|Native Steelhead are going to cost a little more to be guided for this year, to bad they are protected more.|
So I just got a letter from WDFW stating that commercial guide licenses were getting a price hike this year, a 12% increase for non-residents, and a 25% increase for residents. I don't even care about the price increases, especially if the money goes to something worthwhile, but what gets to me about this is the underfunding of the WDFW. As a non resident guide license purchaser (after 25 years as a WA resident) I am also amazed that the state would have the balls to increase the fee at a higher rate for residents over non-residents. On top of that, Washington has to have the highest non-resident guide fee in the country, and one of the lowest non-resident fishing license rates. Aside from the WA/OR border, out of state fishing guides are few and far between.
I have floated in Washington waters well over 1,000 times, commercially and non, and have been checked by enforcement 4 times. 4 TIMES! This is not because the WDFW agents are lazy, they bust their asses covering huge territories. I ran into the local enforcement officer in Forks this year, and after he showed me the poached wild steelhead filets he had confiscated, we chatted a bit and I was stunned to see how large of an area he had to cover. It was clear that there was very little funding going to his area, and although he didn't say it, I can't imagine another officer wouldn't help.
In Montana, where I spend the rest of the year, guide license fees are the same for resident and non-resident, out of state fishing licenses are expensive but not over the top, and enforcement is funded. I get checked on a weekly basis while working, and several times a week if I go to the popular spots. MT also has an outfitter system implemented that creates more responsible outfitters. Unlike WA where once you buy a guide license you can guide as much as you want wherever you want, in MT an outfitter must have guided for a licensed outfitter for 100 days, take a test, pay fee's, and maintain his/her certification. This creates a better product for guests by weeding out many sketchy or unqualified guides. You certainly don't see the "outfitters" who were real estate agents last year and just started guiding because they live within an hour of a river. On top of that, with your WA "guide license" you can guide for endangered species, some of the finest rivers on earth, as much as you want! Montana trout don't even belong here and they receive better protection!
So thank you WA state for taxing us more and giving us less. But at least I get emails about every 6 months about the new fucking hatcheries you want to build on some of the worlds finest steelhead streams.