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

June 9, 2010

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

Upcoming salmon, crab fisheries
signal start of summer season

With summer just around the corner, anglers can look forward to a new season of fishing opportunities. Those include crab fisheries in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in Puget Sound, summer chinook in the Columbia River and an early opener for salmon off the Washington coast.   

Beginning June 12, a new mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook salmon will open in Washington’s ocean marine areas. Anglers will be allowed to catch and keep two hatchery chinook, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but must release coho and wild chinook. 

"We’ve already seen good numbers of hatchery chinook salmon along the coast," said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "The number of fin-clipped salmon in some of our commercial port samples is nearly 70 percent. That tells me we could have a great opener." 

The traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will begin July 1 off LaPush, Neah Bay and Ilwaco. The fishery opens July 4 off Westport.

Other upcoming fishing opportunities include:

  • June 16: Summer hatchery chinook salmon fishing opens on the mainstem Columbia River.
  • June 18: Sport crabbing opens seven days per week in marine areas 4 (Neah Bay east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (south Puget Sound).
  • July 1: Marine areas 5, 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands) and 12 (Hood Canal) open for salmon fishing.
  • July 1: Sport crabbing opens Wednesday through Saturday in marine areas 6, 8-1 (Deception Pass to East Point), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12.

Meanwhile, anglers are reeling in early summer steelhead and sturgeon on the Columbia River, halibut in Marine Area 5, lingcod on the coast and Puget Sound, and trout in lakes and streams on both sides of the Cascades.

Sound like fun? Those interested in fishing but haven’t actually given it a try will have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 12-13. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and season closures will still be in effect. (For that reason, no crab fishing will be allowed in Puget Sound during Free Fishing Weekend, because no areas will be open for crabbing at that time.) Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch that weekend. 

Catch record cards and WDFW's Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. The rules pamphlet is also posted at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations

For more information about fishing and wildlife-viewing opportunities available in the days ahead, see the regional reports below: 


North Puget Sound  

Fishing: As summer approaches, anglers have their pick of several fishing opportunities. On Puget Sound, a portion of one marine area recently opened for salmon retention and a few days remain to hook lingcod in the region. In the rivers, the trout season is open and, on a few streams, fisheries are under way for hatchery chinook salmon.
 
Portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers are open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River. On the Cascade, anglers can fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).
 
Anglers also can fish for salmon on the Skykomish River, where there have been recent reports of anglers hooking some bright hatchery chinook. The Skykomish is open from the mouth to the Wallace River through July 31. Anglers fishing there have a daily limit of two hatchery chinook salmon.

Meanwhile, lake fishing for bass, bluegill, perch , and crappie is steadily improving as water temperatures increase and fish become more active. "Early summer can be a tricky time for anglers given the abundance of natural food and unstable weather patterns," said Danny Garrett, WDFW fisheries biologist. "As we move into summer and temperatures rise, fish tend to feed in shallow water - about 2 to 5 feet - early in the morning and late in the evening." When fishing for lunker bass, Garrett recommends topwater baits, such as buzzbaits, frogs, and poppers, and soft plastic twitch baits, including stick baits and flukes.

During the heat of the day, bass often move to deeper water near structures or other cover, Garrett said. In clear, deep lakes, such as Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish, anglers should focus on the outside edge of boat docks and along the weed line in 15 to 20 feet of water, he said, noting that a drop-shot technique with plastic bait is a good approach.

Anglers should be aware that a section of the South Fork Stillaguamish River was mistakenly omitted from the new sportfishing rules pamphlet. That section of the Stillaguamish, from Mountain Loop Highway Bridge upstream, opened for gamefish June 5. Fishing regulations include catch and release, except two hatchery steelhead may be retained. Selective gear rules also apply, and fishing from a floating device with a motor is prohibited.

