Today marks the opening of rivers, streams and beaver ponds to fishing statewide.
Beaver ponds within specified stream systems follow the same rules as the streams unless otherwise noted. The current Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet will list all open streams and rivers. All unlisted rivers, streams and beaver ponds are closed.
In our area, the two locations hosting hatchery steelhead are the Wynooche River and the Humptulips River. The Wynooche has received the largest plant of smolt in anticipation of this year’s season. The Humptulips River, a favorite of many, got considerably less fish. Since steelhead migrate at a different pace than salmon, both these rivers should see steady migrational runs over the summer months.
June 9-10 is free fishing weekend throughout the state of Washington. What this means is that on these days, fishing licenses are not required to fish. However, catch record cards are required to fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, Puget Sound Dungeness crab and halibut. Free fishing days are valid for everyone. Anglers need to keep in mind that all other rules still apply. This includes seasons, area and lure or bait restrictions, and size and catch limits. Also, a vehicle access pass, Columbia River salmon/steelhead endorsement and two-pole endorsements are not required during this weekend. This event is open to both residents and non-residents of the state for participation.
In preparation for this free-fishing weekend, lakes in both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties will receive enhancement plants. Lake Sylvia will obtain 1,000 catchable rainbows, 250 jumbos and 300 triploids. Black Lake, in Pacific County, gets 1,000 catchable rainbows for this weekend of fishing.
As the summer gets into full swing, there are a few matters to bear in mind. Normally, your fishing license comes with a complimentary vehicle access pass that allows you to park on WDFW lands. If you fish or otherwise recreate on Washington Department of Natural Resources or Washington State park lands, you will need a Discovery Pass.
There are reduced fees available in the State of Washington for persons with a disability desiring to fish. Those persons who qualify for this reduction are veterans with a service-connected disability of 30 percent or more. Veterans who are 65 years of age or older with a service-connected disability also qualify. Residents who permanently use a wheelchair, who are blind or visually impaired, or who have a developmental disability also qualify for reduced fees.
There are some steps to be taken in this qualification process. One would need to gain a fishers disabilities status in order to qualify for a designated harvester companion card which enables a person to partake in special fishery programs. It also allows another licensed person to assist with fishing activities. Applications must be processed through a Department of Fish and Wildlife office.
Due to low salmon expectations, the ocean salmon fishery associated with Marine Area 2 (out of Westport) will start July 1. The ocean salmon fisheries out of Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay are the only June openers. They will open daily beginning June 23.
Anglers will need to seize the moment to take advantage of allotted fisheries this year.