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The Weekender Report
The latest in fish and wildlife recreational opportunities across Washington State

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October 2014

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated October 8, 2014)

Contact: (Fish) 360-902-2700
                (Wildlife) 360-902-2515

Head outdoors for deer, waterfowl, salmon and crab

Some of Washington's most popular hunting seasons get under way in October, when hunters take to the field for deer, ducks, geese and other game birds. 

Migratory waterfowl numbers are expected to be good this year, said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). With an increase in breeding populations of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway, waterfowl hunters should expect great hunting this year, depending on weather.

“Big game hunts also look promising this fall,” Ware said. “Hunters had a pretty good season last year and with the mild winter that should be the case again this year.”

All hunters using modern firearms – or in areas open to hunting with modern firearms – are reminded to wear hunter orange clothing as specified by state law. While that requirement does not apply to non-hunters, Ware suggests hikers, mushroom pickers and others in areas open to hunting wear bright, colorful clothing to maximize their visibility.

Area-by-area hunting prospects around the state are available on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/.

Meanwhile, fishery managers now project that 1.2 million fall chinook will return to the Columbia River this year. While that’s down from the preseason forecast of 1.5 million, the catch through September was still the fourth highest on record.

“Heavy rain in September moved a bunch of fresh fish into the river, which will help keep this fishery going for weeks to come,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW.

Coho salmon also are moving in increasing numbers into the lower Columbia River and many rivers flowing into Puget Sound. 

Also in Puget Sound, several marine areas reopen Oct. 1 for recreational crabbing.

On the coast, WDFW has tentatively scheduled 41 razor clam digs beginning this month through Dec. 31. Beach surveys indicate an average razor clam population at Copalis this year while Twin Harbors,

Long Beach and Mocrocks show excellent numbers of clams.

“Overall, there are a lot of clams out there and we expect this to be another great season,” said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for WDFW.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

North Puget Sound
(Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties)

Fishing: October is primetime for coho fishing in the region, where anglers should continue to find fish in the marine areas. Meanwhile, crab fishing reopens in most areas of Puget Sound and state hatchery crews will be planting 340,000 trout in lakes throughout Western Washington.

The best action for coho likely will be in the rivers later in the month.

"Anglers can still find coho salmon in the marine areas in early October, but fishing in the rivers will steadily improve as the month progresses," said Ryan Lothrop, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Several rivers are open in October for salmon fishing, including the Nooksack, Skagit, Cascade, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Wallace, Snoqualmie and Green. Regulations vary for each body of water, so anglers should check WDFW's sportfishing regulations pamphlet before heading out.

Known hotspots for coho in North Puget Sound include Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar, Deception Pass and Shipwreck. Fishing regulations for those areas – and other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) – change in October. Beginning Oct. 1, anglers fishing Marine Area 9 will have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release all chinook. Those fishing Marine Area 10 will have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Anglers looking to get an early start on the region's blackmouth season might also want to head to Marine Area 10, said Lothrop, noting that wild chinook must be released for this area.

Another option for blackmouth anglers is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers can keep one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit beginning Oct. 1. Marine Area 7 anglers must also release all wild chinook and wild coho in October.

Other salmon fishing options include marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner). Anglers fishing those marine areas in October have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook.  

Anglers support the blackmouth chinook fishery through their license purchase, a portion of which goes to the Puget Sound Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Fund. The fund currently supports a variety of recreational fishing opportunities through the release of more than one million yearling and almost nine million sub-yearling chinook each year.

Except for portions of Hood Canal, chum salmon may be retained in all marine areas this month. Anglers fishing Hood Canal should refer to page 116 of the fishing rules pamphlet for details. Also check the fishing regulations for specifics on retention of chum in inland lakes and rivers. Chum salmon must be released on some area rivers, including the Skagit, Nooksack South Fork, Cascade, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Skykomish, Wallace, Snoqualmie and Carbon rivers.

Elsewhere, Lake Sammamish is open for salmon fishing, with a daily limit of four salmon, of which two may be chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

Lake Washington also is open to salmon fishing. Anglers are allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge. According to the preseason forecast, 22,707 coho salmon will return to Lake Washington this year, and many have already arrived.

Visit WDFW’s website for the latest Lake Washington sockeye counts.

Meanwhile, most marine areas of Puget Sound reopen for recreational crab seven days a week from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. The exceptions are Marine Area 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), which will remain closed to recreational crab fishing.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW's recreational crab fishing website.

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2015. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website.
 
For those who have not been back recently, WDFW’s Fish Washington website, an essential resource for lowland lakes anglers, now includes new features to help both high lakes and marine area anglers discover the best places to fish in October.

Finally, WDFW will stock some 300,000 trout in Western Washington lakes starting in October. This is nearly four times more fish than were released last fall in Western Washington. To learn more about locations and stocking schedules as the month progresses, watch WDFW’s news page or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Hunting: The region's popular waterfowl hunting season gets under way in mid-October. The duck season will be open from Oct. 11 through Oct. 15, then re-open again Oct. 18. An exception is the scaup season, which is closed from Oct. 11 through October 31. 

Goose hunts will run Oct. 11 through Oct. 25 in the region, then start again Nov. 1. However, the snow goose season in Goose Management Area 1 (Skagit and Snohomish counties) will run from Oct. 11 through Jan. 25 without a break. Hunting seasons are also under way in the region for grouse and quail.

Meanwhile, the muzzleloader-only hunt for deer runs through Oct. 5, overlapping with the muzzleloader season for elk, running Oct. 4-10 in most areas of Western Washington. In Game Management Unit (GMU) 407, the elk muzzleloader hunt is already underway and also extends through Oct. 10.

Next up is the popular modern-firearms season for deer, which runs Oct. 11-31 in select GMUs. Deer are abundant in many areas, but scouting the terrain and gaining access to hunt on private lands are often prerequisites to a successful hunt. WDFW’s Hunting Prospects report provides area-by-area summaries of the conditions for this year’s hunts.

Before heading out, hunters should also check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for details on hunting rules in effect throughout the region.