Out on the saltwater, fishing has been slow at the Tulalip Bay "bubble" fishery . Except for a one-day closure on June 19, the fishery is open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 6. The fishery will reopen Sept. 11 on a Saturday and Sunday-only schedule through Sept. 26. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit. Chinook must measure 22 inches in length to retain.

Fishing for lingcod is still an option. The fishery runs through June 15 in the region’s marine areas. During the hook-and-line season (May 1-June 15), there's a one-fish daily limit for lings, with a minimum size of 26 inches and a maximum size of 36 inches.

The region's spot shrimp fishery is closed, but shrimpers can fish for coonstripe and pink shrimp in some marine areas. For details on shrimp fisheries check WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/shrimp/ .

Crab fishing is just around the corner. The fishery opens July 1 in marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Fisheries in those areas will be open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ ) for more information.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .
 
Washingtonians who are interested in fishing but haven't actually given it a try have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend , scheduled June 12-13. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

In addition, anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on thousands of lakes statewide, nor will they need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and season closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch. Catch record cards and WDFW's Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Wildlife viewing: The region continues to be a hotspot for whalewatchers. Gray whales have been spotted traveling throughout the region’s marine waters, minke whales were seen feeding at Hein Bank (the eastern portion of the Strait of Juan de Fuca), and pods of orcas have been sighted along Whidbey and Camano islands and in the San Juans.

Birding has been good in the region as well. On a recent trip to Marymoor Park in Redmond, birders spotted more than 60 different species, including a green heron , four ospreys , several bald eagles , a Lazuli bunting , downy and pileated woodpeckers and a chestnut-backed chickadee .


South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Many Olympic Peninsula and south Sound rivers opened June 5. Lakes are still full of catchable size rainbow trout , and the openers for salmon and crab are just ahead.

Erica Crust, WDFW’s ocean port sampler, spent June 5 in Neah Bay watching anglers reel in halibut , a few of which were in excess of 100 pounds, and lingcod in the 30 pound range.

Anglers may yet get one additional day to catch halibut. Some sport quota remains and WDFW is considering reopening the fishery off La Push and Neah Bay for one day. A decision is expected soon, so fishers should watch the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ for an announcement.

Even as anglers were battling halibut June 5, many were looking ahead to salmon. "We are hoping to see some nice fish landed on the recreational boats come Saturday," Crust said, referring to the June 12 sport chinook fishery opener.

This is expected to be a banner year for anglers fishing for chinook. Nearly 653,000 fall chinook are forecasted to return to the Columbia River this season, about 234,000 more chinook than the number returning last year. Based on that estimate, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PMFC) in April adopted a recreational ocean quota of 61,000 chinook, three times last year’s level.

In April, the PMFC also established a pilot mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in Washington’s ocean areas. From June 12-30, anglers will be allowed to catch and keep abundant hatchery salmon, which are identified by their missing adipose fin. The daily limit is two hatchery chinook. All wild salmon must be released.

"This is the first season we will have a selective fishery for hatchery chinook in the ocean," said Phil Anderson, WDFW director, when he announced the new fishery. By using this management tool we can meet our conservation goals and give anglers an additional opportunity to fish for hatchery chinook in the ocean."

The recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will begin July 1 off LaPush, Neah Bay and Ilwaco, and July 4 off Westport. This year’s recreational quota for coho is 67,200, down considerably from last year’s ocean quota of 176,400 fish.

Already open to salmon fishing is Marine Area 11 (Tacoma-Vashon Island), which opened relatively strong on June 1. Creel checks that day at the Point Defiance marina counted 79 anglers catching 27 chinook.
 
As the salmon season gears up, so too will the season for crab , with the first opening June 18 between the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca east to Low Point, and in Marine Area 13 at the south end of Puget Sound.

