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

September 2010

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

Hunters take to the field,
salmon move in from the ocean

The sun is setting earlier and there's a chill in the morning air, the first signs of the change of season.  Fall is in the air, and hunters are heading out for the first major hunting seasons of the year. 

Archery hunts for deer got under way around the state Sept. 1, when hunting seasons also opened for forest grouse, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. Other seasons set to open this month include those for elk, band-tailed pigeon and - in some areas of eastern Washington - wild turkey.

A youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds runs Sept. 25-26 statewide. To participate, hunters must be 15 years old or younger and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. 

"Our deer and elk populations definitely benefitted from the mild weather last winter," said Dave Ware, statewide game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "Fall hunting seasons look very promising."  

So do this month's fishing prospects. On the Columbia River, thousands of hefty chinook salmon are pushing upstream into tributaries below and above Bonneville Dam. Farther north, coho salmon are moving east through the Strait of Juan de Fuca in increasing numbers.

"After Labor Day is when we usually see a big push of ocean coho move into Puget Sound," said Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist. "We should see more and more of those ocean fish make their way into the Sound as the month progresses."

Prefer the serenity of a high mountain lake?  September is a great time to hike to an alpine lake on either side of the Cascades, enjoy the outdoors and often catch some fish, said Joe Hymer, another WDFW fish biologist. 

"Sure, the fish are usually small, but the leaves are beginning to turn, the air is crisp and you can really experience the change in season," Hymer said.

As part of the change of season, Puget Sound crabbers are reminded that summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 10 - whether or not they caught or fished for crab this year. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement. 

Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 6 should record their catch on their winter catch card.

For more information about hunting, fishing and wildlife-viewing opportunities available this month, see the regional reports below:


North Puget Sound  

Fishing: Coho salmon are moving into Puget Sound in increasing numbers, with the bulk of the run expected to arrive from the ocean later this month. Anglers can also expect good fishing in several rivers and lakes.

"After Labor Day is when we usually see a big push of ocean coho move into Puget Sound," said Steve Thiesfeld, a WDFW fish biologist. "We should see more and more of those ocean fish make their way into the Sound as the month progresses."
 
Once those fish arrive, Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to hook ocean coho, Thiesfeld said. Anglers fishing those areas - or other waters of marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) - have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook. In Marine Area 10, anglers also must release chum salmon through Sept. 15, while those fishing in Marine Area 9 must release chum through Sept. 30.
 
Marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) also are open for salmon fishing.  Anglers fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild coho and chum. Those fishing marine areas 8-1 and 8-2 also have a daily limit of two salmon but must release chinook.

Meanwhile, recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound on Labor Day. Areas closing one hour after sunset Sept. 6 include Marine areas 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10, 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) and 12 (Hood Canal).

Marine Area 7 remains open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, through Sept. 30. Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (South Puget Sound) remain open for crabbing through Jan. 2, seven days a week.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 10 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 6 should record their catch on their winter catch card.

In freshwater, Thiesfeld said the best bet for anglers fishing for coho salmon in the region might be the Stillaguamish and Skagit rivers, where abundant runs are expected to return this year. The Stillaguamish and Skagit, as well as the Snohomish, Skykomish, Snoqualmie and Green (Duwamish) rivers open for salmon fishing Sept. 1.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers fishing the Green River that chinook salmon must be released.

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. Sammamish Lake's larger neighbor, Lake Washington, opens Sept. 16 to coho fishing. Anglers will be allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) from waters north of the Highway 520 Bridge and east of the Montlake Bridge.

Hunting: In the coming weeks, hunters have several options to consider as early hunting seasons open throughout September. Archery -only hunts for deer and cougar begin Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 24, while archery hunts for elk are open Sept. 7-19. Muzzleloader -only seasons for deer and cougar start Sept. 25, followed by the early muzzleloader hunt for elk that begins Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, bear hunts are under way in the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons open Sept. 1. The dove hunt lasts through Sept. 30, while the season for forest grouse runs through Dec. 31. In addition, an early Canada goose hunt is open Sept. 10-15 in Goose Management Areas 1 and 3, while the band-tailed pigeon season runs Sept. 15-23.

Hunters under the age of 16 will have an opportunity to go afield for ducks, geese, coots and pheasants during a special youth hunt Sept. 25-26. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult - at least 18 years old - who is not hunting.

Hunters 65 years or older will have the opportunity to go afield for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 27-Oct. 1. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 2.

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ for details. Also, area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ .

Wildlife viewing: Birdwatchers have an opportunity to do some birding in the Edmonds area during the Puget Sound Bird Fest Sept. 10-12. The festival is a celebration of birds and nature in and around downtown Edmonds. The event features bird watching, guided walks, speakers, field trips and educational activities. For more information, visit the Puget Sound Bird Fest website at http://www.pugetsoundbirdfest.com/ .

Whalewatchers should have several opportunities in September to spot orca whales in the San Juan Islands. The resident orcas are feasting on salmon runs now making their way along the shores of the islands. One of the best spots to view whales is from Lime Kiln State Park on the western shore of San Juan Island, where all three resident pods - J, K and L - can sometimes be seen together forming what is known as a "superpod." 


South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Sep 17 Update: Marine areas 3 and 4 will remain open through Sept. 19, allowing one additional day of salmon fishing beyond what is indicated in the 2010-2011 Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Fishing: Salmon anglers on the coast are still catching fish as the ocean fishery enters the home stretch. Coho fishing is expected to peak in mid-September, as the bulk of the run moves through the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Puget Sound.

During the last week of August, anglers on the coast were still finding some bright chinook as the coho catch began to climb, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for WDFW. "I expect fishing to continue to be good for chinook and coho as we move into the final weeks of the fishery," he said. 

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 19 in marine areas 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco). However, salmon fisheries in those areas could close early if catch quotas are reached. Milward reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .

Anglers fishing marine areas 1, 2, 3 and 4 can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed. All four ocean marine areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week.

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers fishing in late August were picking up a few ocean coho but the big push of silvers into Puget Sound isn't expected until after Labor Day, said Steve Thiesfeld, WDFW fish biologist. "By the middle of September, coho fishing should pick up in the Strait, as well as in areas of northern and central Puget Sound," he said.   

Anglers fishing marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) have a two-salmon daily limit but must release chum, chinook and wild coho. However, anglers fishing Marine Area 5 will be allowed to retain wild coho beginning Sept. 16.
 
Farther south, salmon fishing opens Sept. 1 north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), where the daily limit is four coho only. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to Dabob and Quilcene bays, which opened for salmon fishing Aug. 16.
 
In the southern portion of Puget Sound, anglers fishing Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon) have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. Anglers fishing Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound), have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook and wild coho.
  
Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ ) before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, recreational crab fishing will close for a catch assessment in most areas of Puget Sound on Labor Day. Areas closing one hour after sunset Sept. 6 include Marine areas 6, 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay), 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), 10 (Seattle/Bremerton), 11 and 12.

Marine Area 7 remains open on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule, plus the entire Labor Day weekend, through Sept. 30. Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu) and 13 (South Puget Sound) remain open for crabbing through Jan. 2, seven days a week.

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. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. See WDFW's sport-crabbing website ( http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ ) for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 10 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2010 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2011 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/crc.html . Crabbers who continue to fish in an open area after Sept. 6 should record their catch on their winter catch card.

Several rivers around the region open to salmon fishing Sept. 1, including the Carbon River in Pierce County; Copalis River, Van Winkle Creek and Joe Creek in Grays Harbor County; the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County; and Clearwater River in Jefferson County. Salmon fisheries on the Skokomish, Puyallup and Nisqually rivers are already under way.

On a portion of the Hoh River, anglers can now fish for salmon seven days a week and keep up to two adult salmon as part of their six-fish daily limit.

Before heading out, anglers should check the rules and regulations for all fisheries on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations .
 
Hunting: In the coming weeks, hunters have several options to consider as early hunting seasons open throughout September. Archery -only hunts for cougar get under way Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 24. Archery hunts for deer also are open Sept. 1-24, except in seven of the region's Game Management Units - 636, 638, 653, 602, 607, 612 and 618 - that are only open Sept. 1-19. Archers can go afield for elk Sept. 7-19.  

Muzzleloader -only seasons for deer and cougar start Sept. 25, followed by the early muzzleloader hunt for elk that begins Oct. 2.

Meanwhile, bear hunts are under way in the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The statewide forest grouse and dove hunting seasons open Sept. 1. The dove hunt continues through Sept. 30, while the season for forest grouse runs through Dec. 31. In addition, an early Canada goose hunt will be open Sept. 1-15 in Goose Management Area 2B (Pacific County) and Sept. 10-15 in Goose Management Areas 1 and 3, while the band-tailed pigeon season runs Sept. 15-23.

