Find Your Region
WDFW Regions
 Past Issues
2014 2013 2012
2011 2010  
Contact
Fish: 360-902-2700
Wildlife: 360-902-2515
 More to do Outside!
Wildlife Areas
Water Access Sites
Experience Washington
State Parks
Washington National Parks
National Forest Service
Audubon Washington
 
The Weekender Report
The latest in fish and wildlife recreational opportunities across Washington State

DOWNLOAD WEEKENDER
Download Weekender
Microsoft Word Format

June 2011

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated June 24, 2011)

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

Catch trout, salmon, halibut
during Free Fishing Weekend

Anglers are reeling in halibut from the ocean, chinook salmon from the Columbia River and trout from lakes and ponds throughout the state. Starting June 4, hundreds of rivers will also open for trout fishing, followed later in the month by some of Washington’s premiere salmon fisheries.

Sound like fun? Those interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license will be able to get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 11-12.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the 600 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to revive an old hobby or to introduce friends and family to fishing,” said Craig Burley, WDFW fish division manager. “Adults can introduce kids to fishing on a wide variety of waters around the state.”

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size limits and bag limits will still be in effect. For example, no crab fishing will be allowed in Puget Sound during Free Fishing Weekend, because no areas will be open for crabbing at that time.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut they catch that weekend. Catch record cards and WDFW's Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet are available free at hundreds of sporting goods stores and other license dealers throughout the state. The rules pamphlet is also available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Of course, the state’s fishing opportunities don't begin or end with Free Fishing Weekend. Several major fisheries open just days after free fishing is over for the year:

  • June 16 – Summer chinook season opens on the Columbia River upriver to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • June 18 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook begin off the Washington coast from Ilwaco north to the Sekiu River.
  • June 26 – Coastal salmon fisheries expand to allow the retention of wild chinook, hatchery coho and pink salmon.
  • July 1 – Crab fisheries open in most areas of Puget Sound. In addition, salmon fisheries open in several areas of Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

As many anglers and others who enjoy the outdoors know, beginning July 1 a pass will be required for motor-vehicle access to state recreation lands managed by WDFW, the Department of Natural Resources or State Parks. The new Discover Pass will go on sale later this month at recreational license dealers statewide and online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov . The Discover Pass, which costs $30 per year or $10 for a one-day pass, was recently approved by the Legislature to keep parks and recreation lands open despite steep budget cuts. Visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov for details.

But most anglers and hunters will not need a Discover Pass to access WDFW lands or boat-launch sites. That’s because a free Vehicle Access Pass comes with the purchase of a saltwater, freshwater or combination fishing license; big-game or small-game hunting license; western Washington pheasant permit; trapping license; or Watchable Wildlife decal. These license holders must simply display the free Vehicle Access Pass on WDFW lands.

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

North Puget Sound

Fishing: Anglers have their pick of several fishing opportunities in June. On Puget Sound, the Tulalip Bay bubble fishery gets under way June 3, while the lingcod fishery remains open through mid-month. In freshwater, numerous rivers open for trout June 4 and – in a few waters – salmon fishing opens at the beginning of the month.

Portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers opened for hatchery chinook salmon fishing June 1. The Skagit is open to hatchery chinook retention from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River Road. On the Cascade, anglers can fish for salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. Both stretches are open through July 15. The daily limit on the Skagit and Cascade rivers is four hatchery chinook, two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length).

Fishing for salmon, as well as trout and other gamefish, also opened June 1 on portions of the Skykomish River.
 
Elsewhere, trout fishing will open at several of the region's other rivers and streams beginning June 4. 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, said Danny Garrett, fisheries biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). When fishing for these species, focus on areas where there are bridge pilings, boat docks, rock, submerged trees and bushes, grass beds, lily pads, and flooded vegetation along the shoreline, he said.
 
"Smallmouth bass use many of the same habitats as largemouth bass, but smallmouth are often more abundant around rocky points, riprap, and offshore rock piles," Garrett said.  "Both species are highly adaptive to specific lake conditions, and habitat use will vary from lake to lake." For smallmouth and largemouth bass, Garrett recommends using spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and plastic baits that include worms, tubes, and creature baits.
 
Perch and bluegill can also be caught with an assortment of artificial jigs, spinners, and flies, although many people prefer to use live worms under a bobber, he said. Anglers fishing for perch and bluegill should try fishing around several different pieces of cover in the lake until a group of fish is found.  "Generally, a single, small area will produce many individuals, since both species tend to congregate in large groups," he said.

