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

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September 2012

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated September 19, 2012)

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

Signs of fall: Hunters take field,
salmon move in from the ocean

The sun is setting earlier and the leaves are beginning to turn color – signs of another 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 get under way around the state Sept. 1, when hunting seasons also open for forest grouse, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. Other seasons set to open this month include an archery hunt for elk, a black powder hunt for deer, and a turkey hunt in some areas of eastern Washington.

A youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds runs Sept. 22-23 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.

“We should have plenty of local ducks available in September, followed by a record number of birds coming down from the north later this year,” said Dave Ware, statewide game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The past mild winter and wet spring also bode well for deer and elk.”

Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/.

With wildfires burning in several parts of the state, Ware cautions hunters to be especially careful to avoid any action that might spark a blaze. Updates on fire conditions are available on the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

Meanwhile, an estimated run of 655,000 chinook salmon is moving up the Columbia River, drawing anglers by the thousands. Farther north, coho salmon are pushing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the ocean, heading for rivers throughout Puget Sound.

“We’ve seen tremendous coho fishing the last two weeks of August in central Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. “Fishing should continue to be good as more of those ocean coho make their way into the area.” 

As new fishing seasons open, others are coming to an end. Crab fishing in most areas of Puget Sound is set to close at sunset Sept. 3, and WDFW is reminding crabbers that summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 – whether or not they actually caught crab this year. Completed cards can be submitted by mail or online at http://bit.ly/WkXeA from Sept. 3 through Oct. 1.

Other changes are also apparent as summer’s end draws near. Bull elk can be heard bugling in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains as they begin to establish breeding territories. Warblers, vireos and other neotropical birds are now moving through the region as they make their annual migration south.

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 current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

North Puget Sound

Fishing: Anglers are hooking some bright ocean coho in portions of Puget Sound, where more ocean salmon are expected to arrive in September.

Point No Point, Jefferson Head, Possession Bar and Shipwreck should be good spots to catch ocean coho, said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

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.

“We’ve seen tremendous coho fishing the last two weeks of August in central Puget Sound,” Thiesfeld said. “Fishing should continue to be good as more of those ocean coho make their way into the area.” 

Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) are also open for salmon. Anglers fishing those two marine areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release chinook salmon.

Another option is Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), where anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, but can keep only one chinook. Anglers in Marine Area 7 must release chum and wild coho.

Thiesfeld said the best bet for freshwater anglers fishing for coho salmon in the region might be the Nooksack, Snohomish and Green rivers.  Other options for coho include the Skagit and Stillaguamish rivers.

Meanwhile, most areas of Puget Sound close to recreational crab fishing at sunset on Labor Day (Sept. 3).  However, Marine Area 7-North (Gulf of Georgia) and 7-South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) will remain open through Sept. 30.

Sport fishers who crab in marine areas 7-North and 7-South after Labor Day must record their catch on winter catch record cards. Winter cards are now available at sporting good stores and other license vendors across the state.

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 for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 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 2011 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2012 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on WDFW’s website.

WDFW will announce winter crab seasons for Puget Sound in early October, after completing its assessment of the summer fishery.

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. Nearby Lake Washington opens Sept. 16 to coho fishing. Anglers will be allowed four coho per day (minimum size 12 inches) but may only fish in 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 begin Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 23, while archery hunts for elk are open Sept. 4-16. Muzzleloader-only seasons for deer start Sept. 29.

Cougar hunting opens Sept. 1 in all areas of the state and 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. 22 and 23. 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. 24-28. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 1.

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for details. Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are also available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects.

Black bear hunters should also test their bear species identification skills through a new interactive program on WDFW’s website. The program includes information on how to correctly identify black bears and grizzly bears.

Grizzly bears are protected under state and federal endangered species laws, while black bears are classified as a game species. The test was developed to help black bear hunters be sure of their targets.

Wildlife viewing: Birdwatchers have an opportunity to do some birding in the Edmonds area during the Puget Sound Bird Fest Sept. 7-9. The festival is a celebration of birds and nature in and around downtown Edmonds. The event features guided walks, speakers, field trips and educational activities. For more information, visit the Puget Sound Bird Fest website.

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

Fishing: The ocean salmon fishing season is in its final stretch, but anglers should continue to hook bright fish into late September.

“As we move into the final weeks of the season, fishing should continue to be good,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “That’s especially true for coho, which tend to be larger later in the fishery.”

Anglers have a two-salmon daily limit in all four marine areas off the Washington coast. Up to two chinook may be retained in all areas.

Milward reminds anglers that they are allowed to retain both hatchery and wild coho off Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport (Marine Area 2). Those fishing off LaPush (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) may retain only hatchery coho, which are marked with a clipped adipose fin.

Starting Thursday (Sept. 13), anglers fishing ocean waters off Westport can keep up to two coho salmon per day. The new rule brings the coho limit for those waters -- previously set at one per day – up to the same number in effect in the three other ocean areas off the Washington coast.

