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

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July 2013

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated July 25, 2013)

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

Fishing sizzles in July for salmon,
steelhead, crab, trout, other gamefish

Summer fishing seasons are now in full swing, requiring anglers to make some tough decisions about how to spend their time on the water. Salmon, steelhead, crab, trout, bass and walleye – all are now available for harvest in various waters around the state.

But for thousands of anglers, nothing beats the thrill of reeling in a big chinook salmon. Many are doing just that as waves of chinook move south along the Washington coast, then east into Puget Sound, coastal streams and the Columbia River.

“Fishing for both chinook salmon and hatchery coho should improve off the coast right through the month,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The same is true for Puget Sound and other inside waters.”

Six marine areas of Puget Sound open to salmon fishing July 1, joining other salmon fisheries already in progress. Various westside rivers, including the Bogacheil, Calawah and Nisqually, also open for salmon fishing that day, and Baker Lake in Whatcom County opens for sockeye salmon July 10.

Summer steelhead are another option – notably in Columbia River and many of its tributaries – where 339,200 adult fish are expected to move upriver in the coming weeks. As always, anglers are required to release any wild, unmarked steelhead they intercept in the fishery, which extends from the mouth of the Columbia to the Canadian Border.

Fishing regulations for these and other fisheries are described in WDFW’s For additional information on fishing regulations, see WDFW’s 2013-14 Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet, available from sporting goods stores and posted online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Rather catch some crab? All but one marine area in Puget Sound will open for crab fishing July 1. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia).

The crab fishery in all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open Thursday through Monday of each week. The season will get under way with a one-day opening (July 1), and will be closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ for all crab-fishing rules.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. For example, no campfires of any kind are allowed at the four WDFW wildlife areas in Yakima and Kittitas counties until Oct. 15 due to the high risk of wildfires.

Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area. More information on DNR’s summer burn ban is available at http://goo.gl/5jykD 

For more information about fishing, wildlife viewing and other outdoor activities 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 in six regions around the state.

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

Fishing: Summer has arrived, and anglers have their pick of numerous fishing opportunities. Freshwater anglers can cast for chinook at some of the region’s rivers, as well as trout and bass at local lakes. On Puget Sound, the crab season opens July 1 in most areas, and additional salmon openings are just around the corner.

“July really marks the start of the salmon fishing season in Puget Sound, where a variety of angling opportunities get under way in the region,” said Ryan Lothrop, recreational salmon fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Puget Sound salmon fishing opportunities in July include:

  • Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands), which opens July 1.  Anglers can keep one chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.
  • Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle-Bremerton), where anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon, beginning July 1. However, anglers must release all chinook through July 15. Beginning July 16, anglers can retain hatchery chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – but wild chinook must be released. Anglers should note that chum must also be released in Marine Area 9 throughout July.
  • Sinclair Inlet, a portion of Marine Area 10, opens July 1. Anglers fishing Sinclair will have a daily limit of three salmon, plus one additional pink salmon, but must release wild chinook. Anglers are allowed to use two fishing poles with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.
  • Tulalip Bay "bubble" fishery, a portion of Marine Area 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner), remains open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 2. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon, and are allowed to use two fishing poles with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement.

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

Lothrop reminds anglers that they are responsible for correctly identifying their catch. In past years, some anglers were checked at the docks with undersized chinook they misidentified as pink salmon, he said.

“It’s important that people take the time to learn the differences between each salmon species – both to protect the resource and to avoid a fine,” Lothrop said. Descriptions of each salmon species can be found on the department’s recreational salmon fishing webpage and in the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Break out those crab pots. All but one marine area in Puget Sound will open for crab fishing July 1. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia).

The crab fishery in all marine areas of Puget Sound will be open Thursday through Monday of each week. The season will get under way with a one-day opening (July 1), and will be closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4.

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.

Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW, said recent test fisheries indicate the crab population in Puget Sound remains abundant. “We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout Puget Sound,” he said. “With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season.”

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.

