Buying A New Fishing License

An advertisement on the rear panel of buses running around Seattle this past winter boasted that an adult lift ticket at Stevens Pass was “only” $60.

Only?!?

Only about $40 more than when I was skiing there a fair amount.

Sheesh, they include massages on the chairlift up the backside these days?

The ad crossed my mind this past Saturday afternoon as I stood in line to buy my 2011-12 fishing license.

I was ready to plunk down roughly the same amount for my fishing licenses and — depending on the price — a second-rod stamp.

Not that I need to angle with a second rod — believe me, one gives me all the headaches I need — but I’ll be teaching River some more about fishing this spring and, frankly, it will probably be me doing most of the baiting/casting/reeling of his rod, so I might as well just call it mine.

I don’t need no hassles from Cenci’s boyz, or to have to be chased down by Mishka, WDFW’s wunderhund.

River as well as Amy, Kiran and I happened to be on our way to a birthday party for a cousin’s son at my Uncle Terry’s. And I’ll bet that if I had looked in Uncle Terry’s freezer, I’d still find the 7- or 8-inch trout he caught somewhere back in the late 1980s and which has led him to steadfastly refuse to buy another fishing license ever since.

When I got to the counter, the customer service guy who started punching my Wild ID number into the computer announced he didn’t fish in Washington any more.

Why’s that, I asked.

“You need a course in marine biology to understand the rules,” he replied. “You can’t keep this one if its anal fin isn’t three quarters of an inch long, can’t keep that one if it’s got blue spots instead of green.”

I had to chuckle.

Even if he wasn’t quite accurate about the regulations, I’ve heard it stated on more than one occasion you also need a lawyer to understand the fishing pamphlet.

I asked him to set me up with the freshwater-saltwater combo license, which rang up at $46.20, and the Columbia River salmon-steelhead endorsement, another $8.25.

The latter is new as of last April, and before the 10 percent surcharge imposed in mid-2009, the former would have cost me $42.16, about where it’s been for the last decade or so.

He asked if I wanted to go crabbing.

Nope, I said.

How about a shellfish permit.

No, thanks.

I asked about the second rod stamp.

He said it ran $24, which frankly surprised me, even though somewhere in the squishy gray matter laughingly called my brain I knew that was the price.

So I said to skip that one.

He too thought it was a bit pricey. He suggested something along the lines of $10.

When he rung me up the total came to $56.95, which included a dealer fee of $2.50.

I guess compared to the $60 lift ticket for a single day worth of skiing — a day that might offer powder or maybe a nice thick, wet Cascade concrete — $54.45 ain’t a bad deal to be able to fish for whatever wherever I want over the next 360 days.

I think the gratuity to Fred Meyer and other license vendors is a bit much for a couple minutes’ work, though.

At WDFW’s request, a bill was introduced in Olympia this session that would up the price of licenses starting later this year. A combo license would jump to $54.25 alone, but the Columbia endorsement would remain where it is. And the two-pole permit would actually drop by nearly $10 to $14.80.

As of April 1, however, HB 1387 is — to borrow a phrase from The Princess Bride — “mostly-dead.”

It didn’t get out of the House and get read in the Senate before a cutoff date, so it’s in the scrap heap, a WDFW legislative staffer tells me.

Except that it’s also a fiscal bill, and just as Miracle Max breathed new life into the Man in Black, lawmakers can resurrect 1387’s language at any time during the sesh.

For example, SB 5661, the bill that would have required commercial fishermen to report lost gear within 48 hours instead of just encouraged them, was X-filed in mid-March, but has subsequently been attached to SB 5201. Supporters are asking that you email your House Rules Committee member(s) to move the bill onto the floor of the chamber for a vote.

Ahh, the ins and outs of Oly, a topic for another day. For now I have to get cracking on the May issue — and think about where to take River fishing this weekend.

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