Anglers have until Oct. 2 to comment on proposed changes to the state's sportfishing rules for the 2011-12 seasons.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has proposed a number of minor rule changes, but several would affect waters in Pierce and Thurston counties.
Among the rules under consideration:
• Closing recreational fishing in fresh and saltwater statewide for Columbia River smelt, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Recreational fishing for smelt is already closed on the Columbia River and its tributaries.
Further protection is needed, however, because Columbia River smelt are found in other river systems.
• Re-opening fisheries for game fish on the Black River and its tributaries, the Upper Nisqually and South Fork Stillaguamish rivers and on Minter and Purdy creeks. These fisheries were inadvertently included in a package of stream closures earlier this year.
• Change the game fish season on the lower Deschutes River from old U.S. 99 Bridge near Tumwater to Henderson Boulevard Bridge near Pioneer Park to year-round and add selective-gear rules.
This section of the river should have the same season as the section of the river above the Henderson Boulevard Bridge.
• Change the opening date for Clover Creek in Pierce County upstream of Steilacoom Lake, including all tributaries, from July 2 to July 1. This proposal would correct a typographical error in the code.
• Removing Riffe Lake from the list of waters where a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement is required.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission, which sets policy for the department, is scheduled to act on the rules package during its Dec. 2-4 meeting in Olympia.
As a cost-saving measure, the department last year changed the process for considering sportfishing rule proposals to a two-year cycle, rather than a yearly basis. The next chance to propose major rule changes will be next year for the 2012-14 season, Craig Burley, fish management division manager, said in a news release.
But because of conservation concerns for smelt and the need for several minor adjustments to fisheries, WDFW is proposing a small number of changes for 2011-12, Burley said.
The rule proposals, which would affect various recreational fisheries around the state, are available at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/rule_proposals. Printed copies of the proposals are available by contacting the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fish Program at 360-902-2700.
Comments can be sent to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501, or by e-mail to Lori.Preuss@dfw.wa.gov.
In addition, the public can provide testimony and written comments at the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Oct. 1-2 meeting in Olympia. Check wdfw.wa.gov/commission for the specific day and time.