All ocean areas (marine areas 1-4) are open to salmon fishing seven days a week.

Ocean salmon fisheries are currently scheduled to continue through Sept. 23 in marine areas 2, 3 and 4, and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1. 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.

In Grays Harbor (Marine Area 2-2), anglers will be allowed to retain chinook salmon from Sunday, Sept. 16 through Oct. 7. Anglers fishing the harbor will have a daily limit of three salmon, only one of which may be a chinook. Anglers are also limited to two wild coho as part of their three-salmon daily limit. Check the regulations pamphlet for details.

“This is the first time since 2007 that anglers will be allowed to retain chinook in Grays Harbor,” said Kirt Hughes, regional fishery manager for WDFW.

The Willapa Bay (Marine Area 2-1) salmon fishery is already under way. Anglers there have a daily limit of six salmon, up to three may be adult fish, but chum and wild chinook must be released. Salmon anglers can fish with two poles in in Willapa Bay through Jan. 31 with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.

“Fishing for chinook in Willapa Bay should be good early in September,” said Hughes. “Later in the month, coho fishing should improve as more of those fish make their way into the bay.”

In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, 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. Regulations change in Marine Area 5 on Sept. 15, when anglers will be allowed to retain wild coho.

Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW, said fishing for hatchery coho has been good in the Strait and expects that to continue in early September. “Effort typically drops off after Labor Day and then picks up again the middle of September, when anglers fishing off Sekiu can retain any coho,” he said. “But anglers might not want to wait until then because fishing for hatchery coho has been pretty darn good.”

Farther south, salmon fishing opens Sept. 1 north of Ayock Point in Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), where the daily limit is four coho. All other salmon species must be released. The same rules apply to the Quilcene/Dabob bay fishery, which opened for salmon fishing Aug. 16.

Salmon fishing is currently open south of Ayock Point, where anglers can retain two hatchery chinook as part of their four salmon daily limit. However, they must release wild chinook and chum salmon.

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 before heading out on the water.

Meanwhile, most areas of Puget Sound will close to recreational crab fishing at sunset on Labor Day. The only two areas of the Sound that will remain open to crab fishing after Labor Day are marine areas 7-North (Gulf of Georgia) and 7-South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham). Crabbing in those two areas is open through Sept. 30. 

Sport fishers who crab in marine areas 7-North and 7-South after Labor Day must record their catch on winter catch record cards. Winter cards are now available at sporting good stores and other license vendors across the state.

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 for more information.

Crabbers are reminded that their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 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 2012 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2013 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed cards can be mailed in or recorded online. Additional information is available on the WDFW website.

WDFW will announce winter crab seasons for Puget Sound in early October, after completing its assessment of the summer fishery.

In freshwater, the popular salmon fishery on the Puyallup River is in full swing. Anglers are reminded that the Puyallup River is closed to fishing Sept. 2, 3, 9, 10 and 11 from the 11th Street Bridge to the City of Puyallup outfall structure across the river from the junction of Freeman Road and North Levee Road.

Thiesfeld reminds anglers that the salmon fishery on the Skokomish River, from the Highway 106 Bridge to the Highway 101 Bridge, closes at the end of the day Sept. 3. Although, the salmon fishery for the lower Skokomish River, from the mouth to the Highway 106 Bridge, runs through Sept. 5 and then reopens Sept. 16. Check the Sportfishing Rules Pamphlet for details. 

Elsewhere, 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; and the Bear and Niawiakum rivers in Pacific County. Salmon fishing on the Nisqually River is already under way.

Anglers should note that a portion of the fishing regulations for the Wynoochee River in the fishing pamphlet are incorrect. Anglers fishing the Wynoochee from the WDFW White Bridge Access Site to the 7400 Line Bridge above the mouth of Schafer Creek are not required to follow selective gear rules. Anglers, however, are required to use single-point barbless hooks from Aug. 16-Nov. 30, and bait is prohibited from Sept. 16-Nov.30. For more information on corrections to the pamphlet, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Hunting: In the coming weeks, hunters have several options to consider as early hunting seasons open throughout September. A new general hunting season with any weapon for cougar gets under way Sept. 1. Archery hunts for deer are open Sept. 1-28, except in five of the region’s Game Management Units – 638, 653, 602, 607 and 612 – that are only open Sept. 1-23. Archers can go afield for elk Sept. 4-16.  

Muzzleloader-only seasons for deer start Sept. 29, followed by the early muzzleloader hunt for elk that begins Oct.6.

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.

Black bear hunters should also test their bear species identification skills through an interactive program on WDFW’s website. The program includes information on how to correctly identify black bears and grizzly bears. 

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. 22-23. However, Goose Management Areas 2A and 2B are 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. 24-28. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Sept. 29.