In freshwater, portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers are open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing through July 15. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to Cascade River Road. On the Cascade, anglers can fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

Portions of the Skykomish River are also open for salmon fishing. Anglers fishing the Skykomish, from the mouth to the Wallace River, have a daily limit of four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults.

Farther north, anglers will have an opportunity to hook sockeye salmon at Baker Lake beginning July 10. Anglers will have a daily limit of two adult sockeye salmon (minimum size 18 inches in length). All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.

Trout fishing also is open at several of the region's rivers. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region's rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep. For details on river fishing opportunities, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Meanwhile, lake fishing for bass, bluegill, perch, and crappie is steadily improving as water temperatures increase and fish become more active.

Anglers interested in lake fishing opportunities are encouraged to check WDFW’s new Fish Washington webpage. This online resource for anglers is designed to make it easier to find lake fishing opportunities throughout the state and includes interactive maps, detailed species information and basic “how-to” fishing videos.

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 in late-July 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.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, faulty vehicle or motorcycle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes, and outdoor burning are among the common sources of wildfire starts in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area   

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

Fishing: Summer salmon fishing is in full swing along the coast, where anglers have been reeling in bright chinook since early June. In Puget Sound, fishing seasons will also expand for salmon and get under way for crab starting July 1.

Salmon fishing got off to a slow start off Westport in June when onshore winds moved the feed – and the fish – off course, but that situation has improved, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Fishing for both chinook salmon and hatchery coho should improve off the coast right through the month,” Milward said. “The same is true for Puget Sound and other inside waters.”

Anglers fishing marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport) can retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit, but are required to release wild coho.  In areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), the daily limit is two salmon, plus two additional pink salmon. All wild coho salmon must be released.  

Salmon fishing is open seven days a week in all coastal areas.

Halibut fishing is also still an option in Marine Area 1. The season there is open Friday through Sunday each week until the early season quota is reached or Aug. 3, whichever occurs first. The fishery will reopen, with the late-season quota Aug. 3, and continue three days a week (Friday-Sunday), until the remaining quota is taken, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first.

Meanwhile, six Puget Sound marine areas will open to salmon fishing July 1, joining fisheries already in progress in other areas. Bag limits in marine areas 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 13 include two bonus pink salmon.  New this year, Sinclair Inlet in Marine Area 10 allows a three salmon limit plus one additional pink--and two pole fishing for those who have purchased the two-pole endorsement.  No wild chinook may be retained in Marine Area 10.

Regulations regarding chinook retention in waters of Puget Sound vary by time and area. Anglers are advised to check the Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet and the emergency rule website before heading out.

Ryan Lothrop, Puget Sound recreational salmon manager points to strong forecasts of hatchery chinook returning to most of Puget Sound, including Hood Canal and South Sound. Anglers have also been consistently picking up fish in Marine Area 11 near Tacoma as of the end of June. In addition, nearly 6.2 million pink salmon are projected to return to the Sound this summer.  “Given these factors, fishing inside much of Puget Sound could be very good,” Lothrop said. 

Lothrop reminds anglers that chum and wild chinook in most Puget Sound areas must be released.  He also notes that anglers can check WDFW creel reports for information on catch and effort in Puget Sound. Recreational fishery samplers with WDFW collect the information each week at fishing access sites throughout Puget Sound.

Ready to catch some crab?  The popular fishery for Dungeness crab gets underway July 1 in all but one marine area in Puget Sound. The exception is Marine Area 7, where the crab fishery opens July 15 in the area’s southern portion (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) and Aug. 15 in the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia).

The Puget Sound crab fishery will be open Thursday through Monday of each week. Crabbers should note, however, that the season gets under way with a one-day opening (July 1), and will be closed July 2-3 before reopening on its regular weekly schedule Thursday, July 4.

Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for WDFW, said recent test fisheries indicate the crab population in Puget Sound remains abundant.  “We continue to see healthy numbers of crab throughout Puget Sound,” Childers said. “With such strong numbers, crabbing should be good from opening day all the way through the end of the summer season.”