Hunters under the age of 16 will have an opportunity to go afield for ducks, geese, coots and pheasants during a special youth hunt Sept. 25-26. However, Goose Management Area 2B is not open for Canada geese during the youth hunt. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult - at least 18 years old - who is not hunting.

Hunters 65 years or older will have the opportunity to go afield for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 27-Oct. 1. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 2.

Before going afield, all hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/  for details. Also, area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state area available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ .

Wildlife viewing: A popular attraction in September is the return of hatchery chinook salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia as they begin their annual spawning run. Onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia before they enter Capitol Lake.

Elsewhere, a three-day festival celebrating wildlife and the environment will be held Sept. 24-26 at Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park, 2151 W. Hendrickson Road in Sequim. For more information on the Dungeness River Festival , which will feature presentations, events and hands-on environmental activities, visit the Audubon center's website at http://www.dungenessrivercenter.org


Southwest Washington

Sep 17 Update: Beginning Sept. 18, anglers may keep one adult chinook with an intact adipose fin as part of the two adult chinook daily limit on the Cowlitz River. For more information, check the emergency rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=954.

Sep 21 Update: Beginning Sept. 22, anglers may keep two adult chinook as part of their daily limit from Rocky Point upriver to Bonneville Dam.

Fishing:   September is prime time for salmon fishing in the Columbia River Basin, as large numbers of fish move upriver and into tributaries on both sides of Bonneville Dam.  Anglers fishing the lower river below the dam are expected to reel in nearly 30,000 fall chinook and 13,000 hatchery coho this season - most of which will be taken this month.

"Prospects are good for salmon fishing this month, but it's important to remember these fish are on the move," said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "As the month goes on, successful anglers will follow the fish upriver and into the tributaries."

The retention fishery for chinook salmon ended Aug. 31 at Buoy 10, but hatchery coho should remain strong below Rocky Point throughout the month. Even so, the prospect of catching a hefty chinook salmon is drawing most anglers farther upstream.

Through Sept. 12, anglers may take two adult chinook per day as part of their limit from Rocky Point upriver to Bonneville Dam. Anglers fishing those waters have a daily limit of six fish, including two adult salmon or steehead or one of each. The retention fishery for chinook ends Sept. 12 below the Lewis River, but that section will remain open to fishing for hatchery coho, hatchery steelhead and hatchery sea-run cutthroats

"Anglers targeting chinook do best in fairly deep water - 40 to 50 feet down," Hymer said. "Some of the best fishing for both salmon and steelhead will be at the mouths of tributaries, where the fish hold up before heading upstream."

As the month progresses, salmon fishing will heat up farther upstream in the tributaries, Hymer said. He reminds anglers of several new rules that will be in effect on some rivers this year:

  • Wild chinook release:   New this year, all unmarked chinook (adults and jacks) must be released on the Toutle, Green, Washougal, Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake and Camas Slough. Like last year, anglers must also release unmarked chinook on the Grays, Elochoman and Kalama rivers.  
  • Lewis River rule:   Hatchery fall chinook may be retained through September on the Lewis River, including the North Fork.   Beginning Oct.1, all chinook must be released and fishing from any floating device will be prohibited on the North Fork Lewis River from Johnson Creek upstream to Colvin Creek.
  • Fishing closures:   Cedar Creek, a tributary of the North Fork Lewis River, is closed to all fishing in September and October. Lower Lacamas Creek, a tributary of the Washougal River, will also close to all fishing in September.

Like last year, anglers can retain up to six hatchery adult coho on all tributaries to the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal. Regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW's Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ .

On the Cowlitz River, from boundary markers at the mouth to 400 feet below Mayfield Dam Powerhouse, fishing regulations change Sept. 18, when anglers may keep one adult chinook with an intact adipose fin as part of the two adult chinook daily limit. The change was made because an unexpected abundance of hatchery-produced fall chinook that have not been marked with a missing adipose fin are returning to the Cowlitz River this season. For more information, see the emergency rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=954.

There are, of course, a variety of other fishing opportunities besides salmon available to area anglers this month. Smallmouth bass are coming on strong above John Day Dam, and trout fishing is still an option at Skate Creek, Tilton River and a number of lowland lakes, including Swift Reservoir.

But for anglers who don't mind a hike, September is a great time to head for the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. Hymer points to three such lakes - Goose, Council and Tahkalhk - that even offer drive-in access.

"The mosquitoes should die down around the high mountain lakes after the first frost arrives," Hymer said. "Sure, the fish are usually small, but the leaves are beginning to turn, the air is crisp and you can really experience the change of season." 

