Wednesday, September 9, 2015

An update from Tom....

Tom Wolf - OCTU Executive Director
Tom Wolf - our legislative insider - keeps busy in the off-season not only fishing remote waters in wilderness areas but following developments within the state. Included in that is tracking some of the ODFW activities. This past week the commission voted on the 2016 State Fishing Regulations in Seaside - Tom was there and forwarded his thoughts to the TU members:

I attended the ODFW Commission hearing in Seaside yesterday. The main subject was the proposed ODFW 2016 simplified fishing regulations, designed to make regulations easier to understand and more consistent.

The good news is that the Commission supported the ODFW staff recommendations that included the Metolius upper river closed season, 2 trout slot limit on Deschutes and catch and Release only on Seven Mile creek in Klamath basin. They also opened bag limits on non-native fish like brown trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass, etc. This shows an ODFW commitment to protecting Oregon's native trout and salmon. The exception to this is that the Owyhee river catch and release on brown trout stays the same and the brown trout trophy trout limits on Central Oregon lakes remain.

 It also makes the Crooked River an artificial only year round fishery and protects some other fisheries by removing bait. The new regs also open the west side Willamette tribs to year round fishing - allowing people to fish on these streams for the fluvial cutthroat that dwell there.

 All in all, the new regulations, which go into effect in 2016, are fairly conservation minded. There are two 2 items with which TU has a point of contention with:

  • Bait will be allowed on NE streams like Wallowa and Grande Ronde; even if all wild trout must be released, allowing bait increases mortality on catch and release trout.
  • All of the SE Oregon streams should be catch and release to protect native redbands, not just a portion of them as currently recommended.
These will be two issues I will continue to push in my communications with ODFW Commissioners.

Also, yesterday, the ODFW Commission approved the new proposed Oregon Conservation Strategy and the Oregon Nearshore Strategy proposed 10 year updates. Both updated plans have more protection for wild fish, the Conservation Strategy for eastside inland redband trout and Nearshore for salmon and trout in estuaries. As a member of Conservation Strategy Advisory group, I am pleased that ODFW listened to comments on protecting wild native fish in the plans.

Lastly, the 2 new ODFW Commissioners, Bruce Buckmaster and Jason Atkinson, have both provided good energy, thoughtful comments and sage wisdom in their brief time on the Commission. Jason in particular helped make Sevenmile catch and release and they both were big supporters of keeping the Deschutes slot limit and protecting the upper Metolius.

They are both great additions to ODFW Commission.

Tom Wolf, Executive Director
Oregon Council Trout Unlimited

Thanks for the update Tom - and the efforts you provide on behalf of TU and Oregon!