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet online for details. Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are also available on WDFW’s 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 and move up the fish ladders to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

In Sequim, a three-day festival celebrating wildlife and the environment will be held Sept. 28-29. For more information on the Dungeness River Festival, which will feature presentations, events and hands-on environmental activities, visit the Audubon center’s website

Southwest Washington

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. At the Buoy 10 fishery near the mouth of the river, the catch of chinook salmon is expected to be the highest in more than two decades. Although that chinook fishery ends there Sept. 3 at the end of the day, anglers still have a lot of options to catch both chinook and coho salmon upriver from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line.

“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.”

Of the 655,000 fall chinook included in the pre-season forecast, about 350,000 are projected to be upriver brights – the fourth largest return since record keeping began in 1964. This year’s coho salmon run is fairly modest, but will help to round out the catch, Hymer said.

Through Sept. 9, the daily limit is six fish per day – including two adult salmon, two adult steelhead or one of each – from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line to the deadline below Bonneville Dam. Only one of the adult salmon may be a chinook. Anglers may keep any chinook, but must release any coho salmon or steelhead that is not marked with a clipped adipose fin.

Starting Sept. 10, rules for adult chinook retention in those waters will change in at least two ways.

  • Anglers will be allowed to retain one adult hatchery chinook per day from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line upstream to Warrior Rock near the mouth of the Lewis River under a new mark-selective pilot fishery. Through Sept. 16, one hatchery chinook is part of a daily catch limit that includes two adult hatchery salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. All salmonids not marked as a hatchery-raised fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released.
  • Anglers can retain two adult chinook as part of their daily limit from a line from the Warrior Rock lighthouse through Red Buoy #4 to the orange marker atop the dolphin on the Washington shore at Bachelor Island upstream to Bonneville Dam.

Hymer has a couple of tips for anglers fishing for chinook salmon in the Columbia River.

“Anglers targeting chinook do best in fairly deep water – 40 to 50 feet down,” he said. “Some of the best fishing for both salmon and steelhead will be at the mouth of tributaries, where the fish hold up before heading upstream.  When anchoring in deeper water, anglers should be alert for ship traffic.”

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 various rivers this season:

  • Release wild chinook – Anglers must release all wild chinook on the Tilton River from mouth to West Fork; the Cispus River from mouth to North Fork; the Cowlitz River from posted signs on Peters Road to mouth of Ohanepecosh and Muddy Fork; plus Mayfield Lake and Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir). However, anglers may keep up to 10 hatchery rainbows at Lake Scanewa starting Sept. 1. 
  • North Fork Lewis River from mouth of East Fork to the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam – Wild chinook may be kept beginning Sept. 15.
  • Drano Lake – Any chinook or coho salmon, with or without a clipped adipose fin, may be retained. Effective Sept. 15, anglers with a two-pole endorsement can put it to use.
  • Klickitat River from mouth to Fisher Hill Bridge (located about 3 miles upstream from the mouth) – Night closure and anti-snagging rules are in effect.  Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. 
  • Washougal River – Fishing is closed from 200 feet (or posted markers) below to 200 feet above the temporary weir (when in place). 

Like last year, anglers may 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.

Apart from salmon, anglers are still catching walleye above and below Bonneville Dam. Trout fishing is also still an option at a number of lowland lakes, including Swift and Merwin reservoirs where anglers can take advantage of increased catch limits for rainbow and kokanee approved in early August. At Swift Reservoir, anglers must release all salmon larger than 15 inches in length. 

For anglers who don't mind a hike, September is also a great time to head for the high wilderness lakes around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. Hymer recommends three such lakes – Goose, Council and Takhlakh – that all 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, geese and a variety of other game birds. A new cougar season also starts Sept. 1 in a number of game management units (GMU) in the region.

Winter took a toll on some deer and elk populations in the region, although the Klickitat Wildlife Area spring deer survey showed very good deer survival and elk mortality at Mount St. Helens was not especially high. For duck hunters, locally produced mallards and wood ducks will provide some early-season hunting opportunities, but the main event will be the arrival of a record number of ducks projected this fall.

The early archery season for black-tailed deer gets under way Sept. 1 in a variety of GMUs, followed by an early archery hunt for elk running Sept. 4-16. Muzzleloaders will then take to the field to hunt for deer Sept. 29-Oct. 7.

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

Pat Miller, a WDFW wildlife biologist, noted that hunter access during early hunting seasons is often complicated by hot weather and fire access closures.  “If that occurs, hunters should consider going west to the Willapa 506 unit or to any of the units in the national forest,” he said. “These areas often stay open during times of high fire danger in the west slope of the Cascades.”

Before heading out, hunters are advised to check local fire conditions and WDFW's Big Game rules pamphlet for regulations specific to each GMU. Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are also available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects.

Other hunting seasons opening Sept. 1 include those for forest grouse, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. The statewide season for band-tailed pigeon runs Sept. 15-23.

Goose hunting runs Sept. 1-15 in Goose Management Area 2B, and Sept. 10-15 in goose management areas 2A and 3. Hunters planning to hunt in areas 2A (Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties) or 2B (Pacific County) should check the special requirements for those hunts on page 19 of WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl & Upland Game pamphlet.