Wildlife viewing:  Snow geese will be making their way to the region this month. About 80,000 snow geese winter in western Washington each year. Most of those birds congregate in the Skagit Valley, and can be found in the area from mid-October through early May. Once they arrive, a great place to view the birds is at the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit of WDFW's Skagit Wildlife Area. For more information on the Fir Island Farms Reserve Unit, visit WDFW's website.

October also is a good time to watch salmon moving up local streams to spawn. One of the best places to see fish is Issaquah. Visitors can celebrate the return of spawning salmon during Issaquah Salmon Days Festival, set for Oct. 4-5. This year's festival features educational displays, entertainment, artwork, food and other attractions. More information is available at the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival website.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)

Fishing: October brings the first razor clam digs of the fall season on Washington’s coast, the return of crab fishing in most areas of Puget Sound, and new opportunities to catch salmon throughout the region.

Evening razor clam digs have been approved for Oct. 7 through Oct. 12 at Long Beach and Twin Harbors, with some digging opportunities and planned at Mocrocks and Copalis.

Another set of digs is proposed for Oct. 22 through Oct. 28. Razor clam diggers should be aware the dates are dependent on results of marine toxin tests indicating the clams are safe to eat.

While Copalis is expected to have an average number of clams this year, Twin Harbors, Long Beach and Mocrocks all showed excellent razor clam populations during beach surveys, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Overall, there are a lot of clams out there and we expect this to be another great season,” he said.

Anyone interested in taking up razor clam digging can check out WDFW’s Great Getaways report for a guide on getting started. 

Razor clam diggers can see a full list of proposed digs through Dec. 31 on WDFW’s razor clam webpage. Regulations and tips for digging are also on the webpage.

In addition, most marine areas of Puget Sound reopen for recreational crab seven days a week from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. The exceptions are Marine Area 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) and 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), which will remain closed to recreational crab fishing.

The daily catch limit in Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. In addition, fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. Additional information is available on the WDFW's recreational crab fishing website.

All crab caught in the late-season fishery should be recorded on winter catch cards, which are valid until Dec. 31. Winter cards are available at license vendors across the state. Those catch reports are due to WDFW by Feb. 1, 2015. For more information on catch record cards, visit WDFW’s website.

Meanwhile, Puget Sound anglers fishing for salmon in Marine Area 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait) can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit. The Dungeness Bay fishery will also be open Oct. 1-31 in the marine area, with a two-coho daily limit. Anglers should also be aware of a fishing rule change that temporarily makes GPS coordinates a boundary marker in Dungeness Bay until the #2 red buoy is reattached.

In Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), anglers fishing south of Ayock Point can catch and keep four salmon per day, including up to two hatchery chinook marked with clipped adipose fins. Chum salmon must be released through Oct. 15. Anglers fishing north of the point also have a four-salmon daily limit, but only coho salmon may be retained through Oct. 15. Starting Oct. 16, anglers fishing north of Ayock Point may retain up to two hatchery chinook as part of their four-salmon daily limit and those fishing south of the point may retain chum salmon.

Anglers fishing near Tacoma-Vashon Island (Marine Area 11) and in south Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) can keep two salmon daily, but must release wild chinook. Wild coho must be released in Marine Area 13, where anglers with a two-pole endorsement can fish with two poles.

Although other ocean salmon fisheries have closed, salmon fishing continues in a section of Marine Area 3 (La Push) through Oct. 12. The daily limit there is two salmon and anglers must release wild coho. The area could close early if the quota is met.

Elsewhere, anglers fishing the Quillayute, Dickey, Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc rivers can keep up to two adult salmon as part of the daily limit of six salmon, plus two additional adult hatchery coho can be retained. 

Those anglers fishing Willapa Bay rivers can now retain chum as part of their daily salmon limit, based on a recent fishing rule change

The Dungeness River along the Strait of Juan de Fuca will open Oct. 16 for trout and salmon fishing. State fishery managers delayed the opening due to low stream flow.

Anglers should always check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) sportfishing rules pamphlet for specific regulations before heading out.

Hunting: Duck and goose season open in October and the popular modern-firearms season for deer also takes place this month.

The modern-firearms season for deer runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 31, following the deer muzzleloader season, which wraps up Oct. 5. The early muzzleloader season for elk in western Washington is open Oct. 4 through Oct. 10. The fall hunting season for black bear continues through Nov. 15.

For those seeking forest grouse, the statewide hunting season opened Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. The harvest of grouse in Clallam County (District 16) rivals all other counties in south Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic National Forest and Skokomish Valley in District 15 also are popular grouse hunting areas.

Goose-hunting season runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 23 in most areas, and then again Nov. 1 through Jan. 25. However, anyone hunting for goose in Pacific County (goose management area 2B) is reminded the area is open only on Saturdays and Wednesdays during that same period.

The general season for duck, snipe and coot begins Oct. 11-15 and opens again Oct. 18 through Jan. 25.

An increase in the breeding population of migratory ducks in Alaska is expected to bring good hunting opportunities in several locations around the south Sound and Olympic Peninsula. Overall, the south Puget Sound lowlands support almost twice as many waterfowl as any other western Washington location. However, mid-winter counts have shown a gradual decline in the Thurston County duck population. The best hunting locations in Thurston County include near the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge as well as the Henderson, Budd and Eld Inlets.

In District 17 (Pacific and Grays Harbor counties), the highest concentrations of ducks are near Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor and the Chehalis and Willapa River valleys. An aerial survey showed the duck breeding population in the Chehalis River Valley has increased 21 percent in the last year. WDFW Wildlife Areas in this district offer good waterfowl hunting opportunities. The season peaks in late October to early November here.

The lower Dungeness Basin in District 16 (Clallam and west Jefferson counties) is home to about 7 percent of western Washington’s breeding waterfowl population. Unfortunately there is limited access for waterfowl hunting in the district. Hunters should WDFW’s hunting access webpage for more information.

Rather hunt for quail?  The season opened Sept. 27 in western Washington and runs through Nov. 30.  District 15 (Mason, Kitsap and east Jefferson counties) has the largest population of mountain quail in the state. Locations to try include Department of Natural Resources land parcels on the Tahuya Peninsula and the industrial timberlands between Shelton, Matlock and McCleary. Walk-in opportunities are also numerous on timber company clearcuts around Mason Lake.

