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

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August 2011

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated August 17, 2011)

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

Anglers focus on Buoy 10 fishery
as hunters begin to take the field

Anglers are reeling in chinook salmon off the coast, pulling up pots full of crab in Puget Sound, and casting for trout in alpine lakes on both sides of the Cascades.  Summer fisheries are in full swing, and anglers can look forward to even more great fishing opportunities in the days ahead.  

A prime example is the Buoy 10 salmon fishery, which runs Aug. 1-28 at the mouth of the Columbia River. A big run of 776,300 fall chinook is expected to return to the big river this year, and fishery managers predict that anglers will catch approximately 11,000 of them between Buoy 10 and Rocky Point, 16 miles upriver.

“Buoy 10 is a very popular fishery, drawing tens of thousands of anglers every year,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  “Fishing tends to start out slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August.”

Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River should be aware they will need to purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. With some exceptions, the pass is now required to park a vehicle on lands managed by State Parks, WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources. The Discover Pass was created by the Legislature earlier this year to keep recreation lands open to the public in the wake of steep budget cuts.

An annual Discover Pass costs $35 and a one-day pass is $11.50, when purchased online from WDFW (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone, or from retail license vendors. However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For more information, see the Discover Pass website (http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/) or call 1-866-320-9933.

Meanwhile, crab fishing is under way in most areas of Puget Sound. Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each 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.

General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in many areas of the state, and hunters are gearing up for early hunts for deer and elk in September. Also opening in September are hunting seasons for forest grouse, dove and Canada geese.

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

North Puget Sound

Fishing: Anglers are reeling in chinook and coho in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Others are also having some success at Baker Lake, which recently opened for sockeye salmon.

Anglers fishing Baker Lake can retain up to three adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from the log boom barrier at Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the upper Baker River. All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.

“The fish are biting, it’s just a matter of finding them,” said Brett Barkdull, fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Most anglers have done well once they get over them, and I expect that to continue into August as more sockeye make it into the lake.”

The sockeye salmon fishery at Baker Lake is open until further notice, said Barkdull, who reminds anglers to check for any rule changes at WDFW’s website.

Meanwhile, freshwater anglers are gearing up for upcoming salmon openers on select rivers. Those rivers include:

  • Skagit River: Opens Aug. 1 from the mouth of the river to the mouth of Gilligan Creek. The Skagit from the mouth of Gilligan Creek to the Dalles Bridge at Concrete opens for salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers fishing those sections have a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. All chinook and chum must be released.
  • Snohomish River: Opens Aug. 16 with a three-salmon daily limit, plus one additional pink salmon. Chinook and chum must be released.
  • Green River: Opens Aug. 20 from the 1st Ave. South Bridge to Interstate 405. Anglers fishing the Green have a daily limit of six salmon; up to three adult coho and chum (combined) may be retained. Chinook must be released.

Beginning Aug. 16, Lake Sammamish will also be an option for freshwater salmon anglers, who will have a daily limit of four salmon, and can retain up to two chinook. All sockeye must be released, and fishing is closed within 100 yards of the mouth of Issaquah Creek.

On Puget Sound, anglers can fish for salmon in marine areas 7 (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). Those fishing Marine Area 7 can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon. They must, however, release wild coho and chum starting Aug. 1.

Anglers fishing marine areas 9 and 10 can keep hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – as part of a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.  Wild chinook must be released. Anglers fishing Marine Area 9 also must release chum salmon, and – effective Aug. 1 – so will those fishing Marine Area 10.

August brings other opportunities in the region to catch and keep salmon. Beginning Aug. 1, marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two areas will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, but must release chinook.

Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details on current salmon fishing opportunities.

Prefer shellfish? The Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15.

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW's crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

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.

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in most of the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet for details.

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection and report their hunting activity over the phone (1-877-945-3492) or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Hunting opportunities on tap for next month include early archery seasons for elk, early archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer, and the general hunting season for cougar that gets under way with a statewide archery-only season followed by a muzzleloader hunt.

Wildlife viewing: Now's a good time to head to the Ballard Locks to check out salmon passing the fish ladder viewing windows. Several hundred sockeye pass through the fish ladder daily, and chinook should start showing up in greater numbers. The Ballard Locks are located in northwest Seattle where the Lake Washington Ship Canal enters Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound. For information, call the locks' Visitor Center in Seattle at (206) 783-7059.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Summer salmon fishing is in full swing along the coast, where anglers are hooking bright chinook and nice-size coho.