Dungeness and red rock crab seasons are:

  • Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 and 13 - open at 7 a.m. on June 18 and run through Jan. 2.
  • Marine areas 6, 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 and 12 - open at 7 a.m., July 1 and are open Wednesday through Saturday through Sept. 6, and open the entire Labor Day weekend.
  • Marine areas 7 South and East - open July 14 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.
  • Marine Area 7 North - open Aug. 11 through Sept. 30, Wednesday through Saturday, and the entire Labor Day weekend.
  • Pacific Ocean - open Dec.1 to Sept.15 for pot gear, and year-round for other gear.

There is a daily limit of five Dungeness crab in Puget Sound. Minimum size is 6 ¼-inches and only males in hardshell condition may be kept. In the Sound, all gear must be removed from the water on days when the fishery is closed.

The daily limit of red rock crab is six in all marine areas. Minimum size is five inches and either sex may be kept.

Crab fishing rules can be found on pages 137-139 of the 2010-11 edition of Washington’s Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet , which contains maps of all the marine areas and sub-areas. The pamphlet is free and available at the more than 600 stores where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The pamphlet also can be downloaded from WDFW’s web site at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Before heading out, crabbers should check for any emergency rule changes adopted since the fishing pamphlet was published. Those changes can be found on WDFW’s website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/   or by calling the Shellfish Rule Change toll-free hotline at (866) 880-5431.

While many seasons are opening, the season for lingcod in Puget Sound is winding down and will close June 15. On the coast, the lingcod season remains open through Oct. 15.

In marine areas 4 and 5, east of Tatoosh, creel counts in early June indicate that anglers have been reeling in halibut, rockfish, Pacific cod and the occasional kelp greenling and lingcod .

At the north end of Puget Sound, creel reports from the first week of June indicate that greenling and lingcod were about the only thing on the business end of fishing lines at Coronet Bay public ramp and the Washington Park launch.

Flatfish and, to a lesser extent, lingcod dominated fishing from Everett south to the Shilshole marina, according to creel checks through June 7.

And in south Sound, off Point Defiance, creel checks conducted the first week of June indicate that chinook and the occasional lingcod and flatfish were being reeled in.

Trout and steelhead fishing got under way June 5 in area rivers, including the Skokomish, South Fork Skokomish and Dungeness. Anglers should note that selective gear rules are in effect on those rivers to protect wild summer steelhead. Details on rules and limits are online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Wildlife viewing: This time of year, many local chapters of the Audubon Society offer the opportunity to get some exercise while checking out migratory birds up from Mexico and Central America. Members of the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Sequim go out for a two-hour walk every Wednesday morning from 8:30 to 10:30. Walkers gather at the Center, which is located in R.R. Bridge Park.

The Tahoma Audubon Society also holds weekly walks each Wednesday. Theirs’ start at 7:30 a.m. and feature three-and-a-half hour walks through the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. The trek leaves from the refuge’s visitor’s center.

Both organizations also hold regular work parties to restore habitat.

After a few days without reported sightings, whales now are making appearances in numerous locations in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. On June 4, 5 and 6, orcas from J, K and L pod were spotted off Whidbey Island, off the south and west sides of San Juan Island and at the entrance to Port Townsend.

One J-pod member, J34 Doublestuf , was spotted with other J-pod members June 4 at the south end of San Juan Island.

To keep pace with whale sightings go to the Orca Network’s sighting report page at http://www.orcanetwork.org/sightings/map.html .


Southwest Washington

Fishing: This year’s fishery for adult summer chinook salmon opens June 16 on the mainstem Columbia River with high expectations and a whole new management approach. For the first time in years, anglers can look forward to a full season running through July, rather than just a few weeks. To make that possible, a mark-selective fishery will be instituted for hatchery chinook this year, requiring anglers to release any wild chinook they encounter.

For their part, the fish are expected to show up in large numbers.  According to the pre-season forecast, 88,800 summer chinook will return to the Columbia this year - the largest number since 2002.  About a third of those salmon are estimated to be five-year-olds, some weighing up to 40 pounds.

"This year’s fishery offers anglers a chance to catch chrome bright trophy-sized fish right through July," said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist. "There’s a good reason why these fish are known as ‘June hogs,’ and this season will give anglers a good chance to take one home."

