Agency seeks comments on proposed Columbia River basin fishing rules

The public can comment on proposed sportfishing rules for the Columbia River Basin though Oct. 16.

The rule proposals pertain only to the mainstem Columbia River, its tributaries and lakes within the basin. The proposals cover fishing seasons, daily limits and other rules for the river basin, according to a news release from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

While the department’s fishery managers are holding meetings on the proposals, some have already taken place and others are not easily reached by South Sound residents. The easiest way to comment will be online.

Fishery managers have recommended 32 of the proposals submitted by the public in May move forward for additional review. The agency’s webpage on the Columbia River has more information about the proposals as well as those not recommended for further consideration.

Among the proposals recommended by department managers:

• Close all rivers, streams and beaver ponds in the Columbia River Basin to fishing unless otherwise stated in the rules pamphlet, and implement additional conservation measures to provide greater protection for juvenile anadromous fish.

• Change open dates for most year-round lakes to March 1-Oct. 31 for lakes in Asotin, Franklin, Kittitas, Yakima and Walla Walla counties.

• Eliminate the retention of sturgeon on the Snake River and its tributaries. Catch-and-release sturgeon fishing would be maintained.

• Adjust size and daily catch limits for kokanee in Cle Elum Lake, while removing daily limits for eastern brook, brown and lake trout.

• Allow the use of barbed hooks from the first Saturday in June through July 31 in the South Fork Toutle, Green and Elochoman rivers, when only hatchery summer steelhead are available for harvest.

• Reduce the daily bag limit of kokanee to 10 fish on Kachess and Keechelus lakes.

The public also can testify on the proposed rule changes during the state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Nov. 7-8 in Olympia. Check the commission's website at wdfw.wa.gov/commissionfor details on the meeting.

The commission, which sets policy for the department, is scheduled to vote on the proposals during a meeting in December.