“Fishing has been good for both chinook and coho in all marine areas,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “In the coming weeks, I expect fishing to get even better as more salmon return to our coastal waters.”

Salmon fishing is open seven days per week in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay). Fishing in Marine Area 2 was recently limited to five days a week – Sundays through Thursdays – to allow the chinook season to stay open longer.
 
For the same reason, anglers fishing off Westport and Ilwaco are currently limited to one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing in ocean waters off La Push and Neah Bay can keep up to two chinook salmon as part of their two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 are also allowed one additional pink salmon each day.

All ocean areas are open to salmon fishing seven days a week. Anglers fishing those areas must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. However, 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.

Anglers are reminded that regulations in Marine Area 4, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line, change beginning Aug. 1. Anglers fishing that area will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus one additional pink salmon. But they must release chinook, chum and wild coho.

Elsewhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, anglers are still having some success hooking salmon in marine areas 5 (Sekiu) and 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), as salmon fisheries in marine areas 11 (Tacoma/Vashon), the southern portion of 12 (Hood Canal) and 13 (South Puget Sound) continue to gain momentum.

Because salmon fishing rules vary depending on the marine area, anglers should check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, the Puget Sound crab fishery is under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15.

Under new rules adopted earlier this year by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week.

Information on the rules, including how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW's crab fishing webpage. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

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.

Halibut fishing is also still an option. The late season for halibut in Marine Area 1 opens Aug. 5. The fishery there will be open three days per week (Friday through Sunday) until the quota is taken or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is currently open in the northern nearshore area seven days per week until the quota is reached or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. Halibut fishing in Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is open in the northern nearshore area seven days per week through July 31.

In freshwater, the recreational salmon fishery on the Skokomish River will get under way Aug. 1 downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge and Aug. 2 upstream of the bridge to the Highway 101 Bridge under regulations similar to last year. The daily bag limit on the Skokomish will be two salmon for anglers fishing from the mouth of the river to the Highway 101 Bridge through Sept. 30. Anglers must carefully release any wild chinook salmon they catch. They also must release chum salmon through Oct. 15.

Anglers will be required to release any salmon not hooked inside the mouth, and retain the first two legal salmon they catch. In addition, single-point barbless hooks are required and a night closure and anti-snagging rule will be in effect.

The Skokomish River from the Highway 106 Bridge upstream to the Highway 101 Bridge will be closed to recreational fishing on designated Mondays and Tuesdays to avoid potential gear conflicts with treaty tribal fishers. Those closures are scheduled for Aug. 1, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30 and Sept. 6.

Recreational fishing downstream of the Highway 106 Bridge will remain open seven days a week through the fishing season. For more information, see the fishing rule change on the WDFW website.

Several other rivers are open for salmon fishing elsewhere in the region, including the Bogachiel, Calawah, Hoh, Nisqually, Quillayute and the Sol Duc. Beginning Aug. 1, the Puyallup River, from the City of Puyallup outfall structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road to the Carbon River, also opens for salmon fishing.

The lower section of the Puyallup, from the 11th Street Bridge to the City of Puyallup outfall structure, opens to salmon fishing Aug. 16. Anglers should be aware that the lower section of the river is closed Aug. 28, 29 and Sept. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13.

For more information on the Puyallup River regulations, as well as rules for other fisheries open in August, check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet.

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in most of the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet for details.

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection and report their hunting activity over the phone (1-877-945-3492) or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Hunting opportunities on tap for next month include early archery seasons for elk, early archery and muzzleloader seasons for deer, and the general hunting season for cougar that gets under way with a statewide archery-only season followed by a muzzleloader hunt.

Wildlife viewing: A popular attraction in late-August and 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 and move up the fish ladders to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

Just south of Olympia, Wolf Haven International will be hosting Howl-Ins on select Saturdays in August from 6-9 p.m. Howl-Ins include sanctuary tours, environmentally friendly children’s activities, an eco-scavenger hunt, Wolf-TV and musical entertainment. For more information on the Howl-Ins, visit Wolf Haven’s website.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

Southwest Washington

Fishing:  This year’s fall chinook fishery opens Aug. 1 on the Columbia River, where a strong run of upriver brights is expected to push the total return well above the 10-year average. Of the 776,300 “falls” included in the pre-season forecast, nearly 400,000 are projected to be upriver brights – the highest number since 1987.

Those fish, together with hatchery coho and summer steelhead, should make August a very good time to fish the lower Columbia River, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We’re definitely expecting a big turnout by anglers for these fisheries,” Hymer said. “The fall chinook fishery usually starts slow, then accelerates quickly through the month of August. The great thing about upriver brights is they tend to keep biting as they move upriver.”

While the fall chinook season opens upriver to Priest Rapids Dam, most of the action during the first few weeks focuses on the popular Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the river. Fishery managers estimate that anglers will catch nearly 11,000 chinook salmon by Aug. 28, when the retention fishery for chinook closes in the Buoy 10 area. They also estimate anglers will catch 7,000 coho in that area by the time that fishery closes at the end of the year.

The daily limit for the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. However, anglers may retain only one chinook salmon (minimum size, 24 inches) per day as part of their daily limit through Aug. 28. Only those steelhead and coho marked with a missing adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained. This requirement does not, however, apply to fall chinook, which may be retained whether marked or unmarked.

Additional rules for the Buoy 10 area and other waters upriver are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River should be aware they will need to purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. With some exceptions, the pass is now required to park a vehicle on lands managed by State Parks, WDFW and the state Department of Natural Resources. The Discover Pass was created by the Legislature earlier this year to keep recreation lands open to the public in the wake of steep budget cuts.

An annual Discover Pass costs $35 and a one-day pass is $11.50, when purchased online from WDFW (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone, or from retail license vendors. However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For more information, see the Discover Pass website (http://www.discoverpass.wa.gov/) or call 1-866-320-9933.

By mid-to-late August, the bulk of the chinook run usually begins to move upstream while increasing numbers of coho move into the Columbia River behind them. For anglers following upriver brights upstream, Hymer recommends fishing deep, between 40 and 50 feet down. For a lure, he suggests a wobbler anchored with a heavy weight.

“Chinook go deep when water temperatures are high so that’s a good place to find them,” Hymer said. “At the same time, anglers should take care not to drop anchor in the shipping channel. That can lead to real trouble.”

While 2011 is not expected to be a banner year for hatchery coho, those fish will help to round out anglers’ daily limits at Buoy 10, Hymer said. WDFW currently expects about 270,000 coho to return this year – similar to 2010 but down significantly from the exceptionally large run of three-quarters of a million fish two years ago.

“Coho will still contribute to the fishery,” Hymer said. “At Buoy 10, they usually bite best on herring and spinners, and then bait and lures later in the tributaries.”

Meanwhile, plenty of hatchery steelhead are still available for harvest, said Hymer, noting that the smaller “A-run” fish should keep biting through mid-August. By then, the larger “B-run” steelhead – many weighing in the teens – will start arriving to pick up the slack. Together, returns of both runs are expected to total about 367,000 fish, about the same size of last year’s total run.

The succession of hatchery steelhead, fall chinook and coho salmon should also provide good fishing on area tributaries for months to come, Hymer said.  Like the mainstem Columbia River, most tributaries open for fall chinook Aug. 1, although fishery usually doesn’t take off until September. Meanwhile, Drano Lake and the White Salmon River are good places to try for steelhead looking for cooler waters.

Like last year, anglers will be allowed to retain up to six adult hatchery 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.

Chinook retention is limited to marked, hatchery fish on these river systems, except on the Klickitat and Deep rivers where unmarked chinook can also be retained. Mark-selective runs will also be in effect on the Wind and White Salmon rivers, plus Drano Lake. Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and any emergency rules applicable to specific waters before leaving home.

Of course, salmon and steelhead aren’t the only fish available for harvest in August. Walleye fishing can be good in the Columbia River near Camas, as well as in The Dalles and John Day Pools. Bass fishing is also heating up from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.

For trout, the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens offer unparalleled fishing experiences for those willing to brave the mosquitoes. Riffe Lake in Lewis County is still giving up some nice landlocked coho, and Goose Lake north of Carson has received 6,200 brown trout, 6,000 cutthroat and 500 rainbow since the end of June.  Hatchery sea-run cutthroats should also provide some opportunity on the lower Cowlitz beginning in late August.

Anglers planning to fish Northwest Lake in Klickitat County should be aware that all boat access will be closed as of Aug. 15, when PacifiCorp will start drawing water from the lake in preparation for decommissioning Condit Dam. Boat ramps at the campground and off Powerhouse Road will also be closed, effective July 29. Bank fishing will still be allowed, but PacifiCorp representatives caution anglers to be careful of mucky shoreline conditions.  Crews are scheduled to breach the 123-foot dam in late October, opening up miles of salmon and steelhead habitat. 

