Will golf and fishing be reopened?

PORT ANGELES — Gov. Jay Inslee hinted last week that the state will be loosening “stay home, stay healthy” restrictions on golfing and fishing “in the next few days,” possibly in time for the Olympic Peninsula to salvage its recreational halibut season.

There has been no official announcement from the governor’s office. Inslee made his comments at a Spokane Spokesman-Review Community Forum on Friday.

“The good news for people who want to go fishing is, when we release restrictions on outdoor recreation, fishing’s going to be part of that,” Inslee said.

He said an announcement is expected “in the next few days,” according to the Spokesman-Review.

Bill Shea, general manager and director of golf at the Cedars at Dungeness, was thrilled when he learned about Inslee’s comments.

“I was incredibly excited,” Shea said. “We’re certainly ready. We’re very excited to see golf open up again.”

Shea is confident that Inslee will follow through with some change in the next few days on outdoor recreation such as golf. His “stay home, stay healthy” order expires on May 4.

It’s been hard for Cedars and other golf courses that have lost out on some beautiful weather through April. Shea said the course is in perfect shape because it hasn’t been used in weeks.

Shea also said Cedars at Dungeness has been busy implementing safety measures for the day golf is released from the restrictions. These will include limiting how many people can use a cart at the same time to one, widening tee time intervals, not allowing more than four people at a time in the clubhouse, and many other ideas.

In addition to local golfers, anglers will also be on pins and needles this week hoping for an announcement from the state.

Brandon Mason with Mason’s Olson’s Resort in Sekiu said nothing has come down from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, but right now, people in the fishing industry are crossing their fingers for a resumption of fishing season as early as May 14.

“It’s so vague. We aren’t sure if it’s just going to be streams and rivers. We just haven’t got a good feel yet,” he said.

Mason said May 14 appears to be a target date because even if Inslee lifts the outdoors restrictions on May 4, because it will likely take 10 days or so for the state to get fish checkers in place and to set up protocols to maintain social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In the Sekiu area (Marine Area 5), that could mean some four-day-a week openings for halibut (May 14-17, May 21-24, etc.). Halibut season was set to open in Marine Area 5 on April 30 before Inslee’s order came down. Sea bass and lingcod could also be included.

“It’s all up in the air,” Mason said.

“[Sekiu] has been a ghost town. We’re ready for a bit of life,” Mason said. “We’re chomping at the bit, we’re biting our fingernails.”

Inslee did not specifically mention reopening hunting or shellfish harvesting in his comments in Spokane.

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