Starting June 16, anglers may retain up to two adult hatchery chinook or hatchery steelhead (or one of each) caught on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco  All other salmon must be released - including sockeye, which are not expected to meet escapement goals at Lake Wenatchee this year.

Hymer said high-water conditions on the Columbia River may favor bank anglers over boat anglers fishing for summer chinook. "The river is running about twice as high as it was during the spring chinook fishery, which could present a challenge for boat anglers," he said. "Boat anglers had the advantage during the spring chinook fishery, but fishing for summer chinook could be better - and safer - from the bank."

Hymer said the six-week season scheduled for summer chinook would not be possible without new selective rules designed to preserve wild salmon. Although wild summer chinook stocks are considered healthy, fishery managers plan to conserve naturally spawning fish and set aside some summer chinook for use as broodstock at the new Chief Joseph Hatchery, scheduled for completion next year on the upper Columbia River.

Another major factor in this year’s extended summer chinook fishery is the additional revenue produced by the new Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement fee, Hymer said. "In the past, the cost of adequately monitoring and sampling a six-week fishery was prohibitive," he said. "This year’s extended summer chinook fishery is one of very first uses the department has made of those revenues."

During the run-up to the summer chinook season, Columbia River anglers have been catching hatchery steelhead, hatchery chinook jacks and shad from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to the Interstate 5 Bridge.  Growing numbers of shad are also available for harvest upriver to the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco. On June 7, the single-day count of shad passing Bonneville Dam was 81,656. For information on shad, including fishing tips and recipes, see the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shad/ .

Like the mainstem Columbia, most area tributaries have been running high and fast, complicating fisheries on some rivers. The spring chinook run is fading fast in most rivers, but the fishery for hatchery-reared summer steelhead is still on the upswing, Hymer said. The summer steelhead run on most rivers should peak this month on most rivers, although the Cowlitz doesn’t top out until July, he said.

For up-to-date information on fishing rules throughout the region, call the WDFW Region 5 Hotline at (360) 696-6211 ext. 1010 or see the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/reg5_hotline/ .

Sturgeon fishing is also picking up, particularly in the Columbia River estuary, downriver from the Wauna powerlines At Deep River and the Knappton ramps, anglers averaged a legal-size fish for every two boats. At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, charter boat anglers averaged a legal-size fish kept per every 5.1 rods while private boat anglers averaged one per every 7.4 rods. Approximately 37 percent of the fish caught were keepers. The retention fishery continues daily through June 26 (or when the quota is met), then switches to catch and release. 

Meanwhile, bank anglers fishing at Riffe Lake have been averaging 1.5 landlocked coho per rod. Virtually all of the fish were caught near the dam and at Taidnapam. Those angling for trout should be aware that Mayfield Lake will be planted with 10,000 catchable-size rainbows this month. In addition, the Tilton River was planted during the first week of June and will continue to get fish through the summer.  Other area streams are expected to be planted once flows recede.  For weekly stocking reports, check the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/ .

Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but haven't actually given it a try have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend , scheduled June 12-13. During those two days, no license will be required to fish in Washington waters nor will they need a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement, otherwise required to fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as size limits, bag limits and season closures will still be in effect. Anglers will also be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch. Catch record cards and WDFW's Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state.

Wildlife viewing:   A Longview birder recently reported hearing an unmistakable call during an outing along Shelter Road in Cowlitz County: "Bob-bob-white."  Sure enough, the birder followed the call through the brush to find a somewhat out-of-place bobwhite , also known as a New World quail. Common in the southeastern United States, bobwhite are sometimes seen in the southern Puget Sound area (where they were once transplanted), but seldom in the rest of the state.

Of course, birds are often heard before they are seen. A birder from Cinebar recently noted her efforts to develop her "birding by ear" abilities in an entry on the Tweeters birdwatching website (http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/ ). "One of the nicest side-effects of this is that I hear individual bird songs now instead of just birds," she wrote. "Right now, I’m listening to a male American goldfinch on the feeder outside my open window."

