New WA Fish Regs Out

The 2011-12 fishing regulations for Washington have now been posted.

They’re available at wdfw.wa.gov.

With this year’s cover going unsold (previous issues’ have had ads for Pavati Marine and Alumaweld), the regs feature “Heartbreaker,” a painting of a leaping rainbow by Fred W. Thomas, a Shoreline artist whose Web site says he’s the guy who came up with the Eskimo on the tail of all those Alaska Airlines jets.

In addition to new rules for lead fishing tackle on 13 lakes in the state’s northern tier, here’s what else is new or tweaked for this season:

Statewide Closure for Columbia River

Smelt (eulachon) – Fishing for Columbia River Smelt (eulachon) is closed in both fresh and saltwater statewide. In 2010, the federal government declared that Columbia River smelt (also called eulachon) warranted protection as a Threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This statewide closure is necessary to conserve this species.

Samish River Fishery Changes

Major changes were made to the Samish River this year. To help reduce snagging, anglers will be required to release any salmon that is not hooked inside the mouth. Anglers will also be required to retain the first 2 salmon, if legal to do so, and stop fishing. These regulations were implemented to promote an orderly fishery and reduce crowding on the river while maintaining recreational opportunity.

Elliott Bay and Green River Chinook Closure

Naturally spawning Chinook salmon bound for the Green River are projected to return in numbers well below the spawning goal. As a result, neither the State nor Tribes are planning recreational or commercial Chinook fisheries in Elliott Bay and the Green River. State and Tribal biologists will evaluate the run size in-season to determine whether Chinook abundance is greater than the pre-season forecast. Fisheries may be announced if the in-season information clearly indicates that spawning goals will be achieved.

Puyallup River Changes

The area downstream of Freeman Road will open beginning August 16 and be closed on August 28, 29, and September 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13.

Skokomish River Fishery

As of the time of printing, recreational salmon fishing seasons during the August and September time period had not been determined for the Skokomish River. Recreational salmon fishing seasons during this time period will be announced as soon as possible.

Willapa Bay Tributaries

Salmon seasons have been added to South Fork Willapa River and the middle section of North River from Salmon Creek to Falls River. North Nemah River will open for Salmon fishing September 1. Please be aware of mark selective requirements for Chinook in the Naselle River; also WDFW will be jaw tagging Chinook as part of ongoing studies, please report tag color and number if available to: (360) 249-1205.

New Columbia River Catch Record Card Code

Area 535, from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam, has been split into two catch reporting areas. Continue to use 535 for the river from the Highway 395 Bridge to the Old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers. This area includes the Ringold Area Bank Fishery. Use the new catch code, 536, for the river from the Old Hanford townsite wooden powerline towers up to Priest Rapids Dam. These codes are to be entered on catch record cards for all retention of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon.

Reduced daily bottomfish limits are in place in Marine Catch Areas 1-4

In Marine Catch Areas 1-3 and Marine Catch Area 4 west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh the new combined bottomfish limit is 12 per day and now includes a sub-limit of 2 cabezon in addition to sub-limits for rockfish (10) and lingcod (2). In Marine Catch Area 4 east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line the new combined daily bottomfish limit is 10 which includes sub-limits for cabezon (2)
lingcod (2) and black and blue rockfish (6).

Killer Whale Vessel Rules

The Federal Government (NOAA) recently released new protective regulations for Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed Killer Whales (Orcas). For a complete summary of these new rules please visit the NOAA web page at: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/Recovery-Implement/Orca-Vessel-Regs.cfm. These new rules prohibit vessels from approaching any killer whale closer than 200 yards and forbid vessels from intercepting a whale or positioning the vessel in its path. WDFW also encourages boaters to “GO SLOW” in the vicinity of killer whales. For more information on how to avoid disturbing killer whales, visit wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca.

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