Don’t Get Caught Without New Columbia License!

See you in line to buy a new Washington fishing license. April 1 — no foolin’ — is the start of the Evergreen State’s license year.

And if you plan on fishing the Columbia River and its many salmon and steelhead tributaries this season, you’ll want to bring along an extra $8.75 to buy a new endorsement meant to “maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the basin.”

It affects waters everywhere from Rosburg to Oroville to Boggan’s Oasis, including popular rivers such as the Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Klickitat, Yakima, Methow, Okanogan, Snake and Grande Ronde.

However, not all stretches of the rivers fall under the new requirement — just those areas where you can legally fish for salmon and steelhead.

A map produced by WDFW shows the affected waters.

SALMON AND STEELHEAD STREAMS REQUIRING THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT APPEAR IN DARK BLUE. (WDFW)

SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON RIVERS WHERE THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT IS REQUIRED TO FISH FOR SALMON AND STEELHEAD. (WDFW)

The fee, known as the Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Program, came out of the state legislature last year to help offset WDFW’s $30 million budget shortfall.

A fiscal note on the bill that authorized the fee estimates that 109,140 endorsements would be purchased in 2010, yielding at least $900,405 for the agency. However, that assumed the program would begin Jan. 1.

Revenues and endorsements are projected to rise in following years to just over $1 million by 2015.

According to a press release from the agency, funds will be used to evaluate selective fisheries in the basin and “management activities, including fisheries enforcement, data collection and monitoring.”

The endorsement is required for all anglers 15 years and older. The fee expires June 30, 2016.

Oregon’s license year began on New Year’s Day.

Elsewhere in Washington, you will, of course, need either freshwater ($24 for anglers 16-69), saltwater ($22.20) or combo ($46.20) licenses to fish starting Thursday morning. That last option also includes a shellfishing permit.

Those figures are higher than what was printed in the regulations pamphlet because the state legislature also authorized a temporary 10 percent surcharge on licenses through June 20, 2011.

A chart on WDFW’s Web site outlines all the license options.

UPDATE MAY 31, 2010: RIFFE LAKE HAS BEEN DROPPED FROM THE LIST OF WATERS WHERE THE NEW COLUMBIA RIVER ENDORSEMENT IS REQUIRED, WDFW ANNOUNCED THIS AFTERNOON. WE WILL POST A LINK TO THE RULE CHANGE AS SOON AS THE AGENCY PUTS IT UP.

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