Boats fishing

Photo by Ben Holten

Boaters in the Tri-Cities protest the state’s ban on fishing last weekend.

A Wenatchee man is organizing a fishing protest Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon in and along the Columbia River near the George Sellar Bridge.

Ben Holten said the protest is an expansion of a similar movement started last week in the Tri-Cities that drew about 150 boaters and another 200 or so people along the shore.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife shut down recreational fishing in Washington March 26 as part of Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

There will be similar protests in Moses Lake and elsewhere.

It started with like-minded anglers complaining on Facebook about the ban on fishing, which Holten says is the only one in the country.

Ben Hanes of the Tri-Cities quickly organized a protest there, and Holten stepped up to help.

“After that got done, we’re like hey, let’s go bigger than this. Let’s spread it out through some different cities.”

People throughout the state are encouraged to go out on their favorite body of water and hold a sign showing their displeasure with the fishing ban, he said. And that includes the Seattle area.

“Sunday, we’re organizing a pretty big event that will start on Lake Washington, go through the shipping canal and in on Lake Union in front of Gas Works Park,” Holten said. “We’re really hoping for that one to be a really big turnout.”

Holten said the protests aren’t about breaking the law, but about letting it be known the ban on fishing makes no sense.

“We’re not promoting actual fishing or any breaking of any laws,” he said. “We’ve told people to bring their fishing poles just as props. But we haven’t promoted them to actually go fishing.

So far, 30 people have signed up to participate Saturday, with many more interested, he said.

People are being encouraged to launch their boats on different parts of the river, then meet up by the George Sellar Bridge. Or, gather along the grass soughwest of the bridge between Chelan and Wenatchee avenues.