HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Next month, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting proposed sport fishing rule changes to the 2013-14 fishing season.
There are 70 rule proposals on the docket, some of which are major changes, while others are minor corrections to present regulations. One of those major changes would increase angling opportunities on Blue Creek by removing the requirement that only anglers who permanently use a wheelchair may fish from the posted sign at the fence (about 40 feet downstream from the rearing pond) to the posted sign above the rearing pond outlet. A new ADA access has been constructed nearby on the Cowlitz to take its place.
Opening fishery dates have been changed to provide additional opportunity to harvest straying hatchery steelhead, thereby keeping them off the spawning ground and negatively impacting winter steelhead in the lower Cowlitz.
Another major change would convert Ohop Lake to a year-round fishery. In 2011, catchable-size rainbow trout stocked in Ohop were adipose-fin clipped to determine if fish were escaping out of the lake into the Nisqually River. Shortly after being stocked, fin-clipped rainbows were detected at the downstream smolt trap in the Nisqually. In 2012, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) increased the mean size of the rainbows stocked in Ohop in an attempt to reduce escapement. No hatchery fish were detected at the downstream trap in 2012, but because larger fish are more expensive, WDFW will not be able to stock larger fish at a high enough density to reach the harvest goal desired for lake management with trout for opening day. This change will also increase the opportunity for fall and winter trout and warm water fishing in the south Sound.
Also under consideration is changing the Deschutes River to a year-round fishery. Modifying the fishing season for the section of the river from Old Highway 99 Bridge on Capital Boulevard (in the city of Tumwater) upstream to the Henderson Boulevard Bridge so that trout fishing is open to catch and release year-round will increase opportunity and be consistent with fish management above Pioneer Park. Selective gear rules are to be in effect except from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, when bait is allowed and barbless hooks are required.
WDFW is recommending changing the daily harvest of spot shrimp fishery from 80 to 200 per person in the Pacific Ocean, Marine Areas 1-4 (Area 4 west of Bonilla Tatoosh) only. The department believes harvestable numbers of spot shrimp in those areas are good and increasing the daily limit will offset the high costs to participate in this fishery and may increase participation.
Recreational spot shrimp fishing in the ocean is very limited due to the distance of fishing rounds from shore. The department is also recommending changing the Cabezon minimum size to 18 inches in Marine Areas 4-11 and 13. The regulation will provide additional protection to Cabezon by allowing the majority of adults to mature and reproduce prior to being subject to harvest.
Comments on hunting rules?
The WDFW will be accepting public comments through Feb. 15 on 17 proposed hunting rules. The proposals are posted at http:// wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulation/2013/wsr-13-03-152pdf. Included in the proposals is a new rule expanding spring black bear hunting opportunities in the northern Puget Sound area to reduce bear damage to trees in commercial timber lands. Also, the department is recommending restoring antlerless elk opportunities for archery hunters in Yakima County, specifically in Game Management Units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping), and allowing the use of illuminated arrow nocks for archery equipment.
Written comments may be mailed to Wildlife Program Commission Public Comments, 600 Capital Way N., Olympia, WA 98501. The commission is scheduled to vote on the new hunting rules during a meeting April 12-13 in Olympia.