At the end of this month, big changes will occur in our current inland fishing season as it pertains to Grays Harbor. For starters, most of our rivers will close to fishing for the season on the March 31, with the exception being the Chehalis River. Sections of the Chehalis will remain open until April 15 for steelhead.
On the other hand, it will remain open to the end of April for sturgeon. The sturgeon fishing kicks in and offers anglers the opportunity to fish 24 hours a day. However, at this present time, the sturgeon season is limited to a catch and release fishery.
The next big thing that occurs at this time of the year is the need for a new fishing license as of April 1. Even though some seasons extend into April, a new license is mandatory.
Anglers will have until April 30 to return their catch and release record cards. The catch record card is an important management tool for estimating the recreational catch of sturgeon, steelhead, salmon, halibut and Puget Sound Dungeness Crab. These cards must be in your possession to fish for these species. At this time in the season, the Department of Fish &Wildlife requires that these cards be returned, even if nothing is caught or you did not fish.
Because different combinations are offered by the Department of Fisheries, anglers will need to ascertain their fishing scope before purchasing a license. By doing so, there is a cost savings. If someone changes their mind later in the season and wishes to add a certain fishery, it can easily be done without affecting the license which has already been purchased.
Whereas the hatchery steelhead season has largely “dried up,” anglers in pursuit of this species can do so with certain restrictions. The Fish &Wildlife provide anglers with the opportunity of taking one wild steelhead per year on select rivers. This provision is known as the Wild Steelhead Rule. Again, it allows one wild steelhead per license year to be retained from one of the following rivers: Bogacheil, Calawah, Clearwater, Dickey, Hoh, Quillayute, Quinault or Sol Duc as listed in the special rules. These waters must be legal to fish before a fish may be retained.
Most anglers pursuing wild steelhead in the above mentioned rivers are primarily catch and release anglers. The idea of retaining a wild fish is not heavily on their minds. If a fisher wishes to obtain a wild mount, they simply take measurements and a taxidermist will build a fish from these specifications.
So, it is definitely a time of transition which means big changes on the fishing scene. These changes include closures, license matters and added rule changes.
Some anglers have a need to keep their line wet. Fortunately, a couple of our lakes, namely Duck Lake and Lake Sylvia, are year-round fisheries. The Department of Fisheries announced that Vance Creek Pond No. 1 will open to limited fishing for spring break. It will be open March 30 through April 7 to trout and other game fish and may only be fished by juveniles, seniors over 70 and anglers with a disability who possess a designated harvester companion card.