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Old 10-28-2016, 01:30 AM   #1
Badfish66
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Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Hi my name is Tom Hafford and I'm new to posting on forums in general and this is my first post on here so if I am violating any protocols along the way please educate me. I'm new to spearfishing but not new to diving or snorkeling or fishing. The biggest reason I'm new to spearfishing is that I have lived in the Portland/Vancouver vicinity for nearly 30 years and there isn't a lot of opportunity close by. I thought the same went for diving and it's true to an extent but I decided to get certified before a Hawaii trip several years ago and have since found that there is a lot of interesting diving (scuba and freediving) locally and in fresh water. I've also been travelling more in recent years so I decided on my last trip to Hawaii to get some spearfishing gear.
As anyone in Washington knows there is only one fish we can legally spear in fresh water and that is the common carp and while I tried eating one once I wouldn't recommend it or do it again unless I was really hungry. Recently I have been doing more scuba and freediving on the Columbia and tributaries and what I have found to my surprise was a LOT of smallmouth bass. The Washougal river, which was once a premier salmon and steelhead river has more resident smallmouth in the lower stretches most times of the year than the latter species....and some big ones too. The other thing that came to my attention was that Washington State followed Oregon's lead and did away with catch and size limits on bass, channel catfish, and walleye on the Columbia and it's tributaries up to Chief Joseph Dam.
The reason for this rule change is pretty obvious, these fish are non-native species that have an impact on native ES listed salmon and steelhead stocks. What is amazing is that it has taken them this long to do it. Not really though, when you consider how political the regulation of fish stocks is in Washington and Oregon. The bass and walleye fisherman are a pretty strong lobby group. That being said, the hard part seems to have been done already with the doing away with size and catch limits and it seems the next logical step is to push for spearfishing of those species in the same waters that these changes were made while the momentum is going the right way. Carp are nice to practice on but who wouldn't rather eat a walleye or the occasional smallmouth and do the salmon and steelhead smolts a favor by clearing the gauntlet they have to migrate through a little bit? So, my question is this.....who's with me? The next rule changes for fresh water are a little less than 3 years away I believe so that would give us some time to formulate a plan of action and introduce the proposal. I already talked to people at WDFW and they were very receptive to the idea and thought it made sense. I'd like to to get some feedback and listen to any good ideas any of you might have.
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Old 10-28-2016, 03:44 PM   #2
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Walleye + bass groups = more political trump than all spearfishing groups combined.

Probably your biggest issue.

Your second biggest issue is the stigmas associated with spearfishing and the fact that management is political. There used to be funding for biologists to at least assist in the making of these decisions. Many times now there is not.

We've defunded parks and resource management to a skeletal point in many places - and that means that politicians will make decisions without any real input - other than those previously mentioned lobby groups.

Good luck with all of this. I've often thought that the freshwater side of this hobby is even more underappreciated than the saltwater side of things.
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Old 10-28-2016, 07:41 PM   #3
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Tom, I think that it is a great idea. I live in central Oregon, but my son lives in Washougal where you are at, so I do get up there. What's next?
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:37 AM   #4
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

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Originally Posted by kingfisherflesh View Post
Walleye + bass groups = more political trump than all spearfishing groups combined.

Probably your biggest issue.

Your second biggest issue is the stigmas associated with spearfishing and the fact that management is political. There used to be funding for biologists to at least assist in the making of these decisions. Many times now there is not.

We've defunded parks and resource management to a skeletal point in many places - and that means that politicians will make decisions without any real input - other than those previously mentioned lobby groups.