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.

Additional information on the crab fishery is available on WDFW’s crab fishing website. The page includes links to a printable “Crabbing in Puget Sound” brochure and a “Puget Sound Recreational Dungeness Crab Guide,” both of which have information on crabbing regulations.

Freshwater anglers should be aware that several rivers on the north Coast – including the Hoh, Quillayute and Sol Duc – remain open for salmon fishing.  The Bogachiel and Calawah join that list July 1. Also beginning in July, opportunities for salmon fishing open in some south Sound streams including Chamber and McAllister creeks and the Nisqually and Deschutes rivers. For details on river fishing, including catch limitations, gear limits, and allowable fishing days, check the Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet.

Many of those rivers and streams are also open to trout fishing. Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. However, some of the region's rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep. Again, check the rules pamphlet and the emergency rule website to make sure.

Wildlife viewing:  Looking for somewhere to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature?
WDFW owns or manages nearly a million acres of land divided into 32 designated Wildlife Areas across the state. In addition to Wildlife Areas, WDFW also owns or manages more than 700 Water Access Sites that provide boating access to lakes, rivers and marine areas.  To learn more about wildlife viewing and recreation opportunities in both the coastal and Puget Sound regions, visit the WDFW wildlife areas webpage.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area. More information on DNR’s summer burn ban is available at http://goo.gl/5jykD     

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

Fishing:  Anglers who fish the lower Columbia River are gearing up for hatchery steelhead now that most salmon-fishing opportunities are moving upstream. Summer steelhead are arriving to take up the slack after the close of the fishery for adult chinook and sockeye salmon below Bonneville Dam.

Based on current projections, 339,200 adult upriver steelhead will enter the Columbia this year along with thousands more bound for lower-river tributaries, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). While the upriver run is slightly below the average since 2003, those fish should provide plenty of action in the weeks ahead, he said.

“These fish, which generally run four to eight pounds apiece, are fun to catch and great to eat,” Hymer said. “Steelhead tend to run close to shore, so bank anglers should have some great fishing opportunities in the weeks ahead.”

Anglers fishing downriver from Bonneville can take up to two hatchery steelhead per day as part of their six-fish catch limit, which can also include hatchery jack chinook salmon. All wild fish with an intact adipose fin must be released.

Above Bonneville Dam, fishing seasons are still open for adult hatchery chinook and sockeye salmon, as well as hatchery steelhead. For adult fish, the daily limit remains two salmon, two steelhead, or one of each.

Hymer suggests that anglers targeting hatchery steelhead consider fishing area tributaries as well as the mainstem Columbia River. As he sees it, the best bet is probably the Cowlitz River, where fish start arriving in larger numbers early in the month.

Other options below Bonneville include the Lewis (North and East forks), Kalama, Washougal, South Fork Toutle, Green, and Elochoman rivers. Anglers should check the Fishing in Washington rule pamphlet for regulations specific to those rivers.

Anglers might also want to try fishing Drano Lake or the lower Wind River, where salmon and steelhead historically dip in to beat the heat. The White Salmon River is another option, although it is still recovering from the removal of Condit Dam, which filled the mouth of the river with sediment.

For trout anglers, access to high mountain lakes continues to improve as the snow recedes. John Weinheimer, a WDFW fish biologist, recommends Takhlakh, Horseshoe, Walupt and Big Mosquito lakes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest this time of year.

Goose Lake, a forest lake in Skamania County, was recently planted with thousands of good-sized brown and cutthroat trout, and rainbows have been biting at Swift Reservoir. For kokanee, Yale and Merwin reservoirs are a good bet, said Weinheimer, noting that Riffe Reservoir on the Cowlitz River has also been good for landlocked coho.

Fishing for bass, walleye, and tiger musky is also warming up in the summer sun, Weinheimer said. Anglers are catching bass and walleye in the Columbia River and tiger musky in the Merwin and Mayfield reservoirs. 

