OLYMPIA — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a variety of new sportfishing rules and increased the number of multiple-season hunting permits for deer and elk issued each year during a public meeting here Feb. 3-4.
The commission, a nine-member citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), adopted new fishing rules for the 2012-13 season that will:
- · Close fishing early for steelhead and other game fish in several river systems in Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect wild steelhead. The early closures, ranging from mid-January to mid-February of 2013, apply to the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Green and Puyallup river systems, along with several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The proposal also includes closing the upper section of the Samish River on Dec. 1 and the lower section Jan. 1 to fishing for all species.
- · Declassify northern pike as a gamefish and allow anglers to fish with two poles on the Pend Oreille River, where the non-native fish have been spreading. Anglers who purchase the required endorsement will also be allowed to use two fishing poles on the lower Spokane River.
- · Close fisheries on a number of small coastal streams that drain into Washington’s ocean waters to protect juvenile anadromous fish.
- · Change the opening day of the lowland lake fishing season from the last Saturday in April to the fourth Saturday in April.
- · Limit sturgeon retention in Puget Sound, as well as its tributaries, to June 1-June 30 and Sept. 1-Oct.15. The new rule is designed to minimize impacts to Columbia River sturgeon that venture into Puget Sound to feed. Under the proposal, catch-and-release fishing will still be allowed year-round.
Summaries of those and other rule changes, as adopted, will be available on the department’s website athttp://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals/ by mid-February. Public comments on the proposed changes were taken by the commission during meetings in December and January.