OLYMPIA – Coastal fishing will reopen on May 26.
The open marine areas include waters off Washington’s Pacific coast from the mouth of the Columbia River on the Washington-Oregon border north to Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula, as well as Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
In a news release Friday, May 22, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the reopening of Marine areas 1-3 for bottom fishing, shellfish, mussels, clams, oysters and others species in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.
Crabbing on the Columbia River is also set to resume under normal regulations on May 26.
Coastal razor clam digs will remain closed. The governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order prohibits large gatherings through May 31. Inslee’s office did not approve restarting clam digs, said Jon Snyder, Inslee’s senior policy advisor on outdoor recreation and economic development.
“Razor clam digs bring thousands of people to travel to the coastal counties from all over the state and constitute a gathering under the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order,” Snyder said. “This order has been extended to May 31, so razor clam digs and similar large gatherings are not allowed at this time.”
Halibut will also remain closed in these areas, due to port closures and concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in local communities.
Marine Area 4, Neah Bay, will remain closed to all recreational fishing and shellfish harvesting.
Clam, mussel and oyster harvest remains closed on Puget Sound beaches, marine areas 5-13.
The Makah and Quileute reservations, including marinas and all services, remain closed to visitors. Anglers should not attempt to access the ocean from these areas.
WDFW continues to communicate with public health experts, port commissioners and tribal co-managers regarding these opportunities in the future.
“We’ve continually said we will only open fisheries when local communities feel it is safe to do so, and with the full cooperation of public health officials,” said Larry Phillips, director of WDFW’s coastal region. “While not everything is reopening right away, this is a huge step toward returning to typical fishing seasons along the coast. Some of Washington’s best fishing takes place in the ocean, and we’re excited to see people getting back out there, even if the experience is somewhat different.”
Anglers should check ahead of time if their preferred destination or launch is open. Some local marinas or facilities – including tribal lands – remain closed, and anglers should be prepared to change plans if their first choice is closed or too congested.
Additional fishery closures may be implemented if anglers attempt to launch from closed access sites.
Anglers will also need to follow state guidelines by continuing to recreate in their local communities, traveling only with family or other members of their immediate household, and practicing physical distancing by keeping 6-feet apart.
“We’re reopening in consultation with local public health officials, and consistent with the governor’s phased approach,” Phillips said. “It’s extremely important that we all continue to do our part to keep ourselves and our communities safe and healthy.”