Wildlife viewing:  July is a great time to watch the parade of salmon, steelhead, shad and other fish pass the fish-viewing windows at the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center. Thousands of fish are now on display every day as they move up the fish ladders to continue their journey upriver.

To get to the visitor center, take Washington State Highway 14 east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and park in front of the glass building at the end of the powerhouse. To check on the number of fish passing the dam each day, go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area.  

Planning a trip to the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge? One visitor observed 29 bird species from a willow flycatcher to a pair of cinnamon teal on a recent loop around the auto tour. Her advice: Don’t forget the bug spray if you plan to get out of your vehicle.

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

Fishing:  Cooler and wetter weather in spring has kept trout fishing lively in many of the region’s lakes and rivers, while the action continues to pick up in warmwater fisheries.

In July, lakes in the northern third of the region are a good place to combine fishing with camping, since many are on public lands with campgrounds. In Stevens County, the Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes – Gillette, Heritage, Sherry, and Thomas – are producing fish, as are Pend Oreille County’s Skookum and Yocum lakes and many others at higher elevations.  Other northeast lakes that continue to see action include Cedar, Mudgett, Rocky, Starvation, and Waitts lakes in Stevens County; Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County; and Ellen Lake in Ferry County.

Randy Osborne, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish biologist based in Spokane, said cool water temperatures in many Spokane County lakes have been keeping rainbow trout biting. 

“Fish Lake near Cheney is still producing catches of both rainbow and brook trout,” Osborne said. “West Medical, Clear, and Williams lakes are also still producing good catches of rainbows.” 

Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir on the Lincoln-Stevens-Ferry county line, is still producing catches of kokanee, rainbows, and walleye, although Osborne says walleye fishing has been a little spotty. Early July is usually a good time to fish the upper portion of the reservoir, upriver from the town of Kettle Falls in Stevens County.  

“Some of the central district’s warmwater fisheries have been really good,” Osborne said. “Anglers fishing Sprague Lake have been catching good numbers of largemouth bass up to six pounds. Anglers at Downs, Bonnie, and Long lakes have been catching decent numbers of yellow perch and black crappie. Silver and Newman lakes have been pretty consistent for catches of largemouth bass and yellow perch, although the perch are pretty small at Newman.”

Sprague Lake catfish
Sprague Lake catfish

WDFW warmwater fish biologist Marc Divens added that fishery sampling just completed on Sprague Lake produced a 16-inch channel catfish from stocking of eight-inchers in 2011. 

“The channel catfish we stocked in Sprague in 2008 should be even larger,” Divens said. “This is another good fishing opportunity for anglers at Sprague Lake and these fish are excellent eating.” 

At the south end of the region, angler interest has shifted to smallmouth bass and channel catfish since spring chinook salmon fishing closed on the Snake River in late June.

The Tucannon River impoundments in the south end of the region are still providing good fishing for rainbow trout, reports Kari Dingman, WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager. The extended cool, rainy weather this spring has probably extended the life of those hatchery-stocked fisheries – Big Four, Blue, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes. Dingman notes fishing in the Tucannon River itself has also been good.

 

Wildlife viewing:  July is the month when more wildflowers are in full bloom than any other – from bright yellow Oregon grape blooms that attract butterflies to pink and purple monkeyflowers and penstemons that provide nectar for hummingbirds. Some flowering shrubs and trees are already beginning to produce fruit that draws robins, cedar waxwings, and other birds that are busily feeding babies.

Summertime insects are also abundant this month, attracting swallows, warblers and other insect-eating birds that feed on the wing and take meals to nestlings.

It’s a good time to see young wildlife of many kinds, from those songbird fledglings to elk and moose calves. By now, most wild babies are becoming more independent and can provide good viewing and photo opportunities – at least with binoculars, scopes, or telephoto lenses.

Some young wildlife may be curious about human visitors, which can be fun – up to a point. But picking up wildlife or taking it into captivity can often is often dangerous to both animals and people. In addition, taking wildlife into captivity is illegal in Washington.