Hunting:   Early hunting seasons get under way this month for deer, elk, ducks, geese, and a variety of other game birds. Big-game populations generally benefitted from the mild winter, although wildlife managers say a cold, wet May took a toll on forest grouse and quail chicks. Area-by-area summaries of hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ .

The early archery season for black-tailed deer starts Sept. 1 in a variety of Game Management Units (GMU) around the region, followed by an early archery hunt for elk running Sept. 7-19.  Muzzleloaders will then take to the field to hunt for deer Sept. 25-Oct. 3.

WDFW Wildlife Biologist Eric Holman reports that deer populations are generally stable in lower-elevation units such as Washougal (GMU 568) and Battle Ground (GMU 564) and in the Klickitat County GMUs. Hunting will likely be tougher in areas of the Cascade Mountains such as Lewis River (GMU 560), Wind River (GMU 574) and Siouxon (GMU 572), where deer populations remain suppressed.

Before heading out, hunters are strongly advised to check WDFW's Big Game rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ ) for regulations specific to each GMU. Holman notes that significant changes were made in hunting rules for deer last year, and several new rules will be in effect for elk hunting this year in GMUs 5468 (Washougal), 574 (Wind River) and 578 (West Klickitat). 

For example, taking antlerless elk will be illegal during general muzzleloader or modern firearms seasons in all three of those areas. In addition, a three-point antler restriction has been adopted for all general elk hunting seasons in those three areas.

Other hunting seasons opening this month include one for cottontail and snowshoe hare , which starts Sept. 1. The fall black bear season got under way Aug. 14 and will remain open through mid-November. 

For bird hunters, fall hunting seasons open Sept. 1 for forest grouse, mourning dove and - in goose management area 2B - Canada geese .  Next come early hunting seasons for Canada geese in areas 1, 2A and 3, which run Sept. 10-15, followed by the statewide band-tailed pigeon season Sept. 15-23.

This year's youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant, California quail, bobwhite and chucker is set for Sept. 25-26. To qualify, hunters must be younger than16 and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. No geese may be taken in goose management areas 2A or 2B during the youth hunt.  

Hunters 65 years or older will have the opportunity to go afield for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 27-Oct. 1. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 2.

More information on all of these seasons is available in the state Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ .

All goose hunters should be aware that the daily limit for scoters and long-tailed ducks in western Washington has been reduced from four to two, and for goldeneye from seven to two. Those changes were adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission last month to address population declines for scoters and reduce potential impacts to long-tailed ducks and goldeneye.

Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, canvasback, harlequin and scaup will remain the same.

As in seasons past, access to private forest land continues to be a major issue for hunters. The St. Helens Land Access program , designed to improve hunter access on the Weyerhaeuser's St. Helens Tree Farm, is now entering its fourth year, and volunteers are needed to make that effort successful. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call WDFW's Region 5 office in Vancouver at (360) 696-6211 or sign up online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/ .

Wildlife viewing: On a recent trip to Vancouver Lake, a WDFW wildlife area manager spotted 30 American white pelicans circling overhead. "It was an amazing sight," said Brian Calkins, who manages the Shillapoo/St. Helens area complex. "At first we didn't know what we were seeing."

Not that he hadn't seen them before. Although white pelicans are listed as an endangered species in Washington state, they do make an occasional showing in southwest Washington, stopping over at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and other wetland areas. "We tend to see them most when dry conditions in the Willamette Valley push them north into our region," Calkins said. "A wet spring has left more water in our wetland areas than usual, so that may have drawn these birds to our area."

Birders interested in learning more about area birds should be aware that guided birdwatching hikes will be offered this fall at both the Ridgefield and Steigerwald Lake national wildlife refuges. Hikes on the Kiwa trail of the River S unit at Ridgefield are scheduled Sept. 12 and Sept. 25. Hikes on the Oaks to Wetlands trail of the Carty unit at Ridgefield will be Sept. 4, Oct. 2, and Oct. 30. Hikes on the Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail at Steigerwald Lake will be Sept. 11, Sept. 26, and Oct. 16.

All hikes will begin at 8 a.m. and last for several hours. Reservations are required.

To reserve a spot, contact Eric Anderson at the Ridgefield refuge at 360-887-4106 or e-mail to Eric_Anderson@fws.gov .