An estimated 40,000 pheasants will be released in 2014 across southwestern Washington at release areas. Pheasant season in western Washington opened Sept. 27 and goes through Nov. 30. A total of 1,900 pheasants will be released over the season (on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays) at the Skookumchuck wildlife unit   in District 11 (Thurston and Pierce counties). The Scatter Creek Wildlife unit will release about 3,900 birds, also on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Hunters are encouraged to check WDFW’s hunting prospects webpage to get an area-by-area summary of what they can expect. Before heading out, hunters also should check the Big Game Hunting Pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for regulations.

Wildlife viewing: Late October is a great time to visit the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve, which is located on Totten Inlet off U.S. Highway 101 between Olympia and Shelton. The creek is one of the most productive chum salmon streams in Washington. While there, visitors can find numerous species of migrating shorebirds or walk the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail.

In Thurston County, Tumwater Falls Park continues to offer views of salmon as they make their way up the Deschutes River. The 15-acre park runs adjacent to Capitol Boulevard and Interstate 5 in Tumwater.

Wildlife are also on display in the region. Visitors to the Olympic Peninsula should be on the alert for the autumn Roosevelt elk rut. A great place to hear a bull elk bugle or clack antlers with a rival is the Quinault River valley upstream from Lake Quinault. The elk are most active during the early morning and evening hours. Observers should give the elk plenty of room, since they are easily disturbed and potentially dangerous.

Birders and others afield in the coming weeks also should be aware that a number of hunting seasons are getting under way throughout the region. While most hunters make sure of their target before they shoot, non-hunters can help to avoid an accident by wearing an orange wind-breaker and make their presence known to hunters.

Southwest Washington
(Clark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Lewis, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties)

Fishing:  The bulk of this year’s big fall chinook run to the Columbia River has now moved past Bonneville Dam, pushing into fisheries upstream to the Hanford Reach and beyond. Hotspots above the dam include the mouths of the White Salmon River, Drano Lake and the Klickitat River.

But that doesn’t mean salmon fishing below Bonneville is over for the year. State fishery managers expect that anglers will catch a lot more fall chinook this month as well as coho salmon, which continue to move into the Columbia River in large numbers.

“With more than a month to go, this year’s catch of fall chinook could still set a new record,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Heavy rain in September moved a bunch of fresh fish into the river, which will help keep this fishery going for weeks to come.”

Fishery managers now project that 1.2 million fall chinook will return to the Columbia this year. While that’s down from the preseason forecast of 1.5 million, the catch through September was still the fourth highest on record.

As of Sept. 23, nearly 750,000 fall chinook had passed Bonneville Dam, and anglers had caught 22,483 of them 125 miles downriver to the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line. They also took home 6,842 summer steelhead and a record-setting 4,919 coho salmon during the same period.

Hymer said anglers can expect plenty more action – with less competition for the prime spots – in the weeks ahead.

“This is a great time of year to catch salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin,” he said. “There’s still time to get in on the action for those who didn’t get a chance last month – and for those who did.”

Starting Oct. 1, anglers fishing in the Buoy 10 area may again retain up to two chinook salmon per day. Other fishing rules in effect on the mainstem Columbia River this month provide an array of fishing opportunities, including:

  • Buoy 10 to Tongue Point/Rocky Point Line: The daily limit is three adult salmon or hatchery steelhead but one of those fish must be a hatchery coho. Anglers must release all wild coho.
  • Tongue Point/Rocky Point Line to the Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal: The daily limit is two adult salmon, two adult hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Anglers may retain any chinook, with or without a clipped adipose fin. However, coho and steelhead must be adipose- fin clipped to be retained.
  • Steamboat Landing Dock to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Pasco: Anglers may retain up to three adult salmonids, of which no more than two may be coho, hatchery steelhead or one of each. All salmon other than chinook or coho must be released. Wild coho must be released from the Hood River Bridge downstream.
  • Boat limits: Each angler aboard a vessel may deploy recreational salmon/steelhead gear until the daily salmonid limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved while fishing from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam.
  • Barbless hooks: Anglers are required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and its tributaries.

Before heading out, anglers are advised to check the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet and Emergency Rules for additional information on regulations currently in effect on the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Anglers should also be aware that portions of the North Jetty at the mouth of the river will be closed for construction work in October. See the public notice on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website for more information.

As with the mainstem Columbia, plenty of good fishing awaits anglers planning to fish tributaries above and below Bonneville Dam this month. Catch rates have been going strong for both chinook and coho salmon, and will benefit from the arrival of fall rains, Hymer said.

“Fall rainstorms will help move an infusion of chinook and late-run coho salmon into the tributaries over the next month, he said. “They also bite better under those conditions.”

Hymer noted that anglers fishing Drano Lake and the Klickitat River may retain up to three adult chinook salmon – with or without clipped adipose fins – per day. Drano Lake is also open to two-pole fishing for those with an endorsement. However, anglers are reminded Drano Lake will be closed to all fishing from 6 p.m. Tuesdays to 6 p.m. Wednesdays in October. 

Starting Oct. 1, anglers fishing the Lewis River – including the North Fork – may retain up to two chinook salmon, adipose fin clipped or not. In addition, the North Fork Lewis River will remain open from Colvin Creek to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam through Oct. 31 for fall chinook, hatchery coho, and hatchery steelhead.

Anglers fishing the Cowlitz River will also have the entire month to try for their three-fish daily limit of hatchery steelhead.

“Strong chinook runs like the ones we’ve seen in the past two years make it possible to offer a lot more fishing opportunities,” Hymer said.

Want to catch some trout? WDFW fish biologists have some recommendations:

  • Goose Lake: This mountain lake in Skamania County was recently stocked with about 2,100 coastal cutthroat, averaging almost a pound apiece. Fishing should be very good until snow blocks the road later this fall.
  • Swift Reservoir:  Also in Skamania County, this impoundment heats up for trout fishing from October through November. Anglers may keep up to 10 trout or landlocked coho, but must release all salmon larger than 15 inches in length and any bull trout or wild steelhead they intercept.
  • Mayfield Lake: Good numbers of catchable trout remain in the lake, which was stocked heavily throughout the summer until Labor Day. The daily limit is five fish, which run about 12 inches in length.
  • Lake Scanewa: Farther upstream on the Cowlitz, this reservoir upstream of Cowlitz Falls Dam was also stocked throughout the summer and catchable trout remain to be caught. The daily limit is 10 fish, averaging 12 inches. The minimum size is 8 inches.

