As of Monday, Feb. 17, anglers on 77 lakes, as well as rivers, streams, and beaver ponds across Washington including Damon and Wynoochee Lakes in Grays Harbor County are allowed to keep more bass, walleye, and channel catfish as part of their daily limit under new permanent rules approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission late last year.
The rules, approved at the Commission’s December meeting in Bellingham, were the result of legislation passed in 2019 by the Washington State Legislature and intended to help aid the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population by reducing the risk of predation on salmon smolts by these warm-water species.
These measures were implemented in part to help meet the recommendations of the governors Southern Resident Orca Task Force, and we presented commissioners with a range of options to choose from, said Steve Caromile, inland fish program manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). We believe we landed on a set of rules that address those recommendations, while still allowing for robust fishing opportunities for these popular species.
The following changes to size and daily limits went into effect Monday in 77 lakes around the state:
- Largemouth bass: Change from 5 to a 10-fish daily limit; only one fish may be over 17 inches.
- Smallmouth bass: Change from 10 to a 15-fish daily limit; only one fish may be over 14 inches.
- Channel catfish: Change from 5 to a 10-fish daily limit. No minimum size.
- Walleye: Change from 8 to a 16-fish daily limit; only one fish may be over 22 inches.
Additionally, all size restrictions and daily limits for these species are lifted in rivers, streams, and beaver ponds statewide. You can find a list of all affected lakes online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-02/2shb1579-lake-list.pdf
Several other freshwater rule changes also went into effect Monday, including:
- Restoring a year-round fishing season on the portion of the Colville River that extends from the mouth upstream to the bridge at the town of Valley.
- Implementing a permanent fishing closure in the upper Green (Duwamish) River in the Tacoma Municipal Watershed from the Tacoma Municipal Watershed Boundary Marker (approximately 1.3 miles downstream of the Tacoma Headworks Dam) to the Friday Creek confluence.
- Removing eastern brook trout from the trout daily limit in Patterson Lake (Okanogan County), removing the daily limit of lake trout in Lake Chelan, and removing trout and cutthroat special size restrictions on Black Lake (Thurston County).
- As is the case with trout, kokanee caught with bait will count toward the daily limit whether kept or released.
For more information on all of these rules, view the rule filings at WDFWs rule-making webpage at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regulations/2020#19-13-052.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.