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in the Coastal units and Aug. 13 in the South Cascades. Hunters are allowed two bear during the license year, only one of which may be taken in Eastern Washington. Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet for details.

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection and report their hunting activity over the phone (1-877-945-3492) or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Wildlife viewing: Summer is far from over, but shorebirds are anticipating the season’s change. Tens of thousands of them – sandpipers, yellowlegs, dowitchers and other species – are already flocking to Washington’s coastal areas en route from their Arctic breeding grounds to points south. Clouds of shorebirds, especially sandpipers, can now be seen from Ilwaco to Ocean Shores.

Unlike their spring migration, shorebirds’ flight south is a disorderly affair.  Adults often leave the Arctic before their chicks are fledged and join flocks departing at different times. They also travel at a more leisurely pace, departing anytime from July to October. Rare birds, such as off-course Asian shorebirds, are more likely to join the others in their southward flight than on their trip north.

Speaking of rare birds, the large flock of American white pelicans that arrived at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in May continue to draw plenty of interest. More than 80 white pelicans, classified as an endangered species by the State of Washington, have been observed on Rest Lake and don’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

“We usually see a few pelicans every couple of years, but this is an especially large congregation,” said Eric Anderson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist at the refuge. “This is a non-breeding population out of its normal range, so there’s really no way of knowing how long the birds will be around.”

Weighing 10 to 30 pounds with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, the large-billed birds are an impressive sight. White pelicans typically breed in North America, then migrate south as far as Central America in September or October once their chicks have fledged. But since no chicks have been documented, their migration schedule is all their own, Anderson said.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

Eastern Washington

Fishing:  The month of August usually means a slow-down in fishing throughout the region, but this summer’s cooler and wetter conditions are keeping the action decent on both trout and warmwater fish species.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) district fish biologist Chris Donley said the most successful trout fishing is still during very early morning or late evening hours. But mid-day anglers under cloud cover are also reeling in nice catches.

Some of the best rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes close to Spokane are Amber, Badger, Clear, Fish, Williams, and West Medical lakes in Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County. The lower Spokane River has nice rainbows and browns, but river anglers need to be aware of catch limits, gear restrictions, and other rules listed in the fishing pamphlet.

Mixed species waters are also a good bet. Along with some trout, yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie can usually be caught at Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County, Downs and Chapman lakes in southwest Spokane County, Newman and Liberty lakes in eastern Spokane County, Eloika Lake in north Spokane County, and the Spokane River reservoir of Long Lake and Deer and Waitts lakes in Stevens County.

In the north end of the region, rainbow trout, kokanee and walleye fishing continues to be good at Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam. Kokanee fishing is also productive at Stevens County’s Loon Lake during night time hours.

Some of the high elevation lakes on U.S. Forest Service property in the northeast district that are stocked with rainbow and cutthroat trout may be good destinations for camping and fishing weekends. In Ferry County, try Davis, Ellen, Empire, Swan and Trout lakes. In Stevens County, try Gillette, Heritage, Sherry, Summit, and Thomas lakes. In Pend Oreille County, try Carl’s, Cook’s, Frater, Halfmoon, Leo, Mystic, Nile, No-Name, Petit, South and North Skookums, and Yokum lakes. Find specific locations and more about these mostly small fishing lakes in WDFW’s 2011 Fishing Prospects.

Catfish and sturgeon fishing is usually productive in the Snake River system in the southeast part of the region in August. Catfish are often landed in the backwaters and sloughs throughout the mainstem Snake, as well as in or near the mouths of tributaries like the Tucannon River.

Sturgeon fishers are reminded of the minimum 43-inch and maximum 54-inch tail fork length and daily catch limit of one sturgeon. The Snake and its tributaries upstream of Lower Granite Dam are catch-and-release only for sturgeon. The section of the Snake just east of the Tri-Cities, from the mouth to Ice Harbor Dam, is also catch-and-release for sturgeon starting Aug. 1.

On the W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area along the Tucannon River in Columbia County, anglers are still catching lots of hatchery-stocked rainbow trout in several of the area’s man-made lakes. WDFW area manager Kari Dingman reports that cooler temperatures this summer have helped keep those fisheries productive longer than normal.

“Anglers who camp on the Wooten are reminded there are no campfires allowed at this time,” Dingman said. “Even though it’s still relatively green for this time of year here, especially on the south end of the wildlife area, it’s drying out fast and the grass is quite tall and thick. We recently had several campfires left unattended when the campers packed up and left.”

Wherever anglers go, they are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on state or federal public lands.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a burn ban in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. That means all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self contained stoves are allowed. Visit DNR’s website for fire information by county.

Hunting: The first hunting season in the region begins Aug. 1 for black bear in Lincoln and Whitman County Game Management Units (GMU) 133 Roosevelt, 136 Harrington, 139 Steptoe and 142 Almota (part of the “Columbia Basin” bear management unit). Black bear hunting opens Aug. 13 in Spokane County GMUs 124 Mount Spokane, 127 Mica Peak and 130 Cheney (or “Northeastern B” bear management unit.)

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection; tooth envelopes are available at the Eastern Region office, 2315 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley (509-892-1001). All black bear hunters must report hunting activity, either over the phone at 1-877-945-3492 or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their activities are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Wherever hunters go, they are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on state or federal public lands.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a burn ban in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. That means all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self contained stoves are allowed. Visit DNR’s website for fire information by county.

Mountain goat
Merlins
Photo by Tom Munson

Wildlife viewing:  August is a great time to watch wildlife families of many kinds with youngsters that are growing up very fast.

WDFW district wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson of Spokane reports an especially unusual sight at Riverside State Park’s Nine Mile Recreation Area on Long Lake, the Spokane River reservoir off the dam in northwest Spokane County. “Look just east of the docks and you’ll see nesting Western grebes,” Ferguson said. “Watch them with binoculars from a distance though because these birds are easily disturbed. Boaters should stay out of the immediate area of the nest for awhile.”

In late July Ferguson reported seeing boaters drive so close to some nests that the egg-incubating birds flew, exposing eggs to the cold and predators like gulls, crows, or ravens. If successful, the grebes should be feeding hatchlings and guiding fledglings this month.

Ferguson also noted that merlins – small, dark-colored falcons – are fledging their young in and around Spokane now. “If you have a large Ponderosa pine in your yard and hear a lot of squawking and see a dark falcon-shaped bird of no more than 12 inches, you might have some in your neighborhood,” Ferguson said.  “Spokane birder Tom Munson has been photographing merlins that are nesting in a tree right near Northtown Mall, which shows you how urban these birds can be.”

WDFW wildlife biologist Woody Myers said that both white-tailed and mule deer fawns and elk and moose calves are very visible now throughout the region as they forage and frolic alongside their mothers. Early morning hours are best for viewing these animals in traditional areas of habitat – usually forested areas for whitetails and moose, more open shrub-steppe areas for mule deer, and grasslands for elk.

Sometimes moose show up in odd places, however. Jerry Dedloff of WDFW’s Snake River Lab staff in Dayton recently reported a young female moose got into the facility’s steelhead trout acclimation pond.  Dedloff’s friend Mike McFarland got a photo before the animal found her way out, probably the same way she came in – following a series of high fences around the compound to the one open gate.

Moose
Moose
Photos by Mike McFarland

“We normally don't have moose at our office,” Dedloff said.  “I think I saw my first moose around the Dayton area only about 15 years ago, although sightings are becoming more common in recent years.”

Moose
Photo by Mike Whorton

WDFW Captain Mike Whorton and other officers recently “escorted” three young moose across Interstate 90 when they were hanging out near the highway exit ramp at the town of Liberty Lake in eastern Spokane County. “With Washington State Patrol officers closing I-90 traffic, we herded them, shooting paintballs to motivate them, across the freeway north towards the Spokane River,” Whorton explained.  “With the river and the lake on either side of the highway, the area is a regular travel route for moose and other wildlife.”

Myers notes that such examples of wandering moose at this time of year usually involve yearling animals whose mothers, with newborn calves in tow now, have pushed them out on their own.

WDFW’s W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman has been dealing with other potentially troublesome wildlife at the area’s campgrounds along the Tucannon River in Columbia County. “Black bears have been getting into food that is not stored out of reach in the campgrounds,” Dingman said. “I think our bear numbers in the area are increasing as vegetation is restoring since our 2005 wildfire, so campers need to remember not to leave out food or garbage or anything with scent that would draw bears.”