Rather see fish on the move?  Sleek spring chinook , beefy summer chinook , and chrome bright steelhead and sockeye are moving up the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam, although shad are the most common sight now through the viewing windows at the Washington Shore Visitor Complex.  On June 7, more than 81,000 shad passed by the viewing windows.

To see the annual migration up the fish ladders stop by the Visitor Complex off Washington State Highway 14. Go east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and turn into the Bonneville Dam visitor center. The visitor center is the glass building at the end of the powerhouse.


Eastern Washington

Fishing: Free Fishing Weekend , June 12-13, couldn’t be at a better time, says WDFW District Fish Biologist Chris Donley of Spokane, because there are so many good fishing opportunities throughout the region.

"If you can’t catch a fish now," Donley said, "you’re not even trying."

Donley reports all trout-stocked lakes are good fishing now.  Near Spokane, the best are probably Williams and Badger lakes, in southwest Spokane County. Anglers are averaging more rainbow trout at Williams, but larger fish at Badger. Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, continues to provide good catches of rainbows, and Rock Lake in Whitman County is good for both rainbow and brown trout .

Kokanee fishing is very good now at Chapman Lake in southwest Spokane County and Loon Lake in southern Stevens County, Donley says.

"Kokanee fishing is also picking up on Lake Roosevelt as the weather warms," he said, "especially in the Keller Ferry and Sanpoil areas. Rainbow trout fishing on Roosevelt also continues to be good."

Walleye fishing is productive now in the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt, Donley says, and the Spokane River itself is good for all fishing.

Yellow perch and crappie fishing is good at Bonnie Lake near the Spokane-Whitman county line, he says. Eloika Lake in north Spokane County, Long Lake (Spokane River reservoir), and Downs Lake in the southwest corner of Spokane County, all have nice crappie, too.
 
WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker of Colville agrees that the month of June provides some of the best fishing in the region.
 
Baker says rainbow trout fishing continues to be especially good at two Ferry County lakes -- Curlew Lake, northeast of Republic, and Ellen Lake, 14 miles north of Inchelium.

Stevens County’s Rocky, Waitts and Starvation lakes are also fishing well, but anglers need to remember that Starvation Lake is catch-and-release only now.
 
Anglers who use boats are reminded to clean and inspect their vessels and trailers anytime they are moved from one body of water to another. The precaution is needed to avoid introducing or spreading aquatic invasive plant and animal species, from milfoil to zebra mussels.

Fish diseases and juvenile stages of some invasive species also can be transported in bait buckets, live fish well water and ballast tanks; all of which need to be cleaned and dried. Learn more at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/youcanhelp.html .

Wildlife viewing:  Wild turkey, pheasant, and quail chicks, white-tailed and mule deer fawns , and other newly hatched or born young wildlife are starting to be seen throughout the region as summer advances. WDFW wildlife biologists remind outdoor recreationists to enjoy the youngsters from afar, especially avoiding the mistake of thinking solo fawns are abandoned.
 
"Does leave their fawns periodically to forage and avoid drawing predators with their own body scent," explained WDFW deer research biologist Woody Myers. "They may look orphaned, but most are not."

Songbirds are also nesting and backyard birders report some are already bringing off hatches of young. The region’s many riparian or streamside areas, like the Spokane River’s Centennial Trail, are good places to watch and listen for territorial singing or hatchlings peeping to be fed. WDFW wildlife areas, from Chief Joseph in the southeast corner to Sherman Creek in the far north, are also excellent spots for birdwatchers to visit now.

 

Northcentral Washington

Fishing:   Thanks to an abundant run of hatchery spring chinook salmon , a special season opened May 26 and runs through June on the Entiat River in Chelan County.
 