One good place to view young wildlife now is WDFW’s Wooten Wildlife Area, adjacent to the Umatilla National Forest in the southeast district’s Columbia and Garfield counties. WDFW manager Kari Dingman reports that both mule deer and white-tailed deer fawns “are starting to get up, move around and be more visible.” She also notes at least four bighorn sheep lambs and their ewes have been “hanging out between the Tucannon Fish Hatchery and Cummings Creek.” Dingman has also heard reports of black bears in the area.

WDFW’s Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County is also home to lots of reproducing wildlife. After tracking a radio-equipped sharp-tailed grouse, a wildlife area reported that “there were lots of scattered mule deer, including my first-of-the-season set of tiny, spotted twin fawns. They were with mama and, despite being shorter than the grass, they could keep right up with her as they fled. ”

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area.  

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

Fishing:  Angler can catch hatchery-marked chinook salmon starting July 1 on the mainstem Columbia River from Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, as well as the Okanogan and Similkameen rivers. 

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Okanogan district fish biologist Bob Jateff reminds anglers that new rules are in effect for this year requiring the use of barbless hooks when fishing for salmon. The daily limit includes six hatchery-marked (missing adipose fin and healed scar) chinook, of which only two may be adults measuring at least 24 inches. Minimum size for any chinook is 12 inches.

Also starting July 1 anglers can keep sockeye salmon on portions of the Columbia and Okanogan rivers, based on new an updated run estimates that allows limited harvest. The fishery is open from Priest Rapids to Wells dams, from Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster to Chief Joseph Dam, and from the mouth of the Okanogan River upstream to the first Highway 97 bridge.

On July 16, the stretch from Wells Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster will also be open for sockeye retention. Of the daily catch limit of six salmon, only two adult sockeye (minimum size 12 inches). For details, see the emergency rule change

Jateff said many lakes in Okanogan County are still fishing well due to cool spring temperatures have helped to keep water temperatures lower than normal. Waters still providing good limits of rainbow trout include Conconully Reservoir/Lake and Pearrygin, Alta, Spectacle, and Wannacut lakes. Anglers can expect rainbow trout in the 10 to 12-inch range at these lakes with carryover fish up to 16 inches, Jateff said.  Kokanee are also available at Conconully Reservoir/Lake and Patterson, Bonaparte, and Palmer lakes.

“Bass fishermen can try any one of many waters in the district for either smallmouth or largemouth bass,” Jateff said. He suggests Whitestone, Palmer, Lake Osoyoos, Washburn Island Pond, Okanogan River, and the Columbia River from Wells Dam to Chief Joseph Dam.

Jateff recommends that anglers fishing with selective gear try Big Twin, Blue (Sinlahekin), Cougar, Campbell, Davis, and Big Green lakes for rainbow trout. Fly-fishing-only waters, such as Chopaka and Aeneas lakes, are also still producing good catches of rainbow in the 12 to18-inch range.

Jateff offers this advice for catch-and-release anglers as lake water temperatures increase during the summer months: “Always keep fish in the water prior to release and  play fish as quickly as possible to the net.”

Jateff reports that the Methow River has been dropping and should provide good trout fishing during the catch-and-release fishery that started in May. Anglers can expect to catch resident rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as whitefish in this popular fishery.  Selective gear rules are in effect, with no bait allowed.

WDFW Columbia Basin district fish biologist Chad Jackson said warmwater fishing has been hot since late-May or early-June this year and should continue through the summer.

Smallmouth and largemouth bass have been good in Moses Lake, Banks Lake and Potholes Reservoir,” Jackson said. “Walleye has mostly been slow thus far, even though the fish are present in all three waters.”  

Jackson also noted that fishing for yellow perch has been good at Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake, with large schools of perch observed by WDFW staff and reported by anglers.

All three lakes, open year-round, also have varying populations of bluegill and crappie, which can produce good catches through the summer. With late run-off this year, these big waterways are still at or near high pool, which has somewhat slowed normal shoreline or dockside action at some, like Potholes. 

