Pete Heley Outdoors 12 / 31 / 2015

While the commercial crabbing season for both Oregon and Washingon will start on January 4th, recreational crabbing has been legal in Oregon since last Monday (Dec. 21st).

On January 1st the rules and regulations for 2016 kick in and you will need to have 2016 licenses and tags for 2016 to be able to legally fish, hunt or pursue shellfish. Eel Creek opens for steelhead fishing on January 1st and will remain open through April. The coho salmon season for Siltcoos, Tahkenitch and Tenmile lakes will end an hour after sunset(5:38 pm) on December 31st.

As of Jan. 1st, many Oregon lakes will be open to year-round fishing for the first time. However, the numerous lakes that are not open all year will be listed under exceptions for each zone.

It won’t make much difference for a few months, but the Columbia, Coquille, John Day and Umpqua rivers will no longer have size or number limits on them for bass. Warm water enthusiasts shouldn’t panic though. Idaho tried upping the limit on smallmouth bass several years ago, but could not get its bass anglers to stop practicing catch and release. I’m sure Oregon will get similar results.

Many anglers remain unaware that steelhead anglers fishing the Coos River, Coquille River, Tenmile Creek and their tributaries that are open to hatchery steelhead retention can keep three finclipped steelhead per day through April 30th.

Since 2016 is the first time in six years with fee increases for hunting and fishing licenses and tags, those increases are substantial. The state of Washington is the best comparable as to the costs of hunting licenses, fishing licenses and tags. Here’s how they stack up.

Fishing licenses ($38.00 for Oregon residents between the ages of 18 and 69. ($29.50 for Washington resident between the ages of 16 and 60). Oregon’s fishing license is good for fresh and saltwater while the Washington quote is only good for freshwater. A saltwater fishing license will cost $30.05 bringing the cost up to $59.55. A nonresident yearly fishing license will cost $97.50 (down from $106.25 last year. A Washington nonresident license will cost $ 84.50 for freshwater and $59.75 for saltwater for a total of $144.25.

But comparing the costs of various outdoor recreation licenses for Oregon and Washington is like comparing apples and oranges. Most Oregon anglers opt to purchase a combined angling tag which allows them to fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon (when legal) and halibut. The cost for that tag increased this year from $26.50 to $35.00. Washington anglers are not required to purchase a combined angling tag, but must report their catch. In fact, All retained salmon, sturgeon, steelhead, Dungeness crab and halibut catch information must be reported on an angler’s catch record card.

Washington’s shellfish license also includes seaweed and costs $17.40 for a resident and $36.10 for a nonresident. Razor clams require a separate license at a cost of $14.10 for a resident and $21.80 for a nonresident. Oregon’s shellfish license costs $9.00 for a resident and $26.00 for a nonresident. Although Oregon’s shellfish licenses are cheaper than Washington’s, I believe the simplicity of Oregon’s shellfish regulations is a major factor in spurring both resident and nonresident shellfish license sales.

Washington definitely seems more “senior-friendly” than does Oregon. While a person at least 70 years old now pays a yearly angling fee of $25.00 if an Oregon resident, Washington charges its senior anglers only $7.50 to fish freshwater and $8.05 to fish saltwater – and they do not have to buy a combined angling tag ($35.00).

Beginning in 2016, young Oregonians need to start purchasing fishing and shellfish licenses at age 12 instead of at age 14, while in Washington the age where license purchase becomes necessary is 16.

About Pete Heley

Writes and self-publishes Oregon and Washington fishing books.
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