No fishing here

Anglers fishing at Bush Point caught more than they were hoping for this summer -- the attention of Bush Point residents.

After fielding an abnormally large number of complaints over fishermen trespassing on private beaches, Jan Smith of the Island County Sheriff's Department turned to the Port of South Whidbey to collaborate on a solution for the complaints.

At the port's meeting last week, Chuck Edwards, the port's interim manager, said he informed Smith they have done everything they can to remedy the situation.

"We've done what we need to do," Edwards said. "Apparently there's one lady down there that calls (the sheriff) every time they walk on the beach."

Edwards said the port has posted signs near the fishing area that tell visitors to the beach and anglers where private property begins.

Smith, who is also a past president of the port, said large fishing crowds at Bush Point is nothing new. She recalled seeing a 1920s-era photo of Spyglass Drive with cars in a row all the way up the street.

"It goes in cycles," she said. "It happens to be a very good season."

Smith said residents complain about the anglers who stand in front of their property to fish. She said they are concerned over noisy and rowdy behavior, trespassing, littering, public urination and illegal parking.

Smith said the complaint calls have lessened in recent days, but that does not mean the problem is solved. She suggested to the port commissioners that they hire off-duty deputies to patrol the area. On-duty deputies on duty have tried to maintain a heightened presence near the public fishing area.

This week, it appeared that this was not enough; someone had taken it upon themselves to solve the problem. A large orange sign posted on the beach had the sheriff's department, the port and Island County wondering who put it there. The sign, which is planted in the center of the beach, says in large capital letters, "Island County land ends here, no public fishing beyond this point, private property, tidelands owned to mean low tide, no trespassing."

In addition to two smaller signs posted by Island County and the port, the large orange sign did not seem deter people from fishing there. On Tuesday morning, anglers appeared to be ignoring the sign -- over 20 people were stationed past the sign waiting for their catch. One person apparently found the sign to be a better coat rack than a warning, and hung an article of clothing from it.

Edwards said the port has no authority to monitor people who are trespassing on private property.

"We have no rights or duties to patrol other property," he said.

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