If you'd rather watch hefty salmon on the move , September is a great time to stop by the viewing window at Bonneville Dam.  More than 14,500 chinook passed by the window Aug. 30, with hundreds of thousands more to come - joined by thousands of sleek coho and steelhead.

To reach the fish-viewing windows at the Washington Shore Visitor Complex, take Washington State Highway 14 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

Update:

  • Salmon: The Snake River opened to fishing for hatchery chinook salmon from the Highway 12 Bridge to the Oregon border. See Emergency Rule Changes at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for more information. 

Fishing: The Snake River steelhead catch-and-keep season opens Sept. 1 and it promises to be another good one. "Steelhead are returning to the Snake in large numbers again this year," said Glen Mendel, WDFW's southeast district fish biologist. "We have seen very strong early returns throughout the summer so far."

Mendel said about 375,000 fish are expected to return this year - not as many as last year, when about 600,000 entered the Columbia River. But this year's projected return is still large enough to provide good fishing opportunities, said Mendel. "Snake River water temperatures are currently warm and that may slow the bite when the steelhead retention season opens Sept. 1," Mendel said. "But water temperatures should drop soon with cooler weather ahead, and then the action should pick up."
 
Mendel notes that the mouths of the Snake's tributaries, such as the Tucannon and Grande Ronde, and the confluence with the Clearwater River on the Idaho border, are usually most productive at the start of the season.  He reminds steelheaders that barbless hooks are required and the daily trout catch limit of six fish includes up to three hatchery-marked steelhead (healed scar at clipped adipose or ventral fin).
  
Trout fishing throughout the region usually picks up as fall approaches, said Chris Donley, WDFW district fish biologist, who reminds anglers that several of the best-producing trout lakes near Spokane close Sept. 30. "This is the final month for fishing Badger, Williams, and Fish lakes in southwest Spokane County and Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County," Donley said. "Badger and Williams have both cutthroat and rainbow trout, Fish Lake has brook and tiger trout, and Coffeepot has rainbows plus yellow perch and black crappie ."

Donley said September can also be good for yellow perch fishing at southwest Spokane County's Downs Lake, which also closes Sept. 30. Amber Lake, near Badger and Williams, is also good for cutthroat and rainbow trout fishing, Donley said. Selective gear rules are in effect at Amber Lake through September.
 
Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake, has brown trout and usually produces good catches of crappie and largemouth bass in late fall. Like a number of other waters throughout the region, Clear Lake remains open through October.

Year-round waters that produce well in the fall include Lake Roosevelt and Sprague Lake, both of which offer good-size rainbows.
 
In the north end of the region, access to the Boundary Dam reservoir on the Pend Oreille River is limited this month because of a drawdown for maintenance of the Seattle City Light dam. Beginning Sept. 1 and lasting up to 11 days, the reservoir will slowly be drawn down 40 feet to an elevation of 1,950 feet.

The low water condition is expected to prevent access at all boat launch facilities Sept. 9-16 on the Boundary reservoir, including the Boundary Forebay, Metaline Park, and Campbell Park immediately below Box Canyon Dam. The Boundary Dam campground and boat launch will be closed Sept. 11-19 to accommodate the maintenance project. For more information about this project, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/regions/region1/ .

Hunting: September is the start of many big- and small-game hunting seasons throughout the region, as detailed in the regulation pamphlets available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ . The early archery deer hunting season gets under way Sept. 1, while the early muzzleloader deer hunt begins Sept. 25 in several game management units throughout the region.

Opening Sept. 7 is the early archery elk hunting season in some game management units, with those in the northeast and central districts open to the harvest of any elk, but those in the southeast district open only to spike-bull harvest.

Forest grouse hunting opens Sept. 1, but prospects are not great in any district of the region. The mourning dove season also opens Sept. 1, when the best hunting will be in the southeast district near the Snake, Touchet and Walla Walla rivers. Densities of doves in these areas are moderate and should provide good opportunities, unless cooler weather moves them out early.

Sept. 1 also marks the start of the black bear hunting season in the northeast and Blue Mountains districts, and populations are strong in both areas. Poor wild berry production this year could make finding bears a little more challenging, however. Bear hunters should be prepared to expand their hunting areas well beyond traditional berry patches. WDFW's Asotin Creek Wildlife Area Manager Bob Dice said black bear hunting should be good in the South Fork and North Fork of Asotin Creek.

The early fall hunting season for wild turkey begins Sept. 25 in many game management units throughout the region. The northeast district continues to provide the most opportunity.

