HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Weyerhaeuser Co. recently announced that all access, motorized and non-motorized onto its Vail and Pe Ell tree farms will require a recreation access permit starting Aug. 1 through Dec. 31. The permits will be sold online only.
Weyerhaeuser’s decision to charge an access fee was a surprise to the recreation community, but it should have been expected. Other timber companies have been charging an access fee for years, so it was only a matter of time before Weyerhaeuser joined the club. The fee could be considered nothing more than a good business move, even though some individuals might think otherwise.
Permits will cost $150 each, with a maximum of 750 issued for Vail. One permit covers legally married spouses and children and grandchildren age 18 and under. Permitholders will have access (including motorized access) seven days per week from August to December to most of Vail’s 155,000 acres. Entry will start one and a half hours before sunrise and end one and one half hours after sunset. The company will reserve the right to close the farm in times of high fire danger.
Weyerhaeuser has also put aside 2,700 acres in three tracts that will be available for lease by bidding on www.WYRecreationNW.com, which should be operational June 1. The leases will allow for exclusive use of a particular tract.
Meanwhile, because some timber companies have announced plans for requiring permits and charging fees to hunt on their lands, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is advising hunters who are considering applying for special hunting permits to check timber company websites or hotlines for information regarding access requirements before submitting a special permit application. The five game management units currently affected by new access requirements are 501,506,530, 672 and 667. The deadline for submitting a special permit application this year is May 22. WDFW has also stressed it does not have the legal authority to regulate private landowners’ decisions about restricting access or charging fees to hunt on the land.
Despite cool and windy weather, anglers had a lot of success reeling in large trout on opening day of this year’s lowland lakes fishing season. Based on creel checks conducted at 98 lakes around the state, WDFW estimates that anglers caught on average of four trout opening day. Chris Donley, WDFW’s inland fish program manager, said the 4,076 anglers contacted retained an average of 2.8 trout, up from 2.3 fish in recent years. The rest of the fish were released.
A creel check at Mineral Lake opening day showed 67 anglers with 171 trout kept and 95 released. Eighteen broodstock, 14 triploids and some brown were also caught. The largest fish caught weighed nearly 10 pounds.
Other local creel checks showed:
• Clear Lake: The average was 4.9 trout caught per angler, 2.8 kept.
• Tanawax: The average was 4.6 trout caught per angler, with 1.9 kept.
• Rapjohn: Anglers averaged 4.3 trout caught, 2.4 kept.
• McIntosh: The average was 5.7 trout caught per angler, 3.6 kept.
• Ohop: The average was 4.1 fish caught per angler, 3.6 kept.
Donley said two of the largest fish caught opening day and recorded were a 24.5-inch rainbow trout at Vance Creek Pond 2 (Lake Inez) in Grays Harbor County, and a 24–inch rainbow at Lincoln County’s Fishtrap Lake.