Chinook fishing is allowed from the Alternate Highway 97 Bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River, upstream about six miles to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery fish ladder entrance. The daily catch limit is two hatchery-marked (clipped adipose fin) salmon of minimum size 12 inches. Anglers must release any chinook with adipose fins, and all steelhead and bulltrout. Knotless nets are required and the anti-snagging rule and a night closure is in effect. There’s no fishing from motorized boats, but bait is allowed. The Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement is required.

WDFW estimates over 800 hatchery-origin spring chinook are returning to the Entiat River and this selective fishery will remove excess hatchery fish to increase the proportion of wild spring chinook on the spawning grounds.

Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, said several rainbow trout lakes continue to provide good fishing through June.  Pearrygin, Wannacut, Conconully Reservoir, Conconully Lake, Spectacle, and Alta are producing rainbows in the 8-12 inch range with winter-carryover fish up to 15 inches.
 
Jateff reminds anglers that when fishing with bait, the first five fish caught are considered part of the daily limit whether kept or released. "This rule is in place to minimize hook and release mortality on fish caught with bait," Jateff said.

Several lakes in Okanogan County are under selective gear rules with catch-and- release regulations during the summer months.  These waters - Big and Little Green, Rat, Campbell, Davis, and Cougar lakes - all have rainbows. Rat Lake also has brown trout .

"Aeneas Lake is a fly-fishing only water that has provided good fishing for rainbows 14-16 inches with an occasional brown trout up to 18 inches," Jateff said.  "Aeneas has several campsites, a boat launch, and toilet, so it’s a good choice for a family weekend outing."

Recreational boaters and anglers should always carefully inspect and clean their boats and equipment before moving their vessels from one body of water to another to avoid introducing or spreading aquatic invasive plant and animal species, from milfoil to zebra mussels. For more information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/ais/youcanhelp.html .

Wildlife viewing: WDFW’s Sinlahekin Wildlife Area is teeming with bird life now, including lots of newly-hatched youngsters.  Area manager Dale Swedberg and assistant manager Justin Haug report a pair of northern goshawks have hatched at least two young that Haug recently photographed from the county road that runs through the area.
 
Haug also photographed black-chinned and rufous hummingbirds and flowering bitterroot . Swedberg also reported seeing a black and white warbler , a first for Okanogan County.

Black-chinned hummingbird - Photo by Justin Haug
Black-chinned hummingbird
Photo by Justin Haug
Rufous hummingbird - Photo by Justin Haug
Rufous hummingbird
Photo by Justin Haug
Goshawklets - Photo by Justin Haug
Goshawklets
Photo by Justin Haug
Possible hybrid hummingbird
Possible hybrid

Further south and west in Okanogan County, WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin and Watershed Steward Biologist Ken Bevis recently assisted a student with a hummingbird research project, including the capture and banding of several dozen birds of three species - black-chinned, rufous, and calliope hummingbirds . Fitkin said the objective is to improve knowledge of the species’ migration routes, wintering areas, and migratory behavior differences between adults and juveniles.
 
"One bird we caught appeared to be a male black-chinned on first glance, but on closer examination it had some strange morphologic anomalies," Fitkin said.  "The combination of plumage coloring and physical measurements suggests a black-chinned/Anna’s hybrid. Photos and measurements have been forwarded to experts.  If verified, this may be only the second documentation of such a hybrid."
 
Fitkin says now is peak songbird reproduction time throughout the Methow Valley. It’s also the peak of new mule deer fawns . "Just remember to look and don’t touch," Fitkin said. "Don’t approach or attempt to pick up fawns you think are abandoned. The doe is foraging nearby and keeping her body scent from drawing predators directly to her fawn."


Southcentral Washington

Fishing: June 5 marked the opening of many of Washington’s rivers, and considering that some Central Washington streams are running high, the fishing has been fairly good. It’s likely to remain that way through Free Fishing Weekend, which runs June 12-13 for those who either are experiencing the sport for the first time, or want to revive an old hobby.