Lower Goose Lake, one of the Seep lakes south of Potholes Reservoir, has a good crappie and bluegill fishery. The catch limit at Lower Goose is 10 crappie per day with a minimum size limit of nine inches. For bluegill, there is no daily limit and no minimum size, but anglers are limited to five bluegill over six inches long.

Hutchinson and Shiner lakes on the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge has been good for largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and perch since May. Jackson reports lots of 12 to 17-inch largemouth bass, many running to 20 inches on the two lakes, located seven miles north of Othello in Adams County.  However, as summer progresses, both can be tough to fish because of excessive weed growth.

Fawn and goat
Fawn and goat

Wildlife viewing: This is the time of year when people spending time outdoors come across newborn wildlife of many kinds, including mule and white-tailed deer fawns and elk calves. 

Scott Fitkin, a WDFW wildlife biologist based in Winthrop, said this year’s mule deer fawns in the Methow Valley are becoming more mobile and visible now. 

“Look for deer with young fawns in open pastures near brushy cover at dawn or dusk,” Fitkin advised.  “There’s also a good chance of seeing mountain goats now at salt licks along the Hart’s Pass Road northwest of Mazama.”

David Volsen, a WDFW wildlife biologist based in Wenatchee, notes these newborns often appear to have been abandoned because a doe or cow is not readily seen.

“But their mothers are feeding and will return to the fawn or calf shortly,” Volsen said.  “Please avoid the temptation to pick up the newborns and bring them with you. Your actions, no matter how good intentioned, may be putting the newborns at risk. There are very few facilities that rehabilitate fawns and calves, and in most all cases the newborns eventually die. It is better keep your distance, take a few pictures, and leave the newborn where you found it, so its mother can return to it.”    

Meanwhile, WDFW wildlife biologist Jeff Heinlen of Tonasket reports that common loons are nesting at Bonaparte and Lost lakes. The Bonaparte pair has produced one chick, while the Lost Lake pair has produced two. Both lakes, along with just a handful of others in the state with nesting loons, have restrictions on lead fishing tackle to protect this uncommon, “sensitive species” from poisoning by ingesting lead. Learn more about  Conserving Common Loons by Managing Use of Lead Fishing Tackle on WDFW website.

WDFW’s Methow Wildlife Area is a popular place these days, with wildflowers in full bloom attracting butterflies, insect hatches providing songbirds with feed for nestlings, and everything from black bears and coyotes to mule deer and moose active and visible. Area manager Tom McCoy reminds wildlife viewers that opportunities for seeing wildlife will be best in the cooler hours of dawn and dusk as summertime temperatures rise. McCoy also reminds visitors that a Discover Pass is required to use WDFW land, except for those with fishing or hunting licenses, which come with a free Vehicle Access Pass.

In the Columbia Basin, WDFW district wildlife biologist Rich Finger of Moses Lake reports white pelicans, common egrets, and Forster’s terns in the west cells of the Frenchmen Hills Wasteway Ponds, southwest of Potholes Reservoir in Grant County. Finger also notes occasional Caspian terns and a few black terns in the area, along with an abundance of many duck species, all with broods in tow now.

WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area. More information on DNR’s summer burn ban is available at http://goo.gl/5jykD     

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

Fishing:  Area anglers have several good fishing opportunities in July, ranging from spring chinook salmon on a portion of the Yakima River to newly stocked jumbo trout in five popular “drive to” mountain lakes. On the Columbia River, the catch is running to walleye, shad and the occasional summer chinook salmon. 
 
Eric Anderson, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said spring chinook fishing has been good on the Yakima River this season, although a good portion of the run has moved past Roza Dam on its way to the spawning grounds.

The fishery closed June 30 upriver to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser, but is expected to remain open through July 15 from the Interstate 82 Bridge in Union Gap to the Burlington Northern Railroad bridge 500 feet downstream of Roza Dam. 

“Springers are still moving upstream below Roza Dam, but fishing has slowed considerably and anglers will have to put in some time to catch fish,” Anderson said.

