HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) may not always get high grades for its management expertise, but it certainly should for its continuing efforts to provide outdoor activities for Washington sportsmen.
Presently, salmon fishing and winter steelheading are the main attractions for a majority of local anglers, while for others, the big draw is fishing for crabs in marine areas of Puget Sound open to crabbing. Later this month, another clam digging opportunity is tentatively scheduled Dec. 28, 29, 30 and 31during evening tides at several coastal beaches. Additional digs will be announced for 2013.
Joe Hymer, supervisory fish biologist for Pacific States Marine Fishery, said “Despite recent high water, the first jag of winter steelhead was on the bite and so long as rivers don’t rise too high or fall to low, we could be looking at a darn good fishery this year.”
In one recent week, 421 coho adults, 69 jacks, 63 winter steelhead, 37 cutthroat trout, 16 summer steelhead, three fall chino and one jack were recovered at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. Also, 173 coho adults, 24 jacks, three fall chinook and one winter steelhead were released into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton. Also, night closure and anti-snagging rules have been lifted from Mill Creek to barrier dam.
Waterfowl hunting is in full swing with success rates expected to steadily improve throughout the month, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. Waterfowl hunters have through Jan. 27 to hunt ducks and geese. Big-game hunting is also under way in several areas. Archers have through Dec. 15 to hunt deer in Game Management Unit (GMU) 466 and 460, and through December 31 in GMU 407, 410 and 454. Hunting for forest grouse ends December 31.
Master Hunter permits closed
The WDFW has frozen enrollment in the Master Hunter Permit Program. Sgt. Carl Klein, WDFW program manger, said with the current enrollment nearing 2,000 hunters, the department needs time to absorb an increase of nearly 30 percent more certified master hunters over the past four years and clearly define the program’s role.
Mike Britton, chairman of the department’s Master Hunter Advisory Group, said he supports the department’s review of the program.
There is an urgent need for the department to identify priority volunteer needs and to actively engage master hunters in meaningful work. To maintain certification, master hunters are required to participate in volunteer projects ranging from maintaining elk fences to restore wildlife habitat. WDFW also calls upon master hunters to participate in hunts to remove problem animals that damage property or threaten public safety.
Be heard on fishing rules
WDFW has extended the public-comment deadline on proposed state sport fishing rules. Under the new timeline, the department will accept written comments through Jan. 29, 2013 on the proposed regulations.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission postponed a public hearing on the proposals until its February meeting in Olympia. The commission is scheduled to take action on the proposed rule changes during its March meeting in Moses Lake.
To review and comment on the proposed rules, visit the department’s web site. Printed copies and comment forms are available by contacting the WDFW’s Fish Program at (360) 902-2672.