Lakes where anglers can find quality bass and panfish fishing include Lakes Whatcom and Terrell in Whatcom County; Lake Goodwin in Snohomish County; Big Lake in Skagit County; Lakes Washington, Union and Sammamish in King County.
 
On Puget Sound, the northern portion of Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) opened June 1 to catch-and-release fishing for salmon. Fishing is allowed north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point.
 
Farther north, the Tulalip Bay "bubble" fishery begins June 3. The fishery is open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 5. The exception is June 12, when the bubble is closed for the Tulalip Tribes salmon ceremony, said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. “They recently rescheduled their salmon ceremony, so the one-day closure was moved to June 12,” Thiesfeld said. “That means the bubble will be open June 19 this year.” For details, check the emergency fishing rule change. Anglers fishing the bubble will have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon.

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

Before heading out, anglers should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for all regulations.

Washingtonians who are interested in fishing but haven't actually given it a try have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 11-12. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

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

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by checking WDFW’s website in late June. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. The application period ran through May 18.

Wildlife viewing:  As spring turns to summer, wildlife sightings naturally increase for species ranging from butterflies to black bears. One reason, of course, is that animals become more active, emerging from cocoons and dens to feed and breed. Another is that more people are outside to see them.

“Memorial Day really marks the start of the summer outdoor season,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director for the WDFW Wildlife Program. “A large part of our state’s population heads outside every summer to fish, hike and enjoy the natural world.”

With so many people out and about, WDFW wildlife managers ask that they observe a few basic rules in their interactions with Washington’s wildlife:

  • Keep a respectful distance:  Using binoculars is a good way to get a close-up view of wildlife species without disturbing them.  
  • Leave baby animals alone:  Deer fawns and baby birds may appear to be abandoned, when a parent may be close-by. Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal, it's illegal.
  • Don't feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally: This requires keeping campsites clean by storing food and garbage securely. Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW’s involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another.

Feeding bears is especially problematic, said Donny Martorello, a WDFW bear and cougar specialist. Natural food is scarce until the berries ripen, he said, so bears are looking for an easy meal.

“Once bears become habituated to human food – whether from garbage cans or actual hand-outs – they often get more brazen,” Martorello said. “That can create real problems for you or someone else.”

For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife website.

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Some fisheries are winding down in the region, but anglers have other options as numerous rivers and streams open for trout June 4 and salmon fishing gets under way mid-month off the coast. 

The popular ocean salmon season opens June 18 with a mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook in all ocean areas. The selective fishery will run seven days a week, with a daily limit of two salmon, through June 25 or until 4,800 hatchery chinook are retained. Anglers will be required to release wild chinook and all coho during the selective fishery, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“It looks like there are a lot of chinook out there,” said Milward. “And from what we are seeing in the troll fishery, I expect fishing to be much like last year, which was pretty darn good.” 

Ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho will open June 26 in marine areas 1, 2, 3 and 4, where anglers will be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers also are allowed one additional pink salmon each day in marine areas 3 and 4. Salmon fishing will be open seven days a week, except in Marine Area 2 where anglers can only fish for salmon Sundays through Thursdays. Before heading out, anglers should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for all regulations.

In Puget Sound, marine areas 11 and 13 are open for salmon. Anglers fishing those areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Halibut fishing is closed in most of Puget Sound. The exception is Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), where anglers can fish for halibut three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday through June 18. On the coast, Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) will close to halibut fishing June 5, and then re-open Aug. 5 and continue three days a week (Friday through Sunday). Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is already closed except in the northern nearshore area. Farther north, La Push and Neah Bay (marine areas 3 and 4) will re-open for one more day of fishing June 30.

All areas open to halibut fishing have a one-fish daily catch limit, with no minimum size, a possession limit of one fish while on the vessel, and a possession limit of two fish in any form once the angler is on the shore. For more information on the halibut fishery, check WDFW’s website.

Anglers have through mid-month to fish for lingcod in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where the fishery closes June 15 in both areas. However, the lingcod season on the coast remains open through mid-October.

Anglers are reminded that work will limit parking facilities for boaters through June at Twanoh State Park, a popular access site on Hood Canal. The State Parks and Recreation Commission encourages fishers to use an alternate launch site.

Meanwhile, a couple of rivers are open for salmon fishing, including the Hoh, Quillayute and a portion of the Sol Duc. For details on those and other fishing opportunities, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

Elsewhere, trout fishing will open at several rivers and streams beginning June 4. 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 rivers and streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep.

Washingtonians who are interested in fishing but haven't actually given it a try have a perfect chance to do so during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 11-12. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, no vehicle use permit will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at any of the water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

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

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by checking WDFW’s website in late June. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. The application period ran through May 18.

Wildlife viewing:  As spring turns to summer, wildlife sightings naturally increase for species ranging from butterflies to black bears. One reason, of course, is that animals become more active, emerging from cocoons and dens to feed and breed. Another is that more people are outside to see them.

“Memorial Day really marks the start of the summer outdoor season,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director for the WDFW Wildlife Program. “A large part of our state’s population heads outside every summer to fish, hike and enjoy the natural world.”

With so many people out and about, WDFW wildlife managers ask that they observe a few basic rules in their interactions with Washington’s wildlife:

  • Keep a respectful distance:  Using binoculars is a good way to get a close-up view of wildlife species without disturbing them.  
  • Leave baby animals alone:  Deer fawns and baby birds may appear to be abandoned, when a parent may be close-by. Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal, it's illegal.
  • Don't feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally: This requires keeping campsites clean by storing food and garbage securely. Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW’s involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another.

Feeding bears is especially problematic, said Donny Martorello, a WDFW bear and cougar specialist. Natural food is scarce until the berries ripen, he said, so bears are looking for an easy meal.

“Once bears become habituated to human food – whether from garbage cans or actual hand-outs – they often get more brazen,” Martorello said. “That can create real problems for you or someone else.”

For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife website.

Southwest Washington

Fishing:  The spring chinook fishery runs through June 15, followed the next day by a promising six-week summer chinook season. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of sockeye salmon and hatchery summer steelhead are moving into the lower Columbia River Basin, where anglers can also catch and keep white sturgeon in most areas.

But high water will present an ongoing challenge for anglers engaged in all of these fisheries, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“The river has been up in the trees for several days, and the snow pack hasn’t even started to melt,” said Hymer during the last week of May. “These high-water conditions could be with us for a while.”

Anglers can check area river conditions on websites maintained by the Fish Passage Center and the Northwest River Forecast Center.

Apart from their effect on fishing conditions, high flows and floating debris present a safety risk to anglers – particularly boat anglers – fishing the mainstem Columbia River. So long as the river is high, Hymer suggests that anglers leave their boats at home and take up a position on the bank.

“Success rates for bank anglers were higher than those for boat anglers fishing for spring chinook during the last week of May,” he said. “There’s a lesson in that.”

Through June 15, fishing is open to both boat and bank anglers from Rocky Point/Tongue Point upriver to Bonneville Dam. Fishery managers opened the four-mile area from Beacon Rock to the dam to boat angling in late May to give anglers more access to upriver spring chinook still available for harvest.

The fishery above Bonneville Dam has also been extended through June 15 for boat and bank anglers from the Tower Island power lines upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. Bank fishing was also reopened through June 15 from Bonneville Dam upriver to the power lines, located six miles below The Dalles Dam.

During the spring chinook season, anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam may retain one adult spring chinook salmon marked with a clipped adipose fin as part of their daily catch limit. Above Bonneville, the daily limit can include two marked hatchery adult chinook salmon. Sockeye salmon and hatchery-reared steelhead also count toward anglers’ adult daily limit.
           
In both areas, all unmarked chinook and steelhead must be released unharmed. 

That is also the case in the summer chinook salmon fishery, which gets under way June 16 from the Megler Astoria Bridge up to Priest Rapids Dam. One difference is anglers fishing below Bonneville Dam can retain two adult hatchery-reared chinook after June 16, rather than one.

Like last year, the six-week mark selective summer chinook season is made possible by the additional revenue produced by the new Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement fee. “In the past, the cost of adequately monitoring and sampling a six-week fishery was prohibitive,” Hymer said. “The extended summer chinook fishery was one of the first uses the department made of those revenues.”

Based on the pre-season forecast, this year’s summer chinook season looks promising, Hymer said. Approximately 92,000 upriver fish – the highest number since 1980 – are expected to return, including a high percentage of five-year-olds running 20-40 pounds. Anglers can also top off their daily limits with sockeye salmon and summer-run hatchery steelhead, which are also expected to return in high numbers this year.

Many of the early returning steelhead are headed for the Elochoman, Cowlitz, Kalama, Lewis, Toutle, Washougal, and Klickitat rivers, where they should provide good fishing through the summer. Fishing for hatchery spring chinook is also open on a number of area tributaries, including Drano Lake and the Wind River, where anglers can now retain four adult hatchery spring chinook as part of their six-fish daily limit.

Those fishing Drano Lake should be aware that Wednesday closures have been extended through June.  In addition, the Kalama and Lewis rivers were recently closed to fishing for spring chinook due to low returns.   

On the Klickitat River, salmon fishing is now open seven days a week downstream from the Fisher Hill Bridge, where anglers may retain two adult hatchery spring chinook plus two hatchery steelhead. Starting June 11, anglers fishing 400 feet upstream from the #5 fishway to the boundary markers below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery may retain up to two hatchery adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.

New rules will also take effect June 4 on the following rivers:

  • Elochoman River:  Opens for retention of hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead from the mouth to the West Fork.
  • Grays River:  Opens for retention of hatchery chinook and hatchery steelhead

on the mainstem from the mouth to the South Fork, and the West Fork from the mouth to the hatchery intake/footbridge.

  • South Fork Toutle River and the Green River: Opens for hatchery steelhead on the entire South Fork Toutle, plus the Green River from the mouth to the 2800 Road Bridge. Bait may be used.  All tributaries to the South Fork Toutle and Green rivers will remain closed to all fishing.
  • East Fork Lewis River: Opens for hatchery steelhead from the mouth to 400 feet below Horseshoe Falls (except closures around various falls).  Bait may be used.
  • Washougal River: Opens for hatchery steelhead from the mouth to Salmon Falls Bridge. Bait may be used.

For more information about these and other fishing rule updates, check for Emergency Rule Changes on WDFW’s website.

Rather catch a sturgeon? Boat anglers have been catching some legal-size fish around Camas, Longview and Cathlamet on the Columbia River. The retention fishery below the Wauna powerlines runs seven days a week through July 31. The daily limit is one white sturgeon with a fork-length requirement of 41 to 54 inches. Above the powerlines, sturgeon may be retained Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through July 31 up to Navigation Marker 82, nine miles below Bonneville Dam. The daily limit is one fish with a fork-length requirement of 38 to 54 inches.

Anglers also will be allowed to catch and retain legal-size white sturgeon June 30-July 2 and July 7-9 from the Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam. Anglers fishing the Bonneville Pool will have a daily catch limit of one white sturgeon, with a fork-length measurement of 38 inches to 54 inches.

And don’t forget shad. While not as highly prized as sturgeon or salmon, they can put up a good fight and make for good eating, said WDFW biologist Joe Hymer. Even though their numbers may be down this year, more than a million of them will likely mount a charge up the Columbia this month. There are no daily limits or size limits for shad, the largest member of the herring family. 

Fishing for walleye and bass should also pick up this month as water temperatures rise. During the last week of May, boat anglers averaged eight bass and eight walleye per rod fishing in The Dalles Pool. More than a dozen lakes, rivers and reservoirs – from Mayfield Reservoir in Lewis County to the Little White Salmon River in Skamania County – will be stocked with trout this month. See the WDFW website for a complete listing.

Those interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license will be able to get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 11-12. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size limits and bag limits will still be in effect.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by checking WDFW’s website in late June. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. The application period ran through May 18.

Wildlife viewing:  As spring turns to summer, wildlife sightings naturally increase for species ranging from butterflies to black bears. One reason, of course, is that animals become more active, emerging from cocoons and dens to feed and breed. Another is that more people are outside to see them.

“Memorial Day really marks the start of the summer outdoor season,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director for the WDFW Wildlife Program. “A large part of our state’s population heads outside every summer to fish, hike and enjoy the natural world.”

With so many people out and about, WDFW wildlife managers ask that they observe a few basic rules in their interactions with Washington’s wildlife:

  • Keep a respectful distance:  Using binoculars is a good way to get a close-up view of wildlife species without disturbing them.  
  • Leave baby animals alone:  Deer fawns and baby birds may appear to be abandoned, when a parent may be close-by. Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal, it's illegal.
  • Don't feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally: This requires keeping campsites clean by storing food and garbage securely. Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW’s involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another.

Feeding bears is especially problematic, said Donny Martorello, a WDFW bear and cougar specialist. Natural food is scarce until the berries ripen, he said, so bears are looking for an easy meal.

“Once bears become habituated to human food – whether from garbage cans or actual hand-outs – they often get more brazen,” Martorello said. “That can create real problems for you or someone else.”

For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife website.

A birder scouting sites in Skamania County didn’t encounter any bears, but he did see plenty of birds during his trip through the gorge. In a posting on the Tweeters website, he reported seeing a dusky flycatcher, several Hammond’s flycatchers, a northern pygmy owl, several lazuli bunting and eight different types of warblers.

Eastern Washington

Fishing:  June is usually one of the best months of the year for a variety of fishing opportunities throughout the region, with river and stream seasons opening and warmwater fish species beginning to bite.

But this year, with extended cooler temperatures and greater than usual spring rain and runoff flooding some areas and putting many waterways out of shape, anglers are advised to use caution and plan ahead by checking access conditions with local sources.

Many northeast district rivers, including the Colville, Kettle, Little Pend Oreille, and Lake Roosevelt tributaries, opened to fishing May 28. Most other rivers and streams in the region will open June 4, the first Saturday of June. However, portions of the Spokane River open June 1, and some waterways are open year-round. Anglers should check the fishing rules pamphlet for details.

Two areas of the Snake River – near Little Goose Dam and Clarkston – are open to spring chinook salmon fishing through June 2. For details see the emergency rule change.
 
Lakes that have been open since late April continue to produce good catches of rainbow, cutthroat and other trout. In the central district, good bets are Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County; and Amber, Badger, Chapman, Clear, Fish, West Medical and Williams lakes in southwest Spokane County. Many mixed-species waters that are open year-round or opened earlier this spring are starting to produce catches of bass, bluegill, crappie, perch or catfish, along with trout. These include Spokane County’s Eloika, Liberty, Long, Newman, and Silver lakes.
 
In the northeast district, many trout fishing lakes are on U.S. Forest Service or other public lands with campgrounds – perfect for family weekend outings. In Ferry County, that includes Davis, Ellen, Ferry and Swan lakes; in Stevens County, Gillette, Pierre, and Thomas lakes; in Pend Oreille County, Bead, Cook’s, Mystic, No-Name, Skookum, Sullivan and Yocum lakes. Anglers need to keep in mind that seven lakes where loons breed and nest in the northeast district have new rules prohibiting the use of lead weights and jigs that measure 1 ½ inches or less along the longest axis – these are Ferry, Long and Swan in Ferry County; Pierre in Stevens County; and Meadow, South Skookum and Yocum in Pend Oreille County.

Stevens County’s Cedar, Rocky and Starvation lakes continue to be among the best trout producers in the region, but anglers need to keep in mind that Rocky and Starvation shift to catch-and-release only on June 1.

Free Fishing Weekend, June 11-12, is the best time to invite your non-fishing family or friends to join you on the water because that’s when no fishing licenses are required of anyone.  With Washington State Tourism’s “Share Your Washington” campaign, you can even be eligible for air travel prizes when you invite others to fish with you in Washington. The contest runs through June 15.
 
WDFW is piloting a free adult fishing class on June 11 with help from Inland Northwest Wildlife Council volunteer instructors and Bunkers Resort on Williams Lake in southwest Spokane County. The class will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., mostly with time on the water to learn how to catch fish, but also with instruction on cleaning and cooking fish.  Limited class space is filling fast with a registration deadline of June 6; call WDFW Eastern Region office at 509-892-1001 or e-mail teamspokane@dfw.wa.gov.

Hunting:  Spring wild turkey hunting closed May 31 and hunters are reminded to report hunting activity, whether successful or not. Those who plan to hunt fall turkey seasons can wait to report until after those seasons. Report either by toll-free telephone at 1-877-945-3492 or online.
 
Hunters who applied by May 18 for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out in late June if they were drawn by checking WDFW’s website. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Wildlife viewing:  June is full of wildlife babies, from elk, moose calves and deer fawns to owl, hawk and other raptor hatchlings.
 
WDFW wildlife biologists have been conducting field surveys of some species to monitor populations and reproduction.  Recent surveys in the central district, for example, indicated that great blue heron rookeries (colonial or group nesting sites) along the Little Spokane River seemed to have decreased, possibly due to higher numbers of bald eagle nests in the area. On WDFW’s W.T. Wooten Wildlife Area in the Blue Mountains of the southeast district, biologists have documented a golden eagle nest in Cummings Creek area and at least five bighorn sheep lambs above the fish hatchery on the Tucannon River.
  
June is also the first full month that many families get outdoors picnicking, hiking, camping and wildlife watching.  WDFW wildlife biologists advise following a few basic rules to protect both wildlife and people:

  • Keep a respectful distance:  Using binoculars is a good way to get a close-up view of wildlife species without disturbing them.  
  • Leave baby animals alone:  Deer fawns and baby birds may appear to be abandoned, when a parent may be close-by. Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal, it's illegal.
  • Don't feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally: This requires keeping campsites clean by storing food and garbage securely. Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW’s involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another.

Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another. WDFW wildlife police officers have been responding to reports of black bears getting into garbage, compost piles, backyard chicken coops, pet food left out, and other sources of food in communities throughout the region. For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife webpage.

Northcentral Washington

Fishing: River and stream trout fishing is scheduled to start the first Saturday in June, but WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff says higher than normal flows will make fishing difficult at best – at least for the first few weeks of the month. “Anglers should focus on some of the smaller tributaries which have a tendency to clear up much quicker than larger rivers,” Jateff said.
 

Spring chinook salmon fishing on the Icicle River in Chelan County should improve considerably in June as more fish move up into the river. “There should be a number of fish available as the pre-season forecast for the Icicle calls for a run of approximately 9,000 fish,” Jateff said.  Daily limit is three salmon, minimum size 12 inches.  Standard gear rules are in effect and there is a night closure.  Anglers must release all fish with one of more round holes punched in the tail (caudal) fin.

“Lake fishing should improve during the month as a later than normal spring has kept lake waters cooler than normal,” Jateff said.  Rainbow trout waters to check out are Pearrygin near Winthrop, Alta near Pateros, Conconully Reservoir and Lake near Conconully, Spectacle near Loomis, and Wannacut near Oroville. Anglers can expect to catch rainbows in the 10-13 inch range with larger carryover fish in the 15-16 inch range in all of these lakes, Jateff said.

Fly-fishing only waters in Okanogan County worth visiting in June are Aeneas Lake near Tonasket and Chopaka Lake near Loomis.  Jateff reports Aeneas Lake has rainbow and brown trout 12-18 inches, and Chopaka has rainbows in the 12-17 inch range.  Electric motors are not allowed on fly-fishing only waters, unless a special use permit has been issued.  Selective gear waters to try would be Big Twin Lake near Winthrop, Blue Lake on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, Buzzard Lake near Okanogan, and Rat Lake near Brewster.  All of these lakes are planted with rainbow trout fingerlings and/or catchables and should provide good fishing for 12-16 inch fish.  Both Rat and Blue also have brown trout available.

For spiny ray anglers, Patterson Lake near Winthrop has yellow perch as well as smallmouth and largemouth bass.  Expect perch in the 6-9 inch range in Patterson with an occasional fish up to 11 inches.  Leader Lake, near Okanogan, has a mix of black crappie and bluegill, as well as largemouth bass.  You can expect bluegill in the 6-7 inch range and crappie in the 6-9 inch range.  Both Patterson and Leader Lakes are also planted with rainbow trout catchables up to 13 inches.

Wapato Lake in Chelan County continues to provide good fishing for rainbows in the 12-13 inch range, with a few larger fish up to 17 inches.  Jameson Lake in Douglas County has been fishing well for rainbows in the 10-11 inch range along with a number of spring planted triploid rainbows in the 16-17 inch range.

On June 1, Grimes Lake near Mansfield will open for trout fishing under selective gear rules and a one fish daily limit.  Anglers can expect good fishing for Lahontan cutthroat in the 12-18 inch range, with some fish in the 20-inch category.  Float tubes, pontoon boats, and small row boats can be launched at the south end of the lake under an access agreement with the local land owner.  The fishing season at Grimes Lake continues through Aug. 31.

Grazing black bear - Photo by Scott Fitkin
Grazing black bear - Photo by Scott Fitkin
Great egret - Photo by Rich Finger
Great egret - Photo by Rich Finger
Rufous hummingbird - Photo by Justin Haug
Rufous hummingbird - Photo by Justin Haug
Cinnamon teals - Photo by Justin Haug
Cinnamon teals - Photo by Justin Haug

In the Columbia Basin district of the region, fish biologist Chad Jackson said trout fishing has been very good during this cool, wet spring and warmwater fish species should begin biting more later this month. “Pretty much all of the catch-and-release or fly-fishing or selective gear waters in the basin are fishing quite well with these conditions,” Jackson said.  “Lenice and Dry Falls lakes are the most popular and some anglers are catching and releasing 12 to 20 or more trout per day, and the fish are running up to 20 inches.”
 
Jackson reported that Quail, Dusty, Lenore, and Nunnally lakes are also fishing well.
So are the “production waters,” like Warden, Blue, and Park lakes in Grant County.  “These fisheries appear to be holding up well since the late April opener, but that’s based on just a few reports,” he said. “The weather, especially wind, plays a big factor in successful fishing at those lakes.”

Jackson also noted that bass and walleye fishing should be heating up this month in the usual big three waters in the basin – Banks Lake, Potholes Reservoir and Moses Lake.  “I’m already hearing some good reports, especially for smallmouth and largemouth bass,” he said. 

Free Fishing Weekend, June 11-12, is the best time to invite your non-fishing family or friends to join you on the water because that’s when no fishing licenses are required of anyone.  With Washington State Tourism’s “Share Your Washington” campaign, you can even be eligible for air travel prizes when you invite others to fish with you in Washington. The contest runs through June 15.

Hunting:  Spring wild turkey hunting closed May 31 and hunters are reminded to report hunting activity, whether successful or not. Those who plan to hunt fall turkey seasons can wait to report until after those seasons. Report either by toll-free telephone at 1-877-945-3492 or online.
 
Hunters who applied by May 18 for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out in late June if they were drawn by checking WDFW’s website. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Wildlife viewing: With most neotropical migrant bird species back in the region to nest, bird watching is excellent from the Okanogan Highlands to the Columbia Basin. WDFW Sinlahekin Wildlife Area Manager Dale Swedberg reports yellow and Nashville warblers, rough winged, barn, cliff and tree swallows, house and marsh wrens, eastern and western kingbirds, rufous hummingbirds, cinnamon teal, pileated woodpeckers and belted kingfishers.

“Birds are flooding into the Sinlahekin Valley and there is a cacophony of bird noise everywhere,” he said. “There are also lots of deer visible in the evenings.”

Swedberg said that by early June deer fawns will be on the ground and some visitors who come upon them may think they’re abandoned. “They’re usually not,” he said. “The doe is nearby, keeping her body scent from attracting predators to the fawn. Leave fawns and other baby animals alone.  Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal or to people, it's illegal.”

WDFW wildlife biologists throughout the region have been conducting waterbird and waterfowl surveys, and in some areas finding the number of “potholes” of water up with increased rain this year. It doesn’t mean numbers of birds are up, but they may be more scattered across the landscape.
 
In the Columbia Basin, survey efforts are targeting colonial nesting birds like herons and egrets on North Potholes Reservoir and Reserve and the Hanford Reach stretch of the Columbia River downstream from Vernita Bridge and Goose Island on Priest Rapids Pool.  These big birds are at their nesting “rookeries” and are visible now.
 
WDFW Okanogan District Wildlife Biologist Scott Fitkin said black bears are visible now at lower and middle elevations.   The recent start of interagency grizzly and black bear survey work near Ross Lake and the western edge of the Pasayten Wilderness Area provided Fitkin some photo opportunities of at least one black bear.
 
“Watch from a respectful distance, both for your sake and the sake of the bear,” Fitkin said. “And don’t intentionally or even unintentionally feed bears or other wildlife. Bears will go for the easy meal of just about anything, so keep garbage secure and store food out of reach when you’re camping.”

Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another. WDFW wildlife police officers have been responding to reports of black bears getting into garbage, compost piles, backyard chicken coops, pet food left out, and other sources of food in communities throughout the Okanogan district. For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife webpage.

Southcentral Washington

Fishing:  Area anglers have been catching spring chinook salmon on two sections of the Yakima River since mid-May, and a third section of the river opens for fishing June 3. That section, open to spring chinook fishing through June 3, extends 20.9 miles from the Highway 223 Bridge at Granger upstream to the Burlington Northern railroad bridge approximately 1,200 feet downstream of Sunnyside Diversion Dam.

“The river is definitely running high, but anglers are still catching spring chinook,” said Eric Anderson, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Opening a third section to fishing creates some new opportunities.”

As in the other sections of the Yakima River, the daily limit is two marked hatchery chinook measuring at least 12 inches in length. All wild, unmarked fish must be released. Bait is allowed, but terminal gear is restricted to one single-point, barbless hook with a hook gap, point to shank, of 3/4 inches or less when fishing for salmon.

For additional regulations, see the Emergency Rule page on the WDFW website.

The two other areas of the Yakima River open to spring chinook fishing extend from:

  • The Interstate 182 bridge in Richland (river mile 4.5) to 400 feet downstream of Horn Rapids (Wanawish) Dam (river mile 18.0), which is open through June 15.
  • The Interstate 82 bridge at Union Gap (river mile 107.1) to the BNRR bridge approximately 500 feet downstream of Roza Dam (river mile 127.8), which is open through July 31.

Meanwhile, anglers have been reeling in channel catfish from the lower reaches of the Yakima and Walla Walla rivers. Fishing has been good for “channel cats,” which typically run 8-10 pounds but can easily weigh twice that amount, said Paul Hoffarth, another WDFW fish biologist.

“Put some cut bait on your hook and leave it on the bottom,” Hoffarth advises. “That’s about all there is to it.”

Rather catch some trout?  Powerline Lake and Marmes Pond, two walk-in lakes in Franklin County, were planted with trout in early spring and cooler temperatures should “keep the bite going” for several weeks, Hoffarth said.

In addition, more than a dozen waters – ranging from Bear Lake in Yakima County to Easton Ponds in Kittitas County – are scheduled to receive fresh plants in June. Many of those waters will receive an assortment of catchable and jumbo-size fish, the latter weighing up to 1½ pounds apiece. See the WDFW website for the full lake-stocking schedule in June.