WDFW fish biologist John Weinheimer also notes that the area around the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery is also productive for hatchery sea-run cutthroats in October. “These aggressive fish average a foot or more and can be caught on a variety of gear including bait, flies, or lures,” he said. “It’s the only place in the entire state where hatchery sea-run cutthroats are available for harvest and anglers should take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Hunting: October is prime time for hunting, with seasons getting under way for game animals ranging from deer to waterfowl. A mild winter combined with recent rain has created favorable conditions for seasons opening this month, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager.

Hunters planning their season may also want to check WDFW’s 2014 Hunting Prospects and Game Harvest Reports for this year’s outlook and previous success rates in specific game management units (GMUs).

The popular modern firearm season for black-tailed deer runs Oct. 11-31, after muzzleloaders have had their turn in the field. The muzzleloader season, which began Sept. 27, runs through Oct. 5 in select GMUs throughout the region.

“Southwest Washington has historically had some of the most productive areas for black-tailed deer, and this year should be no different,” Ware said. “Recent storms have knocked more leaves off the trees – improving visibility – and may even drive some northern ducks down into the area.”

Top game management areas (GMUs) for black-tailed deer in the region include GMUs  501 (Lincoln), 520 (Winston), 530 (Ryderwood) and 550 (Coweeman). Hunting just before or after a heavy storm can be a good strategy, because deer reduce feeding in rough weather, Ware said.

For elk, the early muzzleloader season runs Oct. 4-10. Some of the region’s best elk-hunting areas include GMUs 506 (Willapa Hills), 520 (Winston), 550 (Coweeman) and 560 (Lewis River). Regulations vary in these and other areas, so hunters should make sure to check the 2014 Big Game Hunting pamphlet before heading out. WDFW’s online Go Hunt mapping tool and annual Game Harvest Reports can also be helpful in determining which areas to hunt.

As most hunters know, hoof disease has spread rapidly among elk in southwest Washington in recent years. To help contain the disease, a new regulation was adopted this year that requires hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area on site. Hunters who see elk with deformed hooves are encouraged to report their observations to WDFW.

As in past years, taking antlerless elk is illegal during general muzzleloader or modern firearms seasons in GMUs 568 (Washougal), 574 (Wind River) and 578 (West Klickitat). In addition, a three-point antler restriction will be in effect for all general elk hunting seasons in those three areas.

For bird hunters, new seasons for pheasant, quail and bobwhite got under way Sept. 27. Next comes general hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe on Oct. 15. Hunters are advised to check the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for specific information about each hunt.

Wildlife viewing:  Fall migration is in full swing on the Vancouver Lowlands with new arrivals showing up daily. Thousands of Canada geese can now be seen in area wetlands, along with sandhill cranes, great egrets and the occasional American white pelican.

Birders – and music lovers – should also be aware that the 15th annual Birdfest & Bluegrass Festival runs Oct. 4-5 in Ridgefield. Events include birding tours, nature photography and a lot of down home music. The event is sponsored by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and the refuge staff. For more information, see the festival’s website.

The bulk of this year’s fall chinook salmon has now moved past Bonneville Dam, but thousands of fish – chinook, coho and steelhead – are still passing by the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam every day. To see this spectacle, take Washington State Highway 14 east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and park in front of the glass building at the end of the powerhouse. To see what’s passing by the fish-viewing window right now, go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ website.

Eastern Washington
(Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens,  Walla Walla and Whitman counties)

Fishing:  Fall chinook salmon and steelhead fishing on the Snake River in the southeast district continues to be the best bet in the region.

The salmon daily harvest limit in the Washington portion of the Snake River is six adipose fin-clipped fall chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and six adipose fin-clipped jack fall chinook (less than 24 inches). Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 12 inches.

Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead on the Snake River, but must stop fishing for the day – for both hatchery chinook and steelhead – once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.

Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River. All chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed.  Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit. Anglers should be sure to identify their catch because returning unmarked chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead are also in the Snake River during this fishery.

Anglers should refer to the current sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits and safety closures.

While the hatchery steelhead season on the Snake runs through March of next year, the fall chinook salmon fishery is scheduled to close Oct. 31 – unless monitored harvest rates and the run size warrant an earlier closure.

Tucannon River anglers are reminded that there are many rule changes to comply with to protect wild steelhead and the future of the fishery. All steelhead landed in the Tucannon River with a missing adipose fin (hatchery origin) must be retained. Catch and release of hatchery steelhead is not allowed. (As usual, all wild steelhead must be released.) The daily limit is reduced from three to two hatchery steelhead. Barbless hooks are required for all fishing. The area from Marengo (at Turner Road Bridge) upstream is closed to all fishing.

WDFW Eastern Region Fish Program Manager John Whalen said the reason for all the changes is because returns of natural origin steelhead to the Tucannon River are not meeting management goals for conservation.

“We have to focus the fishery on removal of stray hatchery steelhead that primarily enter the Tucannon River in late summer or early fall to prevent them from spawning,” Whalen said. “We also need to provide a refuge area above Marengo to protect early returning wild steelhead, and close the fishery before March when most of the wild steelhead return to the Tucannon River.”

For more information on the Tucannon River fishery, see the complete rule change.

October is the last month -- and often a very good time – to fish many of the region’s popular trout-stocked lakes and some rivers and streams. Fall insect hatches are providing trout food, so anglers who use flies or lures that mimic that forage can be successful.

Many Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille county waters, most which are open through the month, produce good catches of rainbow trout and other species at this time.  Some of Spokane County’s best trout lakes closed Sept. 30, but there are enough exceptions to keep fishing productive. Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist, notes Clear and Liberty lakes provide trout, bass and other fish through October. Amber Lake remains open through November for catch-and-release fishing.  A number of year-round waters, including Eloika, Long and Newman lakes, have bass, crappie, perch and more.

