Local fishers, take note — not just anyone can fish at Puyallup’s Bradley Lake anymore.
Due to rule changes enacted on July 1, fishing is now restricted to youth under the age of 15, seniors over 70 and disabled persons who possess a Designated Harvester Companion Card.
“From our perspective, (we) felt like maintaining a juvenile opportunity so they weren’t going to have to compete with everyone,” said Steve Thiesfeld, state Department of Fish & Wildlife inland fisheries program manager. “With Bradley Lake, we could either make it wide open to everybody year round to simplify, or we can make it only juvenile year round.”
Some were disappointed by the changes when they were announced on the Bradley Lake Park Facebook page.
“This is not fair at all. We’ve been fishing there a year and now we can’t … I have a disability card and yet my companion can’t go with me,” said one commenter.
Mike Silvers, a member of the Puget Sound Anglers South Sound Chapter, said the changes encourage the next generation of fishermen.
“They need these kids-only spots,” Silvers said. “They need something where a kid can get up and catch that first fish.”
Silvers has encouraged juvenile fishing for years and has been involved with the portable fishing pond at the Washington State Fair since the early 2000s. Last year, around 5,000 kids fished there, with 600 of them buying fishing poles.
“Even if it’s just a small percentage, it saves our sport,” Silvers said. “That gets them out (fishing) for the rest of their lives. These kids are our future.”
Having kids advocating for fishing and outdoor resources in the state Legislature will be important in the future, Silvers added.
The change in regulations at Bradley Lake was implemented after a years-long effort to simplify fishing regulations across the state. Part of that process was to make it easier for families to get out and fish.
“We were trying to make it easier for people to understand what the regulations were, and in doing so, we knew (that) in order to have simpler rules we’d have to give up something,” Thiesfeld said.
Having Bradley Lake open to all anglers was one of those things. Prior to the change, Bradley Lake was open year round to all fishers, aside from a one-month period between May and June, where it was only open to youth.
“(Bradley Lake) is in an urban environment where a kid can ride his bike down to the lake,” Thiesfield said.
There are currently 11 lakes in Western Washington that are only open to juveniles, seniors and disabled persons. Bradley Lake is one of three in Pierce County, including DeCoursey Pond in Puyallup and Wapato Lake in Tacoma.
Bradley Lake is stocked annually with hatchery rainbow trout, but black crappie, yellow perch, brown bullhead catfish and largemouth bass also are there. The best fishing opportunity is between March and May.
The daily limit for catching trout and largemouth bass at Bradley Lake is five per day. Black crappie, perch and catfish have no limit.
The penalty for those caught fishing without a license or outside of the designated regulations is usually between $75 to $100, depending on the local judge.
Anyone age 15 and over is required to have a fishing license. A Designated Harvester Companion Card is required for seniors to fish at Bradley Lake and can be obtained through the WDFW Licensing Division.
For more information, call 360-902-2464 or visit wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility.