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

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June 2012

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated June 22, 2012)

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, sturgeon on the Columbia River and trout from lakes and ponds throughout the state. Starting June 2, 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 9-10.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. Also, neither a vehicle access pass nor a Discover Pass will be required that 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 /fishing/regulations/.

Of course, the state’s fishing opportunities don't begin or end with Free Fishing Weekend. For Father’s Day, WDFW hatchery crews are stocking 5,000 extra triploid trout into 14 popular lakes during the weekend of June 16-17. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • June 9 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon begin off the southern coast of Washington from Ilwaco north to the Queets River.
  • June 16 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon begin off the northern coast. In addition, summer chinook season opens on a major portion of the Columbia River and sockeye fishing opens on a stretch of the Skagit River.
  • June 24 – 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.

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

North Puget Sound

Fishing: June offers several fishing opportunities, including the opening of river fishing, a chance to fish for free, and special jumbo trout plants in more than a half-dozen regional lakes.

Hatchery chinook salmon fishing runs through the month on a portion of the Skagit River, from the Highway 530 bridge at Rockport to the Marblemount Bridge at Cascade River Road. The hatchery chinook fishery also is open on the Cascade River, from the mouth to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge. In both locations, anglers have a daily limit of four fish, including up to two adults.

Sockeye salmon fishing opens June 16 on the Skagit River, from Highway 536 (Memorial Highway Bridge) at Mount Vernon to the mouth of Gilligan Creek. Anglers have a daily limit of three sockeye, with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Most of the region's rivers and streams open for both game fish and trout fishing June 2 (the first Saturday of the month). The action starts a day earlier (June 1) on some waters, including the Skagit River, portions of the Skykomish and Cascade rivers and Fishtrap Creek in Whatcom County. In most rivers and streams there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches under statewide rules. However, some of the region's rivers and streams require that trout be at least 14 inches long to keep. For details on all fishing opportunities, check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet.

The Reiter Ponds area of the Skykomish River opens June 1 for steelhead fishing, earlier than in previous years. Reiter Ponds anglers are reminded that fishing is not allowed from any floating device from 1,000 feet downstream to 1,500 feet upstream of Reiter Ponds outlet from June 1 through July 31. The rule is aimed at avoiding conflicts with bank anglers.

In Puget Sound, lingcod fishing remains open through June 15, with a one-fish daily limit and a 26- to 36-inch size limit.

Meanwhile, the Tulalip Bay “bubble” salmon fishery continues Fridays through noon Mondays each week. The exception is June 9, when the area is closed for the Tulalip Tribes salmon ceremony. Salmon anglers fishing the bubble this year will be allowed to use two fishing poles from June 10 through Sept. 23, with the purchase of a WDFW two-pole endorsement. For details, check the WDFW fishing rule change. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit.

Nearby on Whidbey Island, beachgoers should note that portions of Penn Cove are closed to shellfish harvest due to diesel fuel that washed ashore. The fuel spilled from a boat that burned and sank in the area in mid-May. That boat has since been removed. For more information on what areas are closed to shellfish harvest, check the state Department of Health’s shellfish safety website.   

For those wanting to give fishing a try, Free Fishing Weekend is coming up June 9-10. During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any state waters open to fishing. Also during Free Fishing Weekend, no Discover Pass or vehicle-access pass will be required to park at any water-access site 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. Before heading out, anglers should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for all regulations.

June offers a special opportunity to try for large “triploid” trout, when WDFW fish hatchery crews stock 5,000 additional triploid rainbow trout in selected lakes just before Father’s Day weekend (June 16-17). Specially stocked waters in the North Puget Sound region — and the number of triploid trout they’ll receive — include: Green Lake (870), Lake Geneva (450), Bitter Lake (100), and Echo Lake (100) in King County; Blackmans Lake (300) and Gissburg Ponds, also known as Twin Lakes, (350) in Snohomish County; and Whistle Lake (300) in Skagit County.

“We encourage families to get Dad out fishing, especially if he hasn’t been for awhile,” said WDFW Inland Fish Program Manager Chris Donley. Lakes that will be stocked with these large trout have good shore and boat access. More details are available at the Father's Day fishing page on WDFW’s website.