A youth-only bird hunting season will be open Sept. 25-26. Hunters under the age of 16, accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years old, can hunt ducks, geese, pheasants, quail and partridge. Before the youth hunt gets under way, game-farm-raised rooster pheasants will be released at the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, Fishtrap Lake and several sites along the Snake River in the southeast end of the region. All pheasant release sites in the region are detailed on the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement program webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/pub.php?id=00884 .

Bobcat, fox, raccoon, rabbit and hare hunts also get under way statewide Sept. 1. Coyote hunting is open year-round.

WDFW wildlife managers remind all hunters to respect private property and secure permission to hunt before season openers. WDFW's "Go Hunt" webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/   provides maps and other information on hunting access.
  
Hunters are also reminded to be especially careful in the dry woods and fields with anything that could start wildfires, including parking warm motor vehicles on dry vegetation. Campfires are prohibited at this time on WDFW lands and restricted on many other public and private lands that are protected by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). See http://www.dnr.wa.gov for specific information.

Detailed information about game populations and 2010 hunting prospects from district wildlife biologists is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ . Many reports refer to opportunities being similar to last season. The 2009 harvest reports by district are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest/2009/ .

Elk in Asotin
Photo by Bob Dice

Wildlife viewing:   September is the time to hike into elk country to hear bulls. Bull elk are engaged in pre-rut activities, which include their unique bugling, creating wallows and gathering harems of cows. The peak of the rut is about the third week of September, but a lot of bugling and displaying occurs well before then. Hikers are reminded that hunting seasons for elk open in the region in September. Check WDFW's hunting pamphlets at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/  for more information on when and where hunting seasons are scheduled.

Bob Dice, WDFW's Asotin Creek Wildlife Area manager, said that elk are a "pretty common sight" on the Chief Joseph unit as late summer progresses into fall. "The elk are spending quite a bit of time in our irrigated fields," Dice said.  "We're also seeing lots of turkeys, quail , and other wildlife in our riparian or streamside areas."

September is breeding time for moose , and bulls can be expected to be a little more aggressive than usual. WDFW Wildlife Biologist Woody Myers said people should give moose a wide berth and enjoy them only from a distance.
 
Songbirds and shorebirds of many species continue to gather into migrating groups. Most recently noticeable are hundreds of swallows and blackbirds in riparian area treetops and along power lines. Some have already left the region for more abundant food in more southern climates.

Northcentral Washington

Updates:

  • Steelhead:  Fishing for hatchery steelhead opened on the Columbia River Sept. 8 from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco upstream to Chief Joseph Dam.  The Wenatchee, Entiat and Methow rivers also opened for retention of hatchery steelhead that day. See Emergency Rule Changes at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for more information.
  • Salmon:  The salmon fishery on the Columbia River from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster has been extended through Oct. 15. See Emergency Rule Changes at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for more information.

Fishing:   Several popular Okanogan County trout lakes that have been under catch-and-release rules in past years will open Sept. 1 for a new "catch-and-keep" season.  Those waters include Davis, Cougar, and Campbell lakes in the Winthrop area, where anglers will have a five-fish daily trout limit and bait will be allowed.

Rainbow trout are the predominant species, Jateff said, and anglers should expect fish in the 10- to 12-inch range, with carryovers up to 15 inches, said WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff.  Anglers should also note that, effective this year, there will be no gas-powered motors allowed on Davis Lake due to a new county ordinance.

Jateff said trout fishing has been good at the Methow River, where catch-and-release and selective-gear rules are in effect.  The Methow River from Lower Burma Road bridge upstream to the McFarland Creek bridge will close Sept.15. The rest of the river upstream to Foghorn Dam (Winthrop area) will close Sept. 30.

"September is also a good time to hike up to one of many alpine lakes in Okanogan County," Jateff said.  "There are many waters with predominately cutthroat trout , which can be a good change of pace from lowland lake fisheries during the fall. Just be aware of fire restrictions this time of year."

Jateff also said salmon fishing on the Columbia River near Brewster/Bridgeport has been fair, with a few more chinook starting to show up in the catch.  "Most of the fish are being picked up in the 40- to 50-foot depth while trolling with spinners tipped with a whole shrimp," he said. "Sockeye are still being caught as well."

The salmon fishery from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster closed Aug. 31, but other portions of the Columbia, Okanogan and Similkameen rivers remain open through Sept. 15 or into October. For all rules, see the special regulation online at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=925 .

Anglers looking for information about steelhead fishing on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries should watch the WDFW website for any special openings that are not in the sportfishing regulations pamphlet.