"River conditions will continue to improve as summer approaches," says Eric Anderson, WDFW fisheries biologist in Yakima.

Anderson reminds anglers that most streams have reduced catch and size limits for trout , and there are catch-and-release zones on the Yakima River above Roza Dam, in sections of the Naches River and in Rattlesnake Creek where all trout must be released unharmed.  Also, in most large mainstem rivers and streams in the Yakima basin, anglers must use single barbless hooks and no bait.

Always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. It also can be downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations . That web page also contains a link to emergency rules that have been enacted since the pamphlet was published. 

Anderson said that changing the opening date for rivers to the first Saturday in June gave juvenile salmon and steelhead more time to migrate from local rivers and streams to the ocean, and allowed adult trout and steelhead to spawn without being disturbed.

"It also allows anglers to start the season on a weekend day," he said.

Spring chinook fishing continues to be good in the upper section of the Yakima River between Union Gap and Roza Dam despite the high water conditions.  In May, anglers harvested an estimated 695 hatchery adults and 37 jacks in this section of the river. All wild fish must be released unharmed.

Fishing for channel catfish in the lower reaches of the Yakima and Walla Walla rivers has been very good in recent weeks and those two rivers should provide excellent fishing through the summer months. The fishery on the Yakima River upstream from the I-82 bridge at Union Gap to Roza Dam will remain open through June 30.

Fishing for smallmouth bass and walleye should improve in the Columbia and Snake rivers as those waters warm.

Sturgeon fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year.  Be aware sturgeon fishing is prohibited from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam in the Snake River and upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam in the Columbia River (white sturgeon sanctuaries).

Shad have been pouring through Bonneville Dam in huge numbers, and should be passing John Day and McNary dams in numbers that make for great June fishing, said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish and wildlife biologist in Central Washington.

Hoffarth notes that Powerline Lake and Marmes Pond were planted with rainbow trout earlier this spring, and that the cooler temperatures should "keep the bite going" in these two waters for a couple more weeks. Both of those lakes are walk-in only.

On June 16 the Columbia River upstream to Priest Rapids Dam opens for hatchery summer chinook . All salmon other than hatchery chinook must be released. Daily limit is six hatchery fish, up to two may be adult chinook. Anglers must stop fishing when their adult portion of the daily limit is retained.

The Columbia River downstream from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick will also open for the retention of hatchery steelhead on June 16.  Any steelhead retained will count toward the daily adult salmon limit of two fish.

Steelhead fishing will remain closed in the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 bridge, and in the Snake River until the fall.

See the Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules pamphlet for more details. The pamphlet is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. It also can be viewed and downloaded at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations . That web page also contains a link to emergency rules that have been enacted since the pamphlet was published. 

Wildlife viewing:   Opportunities range from the very small, butterflies and nesting songbirds , to bighorn sheep, calving elk , black bears, coyotes and cougars . Needless to say, all but the butterflies and songbirds should be viewed from a healthy distance. Also be aware that with warm weather come rattlesnakes , and the hotter the weather the more active they get.

With school ending and the vacation season approaching be advised that this is a very active time for wildlife, and the time when people and animals have the most interaction. That means great wildlife viewing, but also an increased chance for close encounters with critters better viewed from a distance.

WDFW officials say that following some basic rules when recreating outdoors or living in wildlife habitat can minimize chances of problems:

  • Don’t intentionally or unintentionally feed wildlife; keep camps and property clean by storing food and garbage securely.
  • Stay in groups while hiking and camping.
  • Leave dogs and other pets at home.
  • Be alert and aware of your surroundings to avoid surprising wild animals
  • Give wild animals plenty of space
  • Never approach a wild animal

For more on what to do in close encounters, see WDFW’s "Living With Wildlife" series at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/ .
 
WDFW has released its draft of the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse recovery plan. Public comment will be taken through Sept. 7, 2010. The plan and how you can comment are at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/pub.php?id=00882 .