenatchee and Methow, the Grande Ronde supports a very popular fall fishery. As pressure has grown on the Ronde there is a need for regulations that better balance WDFW's mandate to provide quality sport fishing opportunities with the need to minimize impacts on ESA listed wild stocks. A reminder, despite the apparent misunderstanding from the WDFW manager who drafted the agency response, boats would still be allowed for transportation but fishing from a boat would be restricted, reducing catch rates on wild fish while providing a quality fishery.

submit a comment in support of this rule change:

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