Washington fishing licenses make a great Father’s Day gift. They can be purchased online, toll-free by phone at 1-(866) 246-9453 or at any of 600 license dealers statewide.

Hunting: Hunters who applied for special big-game hunt permits for the upcoming season can check results of the special-permit drawing, posted on WDFW's website by the end of June. Winners will be notified by mail by mid-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 opportunities to see juvenile wildlife of all kinds. WDFW officials remind you to enjoy them from a distance, but leave them alone. Young wild animals are too often picked up by well-meaning people who mistakenly believe they are in need of rescue. Almost all are better off left to the care of their parents in the wild. WDFW does not have staff or facilities to care for orphaned or injured wildlife, but trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators do, and some will accept picked-up wild babies. Learn more about when wildlife rescue is warranted and how to find a local rehabilitator at WDFW’s wildlife rehabilitation webpage.

With many people heading to the state’s beaches and backcountry for summer fun, WDFW wildlife managers ask recreation enthusiasts to keep a respectful distance from wild animals and to avoid feeding wildlife, either intentionally or by leaving food or garbage out.

Feeding bears is especially problematic, say WDFW wildlife managers. Natural food is scarce until berries ripen, so bears are looking for an easy meal in early summer. Carelessly stored food, cooking utensils and garbage can draw bears to campsites and bears can become much more brazen — and potentially dangerous — if they become habituated to human food supplies.

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

South Sound/Olympic Peninsula

Fishing: Summer fisheries get under way in June, when numerous rivers and streams open for trout and the salmon season starts up off the coast. 

The popular ocean salmon season opens with a hatchery chinook selective fishery June 9 in marine areas 1 and 2 and June 16 in marine areas 3 and 4. The selective fishery will run through June 22 in Marine Area 1, June 23 in Marine Area 2 and June 30 in marine areas 3 and 4, or until a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook are retained. 

In all marine areas, the fishery will be open seven days a week with a daily limit of two salmon. Anglers will be required to release wild chinook and all coho during the selective fishery.

“We’ve seen chinook up and down the coast during the troll fishery,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “That’s a good sign for the sport fishery, which I expect to be very good once again this year.”

Recreational ocean salmon fisheries for both chinook and hatchery coho will continue June 23 in Marine Area 1, June 24 in Marine Area 2, and July 1 in marine areas 3 and 4. Anglers fishing marine areas 1 and 2 will be allowed to retain one chinook as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing marine areas 3 and 4 will have a daily limit of two salmon. Fishing will be open seven days a week, except in Marine Area 2 where fishing will be open Sundays through Thursdays.

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

In Puget Sound, Marine Area 13 is open for salmon, while salmon fishing gets under way June 1 in Marine Area 11. Anglers fishing those areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook.

Halibutfishing in most of Puget Sound is coming to a close. The fishery is set to close June 2 in most areas. The exception is Marine Area 5 (Sekiu), where anglers can fish for halibut three days a week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday through June 23.

On the coast, Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) is open three days a week (Thursday through Saturday). However, most of Marine Area 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) is already closed. The northern nearshore area of Marine Area 2 closes at the end of the day June 8, said Heather Reed, a WDFW fish biologist.

Farther north, La Push and Neah Bay (marine areas 3 and 4) will open for one day of halibut fishing on June 14. Those two areas have been closed since June 2. Reed said the amount of quota remaining will allow for only one weekday of fishing.

“Unfortunately we risk exceeding the quota if we were to open on a Saturday,” she said. “But after the June 14 opener, we will once again tally the catch and see if we can provide another opportunity on the north coast.”

Reed reminds anglers who travel to the north coast for the June 14 halibut opener that the selective fishery for hatchery chinook gets under way in marine areas 3 and 4 on June 16. “It’s a great opportunity for anglers to spend a couple days along the north coast and fish for both halibut and salmon,” she said. 

In all marine areas open to fishing, there is a one-halibut daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form, and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card. For more information on the halibut fishery, check WDFW’s website.

