Outdoor Briefs for Saturday, Aug. 16

Anglers can keep two Chinook off Westport beginning Monday

Starting Monday, anglers fishing in ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two Chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

With that change, anglers will be allowed to keep two Chinook per day in ocean waters off Westport (Marine Area 2), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4).

Those fishing Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will continue to be limited to one Chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days per week. Wild coho must be released in all four areas.

Ron Warren, fisheries policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife, said the previous daily limit of one Chinook off Westport was designed to ensure the fishery would remain open the entire season.

Ocean salmon fisheries are scheduled to continue through Sept. 30 in marine areas 1 and 2 and through Sept. 21 in marine areas 3 and 4. However, a portion of Marine Area 3 will reopen Sept. 27 through Oct. 12.

Fish &Wildlife seeks comments on 2015-17 hunting season

The Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife is seeking comments on proposed alternatives for 2015-17 hunting seasons, and has scheduled several meetings this month to discuss the proposals with the public.

The alternatives will be posted by Aug. 18 on Fish &Wildlife’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/, where people can also provide comments. The Game Management Plan and scoping criteria for the 2015-17 season-setting process is available on the website as well.

Fish &Wildlife is accepting comments on the alternatives through Sept. 20.

The department has also scheduled a series of public meetings in August to discuss the alternatives. The meetings will run from 7-9 p.m. and are scheduled for:

• Aug. 21 – Ellensburg: CWU Campus 400 E University Way, Ellensburg, Wellington’s Event Center.

• Aug. 26 – Everett: Holiday Inn Downtown, 3105 Pine St., Everett, Everett Ball Room 2.

• Aug. 27 – Tacoma: Pacific Grill Event Center, 1530 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, Chinook/Klickitat Conference Room.

• Aug. 28 – Vancouver: Heathman Lodge, 7801 NE Greenwood Dr., Vancouver, Pacific Ballroom.

Issues currently under consideration by the department for upcoming seasons include:

• Setting spring and fall black bear seasons.

• Early archery elk seasons.

• Modern firearm mule deer seasons.

• Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.

• Special permit drawings.

• Baiting big game.

Dave Ware, Fish &Wildlife game program manager, said comments received from the public will be used to develop specific recommendations for 2015-17 hunting seasons, which will be available for further review in January.

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish &Wildlife Commission for adoption next spring.

Fish &Wildlife extends comment period on proposed hydraulic rule updates

The public will have an extra month to comment on proposed changes to state’s Hydraulic Code rules, which regulate construction and other work in or near state waters to protect fish life.

Common projects requiring approval under the state’s hydraulic rules include work on bulkheads, culverts, piers and docks.

The Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife will now accept public comments through Sept. 15 on both the proposed rule changes and on an associated environmental impact statement.

Randi Thurston, Fish &Wildlife program manager, said the department agreed to extend the comment period to give the public more time to review both documents.

All related documents are available on Fish &Wildlife’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/hpa/rulemaking/, along with an email address for submitting comments. Written comments also can be addressed to Randi Thurston, WDFW Habitat Program, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Thurston said the changes proposed by Fish &Wildlife, the first comprehensive update since 1994, are designed to provide more protection for fish, streamline the permit process and ensure the code is consistent with other state laws.

The Washington Fish &Wildlife Commission, a citizen panel appointed by the Governor to set Fish &Wildlife policies, is expected to consider adoption of the updated rules later this year.

New smelt fishing regulations now in effect

State fisheries managers are reminding people of new recreational and commercial smelt fishing regulations now in effect for Puget Sound.

The new rules, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in June, provide greater protection for smelt, which serve as a food source for a variety of species in Puget Sound.

The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, adopted new regulations that:

• Close nighttime recreational dip net fishing. Recreational dip net fishing will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday through Tuesday. Jig gear can continue to be used seven days per week, 24 hours per day.

• Add a new 60,000-pound annual quota for the Puget Sound commercial smelt fishery.

• Reduce the commercial fishery by one day each week, allowing commercial fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday during seasonal openings in each area.

• Close inactive commercial smelt fisheries, including dip bag and purse seine.

For more details on the regulations, visit the department’s webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/smelt/.

Commission sets waterfowl seasons

With a record number of ducks counted on the northern breeding grounds this year, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved migratory waterfowl hunting seasons for this fall and winter during a public meeting in Olympia.

Under the waterfowl hunting package, most hunting opportunities in Washington will be similar to last year. That includes a statewide duck season that will be open for 107 days, starting Oct. 11-15 and continuing Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend also is scheduled Sept. 20-21.

Limits for mallard, pintail, scaup, redhead, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same as last season. But the commission reduced the daily bag limit for canvasback to one per day because of decreasing numbers throughout North America.

Goose hunting seasons will vary among management areas across the state, but most open mid-October and run through late January. Limits for most geese did not change, except the commission did increase the daily bag limit for cackling geese in southwest Washington from three to four.

The commission also increased the overall harvest quota for dusky Canada geese in southwest Washington from 45 to 85 birds.

The goose and duck hunting seasons approved by the commission are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines. According to those estimates, a record number of ducks – approximately 49 million – were on the breeding grounds this spring in Canada and the United States.


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