Fish & Feathers: Palix River rule defies common sense

Weather for clamming on Saturday was ideal, with a rosy sunset. The clams were a little hard to find and really deep.

Reading the Washington 2010/11 Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet can be both confusing and frustrating. 

Take, for example, the frustration of Observer outdoor reader Ron Spahman, who e-mailed me: “It is true that sportsmen are contributing to the economy, state and local agencies and the outdoor resource itself. It is sad, though, that we are regulated more and more and losing our outdoor freedom. Rules and regulations are being put into effect with little public discussion or disregard for public input. Sportsmen tax dollars should give us more access, not less ...” 

During a telephone call to Ron last year, he noted a regulation (page 58) that states internal-combustion motors are prohibited, and in this year’s pamphlet it says the same thing. Last year, he spoke to biologist Barbara McClannan, who told him that the outboard restriction for the Palix River on the east side of Willapa Bay was put in the regulations by mistake and could not be taken out until the new 2011/12 regulations came out. The restriction is being challenged by sportsmen because Willapa Bay and the Palix River have extreme tides and currents, and rowing and electric are not an option.

Earlier this week, I pulled up the WDFW website and went to “water access sites,” specifically the Palix River, and it says that a concrete boat launch is available and that motorized boats are allowed. Confused yet? 

I then called the Regional Contact Information Office in Montesano, and spoke to a very informative individual who I will not identify. We talked about the confusion and he told me that the office had received many calls from individuals and that WDFW was unaware of the interest in that particular area. He told me that the “rules in the book” would not be addressed until the 2012 season, but they were going to change.

The bottom line is that if you are duck hunting, you can use a gas-motored engine on your boat to travel the river and hunt from it (as always). If you are fishing, you may use he motorized boat to travel up and down the river, but you must beach the boat and fish from the stream bank. This issue is supposed to be resolved in the near future, but that’s the latest.


Opposition to the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge Draft Alternatives 2 and 3

If you are opposed to the plans that will flood the south end of the refuge, making it more difficult to access duck and goose hunting areas including duck blinds of the Riekkola Unit, it’s time to step up and make your feelings known. It’s not only about hunters, it encompasses issues regarding the future of the dusky goose, timber revenue, the Cranberry Growers Association, changing a freshwater habitat into a saltwater tidal habitat, and endangering the lives of individuals on the tidal flats. Send your written support for Alternative #1 to: Charlie Stenvall (Project Leader) Willapa National Wildlife Refuge; 3888 SR 101, Ilwaco, WA 98624. 

Ron Malast can be reached at 665-3573 or


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