HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
It is a rare phenomenon when Washington fishermen and hunters get a reduction in the cost of their licenses, but lo and behold, it has happened. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission has expanded the number of big-game hunting permits available this year and reduced the cost of several types of those permits.
Three areas where additional permits were approved:
Colockum elk herd. Special permits for antlerless increased to 1,016 (from 374).
Yakima elk herd. The commission approved 130 additional permits for antlered elk and 1,440 for antlerless elk in response to the herd’s continuing growth in central Washington.
Northeast white-tailed deer. 120 additional antlerless special permits available this year to youth, senior and disabled hunters.
The only significant reduction in special permits for elk will be in the Mount St. Helens area, where the heard has reached the state’s management objectives after six years elevated permit levels. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requested the commission approve a reduction of 400 permits this year to bring the herd into balance with available habitat.
Under the new fee schedule, the cost of a second-deer tag will be reduced to $43.40 (down from $68), while the price of a multi-season deer tag drops to $139.10 (from $182). The cost will also be reduced for second-deer tags used by hunters working with property owners with damage-prevention or kill permits. Also approved was the process for issuing special-use permits to hunters with disabilities, which allows them to use modified hunting equipment such as crossbows equipped with a scope.
WDFW will be constructing a parking lot near a water-access site on the Puyallup River in the near future. The department exchanged three-quarters of an acre with the city of Summer for the parking lot site. Anglers are reminded when parking at WDFW water-access sites to display a WDFW Vehicle Access Pass on their vehicles. The pass is provided free with every annual fishing license purchased, and is transferrable between two vehicles. Anglers who use State Parks or Department of Natural Resources areas also need a Discover Pass.
With opening weekend of the lowland lake fishing season close at hand, it would be prudent for boat anglers to review boat safety procedures. According to the Coast Guard, on average, two boaters are killed every day on American waterways, and thousands are injured. Waterways are second only to highways for accidental deaths. The Coast Guard stresses the need for everyone to wear a lifejacket when boating. Half of all recreational boating deaths in Washington resulted from capsizing or falls overboard from boats under 16 feet long. Children 12 years old and younger are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times in a vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless they are in a fully enclosed area. It is also recommended children on shore wear a personal floatation device.
The Columbia and Snake rivers’ Northern Pikeminnow Sports Reward Fishery, funded by the BPA, will run May1 through Sept. 30. Paul Dunlap of the WDFW said rewards for fish caught this season will remain the same as the 2013 season. The first 100 fish caught are worth $4 per fish; 101 to 400 fish, $5 per fish; over 400 are worth $8 per fish; and tagged fish bring $500 each. Information can be had at (360) 906-2008 or 1-800-858-9015.
During April 7-13, WDFW personnel sampled 4,182 salmonid anglers (including 1,389 boats) in the lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam. They had 1, 060 chinook, four jacks and four steelhead. From March 1 to April 14, an estimated 73,000 angler trips produced 9,358 chinook kept and 2,261 released
Anglers are catching winter steelhead and a few chinook in the Blue Creek area and barrier dam. However, fishing has been very slow in the lower reaches of the river, according to Jarrod Ligh of 4 Corners Store in Castle Rock. During April 7-13, Tacoma Power recovered 747 winter steelhead and seven spring chinook. Flows were 8,890 cubic feet per second April 14, with a visibility of 10 feet.
Forget fishing the Skookumchuck. Nothing is going on. And the Chehalis is closed. Probably the best bet this week would be lakes. Riffe and Swofford Pond are fishing well, and so are American and Lawrence lakes. Spanaway Lake has also been producing fish. Standard gear and baits are working in all waters.
Bob Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.