Anglers are enjoying the last month of the rainbow-trout-stocked Tucannon River impoundments in Columbia County, especially with cooler weather seeming to put the bite back on, said WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman.

Most rivers and streams in the region close Oct. 31, but sections of some major waterways, like the Spokane River, remain open year-round or into next spring, some with specific restrictions listed in the rules pamphlet.

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, provides some of the best year-round fishing. Anglers should find good trolling action on big rainbows and walleye, mostly from the Daisy area north. Walleye fishers can also be successful casting jigs near the shoreline, using bottom bouncers, and other methods.

Hunting: The Hunter’s Full Moon on Oct. 8 is the legendary start of hunting seasons, and indeed October is the peak month to hunt the eastern region, with a season opener every weekend.

WDFW has lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands in eastern Washington, where cooler temperatures and fall rains have reduced fire danger. However, hunters should be aware that some localized restrictions remain in place, including a campfire ban through Oct. 15 at all WDFW wildlife areas in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, and Kittitas counties.  Similarly, a campfire ban is in place at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant and Adams counties through Oct. 31. Any further updates will be posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

Quail and partridge hunting begins Oct. 4. This year’s spring and summer weather conditions may have boosted production of these birds in many areas in the region, although there are no specific field surveys. In the central district, good quail brood numbers have been seen incidental to other field work in Spokane and Whitman counties, although hunting access can be a problem because much of the best quail habitat is in and around farmsteads and towns. Gray partridge broods of 10-12 chicks were regularly seen in and around Lincoln County agricultural fields. Chukar partridge are mostly along the steep and rocky breaks of the Snake River and throughout Asotin County’s grasslands. California quail are locally common in the lower elevation draws and drainages across the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and in suitable pockets of habitat across the prairie areas and breaks of the Grande Ronde and Snake rivers.

Modern firearm deer hunting begins Oct. 11. The best deer hunting in the region is in the northeast district where white-tailed deer are the most abundant and all Game Management Units (GMUs) offer good to excellent opportunities. Depending on the GMU, 21 to 32 percent of modern firearm hunters bag a deer. GMUs 117 and 121 have a four-antler-point minimum harvest restriction for white-tailed deer.

The southeast district is best known for its mule deer hunting and hunter success ranges from 13 to 43 percent, depending on GMU. Those with highest success rates (GMUs 145, 149, 178, 181) also have the highest amount of private land and access can be limited. Those with the most public land (GMUs 166, 169, 175) have the lowest success, in part due to high hunter numbers. Mule deer have a three-antler-point minimum harvest restriction during all general seasons throughout the region. Southeast district hunters are reminded that a couple of Wooten Wildlife Area campgrounds are closed, while new ones are constructed away from the Tucannon River.  Wooten Manager Kari Dingman also notes that black bears have been in the campgrounds, so hunters should not leave garbage and food out. 

Although private property access is key, the central district offers good mule deer opportunities in GMUs 133, 136, and 142, and more white-tailed deer opportunities in GMUs 124, 127, and 139. Hunter success in these units usually averages 30 to 35 percent.

Waterfowl hunting also begins Oct. 11, although this region’s opportunities rely more on incoming northern migrants later in the season, rather than local production earlier.  In general, waterfowl concentration areas include the Columbia, Snake, Spokane, and Pend Oreille rivers and their associated wetlands and tributaries. The agricultural areas around McNary National Wildlife Refuge near the Tri-Cities attract large numbers of foraging ducks and geese, but many of these lands are closed to hunting or leased by private hunting outfitters and access can be difficult or expensive.

Pheasant hunting begins Oct. 18, and this could be a good year for harvesting young-of-the-year birds. Southeast district wildlife biologists predict numbers of birds are up because of good spring and summer conditions for nesting and brood rearing. In addition to wild birds, pheasant hunting opportunities are enhanced with periodic releases of farm-raised roosters at sites across the region, with most in the southeast district, many owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Snake River (Hollebeke, Mill Creek, Rice Bar and Willow Bar Habitat Management Units) and others on WDFW-owned property or private lands enrolled in the Feel Free to Hunt program. See the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program website for details.

Modern firearm elk hunting begins Oct. 25. The best opportunities in the region are in the southeast district of the Blue Mountains where three to eight percent of modern firearm elk hunters bag an elk, depending on GMU. Only the GMUs within the forested portion of the southeast district are managed for elk population stability or growth (GMUs 154, 157, 162, 166, 169, 172, 175, and 186). GMUs 145, 149, 163, 178, and 181 are managed to limit elk numbers to control agricultural damage and conflict issues. The harvest of branched-bulls is regulated through the permit system. GMU 166 has had the highest success rate for general season hunters recently, but also has one of the higher densities of hunters. The unit is predominantly USFS and WDFW owned lands. A portion of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness extends into this GMU and offers backcountry hunting opportunities. Southeast district hunters are reminded that a couple of Wooten Wildlife Area campgrounds are closed, while new ones are constructed away from the Tucannon River.  Wooten Manager Kari Dingman also notes that black bears have been in the campgrounds, so hunters should not leave garbage and food out. 

Central district elk hunting is mostly in GMUs 124, 127, and 130. However, elk appear to be expanding into new areas and harvest in GMUs 139 and 142 has been on the rise. Some of these appear to be elk that move back and forth between Idaho and Washington, so timing and access to private lands is key. Hunters on private lands in GMU 130 have the highest success, probably benefitting from animals moving on and off Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Northeast district elk are widely scattered in small groups in dense forestland, making them both difficult to survey and to hunt. The best elk hunting opportunities occur in GMUs associated with the Pend Oreille sub-herd area which includes 113 (Selkirk), 117 (49 Degrees North), and 111 (Aladdin), where an average of three to four percent of modern firearm hunters are successful. Hunter harvest rates were up slightly last season but have remained steady for the past five years, with prime bulls (at least six antler points) making up about 24 percent of the harvest.

The state’s only moose hunting is in this region’s northeast district, all by special permits only drawn from last spring’s applicants. The season begins Oct. 1 and runs through November.

More details on hunting prospects by WDFW district wildlife biologists is available on the department’s website, which also includes detail on hunting access on private lands.

