State restricts fishing, county urges anglers to pee-lease use the portable toilets

What do portable toilets and pink salmon have in common?

Anglers, of course.

This month, people with fishing poles may be searching for both — the fish and the facilities (presumably not at the same time).

Recreational fishing enthusiasts, already bummed at the ‘bad season of pinks,’ learned Monday they’ll have to cast lines from shore instead of boats or floats, a deadline bumped up by by two weeks. And that means more portable toilets are needed at popular county fishing spots.

As of midnight July 31, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife restricted Marine Area 9 on Whidbey’s Admiralty Inlet to shoreline fishing only for pink salmon; it closed the area entirely for chinook. In a press release, it cited low runs of pink salmon and the chinook quota being met for its decision.

“Anglers will not be permitted to fish for salmon from a boat or other floating device starting Monday,” the department stated. “The reason for this action is to protect expected low runs of wild coho and pink salmon returning to the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers.”

The daily limit set by the state is two salmon, also as of July 31. Additionally, any caught chum, chinook and wild coho must be released.

Aug. 16 had been the date originally set that cut-off casting from boats. That’s when Island County Parks Department had planned to have more potties in place for increased calls of nature for shore-bound fishers.

Pink salmon, which return to their native rivers only during odd numbered years, typically bring out many anglers at Bush Point in Freeland, Driftwood Beach Park along Admiralty Inlet, Lagoon Point North & South off Smuggler’s Cove Road, and Possession Point off of the southern tip of Whidbey Island, said Steve Marx, Island County Public Works assistant director.

“It caught me by surprise,” Marx said of the state’s earlier deadline. “But I don’t think we’ll be too behind since I called in the order this morning to lease more Porta Potties.”

In 2015, pinks were practically jumping onto lines, recalled Jeff Kirby from Seattle, out on a dock this week near Fort Casey State Park.

“Two years ago, it was amazing,” he said. “This year, nothing.”

A buddy of Kirby’s from New Jersey, Brian Corbett, added: “I guess we’re just out here fishing for compliments.”

Down the shore at Driftwood Beach Park, local resident Andrew Score watched a sea lion flip and frolic near his lifeless line.

“He’s probably playing with the fish and laughing at us,” said Score. “If it was a good season, there would be 100 guys lining this beach.”

There were five. None had fish.

Bringing in more portable toilets affects the county’s bottom line, so to speak. Marx estimated a cost of about $1,800 to lease six to eight additional portable toilets.

Although it’s slim pickings for fishing now, sometimes more pinks show up by mid-August. So it’s best to be prepared for a rush of fisher flushers.

Because it’s not a pretty scene if there’s not enough portable toilets at the parks, county commissioners recently learned.

“This year is a pink salmon year, which means there will be many more people fishing from shore starting Aug. 16,” Marx told county commissioners at a June meeting (before the deadline was changed). “We’ll need to put three or four or more Porta Potties at places that will pack in the fishermen.”

When Kathy Stella heard Marx’s comments about potential potty predicaments, she couldn’t hold back. Up to the microphone she strode to tell her toilet tale of woe.

“Our family, until April of this year, owned a home that was next door to Driftwood Park,” Stella said. “And two years ago, they removed the Porta Potties.

“Those fishermen do not get into their trucks and drive away,” she continued. “They just pee on the beach.”

“And it’s pretty upsetting when you have your family together and they are all pulling out.”

More potties are in place at Driftwood Park. And more are on the way at other fishing holes, Marx said.

Andrew Score tries his luck at catching pink salmon Monday evening, casting off from Driftwood Beach Park. “If it was a good season, there would be 100 guys lining the beach,” he said. There were five. And a happy sea lion a few yards out. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Steve Marx, Island County Public Works assistant director

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