Dingman noted that with wild berry production running late this year, the problems with black bears could extend into the fall.  For information on avoiding problems with black bears, see WDFW’s “Living With Black Bears.”

Dingman also reported that with cooler, wetter conditions this summer, Blue Mountains area wildlife families are “behind schedule.”

“I’ve just started to see baby quail running around, and we have baby turkeys of all different sizes,” she said. “I’m guessing some of them lost the first hatch or two to the cool, wet spring, so we are seeing several different, later hatches.”

Northcentral Washington

Mountain goat
Mountain goat
Golden-mantled ground squirrel
Golden-mantled ground squirrel
Photos by Scott Fitkin

Fishing:  Anglers fishing for chinook and sockeye salmon are starting to pick up fish on the mainstem Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam upstream to below Chief Joseph Dam. Sockeye running three to four pounds and chinook up to 20 pounds are being taken in that area, reports Bob Jateff, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Chinook are best caught on trolled plugs or cut herring,” he said. “Sockeye are caught primarily with prawn spinners.”

Jateff reminds salmon anglers of the night closure and anti-snagging rule in effect in three areas – from Rocky Reach Dam to the most upriver point of Turtle Rock, the Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to Highway 97 Bridge in Oroville, and the Similkameen River from the mouth to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.

Beginning Aug. 1, anglers can retain adipose-fin-clipped adult and jack summer chinook salmon in the lower mainstem Wenatchee River, where summer chinook returns are predicted to exceed spawning escapement needs. The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped summer chinook (adult or jack). All other fish must be released and selective gear rules and night closure are in effect.

The section of the Wenatchee River opening for chinook fishing Aug. 1 extends from the mouth (confluence with the Columbia River) to a point 400 feet below Dryden Dam is open through Oct. 15. From Sept. 1 through Oct. 15, the fishery will expand to include waters stretching from the confluence of Peshastin Creek to a line perpendicular to the river at a marker on the opposite shore, (approximately 1,000 feet above Dryden Dam) to the Icicle Creek road bridge on the west end of Leavenworth. All chinook with a floy (anchor) tag attached and/or caudal punch must be released.

On the Methow River, an increasing number of trout anglers are starting to show up as water levels start to recede after a prolonged period of high flows, Jateff said. “At this time of the year, weighted nymphs will be the choice for fly anglers, but large dry flies will also produce fish,” he said, adding that anglers should still be extremely cautious when wading or floating the river. 

Resident rainbow, cutthroat, and whitefish are the main species available in the Methow. All bull trout must be released and must not be removed from the water.  Selective gear rules are in effect in this catch-and-release only. Jateff advises checking the current sportfishing pamphlet carefully as there certain sections on the Methow that are closed to all fishing.

WDFW habitat biologist Ken Bevis of Winthrop confirms that fly fishing can be highly productive as rivers and streams in Okanogan County drop into shape. “Try skittering a bushy dry fly across tail-outs of deep pools in the crystal clear streams,” he said. “The action can be fast and furious, even if the fish are only eight inches or so. But be sure you know the difference between trout, so you can follow the regulations.” 

As water temperatures warm, some lowland lakes will provide angling opportunities for spiny ray fishermen, Jateff said. He notes that Patterson Lake, near Winthrop, has yellow perch as well as smallmouth bass. Spectacle Lake, southwest of Tonasket, has yellow perch in the 10 inch range as well as a sizeable rainbow trout population.

Leader Lake, near the town of Okanogan, has bluegill in good numbers, but yellow perch were illegally introduced there and are now threatening that fishery, Jateff said. “We are urging anglers to remove as many perch as possible from Leader Lake – regardless of size – to maintain the current quality bluegill fishery there.” 

Hunting:  Black bear hunting opens Aug. 1 in the East Cascades Game Management Units (GMUs) 244-247 and 249-251 and in the Columbia Basin GMUs 248, 254, and 260-290. Black bear hunting opens Aug. 13 in the Okanogan GMUs 203 and 209-242 and Chelan County GMU 243.

WDFW Chelan district wildlife biologist Dave Volsen of Wenatchee says the late summer and remaining snow will alter traditional habitats used by bears this fall. “Berry fields usually productive during the early part of the season may be delayed this year, forcing bears to search out other areas,” he said. “Plan to do a little more scouting this year for a productive hunt.”

WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop agrees. “Berries will be coming on late this year so associated bear activity for the opener will likely be better at mid elevations and/or in the eastern part of the units first,” he said. “Berry fields at the higher elevations, particularly near the western boundary of the unit will not ripen before early fall.”

