The first weekend in June is dedicated by rule to fishing without fishing licenses in Washington. It's this state's nod to the Free Fishing Weekend observance, a nationwide recognition and celebration of recreational fishing.
So come Saturday and Sunday, June 7-8, you also won't need such fee-bearing documents as a Discover Pass, WDFW vehicle access pass, two-pole endorsement or Columbia River Steelhead and salmon endorsement to enjoy the rich variety of angling venues the Evergreen State has to offer either.
Parents and guardians can, without the expense of paying fees, test the waters of perhaps what might become a new found and lifelong family or younger generation pastime in this generous opportunity created especially for families.
Salmon and steelhead in selected marine and fresh waters; lingcod and cabezon in the saltchuck; rainbows, kokanee and smallmouth in many lakes; eastern brook and other fish in streams and shellfish (clams, oysters, crab in selected areas and shrimp in selected areas) can be caught or gathered and nary an angling permit or endorsement is required.
As indicated, anglers may fish many Central and South Washington waters without special authorization and may legally use two fishing poles on a host of east- and westside lakes where two-fisted fishing is legal but controlled the other 363 days of the year.
But while the hook and line angling or shellfish gathering may be free of basic charge, the need to abide by the rest of the fishing rules continues to apply.
Remaining in effect are all fishing regulations including key ones establishing:
- Daily bag limits for various fish and shellfish species.
- Minimum and slot size limits for keeper fish and shellfish.
- Waters closed for the taking of certain species.
Non-paying anglers also are still required to record and report their catches of any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut that are otherwise legal for them to keep. For timely use on the Free Fishing Weekend, these catch record card documents must be obtained from a fishing license dealer for all anglers regardless of age.
So the first order of business for neophytes should be to get a hard copy of the Fish Washington 2014-2015 sport-fishing rules pamphlet that is available at the counters of any fishing and hunting license dealer.
Be sure to read them thoroughly (both the introductory definitions and general rules on pages 10-20) and carefully for special rules (pages 23-125) that may govern the specific stream, lake or marine area you intend to fish.
If you find a crabbing, shrimping or shellfish opportunity open to you, check for those governing rules on pages 126-136.
You can also view or download the regulations booklet to your computer or hand-held device from wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01590/wdfw01590.pdf.
If you're looking for a place to wet a line, you'll find hundreds of suggested places to fish for various finny quarry as well as commonly successful tactics and gear at: http://wdfw. wa.gov/fishing/washington/.
Locally, Fazon Lake is good for bluegill sunfish, Lake Samish is quite good for kokanee, Lake Padden has hatchery rainbow trout and eastern brook trout may be caught in streams and small lakes in the upper North Fork Nooksack above Nooksack Falls.
Options in the saltwater are somewhat more limited but you may fish for lingcod, dig clams and pot shrimp in selected locales on or along the briny. Salmon are off limits in marine area 7 as are Dungeness crab but if you travel to South Puget Sound both may be sought.
Sled-borne anglers and other river riders should warm to the state's effort, now underway, to add a trailered-boat launch ramp on the main Nooksack at the Degroot Access.
Though it is not yet a done deal, the fish and wildlife department has approved a conceptual plan and is seeking money for revamping its river access property along the south river bank on the west side of State Route 539, the Guide Meridian, said Russell Link, Regional Wildlife Program Manager.
This summer the department is seeking a grant request to Washington's Recreation and Conservation Office that will enable the agency to complete the design and blueprints, then in 2015 or 2016, depending on the in-river work window, it will construct the ramp and other improvements to the site, said Link.
Plans call for a complete renovation of the facility including a new toilet, enlarging the parking area, a new maneuvering area and the all-important ramp down to the water, said Link.
The original smaller acreage at Degroot, which had no boating facility, was increased when the Guide was widened to four lanes and a second bridge was built over the river in 2008, making the ramp feasible.
Completion of a launch at Degroot that will handle bigger trailered boats would give anglers three public mainstem Nooksack access point:
- Ferndale, river mile 5.8.
- Degroot, river mile 15.3.
- Nugent's Corner, river mile 30.8.
In the competition for grant money, the department is seeking letters of support for the Degroot project that can be sent in care of Russell Link, 16018 Mill Creek Boulevard, Mill Creek WA, 98012-1541.