This year's youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant, California quail, bobwhite and chucker is set for Sept. 22-23. To qualify, hunters must be younger than 16 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. 24-28.

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 access to elk hunting on Weyerhaeuser's St. Helens Tree Farm, is now entering its fifth year, and volunteers are needed to make that effort successful. Those interested in participating this year can sign up for an orientation and specify their availability on WDFW’s website.

Wildlife viewing: The Columbia River ecosystem and its primitive inhabitant, the sturgeon, will be honored in Vancouver on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Sixteenth Annual Sturgeon Festival. The free, one-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Water Resources Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way.

The popular event, hosted by the City of Vancouver with participation by WDFW, includes a traveling reptile zoo and other fun and educational activities for all ages. But the focus is on Columbia River sturgeon, a primitive fish that has not changed substantially since it emerged in the Jurassic period. Reaching 5 to 6 feet in length, some sturgeon live to be more than 100 years old.

Eastern Washington

Fishing:  Sept. 1 is the traditional opening of the catch-and-keep season for hatchery-marked Snake River steelhead.  For a second consecutive year, hatchery-marked fall chinook salmon are also fair game then.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) district fish biologist Glen Mendel says the steelhead run appears to be coming in weak this year. As of late August, the A-run of upriver summer steelhead was about 61 percent of the preseason forecast. The B-run steelhead passage was also tracking less than expected so far.

However, a large run of upriver bright hatchery fall chinook is expected to return to the Snake River, so anglers should have good opportunities, said Mendel.

Up to three hatchery-marked steelhead (those with clipped adipose or ventral fins and a healed scar at the clipped fin location) can be retained daily. The salmon daily harvest limit in the Washington portion of the Snake River is three adipose fin-clipped fall chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and three adipose fin-clipped jack fall chinook (less than 24 inches). Minimum size for chinook is 12 inches.

Barbless hooks are required when fishing for steelhead or salmon. All wild steelhead and chinook, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, must be released immediately without removing them from the water. Once anglers have retained three hatchery steelhead, they must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead for the day, regardless of whether the salmon daily limit has been retained.

Mendel reminds salmon and steelhead anglers of the change in the Snake River boundaries for catch record card codes for zones 648 and 650 near Clarkston.  The upper end of code 648, and the lower end of 650, was the interstate bridge. But that was moved to the state line, from the Greenbelt boat launch to the state line sign on the north shore, as relayed in the current fishing rules pamphlet.  Mendel said this change allows separation of harvest data for the boundary waters with Idaho.

The steelhead season runs through March 31, but the chinook season closes Oct. 31, or earlier, depending on monitored harvest rates and run size.

This month is the last chance to fish several of the region’s best rainbow and/or cutthroat trout fishing lakes.  Closing Sept. 30 is Badger, West Medical, and Williams lakes in southwest Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County.  Two other southwest Spokane County lakes change seasons soon -- Amber Lake shifts to catch-and-release-only on Oct. 1 and North Silver Lake switches to catch-and- release-only on Nov. 1.

Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist , said that if conditions are right, September fishing at these lakes can almost rival the first weeks of the season in the spring.  “Air and water temperature changes during this month can trigger late summer/early fall insect hatches, which can equate to some pretty productive fishing conditions all month long,” he said.

Spokane County’s Downs Lake and Lincoln County’s Coffeepot Lake also close at the end of the month but can yield good catches of yellow perch, black crappie, and rainbow trout during September.

Plenty of other lakes throughout the region remain open through October or year-round.

Clear Lake, near the town of Medical Lake in Spokane County, typically produces good catches of brown trout, crappie, and largemouth bass as fall advances.  Lake Roosevelt and Sprague Lake both offer good-size rainbows. Stevens County’s Deer and Loon lakes continue to provide a variety of fish, from bass to kokanee.

Anglers heading for a weekend of camping near the Tucannon River, or its trout-stocked impoundments on WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area in Columbia County, need to keep fire restrictions in mind.  Wooten manager Kari Dingman said that with hot, dry conditions, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a campfire ban in effect until further notice. 

The 63,000-plus-acre, lightning-caused Cache Creek wildfire, adjacent to the Snake River on the Washington-Oregon stateline, was still burning in late August, with expected containment sometime in early September. Most of the fire is in Oregon, but anyone recreating in Washington’s southeast corner may want to check out possible road closures online.

Hunting: The first hunting seasons in the region open Sept. 1, including black bear in the Northeastern and Blue Mountains management areas and early archery deer in select Game Management Units (GMUs). Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are also available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects.

Grizzly - Photo by Nick Wolfe and Eric Middlesworth
Grizzly - Photo by Nick Wolfe and Eric Middlesworth

Black bear hunters in northeastern GMUs 101-121 will want to take the bear species identification test. Grizzly bears, which are both state and federally protected, could be encountered by black bear hunters in that area. WDFW Northeast District Wildlife Biologist Dana Base recently relayed another grizzly bear observation in the Wedge area, including photos of a bear on the Columbia River shoreline just south of the Canada border.