Hunting: September is the start of many big- and small-game hunting seasons throughout the region, as detailed in the regulation pamphlets available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ . Opening Sept. 1 is early archery deer hunting season, and on Sept. 25 the early muzzleloader deer hunting season in several game management units throughout the region.

The high buck hunt in the region's wilderness areas runs Sept. 15-25. Most of the deer in this region are mule deer, and populations are doing well and hunting prospects are fair to good in all districts.

Forest grouse hunting opens Sept. 1 and prospects are a mixed bag in the northern districts where populations of ruffed, blue and spruce grouse occur. The mourning dove season also opens Sept. 1 and the best hunting is traditionally in the Columbia Basin's wheat fields. Dove roosts are found throughout the north and west sides of Potholes Reservoir, the east side of Winchester Lake, and throughout the Desert Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area. Dove hunting in the northern districts is most dependent on weather, with cool or rainy conditions moving birds south.

A youth-only bird hunting season will be open Sept. 25-26. Hunters under the age of 16, accompanied by a non-hunting adult at least 18 years old, can hunt ducks, geese, pheasants, quail and partridge. Before the youth hunt gets under way, game-farm-raised rooster pheasants will be released at several pheasant release sites throughout the region. Details are available on the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement program webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/pub.php?id=00884 .

Bobcat, fox, raccoon, rabbit and hare hunts also get under way statewide Sept. 1. Coyote hunting is open year-round.

WDFW wildlife managers remind all hunters to respect private property and secure permission to hunt before season openers. WDFW's "Go Hunt" webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/   provides maps and other information on hunting access.
  
Hunters are also reminded to be especially careful in the dry woods and fields with anything that could start wildfires, including parking warm motor vehicles on dry vegetation. Campfires are prohibited at this time on WDFW lands and restricted on many other public and private lands that are protected by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR). See www.dnr.wa.gov for specific information.

Detailed information about game populations and 2010 hunting prospects from district wildlife biologists is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ . Many reports refer to opportunities being similar to last season. The 2009 harvest reports by district are available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/harvest/2009/ .

Wildlife viewing: The 20th annual Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is Sept. 16-19 at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. The first two days are devoted to school groups, but on Saturday, Sept. 18, and Sunday, Sept. 19, the free event is open to all from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival is about helping families connect with nature and learn about salmon and other wildlife, plus local history and Native American culture.  There are many inter-generational hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, wildlife "edu-tainment," music, art, and more. Local WDFW staff will be on hand with information about northcentral Washington fish and wildlife. For more information, see www.salmonfest.org .
 
A new day-long raptor festival is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 25, at Memorial Park in Pateros. This festival coincides with the peak of southbound migration of raptors at Chelan Ridge - the best place in Washington to view fall migrating raptors. The Methow Valley Ranger District, North Central Washington Audubon Society, and HawkWatch International have teamed up to provide this free family event to celebrate raptors as they journey to winter territories. Field trips by shuttle from Pateros to the Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration Site are available through pre-registration at 509-731-4790. For more information see www.ncwaudubon.org/ or e-mail festival@ncwaudubon.org . On Sunday, Sept. 26, the celebration continues with the North Cascades Basecamp, a festival sponsor, hosting a pancake breakfast with a speaker, followed by a field trip to Harts Pass, another excellent place to view migrating raptors. Call 509-996-2334 or see their website http://www.NorthCascadesBasecamp.com .


Southcentral Washington

Update:

  • Steelhead:  Fishing for hatchery steelhead opened on the Columbia River Sept. 8 from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco upstream to Chief Joseph Dam.  The Wenatchee, Entiat and Methow rivers also opened for retention of hatchery steelhead that day. See Emergency Rule Changes at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for more information.

Fishing:   Counts of chinook salmon and steelhead passing McNary Dam have been climbing day by day, setting the stage for popular fisheries throughout the region. While those fisheries often start out slow, they can ramp up quickly by mid-September as more fish pass the dam.

"There's a lot of anticipation out there right now," said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). "Anglers are catching fish here and there, but they know there are a lot more headed our way. By the middle of the month, we could have a couple thousand upriver brights in the Hanford Reach."

According to the preseason forecast, 664,900 fall chinook salmon will enter the Columbia River this year, and about two-thirds of them are headed past Bonneville Dam. 