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection; tooth envelopes are available at the Northcentral Region office, 1550 Alder St. N.W., Ephrata, 509-754-4624. All black bear hunters must report hunting activity, either over the phone at 1-877-945-3492 or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Wherever hunters go, they are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on state or federal public lands.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a burn ban in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under Department of Natural Resources jurisdiction. That means all outdoor burning is banned with the exception of recreational fires in approved fire pits within designated state, county, municipal or other campgrounds. The use of gas and propane barbeques and self contained stoves are allowed. See DNR’s website for fire information by county.

Wildlife viewing:  WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop says there’s lots of opportunity for viewing alpine and subalpine wildlife in August, now that access into the high country is finally available.

“Look for mountain goats, hoary marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground squirrels, ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches and lots of other species,” Fitkin said. “Good viewing sites in the western portion of Okanogan County are along roads and trails in the Harts Pass, Washington Pass, Cutthroat Lake/Pass areas, as well as along the Pacific Crest Trail in between these sites. There’s also lots of viewing opportunity in the higher elevations of the Chelan-Sawtooth and Pasayten Wilderness areas.”

Songbirds are still fairly vocal throughout the district and birding remains good, Fitkin said.

WDFW habitat biologist Ken Bevis of Winthrop noted that most birds have completed nesting now and juveniles of many species are out and about, learning to make a living. 
“You can watch for these ‘kids’ and their sometimes comic begging behaviors with their parents,” Bevis said. “Some species, osprey for example, will bring food almost to their offspring and then drop it, or place it, for the youngster to learn foraging behaviors.”

WDFW wildlife biologist Jeff Heinlen of Tonasket reported that pair of common loons at Bonaparte Lake produced one chick. To learn more about these rare birds, Heinlen recently captured and banded the loon family with the help of researchers and volunteers.  Blood was drawn from both adult loons to test for toxins and determine their health during brood rearing. The loon pair at Lost Lake produced two chicks but both have been lost, presumably to predation.

Fitkin also reported that amphibians in all stages of development can be found in ponds and wetlands, particularly at middle elevations. Some of the most commonly seen are Pacific treefrogs, western toads, and long-toed salamanders.
Numerous butterfly species are a common sight around the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area at this time of year, reports WDFW area manager Dale Swedberg. Watch for several species of whites, sulphurs, coppers, hairstreaks, blues, fritillaries, checkers, nymphs and skippers.

In the Columbia Basin, WDFW district wildlife biologist Rich Finger recommends watching for common nighthawks, hunting insects on the wing around farm fields,  American white pelicans, which are beginning to congregate on productive fishing waters around Potholes Reservoir, and burrowing owls and their young in shrub-steppe habitat.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass.

Southcentral Washington

Fishing:  Walleye fishing has been very good on Lake Umatilla this summer – and will likely heat up even more as water temperatures rise through August. Meanwhile, the summer heat is also clearing a way through the snow to trout fishing opportunities on dozens of alpine lakes.

As of late July, anglers were averaging more than three walleye per rod on Lake Umatilla, the 67-mile reservoir below McNary Dam on the Columbia River, according to Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) stationed in the Tri-Cities.

“Fishing has been terrific at all the usual spots – Umatilla, County Line, Irrigon, Boardman and Paterson,” Hoffarth said. “Walleye really put on the feed bag when the water heats up, so we can expect to see some more great fishing in the weeks ahead.”

There is no minimum size limit for walleye at Lake Umatilla, although there is a daily limit of 10 fish, only five of which can measure over 18 inches and only one of which can be over 24 inches. There is also no minimum size for smallmouth bass, which are also showing up in the catch. There is a five-fish daily limit for smallmouth bass, only three of which can exceed 15 inches.

Still fishing for sturgeon? Be aware that sturgeon fisheries switch to catch-and-release rules Aug. 1 at Lake Wallula (the McNary Pool of the Columbia River) and the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam.

On the other hand, anglers can catch and keep up to two hatchery steelhead – identified by a clipped adipose fin – from the mouth of the Columbia River to the Highway 395 bridge at Kennewick/Pasco. Fishery managers are projecting a strong run of 390,900 summer-run steelhead this year, many bound for the Snake River and mid-to-upper Columbia River.

The Snake River will open for hatchery steelhead fishing Sept. 1, and WDFW expects to open sections of the Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge later this summer or early fall. Look for announcements at the WDFW website.