Deer hunting prospects for both white-tailed and mule deer are relatively good throughout the region.  Bowhunters after white-tailed deer in GMUs 117 and 121 need to remember the four-antler-point minimum rule that continues this year.

WDFW Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area Manager Juli Anderson reports seeing a good number of mule deer on and around the area, which is within GMU 136, open for the early archery season for antlerless or three-antler point minimum bucks. “Many of our shallow alkaline ponds have dried up around here, and we’re seeing deer congregating at the remaining ponds, especially those with a good growth of reeds that provide concealment and cooling,” she said.

Mourning dove hunting also opens Sept. 1 and the best opportunities are usually in the southeast district near the Snake, Touchet and Walla Walla rivers, where birds tend to be more abundant – at least until cooler weather moves them south. An increasing number of exotic Eurasian collared doves are being observed throughout the region and since hunting for them is open year-round without bag limits, they might provide opportunity when native mourning doves migrate out.

Anderson reports seeing some doves “here and there” on the area. “But since we don’t have any wheat or barley fields at Swanson anymore, dove hunters in this area should be scouting private grain farmland for our ‘Feel Free to Hunt’ or ‘Hunt by Written Permission’ signs,” she said.

Also opening Sept. 1 is cougar hunting season, which is different from past years. It runs Sept. 1-March 31 in many GMUs across the region, each with harvest number guidelines that, when met or exceeded, may close the season in that area at the end of the year. The use of hounds to hunt cougar remains prohibited, except during authorized public safety cougar removals. Cougar hunters should check out the details in the big game rules pamphlet.

Also opening Sept. 1 are seasons for forest grouse, cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares, raccoon, fox, and bobcat.
 
Early archery elk hunting begins Sept. 4 in select GMUs. The northeast district units are open to any elk for this season. Southeast district units are open either for spike bulls only, or spike bulls or antlerless elk. Southeast district (Blue Mountains) elk occur predominantly in or near the forested areas on public land, although small herds are located throughout the entire district.

Some special permit opportunities on both elk and deer for limited numbers of successful applicants also get under way at various times this month in select GMUs.

Early fall turkey hunting begins Sept. 22 in most of the region’s GMUs (101, 124-142, 145-154, and 162-186) where one either sex turkey can be taken. A northeast beardless-only turkey hunting season runs Sept. 22-Oct. 12 in GMUs 105-142, where two beardless turkeys can be taken. The big birds are again relatively plentiful throughout the region.

Sept. 22-23 is the special youth only waterfowl and upland game bird hunting season that gives hunters under 16 years of age a jump start on the general seasons that open later this fall. Non-hunting adults at least 18 years of age must accompany young hunters and should note all the special weekend season rules in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet.

This year for the first time a special pheasant hunting opportunity for hunters 65 years of age or older is Sept. 24-28.

Both youth and senior hunters will want to check out information on the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program bird release sites, available here.  Non-toxic shot is required for all upland bird hunting on all pheasant release sites statewide to protect other wildlife species including waterfowl and raptors.

Paul Wik, WDFW southeast district wildlife biologist, expects good pheasant and quail opportunity, based on production. “Although this spring was one of the wetter and cooler springs on record,” he said, “temperatures in the southeast district moderated during the time that most birds were hatching their clutches.” 

WDFW  biologist Todd Baarstad in Creston says early season upland game bird opportunities look pretty good this year in Lincoln County.

WDFW Northeast District Wildlife Biologist Dana Base expects below average hunting opportunity for upland game birds since conditions were cool and wet during hatch periods for many species and brood survival was likely low.

Coyote hunting is open year-round, but participation increases in the fall. The eastern region now has six confirmed and three suspected packs of wolves, which are protected as a state endangered species. Coyote hunters are reminded to be sure of identification; check out information on recognizing the differences at WDFW’s website.

Wherever hunters of any kind go this fall, WDFW officials ask for care and caution with any potential fire-starting activity. Due to dry conditions, forested wildlife areas that are protected by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildfire fighters are under campfire bans and other restrictions through the month of September.

The 63,000-plus-acre, lightning-caused Cache Creek wildfire, adjacent to the Snake River on the Washington-Oregon stateline, was still burning in late August, with expected containment sometime in early September. Most of the fire is in Oregon, but anyone recreating in Washington’s southeast corner may want to check out possible road closures online.

Wildlife viewing: September is breeding time for moose, and bulls can be expected to be a little more aggressive than usual.  WDFW wildlife biologist Woody Myers advises giving moose a wide berth and enjoying them only from a distance.

Now is the time to hike into elk country – the Blue Mountains to the south or the Selkirks to the north -- to hear roaring bulls. Bull elk should be into 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 before then. 

Coyotes are dispersing from family groups that serenaded many summer nights. As these young “song dogs” find their way in the world as solitary hunters, remember to keep small pets and their food secure to avoid attracting problems with the overly bold and hungry.