Wildlife watching: Bird migration is in full swing this month, from songbirds to shorebirds and waterfowl.  WDFW Wildlife Biologist David Woodall recently reported seeing a flock of Nashville warblers on a WDFW access area in the Blue Mountains of the southeast district.  Other staff report short-term invasions of migrating cedar waxwings and American robins on berry bushes, noisy gatherings of blackbirds, and soaring groups of turkey vultures

Both white-tailed and mule deer bucks are in the “rut” or breeding mode in October and early November. That can mean they’re moving across the landscape with less than their usual wariness, challenging each other and looking for does – including near roadways, and not just at dawn or dusk. Motorists traveling through deer country – which is virtually all of the region – should be alert, aware and prepared for possible collisions with these animals.

With daylight hours shrinking fast, the chances for a low-light roadside wildlife encounter are increasing, too. Black bears in particular are tough to spot in the growing dimness as they roam farther and wider in search of food, including closer to roads and human development. Bears are instinctively trying to fatten up as much as they can before going into winter dens later this fall.

WDFW officials remind all wildlife enthusiasts – both homeowners and recreationists in bear country – to avoid attracting bears by keeping any possible source of food out of their reach. That includes wild bird seed and suet, pet food, garbage, compost piles, and unpicked fruit or vegetables in orchards and gardens.

Southeast district wildlife watchers are reminded that a couple of Wooten Wildlife Area campgrounds are closed as new ones are constructed away from the Tucannon River.

Northcentral Washington
(Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)

Fishing:  Chinook salmon fishing continues on the mainstem Columbia River in the stretch from Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam. Catch rates tend to slow down at this time of the year, but anglers can still catch chinook up to 20 pounds.  There are boat-launching facilities at both city parks in Brewster and Bridgeport.

Beginning Oct. 4, anglers fishing from Priest Rapids Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam can retain three adult chinook and two coho. Anglers should check the fishing rule changes for details.

Also beginning Oct. 4, anglers can keep two coho daily when fishing the Wenatchee River from its mouth to Icicle River Road Bridge and in the Methow River from the mouth to the confluence with the Chenwuch River in Winthrop. Anglers are advised to read the fishing rule change for details.

Starting Oct. 8, fishing opens for hatchery steelhead on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan rivers until further notice. The Similkameen River will also open to retention of hatchery steelhead Nov. 1.

On all of those rivers, anglers have a daily limit of two hatchery steelhead. Anglers are required to release any steelhead with an intact adipose fin without removing the fish from the water. All steelhead fitted with a floy (anchor) tag and those with one or more round quarter-inch holes punched in their caudal (tail) fin must also be released.

Check the fishing rule change for area boundaries and additional rules in effect for these fisheries.

Meanwhile, Jameson Lake in Douglas County opens Oct. 1 for an extra month of fishing. WDFW district fish biologist Travis Maitland said anglers can expect good fishing, because the lake was stocked earlier this month with 10,000 catchable sized rainbow trout. Along with holdovers from the spring plants, the lake should provide good action for the whole month, he said. 

“Lower Antilon Lake in Chelan County is also a good bet for some spunky fall brown trout,” Maitland said. “These fish should range in size from 11 to 14 inches, with some browns in the 20-inch range.”

Maitland also notes that early fall is a good time to get into and visit some of the high lakes in Chelan County. Traditionally mild temperatures – and fewer insects – keep fish in the high lakes fish biting through October as they prepare to over-winter, he said. Check out the possibilities in the new “high lakes” section of the “Fish Washington” webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/washington/highlakes/index.html .

Rocky Ford Creek Access
Rocky Ford Creek Access

Rocky Ford Creek, open year-round in Grant County, offers a great opportunity for catch-and-release fly-fishing opportunities. WDFW maintenance staff recently spiffed up the Rocky Ford Fish Hatchery #1 access site and fortified the wooden ADA accessible fishing pier.

Walleye fishing usually picks up this month on Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir.  Yellow perch fishing also continues to be good at both lakes, as it has been all summer.

Hunting: October is the month to hunt the northcentral region, with a season opener every weekend.

WDFW has lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands in eastern Washington, where cooler temperatures and fall rains have reduced fire danger. However, hunters should be aware that some localized restrictions remain in place, including a campfire ban through Oct. 15 at all WDFW wildlife areas in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, and Kittitas counties.  Similarly, a campfire ban is in place at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant and Adams counties through Oct. 31. Any further updates will be posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

Quail and partridge hunting begins Oct. 4 and prospects are looking good for both species this year. Quail had high over-winter survival rates and great summer conditions for brood survival. Grant County usually posts the second-highest harvest of quail in the state.

Traditional quail-hunting areas on WDFW lands in the Columbia Basin district include the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex between Potholes Reservoir and the town of George, Lower Crab Creek between Corfu and the Columbia River, Gloyd Seeps between Stratford and Moses Lake, the Quincy unit near the town of Quincy, and Dry Falls unit at the south end of Banks Lake. Most chukar hunting in the district is in the Coulee Corridor areas around Banks and Lenore Lakes and along the Columbia River breaks north of Vantage.

More chukar partridge are harvested in the region’s Chelan District than any other district in the state, and production appears to be good this spring. The Chelan District also provides good quail hunting with stable production. Gray partridge occur at lower densities, with coveys dispersed across larger areas. A good place to find them is in fields enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that have lots of grass cover extending into the draws.

The Okanogan District’s shrub steppe habitats support widely distributed gray and chukar partridge and quail populations. Grays are seen frequently on the Indian Dan, Chiliwist, and Methow Wildlife Areas. Scattered groups of chukars are found in the steeper rocky areas in lower elevations. The steep hills along the Similkameen River in the north part of the Okanogan Valley usually hold good numbers of birds.

Quail can be found at lower elevations throughout the district, including the Indian Dan, Chiliwist, and Sinlahekin Wildlife Areas. Unfortunately, this summer’s wildfires consumed a lot of bird habitat, so the number of quail in those areas will likely be reduced from previous years.

Waterfowl hunting begins Oct. 11, and the Columbia Basin is second to none in the state for both hunting opportunities and hunter success for both ducks and geese. The season depends largely on bird production in Alberta, Canada, but locally produced birds remain important.