Anglers can also look forward to good fishing for fall chinook salmon in the weeks ahead. A strong run of 760,000 “falls” are expected to return to the Columbia this year, including 175,000 upriver brights that are expected to cross McNary Dam -- many headed for the Hanford Reach. 

“The fishery officially kicks off Aug.1 up to Priest Rapids Dam, but fishing doesn’t really catch fire in our area until September,” Hoffarth said. “With so many fish expected this year, fishing should be good once it gets going.”

The daily limit on the Columbia River is six chinook, of which two may be adults. Anglers are not required to release chinook with intact adipose fins, but must stop fishing after they retain two adult chinook. See the current Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet for additional information.

On the Yakima River, salmon fishing closes July 31 at the end of the day, but will reopen Sept. 1 for fall chinook in the lower river. Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist in Yakima, said the spring chinook fishery in the upper section between Union Gap and Roza Dam finished strong, despite high flows in May and June.

“Catch rates for springers really picked up in July as water levels dropped and more fish moved into the area,” Anderson said. “Now anglers are looking ahead to the fishery for fall chinook.”

Water levels are also dropping in streams flowing into the upper Yakima and Naches rivers, improving fishing conditions for wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, Anderson said. Anglers should be sure to check the regulations for those streams, and release all salmon, bull trout, and steelhead, he said.  

An increasing number of high lakes are also becoming accessible to trout fishing around White Pass, Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass as the snow continues to melt under the summer sun. WDFW stocks some small, hike-in lakes with rainbow or cutthroat trout, and some also have naturally reproducing eastern brook trout populations. Specific information on trout stocking in area lakes is posted on the WDFW website.  

“Good fishing is now available for planted trout at Clear and Dog lakes in the White Pass area, and for kokanee averaging nine inches at Rimrock Lake off Highway 12,” Anderson said. “Kokanee is also available at Kachess and Keechelus lakes off Highway 90, and fishing is good for both kokanee and cutthroat at Bumping Lake off Highway 410.”

Anderson notes that all of those waters are closed to the taking of bull trout, “so anglers need to release any bull trout they intercept,” he said. Anderson adds that hikers and anglers should check trail conditions before heading out, because some are still covered in snow. Information about current trail conditions is available from the U.S. Forest Service office in Naches and the Forest Ranger office in Cle Elum.

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in game management units in the East Cascades and Columbia Plateau, and Aug. 13 in the Okanogan and South Cascades units. Hunters are allowed two bear during the license year, only one of which may be taken in Eastern Washington. Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet for details.

Successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection and report their hunting activity over the phone (1-877-945-3492) or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Watchable wildlife: Now is the time to see birds that migrate in early fall congregate and feed on insects throughout the region. In the high country of the South Cascades, hikers can often catch glimpses of everything from mountain bluebirds to mountain goats.

Around White Pass, check out Dog Lake and the surrounding forests and meadows for ring-necked ducks, Barrow’s goldeneye, osprey, red-naped and Williamson’s sapsuckers, gray jay, Clark’s nutcracker, chestnut-backed chickadee, winter wren, hermit and varied thrushes, white-crowned sparrow, and pine siskin. Listen for barred owls in the dense forests behind nearby Leech Lake.

At Chinook Pass, look for whistling hoary marmots and browsing mule deer. Scan the peaks for mountain goats, and watch for blue grouse, gray jay, mountain chickadee and a variety of other birds.

Wildlife viewers are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires in the region’s hot and dry conditions. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on public lands. For current wildfire information, see the websites maintained by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Discover Pass: Now that summer has finally arrived, hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are packing up tents, binoculars and fishing poles to spend time with family and friends outdoors. Effective July 1, they will also need to purchase a Discover Pass for vehicle access to state parks, campgrounds, boat launches and wildlife areas.

The new pass, approved this year by the state Legislature, is designed to help keep 7 million acres of state recreational lands open after steep budget cuts. An annual Discover Pass costs $35, and a one-day pass $11.50, when purchased from WDFW online by phone or from retail license vendors. The fine for not displaying the pass is $99.

With some exceptions, the pass is required for vehicle access to recreation lands and water-access sites managed by WDFW, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). However, holders of most annual fishing and hunting licenses are not required to purchase a Discover Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.

Pass to use WDFW lands and water-access sites. For a list of these exemptions and other information, see the Discover Pass website or call 1-866-320-9933.