Songbirds and shorebirds of many species continue to gather into migrating groups, most noticeable in riparian area treetops and along power lines. Some have already left the region for more abundant food in more southern climates.

The 63,000-plus-acre, lightning-caused Cache Creek wildfire, adjacent to the Snake River on the Washington-Oregon stateline, was still burning in late August, with expected containment sometime in early September. Most of the fire is in Oregon, but anyone recreating in Washington’s southeast corner may want to check out possible road closures online.

Northcentral Washington

Fishing: A chinook salmon fishery opens Sept. 1 in the Lake Chelan Project Tailrace area near Chelan Falls and runs through Oct. 15.  Up to three chinook may be kept daily (only one of which can be a wild adult fish), and fishing is allowed from the railroad bridge to the Chelan Public Utilities District (PUD) safety barrier below the powerhouse.

WDFW Chelan District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland said up to 3,000 adult chinook salmon—released as juveniles from net pens just below the Chelan PUD powerhouse—are expected to return to the waterway.

“Last year when we were able to open this area for the first time, fishing pressure was very light, due to the fishery being new and confusion over fishing access,” said Maitland. “Chelan County ordinance prohibits the use of internal combustion engines, so last year we did not allow fishing from a floating device of any kind. This year floating will be allowed, so this could be a great little fishery for the angler with a kayak or a small pontoon boat.”

This year there’s also some bank fishing on the north shore, although anglers must stay downstream of Chelan PUD boundary signs on that shoreline.  Fishing along the southwest shoreline is limited to wading only with no fishing from the bank.

Anglers planning to participate in this fishery must have WDFW’s Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement and should check other specific rules for the fishery.

The Lake Wenatchee sockeye salmon fishery that has provided great opportunities since early August closes on Labor Day (Sept. 3). The daily limit was increased from three to five fish in mid-August and since then limits have been taken by many happy anglers.

The Wenatchee River hatchery summer chinook salmon fishery—open from the river mouth to below Dryden Dam—continues through Oct. 15.  Angling pressure has been relatively light, Maitland said, but there have been a few nice hatchery chinook harvested.  As of Sept.1 the fishery extends upriver to the Icicle River road bridge that crosses the Wenatchee River. Check fishery rules on the WDFW website.

Chinook fishing in the Columbia River from Priest Rapids to Wells Dam is still producing, although anglers need to work a lot harder now to get the fish to bite, Maitland said. Chinook also are still being caught off the mouth of the Okanogan River, WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff reports.

“Catch rates are lower than anglers experienced earlier this summer, but the fish are continuing to average 12 to 15 pounds,” Jateff said. “As water temperatures cool in the tributaries, fish will start to move upstream and out of the mainstem Columbia River. During September, reduced numbers of chinook will continue to be caught in upstream areas just below Chief Joseph Dam.”

Anglers are reminded that the salmon fishing section of the mainstem Columbia River—from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster—closed Aug. 31 to protect steelhead.

Meanwhile, trout fishing on the Methow River can be at its best in September, when other river users start to thin out and only anglers are left, Jateff said.

“At this time anglers can do well with surface flies, lures and nymph patterns,” he said. 

Trout anglers are reminded that the section from Lower Burma Road Bridge to the Highway 153 Bridge at McFarland Creek closes at midnight on Sept. 15.  The rest of the river upstream to Foghorn Dam closes at midnight on Sept. 30.

The Methow River trout fishery is conducted under a permit with NOAA Fisheries and can close at any time if limits on incidental encounters with steelhead are reached.

Okanogan County’s Davis, Campbell, and Cougar lakes in the Winthrop area open Sept. 1 for catch-and-keep fishing for rainbow trout. 

“These lakes provide a nice fall fishery to mix things up between fishing the Methow River for trout and fishing the mainstem Columbia for salmon,” Jateff said.

Hunting: Black bear hunting has been under way since mid-August in some parts of the region and continues through mid-November.  Many bear hunters key in on wild berry production areas to find bears, but WDFW Okanogan District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin said berry crops are a bit late this year.

“Huckleberry and mountain ash berries should ripen this month at the highest elevations and western portions of the Okanogan district,” Fitkin said.

Early archery deer hunting opens Sept. 1 in select Game Management Units (GMUs) throughout the region.

In the Columbia Basin, WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Rich Finger reports deer populations remain stable with minimal winter mortality, so archers can expect success rates similar to last year. In GMU 272 (Beezley) about 20 percent of archery hunters were successful last year and in GMU 284 (Ritzville) about 32 percent harvested bear. The Beezley unit includes 53,000 acres of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area Complex, most of which is open to hunting.  The Ritzville unit is dominated by private property, so archers need permission to hunt there.

In the Chelan district, deer hunting should be good because buck-doe ratios are high, recent winter conditions were favorable and yearling numbers are good.  As early as mid-September, deer start responding to changes in vegetation by moving to lower elevations and occupying north-facing slopes where conditions are cooler and wetter and forage is better, WDFW Chelan District Wildlife Biologist Dave Volsen said.

