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ODFW Did What WDFW Should Have Done by Lucas Holmgren

As of Friday April 10 at 11:59 PM it is illegal for non-residents to fish in Oregon state, barring those who have lived there for 6 months without establishing residency.

On the other side of the Columbia River, Washington State is closed down to all fishing - regardless of when and where. Private, public land - it's all closed until at least May 4th.

During the spread of Covid-19 and the subsequent "Social Distancing" measures, a massive change in lifestyle has become the norm for states all around the country. Many restrictions and closures of specific areas (State Parks, County Parks etc.) are in effect.

oregon clackamas river steelhead

A Clackamas River Steelhead caught by a Washington Resident in Late-March

Washington State, under the pressure of Jay Inslee, is the only state in the Union with a statewide ban.

Although Washington anglers, who purchased Oregon fishing licenses are unhappy with the restriction on traveling to Oregon and fishing, it does make sense from a standpoint of protecting the ability of Oregonians to fish.

Washington really should have taken that same approach.

Rural Oregon communities, who have low populations but great fishing, were reporting lots of out-of-town traffic from Washington residents looking to get into some fish during this time of uncertainty and closure. 

The Statewide Closure of fishing in Washington has put added pressure on Oregon, which would not have been an issue if WDFW had ordered a more "restricted" fishing opportunity.

Currently as it stands - here is the order:

Fishing and shellfishing seasons: All recreational fishing and shellfishing is closed until at least May 4 statewide in response to the governor’s order to "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" and limit the spread of coronavirus. 

wdfw fishing closed

In contrast - look at the "Outdoor Recreation" Order

  • Outdoor recreation during "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order: 
    • Do outdoor activities only with people in your immediate household - not extended families. 
    • Enjoy the outdoors close to home instead of traveling. The general rule of thumb: If you have to drive, it's too far.
    • If you encounter others, maintain a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance.
    • Gatherings of any size are not allowed outdoors, just as they are not allowed indoors. 

This same logic could have been applied to fishing, but instead, fishing is seen as something other than outdoor recreation. Some of the main concerns were "ancillary" activities like fueling up, stopping by the store, and driving across the state.

Hindsight may be 20-20, but looking at the lead of 49 other states, there are ways to ensure social distancing, keep state lands closed, and still allow people to fish.

WDFW - here is a suggested solution.

  1. Reopen Fishing 
  2. Keep high-traffic areas closed to fishing and recreation
  3. No fishing outside of your own county.
  4. Only fish with members of own household or solo.
  5. No Guided Fishing until May 4th.
  6. No non-resident angling until May 4th. 

Do you agree with Washington's state-wide closure? Did Oregon have a better approach?


9 comments

  • Washington State is running a radio advertising message reminding Boat owners to register your boat and to get a fishing license. All this is running while we (Washingtonians)can’t fish in our state and Oregon too. Crazy times

    Lynn
  • Write on Michael!! This is bull shit I’m safer on my boat then any wear else I’m tired of this state screwing up are fishing !!

    Billy Radcliff
  • I love to fish. I love to hike, bike, ski, and camp. Backpacking may be my favorite activity. Put me in nature and I’m happy. The deeper I go, the happier I get.

    That said, more people are free of work, and experiencing cabin fever more than any time we’ve ever seen. We are in the middle of a PANDEMIC people! Maybe we should join together and not be at the gas station on the way out of town. Join together and avoid going out. Join together and save somebody else’s loved one. Or your loved one. If we ALL stay home, we ALL get the message that we ALL are in this together.

    I get that fishing is a naturally socially distant sport. However, if we act like it’s okay for us to go out, how about the skiers, mountain bikers, and anybody else who wants to go for a hike? We need to join together and stay home. (And it kills me too.)

    Ryan Gillette
  • I can’t imagine the difficulty of being in Governor Inslee’s shoes right now. However, I can’t help but think he is taking the easy way out by making blanket decisions that don’t necessarily support the reduction of Covid-19. There is nuance in every situation, and not just fishing, but all “essential” activities. Strong leaders must have the courage and grit to work through this nuance and make decisions that truly protect our citizens, and not punish them. Banning some high density fishing activities may help reduce viral spread, but there are so many fishing activities that are solitary, and no more dangerous than taking a walk on your street. At a time when there is so much anxiety and despair, it saddens me that our leaders aren’t up for the challenge.

    David Eames
  • nonresident’s are NOT alowed to fish seems Ike the normal Oregon hate n anyone from Cali.
    Just kinda how those folks are .
    Most folks that are the worst are from Cali.

    Mike Acker

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