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

Meanwhile, freshwater anglers might want to head out to the Chehalis River, where a spring chinook fishery is open through June 30. Anglers fishing the Chehalis, from the mouth to the Highway 6 Bridge in the town of Adna, have a daily limit of one salmon. 

Anglers should be aware that a portion of the fishing regulations for the Chehalis River in the new Fishing in Washington pamphlet are incorrect. Anglers fishing the Chehalis, from the mouth to high bridge on Weyerhaeuser 1000 line approximately 400 yards downstream from Roger Creek (south of Pe Ell), are not required to follow selective gear rules. 

A couple of other rivers are also open for salmon fishing, including the Hoh, Quillayute and Sol Duc.

Elsewhere, trout fishing will open at several rivers and streams beginning June 2. 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. Check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet for details.

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 9-10. 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 or Discover Pass 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.

The following weekend offers anglers another unique opportunity. WDFW fish hatchery crews will be stocking 5,000 triploid rainbow trout in 14 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 16-17. “We encourage families to get dad out fishing, especially if he hasn’t been for awhile,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager. “Giving dad a fishing license as a gift and taking him out to catch one of these big fish is a great way to spend the weekend.”

In addition to the 14 lakes that will be stocked with triploids, hundreds of other lakes have been stocked in Washington with millions of trout over the past year, said Donley.

Lakes stocked in the region and the number of triploids that will be stocked, include:
 

  • Kitsap County: Island Lake, 300.
  • Grays Harbor County: Vance Creek (Elma) Ponds, 100.
  • Pierce County: American Lake, 1,200.

More details are available at WDFW’s website.

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, WDFW carnivore section manager. 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:  Anglers may still get a few days in early June to catch spring chinook salmon, but many are shifting their attention to the next big opener on the lower Columbia River. That begins June 16, when fishing opens for summer chinook and fishing for hatchery steelhead and sockeye expands upriver from the Interstate 5 Bridge.

Pre-season forecasts anticipate a strong run of 91,200 summer chinook and an even stronger run of 462,000 sockeye this year, said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“This year’s fishery offers anglers a chance to catch chrome bright trophy-sized fish weighing up to 40 pounds,” Hymer said. “There’s a good reason why these fish are known as ‘June hogs,’ and this season will give anglers a good chance to catch some.”

The Columbia River will open to fishing for salmon and steelhead from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six fish, including two adult salmon, or two adult hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Only sockeye salmon, adipose-clipped chinook and adipose-clipped steelhead may be retained.  All sockeye count as part of the adult daily limit.

Anglers can also catch shad, which have been open without size or catch limits since mid-May. Bank anglers have been catching shad in good numbers just below Bonneville Dam and at the public dock in Washougal.  Boat anglers can do well in shallower water from Longview upstream.   

Above Bonneville Dam, the season for summer chinook and steelhead is scheduled to run through July 31. Below Bonneville, the initial season will run through July 1, but anglers may get additional time on the water if the fish come through as expected, said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW Columbia River policy coordinator.

“Last year’s summer chinook run came in at 12 percent below forecast,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re on target before we start adding fishing days in the lower river.”

The same is true for spring chinook, LeFleur said. “We’d like to add a few days to the start of the summer chinook season, but we’ll have to see what the run forecast for spring chinook does between now and then,” she said.

Below Bonneville, anglers can still catch hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead in several tributaries, including the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers. The Cowlitz River is the best bet for spring chinook, and Lake Scanewa (Cowlitz Falls Reservoir) opens for hatchery spring chinook June 1. Nearly 500 fish were planted in the lake as of May 26. 

Summer run steelhead can also be found on the lower sections of the South Fork Toutle, Green, Washougal, and East Fork Lewis rivers, where bait is prohibited until the general season starts June 2. Though closed for spring chinook, the lower Kalama remains open for hatchery steelhead. 

Anglers fishing any of those waters should check the Fishing in Washington pamphlet and WDFW’s emergency rule website for additional regulations. As noted in the pamphlet, anglers with a two-pole endorsement can use two poles to fish for spring chinook salmon and other species on sections of the Cowlitz, Lewis and Wind rivers and at Drano Lake. However, the two-pole endorsement will be suspended on the Wind River and at Drano Lake during the sturgeon retention fishery June 15, 16, 22 and 23 in the Bonneville Pool.