Most of the Columbia River is open for salmon fishing, and the Yakima River opened for salmon fishing on Sept. 1 from the Columbia River upstream to Prosser Dam. The area around the Chandler Powerhouse will remain closed as in previous years. "The best fishing on the Yakima is in October, but some fish will start moving in this month," Hoffarth said.

Fishing for hatchery steelhead should also pick up throughout the month, he said. Catches were slow in late August on the Columbia River, which is open for steelhead fishing from the Highway 395 Bridge (Blue Bridge) downstream. Effective Sept. 1, the Snake River opened for hatchery steelhead fishing with barbless hooks.

"As with salmon, look for fishing to improve as the water cools and more fish move upriver," Hoffarth said. "Steelhead move fast.  They don't stay in one spot very long, so anglers have to be there when they arrive."

Meanwhile, the month began with walleye fisheries in full swing, producing nice catches in the Columbia River above and below McNary Dam, as well as in the Snake River.  Sturgeon fishing is restricted to catch and release in most of the Columbia River, including Lake Wallula and the Hanford Reach.

Trout fishing remains available in many southcentral region rivers and streams, including the Yakima, Naches, Little Naches, and Bumping rivers in Yakima County, and the upper reaches of Taneum Creek, Naneum Creek, Manastash Creek, and the forks of the Teanaway in Kittitas County. Most rivers and creeks have special regulations like selective gear rules that prohibit bait. Most also have statewide trout catch limits of two trout with an 8-inch minimum size. Anglers should check the regulation pamphlet for all details.

Thinking about catching kokanee in Rimrock Reservoir? Sooner is better than later, advises Perry Harvester, regional WDFW habitat manager. Water drawdowns began at the reservoir in late August and will likely render the launch ramps useless for larger boats by mid-September. "Car-top boat should still be fine, but it's going to be tough to get larger boats in the water with the ramp high and dry."

Hunting:   Early hunting seasons get under way this month for deer, elk, ducks and a variety of other game birds. WDFW wildlife managers remind all hunters to respect private property and secure permission to hunt before season openers.

WDFW's "Go Hunt" webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/ provides maps and other information to find hunting access. Area-by-area summaries of hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ .

The early archery season for white-tailed and mule deer starts Sept. 1 in a variety of Game Management Units (GMU) around the region, followed by an early archery hunt for elk running Sept. 7-19.  Muzzleloaders will then take to the field in three areas - GMUs 278, 373 and 379 - to hunt for deer Sept. 25-Oct. 3.

WDFW Wildlife Biologist Mike Livingston reports that GMU 381 north of the Tri-Cities has the highest concentrations of deer and has historically provided fairly high success rates for hunters. He strongly advises pre-season scouting, noting that the area has some "Feel Free to Hunt" and "Hunt By Written Permission" areas. The deer population in Kittitas and Yakima counties has been down since 2003, although some improvement may be seen this year.

Before heading out, hunters are strongly advised to check WDFW's Big Game rules pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ ) for regulations specific to each GMU.

The general goose -hunting season in September remains closed, but hunters can take to the field Sept. 1 for forest grouse and mourning doves , as well as cottontail and snowshoe hare . In addition, this year's youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant, California quail, bobwhite and chukar is set for Sept. 25-26. To qualify, hunters must be younger than 16 and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.

More information on all of those seasons is available in the state Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ ), available on WDFW's website.

Wildlife viewing:   Fort Simcoe is a major historic landmark in the Lower Yakima Valley and also a great place to watch birds at this time of year.  One birder reporting on the Tweeters bird-watching website (http://www.scn.org/earth/tweeters/ ) recently reported seeing an assortment of purple finches, western wood-pewees, dusky flycatchers, violet-green swallows and Wilson's warblers amid the Garry oaks near the 150-year-old fort. He also spotted a black bear and two cubs, eating fallen pears at the site. Future visitors are advised to take their binoculars - but also to be aware of their immediate surroundings.

Bull elk are beginning to bugle at this time to establish breeding territories. The Raven's Roost area in the Little Naches River drainage in the far northwestern corner of Yakima County (follow Hwy. 410 northwest of Naches), is traditionally one of the best places to listen. For the best opportunities, arrive just before daylight (or plan to camp in one of the many forest service campgrounds in the area), and walk the Cougar Valley trail. Elk may be visible on the open hillsides until about 7 a.m., when they move down into timber. But their bugling might be heard throughout the day, particularly early and late.

Fall bird movements are in full swing. Watch for flocks of everything from nighthawks to sparrows flying high near sunset. Neotropical birds, like warblers and vireos , are following summer, moving through the region on their way south.