In the Okanogan district— home of the state’s largest migratory mule deer herd— the buck- to -doe ratio is the highest in more than a decade. Following a mild winter and good summer forage conditions, hunting could be excellent this year, according to Fitkin. But during the early archery season, deer will not yet be concentrated in migration or winter areas, he said. Early-season hunters should look for deer using rejuvenated summer forage in the area of the 2006 Tripod Fire, as well as other areas holding green forage into the fall.

Dove hunting season opens Sept. 1 and the Columbia Basin is one of the best places in the state to participate.  Biologist Finger expects dove hunting to be good but, as always, it’s highly dependent on weather conditions.

“Unstable weather often redistributes birds significantly,” he said.  “Hunters may improve their success by securing access to wheat fields for the morning hunt and traditional roosting areas—such as large stands of trees near water and ag fields—for the evening hunt.” 

Roost site hunting can be found on 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 prospects in the Chelan and Okanogan districts are even more dependent on warm weather holding birds in the area through the month-long season. The number and distribution of Conservation Reserve Program, (CRP) fields has increased in Douglas County over the past few years, so scouting those habitats might provide new unexploited hunting areas, Volsen reports.  Fitkin suggests looking for doves in planted food crops in the Sinlahekin and Chiliwist Wildlife Areas.

Forest grouse hunting also opens Sept. 1, and usually is productive in both the Okanogan and Chelan districts, with populations of ruffed, dusky (blue) and spruce grouse in forested areas. Forest grouse prospects should be good and similar to last year, although spring rains may have negatively affected chick survival in isolated locations, Fitkin said.

“The forest grouse harvest—as with other game bird hunts—tends to be predominantly juveniles,” Fitkin said.  “This is especially true in the first month of the season when juvenile birds and females compose a higher percentage of the harvest because they are still moving as broods.”

Volsen suggests grouse hunters improve their chances by searching out areas where fewer hunters concentrate.
“Chelan County has a relatively limited road system within grouse habitat, so hunters can increase their chances by hunting areas on foot, away from roads and most other hunters,” he said.

The modern firearm high buck hunting season runs Sept. 15-25 and includes the region’s wilderness areas.  The Pasayten Wilderness is expected to offer good mule deer buck harvest opportunities.  Summer’s hot, dry weather and scattered thunderstorms have generated wildfire activity, however, so hunters are advised to check with the Okanogan National Forest for trail closures or other restrictions.

Wherever hunters go this fall, WDFW officials ask for care and caution with any activity that could start a wildfire. Because dry conditions continue through September, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) bans campfires and has other restrictions in forested wildlife areas under DNR protection.

Sept. 22-23 is the special youth-only waterfowl and upland game bird hunt that offers hunters under 16 a jump start on the general hunts that open later this fall. Non-hunting adults at least 18 years of age must accompany young hunters and should note all the special weekend season rules in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet .

Although Grant County in the Columbia basin is ranked number one in the state for duck and geese harvest (along with doves and pheasants), waterfowlers are reminded that the early youth hunt is focused on resident birds. Waterfowl hunting improves later in the general season when migrating birds arrive from the north.

A first-time, special pheasant hunting opportunity is available Sept. 24-28, for hunters 65 years of age or older only.

Both youth and senior hunters can check online information on the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program bird release sites
While many hunters feel pheasant release sites are the only areas where they can harvest pheasants, released birds made up barely 22 percent of the total harvest in Grant County last year, Finger said. The total reported 2011 pheasant harvest was 13,245 birds, while only 2,850 pheasants were released in the county. .

“Hunters should not ignore opportunities to harvest wild pheasants,” Finger said, “particularly since pheasant releases are being reduced after a 2009 performance audit determined that releases are inefficient in increasing hunter harvest. We are following the audit’s recommendation to reduce pheasant releases by at least 10 percent annually and are redirecting those savings towards habitat enhancement.”

Hunters are reminded that non-toxic shot is required for all upland bird hunting on all pheasant release sites statewide to protect other wildlife species including waterfowl and raptors.

For more specific information about hunting in the region’s three districts, check hunting prospects on the WDFW website.

Wenatchee River Salmon FestivalWildlife viewing:  September is the month for raptor viewing at Chelan Ridge, where a variety of hawks and other migrating birds of prey use the area’s thermals to move to wintering areas. Hawk Watch International, in cooperation with natural-resource management agencies, is hosting its third annual Chelan Ridge Hawk Migration Festival on Sept. 8. WDFW Okanogan District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin recommends attending the festival or visiting the daily raptor banding station at Chelan Ridge to get a close-up view of the birds. Although the festival is free, registration reserves space on tour shuttles and other activities. Visit the festival website for details.

The 22nd annual, award-winning Wenatchee River Salmon Festival runs Sept. 20-23 with a “Dances with Salmon” theme. The festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in Leavenworth. The festival is hosted by the hatchery, the Okanogan and Wenatchee national forests and the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD). For more information, visit the festival website.

