Getting the word out on C&R / regs


Active Member
Now that the WDFW has voted statewide wild release down, there seems to be more we can do while we wait for them to come to their senses. I fished the Hoh this past weekend (I think the regs say that it's all wild C&R, no bait above the Oxbow campground and then FF only inside the park?), and I personally witnessed the following regulations infractions:

1) Two people killed wild steelhead in front of my face well inside the wild C&R section. Both proclaimed that they did not know the regs but then kept fishing after we floated by. Who knows how many fish they killed before they were done.
2) Three people were lobbing eggs in the selective gear section. All three proclaimed they did not know the regs.
3) Two boats were pulling plugs inside the national park where it is ff only.

When I have met wardens, I always come away with a positive impression. But let's be honest; they can't be anywhere, and if you believe these people at all, education seems to be a problem. So, as a concerned citizen, what can we do? Should we be helping with the "policing?" I know guides that call wardens on their cell phones when they see an infraction. Why aren't there more visible signs, announcements, etc. at major pulloffs like the mouth of the Sultan river boat launch? Should we be helping with that? Should we be handing out flyers? Using somebody's funds to send announcements to the list of people who have fishing licenses? What else can we do? I have seen occasional signs at places, but they are by no means ubiquitous.

It seems like this is especially important when major changes happen, like the 12/1 wild C&R on the Puget Sound rivers, but even on the Hoh where the regs have been in place for a few years this is a problem.
There's no easy answer to preventing unethical or illegal activities in the field. Even if there was mandatory education or training required to obtain a license and even if every rule change was mailed to those holding licenses, there would still be a percentage of those skirting the regs. The Eyes In The Woods Program ( is one possible option for anyone wanting to take an active role, however. Click on the link to "Training" and you'll see the next training session is March 2, 2002 in Lynwood. Granted this won't solve the problem, but its at least something we all can do to start.


Old Man

Just an Old Man
Why is it when people get their licenses,they seem to turn dumb at the rules of fishing. Each year when the new licenses come out I also pick up a copy of the regs and read them so I know what or where I am fishing. If everybody did that we would still have that problem. Because alot of people disreguard any rule or law that pertains to fishing. They seem to think that these laws don't pertain to them. I'll get off of my soap box now,thank's for listening. Jim S. :AA
I try to check out the WDFW's web site before I head out on a trip. But I find it confusing trying to find if something is open and to what. I think it would be helpful if they put the regulation book online in an "up to date" format rather than paging through the emergancy rule changes. I enjoy all types of fishing and shellfishing, and have caught myself fishing in areas I thought were open. Mailing everyone with changes would only increase the cost of our licenses and taxes. Posting at access is a good idea but I still wouldn't want to drive 100 miles only to find out I brought the wrong gear or it's closed.


New Member
We have such a lack of enforcement due to budget restraints that it is easier for the WDFW to close rivers and lakes down than it is to try to patrol them. This means we will see less opportunity for catch and release and the state will justify closing down those fishing opportunities when poaching and law breaking are so blatent, Too bad.


Active Member
He is what i would do. Create a bunch of flyers with the exact regulations printed on them. The WDFW will post these on a river when the regs change mid season but if they don't you could make your own. You could post them through your local fishing club or go guerilla and do it on your own (just make sure it isn't illegal to do so).

I would include the following elements:



Then the rules taken directly from The WDFW web site including river name, dates, sections of the river where rules are in place etc.

Then a picture drawing of a wild steelhead showing an intact adipose fin so people can identify the fish (should be able to find on WDFW website or in the regs book)

Then a phone number to report poachers .

Finally you could put the logo of your fishing club or if you wanted to be realy sneaky put the WDFW logo on it (make sure this is legal to use)

Put the flyers in ziplock freezer bags to keep dry and staple to trees near pull outs and popular fishing spots.
It has always amazed me that as I've fished many of the Selective and C&R waters in this state there isn't more obvious notification of the specific rules for that body of water. Two examples I can think of are Lone and Merrill. Every year I see people not playing by the rules at these lakes and when questioned they plead ignorance. If the state would simply post notification at the boat launch regarding the special regs. and a "Please consult Regulation Pamplet", I think some of the violators would be deterred. I know I can help out by informing the evil doers that they are breaking the rules, but I flyfish for relaxation and having to always be policeman on the water takes some of that away. I just think the state could do a little more.
Maybe the State F&W should find out how they do it in other states. I know when I fish in Montana and a river has "special" regs they are posted at all the put in/pull outs. Bull trout pictures are posted all over rivers to let people know they must release all bull trout and I've seen signs/notices regarding C&R on cuts over there.

This was one of my points on an earlier post regarding special regs for fly fishing only, catch and release and additional license fees to have more game wardens available to handle violators.

The more I think about it the more I believe that we can't count on anyone but ourselves to do this kind of stuff. It's logical for WDFW to step up enforcement in special reg areas or to make their rules more accessible, but it doesn't happen where I fish. I also agree with prior posts that many people do know the regs and choose to break them, but there have to be some people (10%? 20%?) who just are unaware.

Montana is definitely an example of a state that does far better on education than Washington does (at least where I've fished). The same was true in my previous life in New Hampshire; it seemed like every time I'd go fishing there would be new signage.

Earlier in this thread someone said that policing takes some of the fun out of the day, but what happened to me on Sunday (watching two people bash wild, bright steelhead with rocks) that prompted this posting felt far worse in my heart.