SALEM -- Anglers will have a final opportunity to comment on the proposed 2009-2012 angling regulations at the next meeting of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008 in Forest Grove.
At that meeting, the Commission will formally adopt or decline to adopt each of the nearly 350 angling regulation changes that were proposed by members of the public or ODFW staff.
Of particular interest are seven proposals originally recommended for no further consideration, but that will now received additional explanation and consideration at the request of Commission members, said Rhine Messmer, ODFW recreational fisheries program manager.
“We want to make sure members of the angling community know that these proposals are being reconsidered and that there’s still an opportunity for public comment,” he said.
Perhaps the most contentious proposal, labeled 132P, would restrict trout angling to catch-and-release only for unmarked trout in all rivers and streams in the Northwest and Southwest Zones. It also would prohibit the use of bait while trout fishing. Currently, rivers north of the Salmon River in the Northwest Zone are restricted to catch-and-release by Zone Regulations.
Sponsors of the proposed rule argue it will help protect sea-run cutthroat trout.
However, ODFW has opposed this regulation change as biologically unnecessary, and because it would significantly limit dispersed trout fishing opportunities and eliminate opportunities to retain resident cutthroat, rainbow and even introduced brook trout.
“Our biologists have said the cutthroat trout populations in coastal streams and rivers are healthy and can sustain limited harvest,” Messmer said. “Narrowing opportunity on these rivers is counter to ODFW goals to increase fishing opportunities, especially for young or novice anglers.”
Messmer said coastal rivers and streams are great “entry-level” fisheries, and that being able to keep a fish is important to many new anglers, especially youth.
The Commission decided to reconsider the proposal, in part, because of vocal support at the August Commission meeting. Several people testifying supported the proposal as a way to minimize the negative impacts of angling on wild fish.
ODFW conducts a major review of the state’s angling regulations every four years. This year 342 proposed changes were considered. Based on actions by the Angling Regulations Review Board, the level of public support and staff recommendations, all proposed regulation changes were presented to the commission in one of three categories:
Category A recommended for adoption by the Commission; Category C recommended for no further consideration; and Category B recommended for further discussion and consideration.
There were 53 Category B proposals originally scheduled for consideration in September. At its August meeting the Commission moved seven additional proposals from Category C into Category B.
Other proposed changes that received new life at the Commission meeting include proposals that would:
- keep the fishery at Cole Rivers Hatchery on the Rogue River open until 8 p.m. from April 15 to July 31. The fishery currently closes at 7 p.m. from April 1 to July 31.
- eliminate the winter catch-and-release fishery on the Upper McKenzie River, and add additional bait restrictions.
- create a new Section 1 and 2 on the Lower McKenzie River,. Section 1 Mouth to Hendricks Bridge would be open all year to catch and release trout angling with artificial flies and lures and allow harvest of fin-clipped trout. Section 2 Hendricks Bridge to Leaburg d=Dam would be open Jan. 1 – April 25, catch and release for trout and restricted to artificial flies and lures. From April 26 – Dec. 31 anglers can retain 5 adipose fin-clipped trout per day and use of bait is allowed.
- move the angling deadline on the Molalla River downstream to Pine Creek Bridge. It would allow the use of bait May 15- July 15, and require single barbless hooks year round for steelhead and salmon anglers. It also would restrict trout anglers to catch-and-release with the use of bait not allowed.
- eliminate the harvest of redband trout on Agency Lake. Currently there is a one fish per day rule.
- eliminate harvest of redband trout on Sections 1, 2 and 3 the Lower Williamson River. There are currently specific harvest seasons on the Williamson, and only one fish per day.
A complete list of other Category B proposals by Zone that will be considered at the September Commission meeting can be found on the ODFW website http://www.dfw.state.or.us/agency/commission/minutes/08/08_august/
Members of the public can send comments on the proposed rule changes to Rhine Messmer, angling regulation coordinator, ODFW, 3406 Cherry avenue NE, Salem OR 97303 or email at Rhine.T.Messmer@state.or.us. The Commission also will hear additional public testimony at the September meeting.