Recreational anglers will have to follow more than two dozen new fishing rules for the Columbia River, its tributaries and lakes within the basin in the upcoming season.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved 31 rule changes at its public meeting Jan. 9-10 in Tumwater.
The changes include fishing seasons and daily catch limits. They include:
• Implementing additional conservation measures in the Columbia River basin, such as fishing closures at numerous small natal streams and selective gear rules in some waters. These are intended to provide greater protection for wild salmon and steelhead.
• Requiring catch-and-release fishing for trout from the first Saturday in June through Oct. 31 on the Naches River from Rattlesnake Creek upstream.
• Prohibiting retention of sturgeon on the Snake River and its tributaries. Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing would be maintained.
• Adjusting size and daily catch limits for kokanee in Cle Elum Lake, while removing daily limits for eastern brook, brown, and lake trout.
The commission opted, however, to reject a proposal that would have changed open dates for most year-round lakes to March 1 through Oct. 31 in Asotin, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.
Summaries of all the approved changes will be available by late this month at wdfw.wa.gov/
In other business, the commission discussed updates to draft options for a new policy to address conservation and fishery objectives for Willapa Bay salmon fisheries. The commission is seeking public comments on the draft options through Jan. 29.
The public can review and comment on the revised draft policy options online at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation. The commission is scheduled to hold another public hearing on draft policy options during its February meeting.
The commission also elected Brad Smith of Bellingham the new chairman and Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon as vice-chairman, both positions running through December. Smith has been on the commission since June 2009 and has been vice-chairman since 2013. He replaces Miranda Wecker as head of the nine-member commission. Carpenter joined the commission in December 2011. The commission also has two vacant Eastern Washington positions.