Harvest rates of three ducks per person are common for the first weekend of the general waterfowl season. Migration will bring the best waterfowl hunting in the basin, with large numbers of mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, teal, scaup, redheads, and canvasbacks in November. Until then, hunters rely on locally produced birds and early season migrants, such as American wigeon and green-winged teal. December typically provides the peak of mallards, ringnecks, and canvasbacks, while other dabbling and diving species continue their journey south.

Goose hunting typically improves in November when early season migrant Canada geese (Lesser and Taverner’s) begin to scatter from their initial staging area at Stratford Lake to alfalfa or grain fields within feeding distance from Moses Lake and the Columbia River.

One of the more popular waterfowl hunting areas is Potholes Reservoir. Winchester Lake is another good spot but gets even more pressure. Regulated Access Areas (RAA) in the district (Winchester RAA and Frenchmen RAA) provide limited entry opportunities.

Winchester Ponds Regulated Access Area Winchester Ponds Regulated Access Area map location
Winchester Ponds Regulated Access Area

Hunting of the Winchester RAA is managed through an online reservation system

Wetland basins are expected to be full for opening weekend and overall water levels should be higher than in recent years throughout the season. The access route to this area has changed: From the Junction of I-90 and Dodson Road, travel south on Dodson Road to Road 4 SW, turn right (West) on Road 4 SW and go 2 miles to the power station and turn right (north) onto the gravel road. Continue north approximately 3.5 miles until reaching a ‘Y’ in the road, proceed left. Continue along this road to the designated parking area. This access route is a two-track road through sand dunes and may require four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Local production of waterfowl in the Chelan District is up from previous years and hunters should have good opportunities in traditional areas and where permission to access ponds/lakes can be secured. Hunting along the Columbia River is usually consistent but dictated by local weather patterns.

The largest waterfowl concentrations in the Okanogan district are at the mouth of the Okanogan River and on the Columbia River. The mainstem Okanogan River and the larger lakes and potholes in the Okanogan Watershed are good secondary sites. Good public access can be found at the Driscoll Island and Sinlahekin Wildlife areas as well as the Similkameen-Chopaka Unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area.

Modern firearm deer hunting also begins Oct. 11. The Okanogan district supports the largest migratory mule deer herd in the state, and prospects for hunters look good again this year for an average 14 percent success rate.

Winter fawn survivorship has been at or above average for four of the last five years, and hunters can expect to see moderate numbers of younger bucks. Post-season buck ratios in December of 2013 were down somewhat as compared to the previous year, although the observed ratio of 25 bucks per 100 does is still excellent and should translate into good carryover or older age-class bucks.

Deer will likely be attracted to moist environments this year, given the hot, dry summer and wildfires in some areas. Many private lands adjacent to the fires saw an influx of displaced deer and the damage they can cause. These conditions could make this a good year to seek landowner permission for hunting access in areas affected by fires. To address deer damage to agricultural areas, WDFW is issuing extra hunting permits to youth, senior, disabled and other hunters who applied earlier in the year but were unsuccessful.

Great hunting for mule deer can also be found in Chelan County, and 2014 should be another great year to harvest adult bucks on public land. Douglas County is another good place to hunt mule deer, although it is dominated by private lands for which access permission must be secured. The Columbia Basin’s GMUs also produce good mule deer hunting opportunity, with most deer harvest in GMUs 272 (Beezley) and 284 (Ritzville).

Pheasant season opens Oct. 18, and Grant County was Washington’s top pheasant-producing county again in 2013. Hunters bagged 8,353 roosters there last year, and this year’s season promises more of the same. Conditions have been favorable for pheasant production beginning with a mild winter with little snow cover which allowed birds to survive winter in good condition. Spring conditions were dry, with few heavy showers which often result in mortality for young broods. But dry conditions also limit productivity of invertebrates, which are a critical dietary component of young pheasant chicks. Thus, pheasant production in the irrigated portions of the district should be better than average while production in the dryland areas is likely to be slightly below average.

The largest wild populations of pheasants on WDFW lands in the Columbia Basin District are within the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex between Potholes Reservoir and the town of George. Mixed bags of wild and released birds are also likely to be had in lower Crab Creek, Gloyd Seeps, Quincy, and Dry Falls units. For wild birds, dense thickets of Russian olive and cattail associated with Frenchmen and Winchester Wasteways and ponds are likely to hold pheasants. Farm-raised roosters are periodically released at sites across the region; see details at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/pheasant/eastern/.

Modern firearm elk hunting opens Oct.25.  Elk are present primarily along the southern and central portions of Chelan County as an extension of the Colockum herd further to the south. Hunters typically average a five percent success rate throughout the Chelan district. Elk are few and far between in Okanogan County, particularly west of the Okanogan River. In GMU 204, where the majority of the district’s limited harvest occurs, elk are a bit more abundant and on the increase, but still generally occur only in small groups scattered over the landscape. Hunters are reminded that the elk regulations have changed in GMU 204 to an “any bull” general season harvest instead of the traditional any-elk season.

More detail on this year’s hunting prospects is available on WDFW’s website. Information about hunting access on private lands is also available at on the website.

Wildlife viewing:  Raptor migrations along Chelan Ridge continue this month, with larger and more northerly species like goshawks, rough legged hawks, peregrines, golden eagles, and possibly even northern hawk owls. The Chelan Ridge raptor migration monitoring and banding station 13 miles northwest of Chelan is now in full swing. It’s a cooperative effort between Hawk Watch International and the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests to monitor and learn more about raptors migrating through the eastern Cascade Mountains of Washington within the Pacific Coast Flyway.

The project runs through late October, or whenever the snow forces the crew off the ridge. For more information, see the project’s website.

WDFW’s Columbia Basin Wildlife Area is a good spot to view fall migrating waterfowl and other water birds, including sandhill cranes, in growing numbers through the month of October. A possible Sabine’s gull was recently observed at the mouth of Crab Creek on Priest Rapid’s Pool of the Columbia River.   

Southcentral Washington
(Benton, Franklin, Kittitas and Yakima counties)

Fishing:  Approximately 300,000 chinook salmon are expected to return to the Hanford Reach this year and early October is generally the best time to catch them.

