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Whidbey’s Puget Sound Anglers chapter to throw last cast

Kevin Lungren fishes from the beach at South Whidbey State Park in August as the sun sets. Though a popular sport on Whidbey, the Puget Sound Anglers Whidbey Island chapter did not have enough members to keep afloat and will disband next week after its final meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club.  - Record file
Kevin Lungren fishes from the beach at South Whidbey State Park in August as the sun sets. Though a popular sport on Whidbey, the Puget Sound Anglers Whidbey Island chapter did not have enough members to keep afloat and will disband next week after its final meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club.
— image credit: Record file

Almost a dozen men and women will soon have to fish in fellowship free of the association with the Puget Sound Anglers on Whidbey Island.

The Whidbey Island chapter of the Puget Sound Anglers, a regional group that promotes fishing as recreation and favorable fishing policies, will have its final meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15. Declining membership overcame the club’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations, such as paying chapter dues and advertising. It was the only Puget Sound Anglers club on Whidbey Island, with the nearest clubs in Anacortes and Everett.

“We were spending more money than we were bringing in,” said Rev Barchenger, the Whidbey Island chapter’s treasurer.

For the past decade, Barchenger said she saw the club slowly decline from a peak of about 30 members to just 14 remaining.

The drop may have been due in part to the creation of another angling group on South Whidbey, The Fishin’ Club, which does not engage in any political or policy work. It gave anglers another venue for fishing fellowship. Today, there just simply aren’t enough people to keep the Puget Sound Anglers chapter afloat, but it’s not like people stopped casting their lines.

“I really think fishing is gearing up,” said Pat McDaniel, the club’s vice president. “It’s been wonderful the last couple of years. It’s not a lack of interest in fishing. People just aren’t joining like they used to years ago.”

What money remains in the club’s treasury, about $1,200, will be officially donated to a handful of nonprofits at the chapter’s final meeting: $250 to Good Cheer Food Bank, $250 to Whidbey Watershed Stewards, $250 to Helping Hand of South Whidbey, $250 to Salmon for Soldiers, and the remaining funds to the Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation.

Puget Sound Anglers has advocacy committees for crab, shrimp, halibut, anadromous and marine resource sport fishing; and participants in Island County Marine Resources, which Whidbey chapter President Ken Urstad serves on.

The Whidbey club ran the coho derby, which will no longer be organized by the Puget Sound Anglers and may be discontinued altogether.

McDaniel was unsure of one day re-forming a Puget Sound Anglers chapter on Whidbey Island, home to popular fishing destinations like Bush Point, Possession Point and Deception Pass.

“I don’t know what the future might hold,” he said. I’d like to see us continue, but it doesn’t look very possible.”

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