Out on the Columbia River, fishing prospects look good for salmon, sturgeon and shad – after the river drops to fishable levels. “Flows on the mainstem Columbia have been nearly twice the seasonal average, and there’s a lot of debris in the water,” Hoffarth said. “It’s not just a matter of fishing conditions, it’s a safety issue.”

Anglers can keep tabs on water conditions on the Fish Passage Center’s website. Once flows subside, they’ll have several good options for catching fish:

  • Chinook salmon: June 16 marks the start of the fishery for hatchery-reared summer chinook salmon upriver to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six hatchery fish, up to two may be adult hatchery chinook. Anglers must stop fishing when their adult portion of the daily limit is retained. Anglers fishing the Columbia River downstream from the Highway 395 bridge at Pasco/Kennewick can retain sockeye salmon or hatchery steelhead as part of their daily bag limit.
  • White sturgeon:  Fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July of this year. Fish must measure 43 inches to 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Anglers should be aware that sturgeon fishing is prohibited in sturgeon sanctuaries in the Snake River from Goose Island upstream to Ice Harbor Dam and in the Columbia River upstream of the Priest Rapids Hatchery outlet to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • Shad:  By mid-June, shad should reach McNary and Ice Harbor dams in numbers that make for great fishing. While not as prized as salmon or sturgeon, they can put up a good fight and make for good eating, Hoffarth said.
  • Smallmouth bass and walleye:  Fishing for both species should improve in the Columbia and Snake rivers as those waters warm. One veteran angler from Richland recently pulled a 18 pound, 4 ounce walleye out of the McNary Pool.

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

Those interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license will be able to get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 11-12. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size limits and bag limits will still be in effect.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can find out if they were chosen by checking WDFW’s website in late June. Winners will be notified by mail by the middle of July. Holders of the special permits can hunt at times and locations beyond those authorized by a general hunting license. The application period ran through May 18.

Wildlife viewing:  As spring turns to summer, wildlife sightings naturally increase for species ranging from butterflies to black bears. One reason, of course, is that animals become more active, emerging from cocoons and dens to feed and breed. Another is that more people are outside to see them.

“Memorial Day really marks the start of the summer outdoor season,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director for the WDFW Wildlife Program. “A large part of our state’s population heads outside every summer to fish, hike and enjoy the natural world.”

With so many people out and about, WDFW wildlife managers ask that they observe a few basic rules in their interactions with Washington’s wildlife:

  • Keep a respectful distance:  Using binoculars is a good way to get a close-up view of wildlife species without disturbing them.   

  • Leave baby animals alone:  Deer fawns and baby birds may appear to be abandoned, when a parent may be close-by. Picking up wildlife of any kind can not only be harmful to the animal, it's illegal.

  • Don't feed wildlife, either intentionally or unintentionally: This requires keeping campsites clean by storing food and garbage securely. Many of the problems with wildlife that require WDFW’s involvement stem from human hand-outs, in one form or another.

Feeding bears is especially problematic, said Donny Martorello, a WDFW bear and cougar specialist. Natural food is scarce until the berries ripen, he said, so bears are looking for an easy meal.

“Once bears become habituated to human food – whether from garbage cans or actual hand-outs – they often get more brazen,” Martorello said. “That can create real problems for you or someone else.”

For more information about living with bears and other wildlife, see WDFW’s Living with Wildlife website.

Folks heading outdoors should also be aware that recent flooding has forced WDFW to close several roads on three area Wildlife Areas.  As of June 1, the following roads were posted as closed:

  • On the Colockum Wildlife Area in Kittitas and Chelan counties, the road along the North Fork of Tarpiscan Creek and the bridge over the South Fork of Tarpiscan Creek are closed due to washouts.
  • On the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area in Kittitas County, the portion of Murray Road that runs north-south from Hutchins Road to Shell Rock Road is closed.
  • On the Wenas Wildlife Area in Yakima and Kittitas counties, parts of the Kelley Hollow road is closed. The closure runs from the elk fence gate above North Wenas Road for approximately two miles; closure signs are posted at the intersection with Hessler Flat Road and on the Kelley Hollow Road just above the damaged section.

“In the interest of public safety, these roads will remain closed until drier conditions make them passable or until we can secure emergency funding to repair them,” said Ted Clausing, WDFW’s regional wildlife program manager in Yakima.

He noted that the Yakima River access site at Fitzimmons/Sawyer, previously scheduled to close June 15, was closed to vehicle use early because the river has undercut the roadway.

This information about road closures will be updated throughout the month on WDFW’s Weekender website.