Anglers fishing the Reach were averaging better than a chinook per boat in September and catch rates are expected to rise as water temperatures cool and more chinook move into the area, said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Most fish caught have been weighing in at more than 15 pounds, with some tipping the scales at over 30 pounds, he said.

“Anglers have a great opportunity to catch bright, good-eating fish through the first half of the month,” Hoffarth said. “But these fish come to the Reach ready to spawn and they start turning dark later in October.” 

The salmon fishery is open through Oct. 31 from the Highway 395 Bridge in the Tri-cities upstream to the wooden powerline towers at the old Hanford town site, but will close on Oct. 22 from the old Hanford town site upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six salmon, up to three of which may be adult chinook or coho. Anglers must stop fishing for the day when they have harvested their limit of three adult fish.

Successful anglers are using a variety of techniques, including diver and eggs; 11-inch flashers and superbaits stuffed with tuna; diving plugs; and fillet-wrapped banana plugs like Flatfish and Kwikfish.

Beginning Oct. 4, anglers fishing from Priest Rapids Dam to 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam can retain three adult chinook and two coho. Anglers should check the fishing rule changes for details.

Meanwhile, anglers can retain hatchery steelhead on the Columbia River between the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco and Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers fishing that area have a daily limit of two adipose fin-clipped hatchery steelhead. For details on the fishery, check the emergency rule change on WDFW’s website.

WDFW asks that anglers fishing near the Ringold-Meseberg hatchery take precautions to avoid spreading invasive New Zealand mudsnails, which have recently been discovered at and near the facility. The department is setting up stations for anglers fishing along the banks to clean their boots and gear. For more information, see the recent news release on WDFW’s website.

"We're also asking boaters recreating in the area to help out by cleaning, draining and drying their boats and equipment," Pleus said.

Anglers and others recreating in the area should check WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/youcanhelp.html for information on preventing the spread of mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species.

Another good bet for salmon is the Yakima River, where fishing for fall chinook and coho usually comes alive around the second week of the month. Best bets for catching fish include waters downstream from Prosser Dam and Horn Rapids Dam, said Hoffarth. He noted, however, that fishing is closed within 400 feet downstream of those diversions.

“The salmon start moving slowly into the Yakima, then all of a sudden they’re stacked like cordwood,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a dramatic improvement in that fishery in the weeks ahead.”

Rather catch some walleye? October is also a great time to hook these toothy gamefish below McNary Dam, Hoffarth said. “Fall fishing for walleye is dynamite between Umatilla and Boardman,” he said. “Those fish are putting on the feedbag for winter and are eager to strike big lures, night and day.”

Hunting: October is prime time for hunting, with back-to-back seasons for deer and elk and the start of general seasons for ducks and geese. A mild winter combined with recent rain has created favorable conditions for many game species throughout the region.

WDFW has lifted fire restrictions on most department-managed lands in eastern Washington, where cooler temperatures and fall rains have reduced fire danger. However, hunters should be aware that some localized restrictions remain in place, including a campfire ban through Oct. 15 at all WDFW wildlife areas in Benton, Franklin, Yakima, and Kittitas counties.  Similarly, a campfire ban is in place at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant and Adams counties through Oct. 31. Any further updates will be posted on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

The modern firearm general deer season runs Oct. 11-24 in most areas, but not before muzzleloaders have had their turn in the field. The early muzzleloader season for deer got underway Sept. 27 and runs through Oct. 5 in select game management units GMUs around the region.

In 2013, the hunter success rate for deer in District 4 (Benton and Franklin counties) was 40 percent, exceeding both the statewide average (28 percent) and the five-year average for that area (36 percent). The highest concentrations of deer – mostly mule deer with the few white-tails – are in the Kahlotus Unit (GMU 381).

In District 8 (Yakima and Kittitas counties), hunter success rates have averaged about 8 percent over the past five years. The Teanaway (GMU 335) and Umtaneum (GMU 342) units have the highest success rates in the district, but also the highest number of hunters.

For information about upcoming seasons for deer and other game animals, see the 2014 Hunting Prospects on WDFW’s website. Another helpful planning tool is the department’s Game Harvest Reports, which provide additional information about previous success rates in specific game management units (GMUs).

Between the two deer seasons, muzzleloaders will take the field for elk Oct. 5-11, followed by a modern-firearm hunt starting Oct. 25 in select GMUs.

These are the seasons that many hunters have been waiting for all year – and with good reason. With its burgeoning elk herds, District 8 (Yakima and Kittitas counties) is considered the best elk-hunting area in the state. That title should stand through the upcoming season, since both the Yakima and Colockum herds are well above management objectives and WDFW has raised this year’s permit levels accordingly.

Meanwhile, general hunting seasons for ducks, geese, coots and snipe get underway Oct. 11 and – with the exception of short break – run through Jan. 25. Northern duck counts are at record levels are also up 13 percent this year, boding well for the 2014 season.

Rather hunt upland game birds? General seasons for California quail, partridge and northern bobwhite kick off Oct. 4, and pheasant hunting for all ages begins Oct. 18. For more information about upcoming seasons, see this year’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for details.

Wildlife viewing:  A record 49.2 million mallards, teal, wigeon and other ducks are expected to fly south from their northern breeding grounds this year, and many of those birds will be heading this way down the Pacific Flyway. Barring early storms, those migrants won’t arrive until later this fall, but resident ducks and geese are already on display throughout the region. Casey Pond near Burbank at McNary National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to watch them dabble and preen.

Along with waterfowl, large numbers of bald eagles will begin to flock to the region in pursuit of salmon carcasses and waterfowl as the month progresses.

October is also a good time to see terrestrial wildlife throughout the region, but with that opportunity comes danger on the roads. As temperatures cool, animals become more active, including this year’s crop of young animals without much road savvy. Vehicle collisions with deer and elk can be deadly, but don’t overlook the dangers of smaller animals on the roadway – and other drivers’ reactions to them. It’s sad and difficult to hit an animal, but it’s often much safer than trying to avoid a collision.

Birders and others afield in the coming weeks also should also be aware that a number of hunting seasons are getting under way throughout the region. While most hunters make sure of their target before they shoot, non-hunters can help to avoid an accident by wearing hunter’s orange clothing and making their presence known to hunters.