Southcentral Washington

Fishing: September is prime time to fish for trout on one of the many high-elevation lakes or rivers in the region, said Eric Anderson, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) based in Yakima. As temperatures begin to drop, waters ranging from the Yakima River to Taneum Creek come alive with fish eager to feed.

“After months of high water, the conditions are perfect for fishing many area lakes and streams,” Anderson said. “Most of the mosquitoes burned off in the summer heat, and it’s just a great time to be out catching fish.”

Anderson noted that most rivers and creeks have statewide trout catch limits of two trout with an 8-inch minimum size. Most also have special regulations, including selective gear rules that prohibit bait. Rules for specific waters are described in the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet, available online and from license vendors throughout the state.

Meanwhile, 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 move past the dam, said Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist based in Pasco.

“There's a lot of anticipation out there right now,” Hoffarth said. “Anglers are catching fish here and there, but they know a lot more are headed our way. By the middle of the month, we could have several thousand upriver brights in the Hanford Reach.”

According to the preseason forecast, 650,000 fall chinook salmon will enter the Columbia River this year, and about two-thirds of them will keep moving past Bonneville Dam. Most areas of the Columbia River have been open for salmon fishing since Aug. 1, and two major tributaries will open in September.

The Yakima River opens for salmon fishing Sept. 1 from the Columbia River upstream to Prosser Dam, although 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.

Anglers have also been catching some hatchery steelhead both above and below McNary Dam, and the harvest should pick up throughout the month, he said. Anglers can retain two hatchery steelhead per day, identifiable by a missing adipose fin with the healed scar, measuring at least 20 inches. Steelhead fishing above the Highway 395 Bridge at Kennewick is not scheduled to open until Oct. 1, but could open earlier if the numbers pick up, Hoffarth said. 

Farther east, the Snake River also opens Sept. 1 for hatchery fall chinook and steelhead above the Highway 12 Bridge. Anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Snake River. Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet and emergency rules for all waters before heading out.

“As with salmon, look for steelhead 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 are passing through.”

Walleye fisheries are already in full swing, producing nice catches in the Columbia River 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.

Hunting: Early hunting seasons get under way this month for deer, elk and a variety of game birds. A new cougar season also starts Sept. 1 in a number of game management units (GMU) in the region. Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are also available on WDFW’s Hunting Prospects.

WDFW wildlife managers remind all hunters to respect private property and secure permission to hunt before season openers. WDFW's Go Hunt webpage provides maps and other information to find hunting access.

The early archery season for white-tailed and mule deer gets under way Sept. 1 in a variety of GMUs, followed by an early archery hunt for elk running Sept. 4-16. Muzzleloaders will then take to the field to hunt for deer Sept. 29-Oct. 7.

Before heading out, hunters are strongly advised to check WDFW's Big Game rules pamphlet for regulations specific to each GMU.
Other hunting seasons opening Sept. 1 include those for forest grouse, pheasant, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. The statewide season for band-tailed pigeon runs Sept. 15-23.

This year's youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant, California quail, bobwhite and chucker is set for Sept. 22-23. To qualify, hunters must be younger than 16 and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. Hunters 65 years or older will then take the field for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 24-28. The general duck-hunting season starts Oct. 13.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted a record number of ducks in the northern breeding areas, but those birds won’t arrive until fall. In the meantime, hunters can count on a good number of local ducks for the early season, said Mike Livingston, a WDFW wildlife biologist.

“Pair counts for waterfowl in the irrigated portions of the Columbia Basin yielded an estimate of over 25,000 mallards,” Livingston said. “Given these numbers, there should be plenty of ducks for the youth season and opening weekend.”

Wildlife viewing: As the summer’s end draws near, bull elk can be heard bugling throughout the region. Now is the time the bulls start to establish breeding territories, and their call is unmistakable. The Raven's Roost area in the Little Naches River drainage in the northwestern corner of Yakima County is traditionally one of the best places to hear them. Follow Hwy. 410 northwest of Naches, and walk the Cougar Valley trail just before daylight for the best results. 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 migrations are also in full swing. Watch for flocks of nighthawks, sparrows and an array of other species flying high near sunset. Neotropical birds, like warblers and vireos, are also moving through the region on their way south. Many hummingbirds migrate south at higher elevations along the Cascades Crest. The meadows around Chinook Pass are a great place to view late-season hummers, which are moving down the mountains with the blooms of nectar-producing flowers.

Speaking of migrations, now is a great time to watch salmon moving up the Columbia River past McNary Dam. Tours of the fish-viewing room, not usually open the rest of the year, will be offered each Saturday and Sunday morning in September.

Visitors should check in by 10 a.m. with the security guard at the gate on the Washington side of the Columbia River, reached by taking Exit 131 from Highway 82.

Visitors age 18 and older need to provide photo identification. Cameras, backpacks, cellphones, purses and other bags are not allowed.