South Sound anglers will have a number of new rules to deal with this fishing season. The changes were approved by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission at its meeting earlier this month. The changes, most of which take effect May 1, will be in place through the 2012 fishing season.
Among the decisions affecting our waters:
• Marine areas 11 and 13 will be closed to the retention of rockfish. Area 11 covers from the northern tip of Vashon Island to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Area 13 is the Sound south of the bridge.
• The beginning date for wild steelhead retention seasons on coastal streams will change from Dec. 1 to Feb. 16. The change is designed to protect the early portion of the run.
• The commission rejected a proposal that would have made it unlawful to use bait while fishing for tiger muskies.
• Anglers will be required to release wild steelhead caught on the Green/Duwamish River. There was an exception for the Green because there were substantial numbers of unmarked non-native summer-run steelhead in the river. In recent years, catches of unmarked summer-run steelhead have declinted substantially.
• A night closure was imposed on Minter Creek during the salmon fishery taking place from the mouth to the fishing boundary markers about 50 feet downstream of the hatchery rack from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. The hope is the closure will reduce poaching.
• The daily kokanee limit on Alder Lake was set at 10 fish. The daily limit for other species of trout would remain at five. As part of a mitigation program, kokanee are stocked into Alder Lake. The bonus limit seeks to increase interest and participation.
• Capitol Lake will be open year-round. The rules would include catch and release for trout with selective gear rules for all species except that anglers may use bait and barbless hooks while fishing for salmon Sept. 1 to Oct. 15.
• Munn and Susan lakes will become a year-round catch-and-release fishery with selective gear rules. The state agreed, in part, because several of the local fly-fishing clubs verbally agreed to purchase fish to be stocked into the lake at various times during the year.
• There will be a change in the trout limit in American, Clear, Carney, Crescent, Kapowsin, Ohop, Rapjohn, Silver, Spanaway, Steilcoom and Tanwax lakes in Pierce County and Summit, Clear, Ward, Long, Pattison, Hicks, Deep, McIntosh, Black, St. Clair and Lawrence lakes in Thurston County. The daily limit will be five fish, no more than two over 14 inches may be kept, except no minimum size for kokanee. Among other decisions:
• The commission voted to keep the current Puget Sound Dungeness crab harvest schedule and daily bag limit. The commission opted to wait for a full review of the existing management policy before making a change. The review is scheduled to begin in March.
• A new rule requiring anglers to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River from the mouth of the river to McNary Dam does not take effect until Jan. 1.
To learn more
Summaries of the 2010-12 rule changes, as adopted, will be available at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/rule_ proposals.