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Horde of anglers creates problems at Bush Point

"Anglers line the beach at Bush Point during one recent Friday afternoon when the humpies were running. Area residents are complaining about problems linked to the crowds.Jim Larsen / staff photoThe Island County Sheriff's Office hit the beach Wednesday, letting anglers know that the law will be enforced.Deputy Rob Davison wrote five citations, but they weren't for the usual fare such as DUI or running a red light.These infractions were for such things as fishing without a license, using barbed hooks, and neglecting to log caught salmon on a punch card as required by law.Port of South Whidbey Commissioner Jan Smith, who also works for the Sheriff's Office, hopes Bush Point residents will take heart from Davison's visit.Bush Point has always been kind and welcoming to fishermen, but they're being treated terribly, Smith said.This is the best fishing season in years, and anglers have pulled hundreds of pink and coho salmon from the waters just off the Bush Point beach. There is only about 130 feet of publicly owned beach; the rest is private, and property owners are feeling abused.The port has fielded complaints about littering, public urination, trespassing, and illegal parking.When the fishing season started Aug. 1, there was one portable toilet at Bush Point. Since then, the port has brought in three more, and added a hand washing station.The port is also paying to have trash along the beach picked up twice a week and is opening another grassy area next to the old store to parking.Commissioners Gene Sears and Jim Hawley approved a letter submitted by Smith at a Wednesday night meeting. The letter will be sent to Bush Point property owners.The letter describes the problems and then encourages anyone with a complaint about the behavior of anglers to call 911.Your help in calling 911 when observing illegal activity will assist your port district in keeping your neighborhood as clean and safe as possible, the letter states.In past years, Lagoon Point has had the most severe problems with anglers trespassing on private property. But according to the Sheriff's Office, the problems have largely shifted to Bush Point. One theory is that mainland media have mentioned Bush Point frequently this year as a fishing hot spot. Many of the anglers are from off-island.The Port of South Whidbey maintains the area at Bush Point owned by the State Department of Fish & Wildlife, including the old boat launch, nearby parking, and the publicly owned strip of beach.Anglers are also giving the port commissioners headaches at the Clinton Recreational Pier. People from the mainland take the ferry and fish illegally from the dock, leaving litter and using the covered waiting area as a restroom. We've really reached an impasse. There are off-islanders there day and night, Smith said Wednesday. It's literally odorous.The port district has hired off-duty deputies to patrol the Clinton pier on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. "

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