The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery chinook. The area is closed for steelhead, and terminal gear is restricted to one single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap (from point to shank) of three-quarters of an inch or less. Bait and knotted nets are allowed in the section of the river open to salmon fishing.

For more information, see the fishing rule for the Yakima River fishery on the WDFW website.

On the Columbia River, most anglers fishing below McNary Dam have been focusing on sturgeon, walleye and shad, said Paul Hoffarth, another WDFW fish biologist. Anglers have also been picking up a few summer chinook and sockeye, although the action has been slow.

The fishery for summer chinook and sockeye salmon on the Columbia River is open upstream to Priest Rapids Dam, under a daily limit of two adult hatchery chinook. Through July, only those chinook with a clipped adipose may be retained.

A Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead endorsement is required to participate in salmon fisheries on both the Yakima and Columbia Rivers. A two-pole endorsement is also available for anglers fishing the open section of the Yakima River and for salmon fisheries on some areas of the Columbia River. For additional rules on the salmon fishery, see the 2013-14 Fishing in Washington pamphlet.  

Rather catch sturgeon? Anglers can catch and keep sturgeon measuring 43 to 54 inches (fork length) through July 31 in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids and Ice Harbor dams). Fishing is not allowed in sturgeon spawning sanctuary areas below McNary Dam.

Meanwhile, fishing for stocked rainbow trout is still going strong on lowland lakes near Yakima, Ellensburg and Cle Elum. WDFW fish biologist Eric Anderson said he especially likes the prospects at Clear, Leech and Dog Lakes in Yakima County and Lost Lake and Cooper Lake in Kittitas County.

To spice things up, WDFW has also planted hundreds of 1.5-pound jumbo trout in popular “drive to” high-mountain lakes during June, Anderson said. Those lakes include Leech, Dog and Clear lakes near White Pass in Yakima County and Lost and Cooper lakes near Snoqualmie Pass in Kittitas County. 

“All of these lakes also received thousands of catchable sized rainbows (11-13 inches) in June, and should provide excellent trout fishing right through summer,” Anderson said.

Kokanee fishing has also been fast and furious at Rimrock Lake in Yakima County, Anderson said. Although the fish are small, anglers have been doing well fishing 10 to 30 feet deep trolling pop gear (gang trolls) just about everywhere on the lake.

“Trolling a two ounce trolling sinker and a wedding ring spinner baited with maggots or tuna-scented shoe peg corn 15-20-feet deep works great,” Anderson said.

Other kokanee hotspots include Bumping Lake, Keechelus Reservoir and Kachess Reservoir. Anglers should be aware of a new slot limit for kokanee at Cle Elum and Cooper lakes in Kittitas County, where only kokanee measuring seven to 14 inches in length can be retained. Anderson also reminds anglers that all bull trout caught while fishing for other species must be released unharmed.

Wildlife viewing:  Hot, dry conditions at this time of year can bring wild animals in search of food and water into areas closer to people. Deer find irrigated vegetation tastier than dry fare, and cougars will sometimes follow the deer. Likewise, black bears are out looking for easy pickings.

Area residents should be alert to these potentially dangerous wild animals, and avoid attracting them to their homes or campsites. For more information, see the department’s Living with Wildlife website.

Meanwhile, WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Unattended campfires, fireworks, hot vehicle mufflers, careless disposal of cigarettes and outdoor burning are all common causes of wildfires in the state.

Fireworks are prohibited at all 32 WDFW wildlife areas and 700 water access sites around the state. The Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has also issued a summer burn ban that prohibits campfires in all WDFW forested areas.

Campfires are also prohibited on other WDFW lands, particularly on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. For example, no campfires of any kind are allowed at the four WDFW wildlife areas in Yakima and Kittitas counties until Oct. 15 due to the high risk of wildfires.

Target shooting also has been restricted on the Wenas Wildlife Area to the hours between sunrise and 11 a.m. through Sept. 30 for the same reason. WDFW, which manages the area, announced the restriction after target shooting sparked wildfires on two successive days in June.

Current campfire restrictions are posted in campgrounds and at the gates of each wildlife area.