Good luck with all of this. I've often thought that the freshwater side of this hobby is even more underappreciated than the saltwater side of things.
Very good points you make. One thing we have going for us here that you don't in Wisconsin though is the salmon factor. As strong as the bass and walleye lobby is they still take a back seat to salmon in this part of the country. There were two proposed rule changes that were submitted for public comment and the WDFW ended up going with the least conservative proposal despite the outrage from the bass and walleye fisherman. As far as the spearfishing stigma I don't think that is necessarily a big issue here. Of course if you suggested spearing salmon you would be run out of town on a rail but in this scenario our interests are actually aligned with sport, commercial and tribal salmon fishermen. Those three groups have a hard time agreeing on anything but I don't see any objecting to this and I don't see a reason why they wouldn't actually support it. We are helping salmon by taking larger walleye and bass. Every salmon saved by taking a walleye or bass out is one more potential salmon for these 3 groups who together have way more political clout than bass and walleye groups in this part of the country. Also, from a rational point of view it is hard to argue that bass and walleye should be protected at all when there is a $5 bounty paid on the Norther Pike Minnow, which is a native to the Columbia River system. You could probably argue that in addition to no size or bag limits that you shouldn't need a license to fish or spear them. But, of course then you would have the WDFW against it because of the revenue they would lose so I'm fine with it the way it is.
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:52 AM   #5
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Hey Max, the next step for me is to phone up WDFW again. I talked to someone there a while back who thought it was a great idea but they said the person who was in charge of rule change proposals had left the position for whatever reason and that their replacement would be starting in a month. It's probably been that long so I'll call next week to follow up. I'm not real familiar with how the process works yet so that's part of the reason I wanted to see if anyone on here had any experience or ideas. Oregon and Washington manage the Columbia together where they share borders with it which is why WDFW adopted the no size limit no bag limit rule. So, it was actually Oregon that got the ball rolling on that one. It might be a really good idea for someone like yourself or another Oregonian who has interest in this to make some inquiries with ODFW. Also, might not be a bad idea to contact some salmon advocate groups and possibly the tribes to try to find some allies. I think talking to the person I mentioned at WDFW will give me some more info to go on at least.
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:55 AM   #6
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Great. I will call ODFW next week to see what they have to say.
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Old 10-29-2016, 10:37 AM   #7
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Max, we already did some preliminary work on this but it was going to be a pretty long time before our proposal could be presented. I'll forward you the email I sent to one of the biologists. Would be good if you can check in with him to get an update on timeline and so he sees there is some interest from others besides me.
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Old 10-29-2016, 12:39 PM   #8
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

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Max, we already did some preliminary work on this but it was going to be a pretty long time before our proposal could be presented. I'll forward you the email I sent to one of the biologists. Would be good if you can check in with him to get an update on timeline and so he sees there is some interest from others besides me.
Thank you Ian. I got your email. It was very helpful. I will reference you and it when I talk to him.
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Old 10-30-2016, 03:07 PM   #9
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Tombadfish, There was an attempt a while back to persuade/propose freshwater rules to ODFW. your energy is welcome to restore momentum. search in fb on 'oregon spearos association' It's a private facebook group, the spearos in it had already expressed interest, so you could find some allies, including me. there was even a draft memo v2 to OFDW written I'll send you. glad to help.
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Old 10-30-2016, 06:06 PM   #10
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Awesome, sounds great Leigh. I will check it out.
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Old 11-03-2016, 03:35 PM   #11
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Badfish66 (what's your real name please?), we met a year or two ago at my house in Portland and had a productive round table about this that is reflected in Ian's document. I'm happy to host again. Thanks for kicking this ball.
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:28 PM   #12
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Tom Hafford = Badfish

I'm up for a meeting. yes, thanks to Tom for resurrecting this effort.
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Old 11-04-2016, 11:58 PM   #13
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Hey everyone, I had hoped to talk to somebody at WDFW this week but ended up in Seattle a couple days for work and never got a chance. I should get some time next week .It sounds like most of you guys are in Oregon but that's fine because when it comes to the Columbia River system the states manage them jointly. If we can make headway in one state it will help in the other. It's really encouraging to hear others interested in this also. I like the round table idea.
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Old 11-05-2016, 12:05 AM   #14
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

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Originally Posted by No I'm Josh View Post
Badfish66 (what's your real name please?), we met a year or two ago at my house in Portland and had a productive round table about this that is reflected in Ian's document. I'm happy to host again. Thanks for kicking this ball.
Hey Josh, it wasn't me but I like the idea of getting together with some like minded individuals. Bouncing ideas around is always good.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:00 AM   #15
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Re: Potential for new fresh water opportunities in Washington and Oregon

Good luck on this guys, sounds like a win win for everyone. We have made alot of progress here in Utah with freshwater spearfishing it takes time and if you guys have wildlife board meetings with public input I strongly recommend going to those and expressing your opinions and wants. With a $5.00 bounty hopefully you can spear pike minnows too.
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