The daily limit for salmonids has been increased to six fish at Drano and on the Wind River upstream from the railroad bridge. Up to four may be adults, of which no more than two may be hatchery steelhead. Any chinook – whether adipose-fin clipped or not – may now be retained on the Wind upstream from Shipherd Falls. The daily limit on the Wind River below the railroad bridge remains two hatchery origin chinook, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. 

Starting June 1, the Klickitat River from the mouth to the Fisher Hill Bridge will be open seven days per week with a six-salmon daily limit, of which no more than two may be adults. Wild chinook must be released. Starting June 9, those rules will also be in effect for adult chinook salmon in the upper Klickitat River from 400 feet above fishway #5 to the boundary markers below the salmon hatchery. Fishing for hatchery steelhead and chinook jacks opens in those waters June 1.  

Rather catch sturgeon? Below the Wauna powerlines, the retention fishery is open daily through July 8 (or when the quota is met) with a one-fish daily limit, fork-length requirement of 41 to 54 inches. Above the powerlines, sturgeon retention is allowed Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a fork-length requirement of 38 to 54 inches. Fishing is prohibited in spawning sanctuaries below Bonneville, John Day, McNary and Priest Rapids dams.

In the Bonneville Pool, fishery managers have approved four additional days of retention fishing: June 15-16 and June 22-23. Based on public input, WDFW carried forward 1,060 fish from the fishery that ended Feb. 18 in those waters to provide a summer season, said Brad James, a fish biologist for WDFW. The catch limit will be one white sturgeon a day between 38 inches and 54 inches fork length on the mainstem Columbia and its tributaries between Bonneville Dam and The Dalles Dam on those days. Again, anglers are reminded that the two-pole endorsement will be suspended on the Wind River and at Drano Lake during the sturgeon retention fishery June 15, 16, 22 and 23 in the Bonneville Pool.

Anglers looking to catch some trout should check the region’s trout stocking schedule for good spots to go in June. Canyon Creek, Klineline Pond, Rowland Lake and Spearfish Lake are some of the waters scheduled to receive fish this month.

Starting June 2, anglers also have the option of catching trout in a number of rivers and streams throughout the region. Many of those waters – ranging from Skate Creek to the Little White Salmon River – are being stocked with fish from area hatcheries. Information about fish plants is available on WDFW’s website.     

For walleye and bass, fishery managers suggest casting a line between Bonneville and McNary dams. For tiger muskie, try Mayfield or Merwin reservoirs.

Those who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 9-10 during Free Fishing Weekend. During those two days, no license will be required to fish any waters open to fishing in Washington state. No vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required to park at WDFW wildlife areas or water-access sites those days.

During Free Fishing Weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a public fishing event at Spearfish Park near Dallesport June 9 from 9 a.m. until noon. Co-sponsors include WDFW and the Klickitat Chapter of Trout Unlimited. For more information, call (541) 506-7819.

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, WDFW carnivore section manager. 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.

Eastern Washington

Fishing: June is the start of river and stream fishing in many regional waters, from Asotin Creek and the Walla Walla River in the southeast, to the upper section of the Spokane River and LeClerc Creek in the northeast.

Anglers should check the WDFW Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for special regulations that apply to rivers that open in June, as well as those rivers that opened earlier.

Many of the region’s best trout lakes that opened in late April continue to produce good catches through June, including Spokane County’s Amber, Clear, Fish, Williams and West Medical lakes and Lincoln County’s Fishtrap Lake.

As snowpack melts further north in the region, additional waters are becoming productive. In Stevens County, the Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes—Gillette, Heritage, Sherry and Thomas—are providing catches, as are Pend Oreille County’s Skookum and Yocum lakes and many others at higher elevation.  Northeast lakes that produced well on the late April opener continue to see action, including Cedar, Loon, Mudgett, Rocky, Starvation and Waitts lakes in Stevens County, and Curlew and Ellen lakes in Ferry County.

Waters open year-round are good bets through June not only for trout, but also for warmwater fish species that begin to bite as air and water temperatures rise. Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam that extends along the Stevens, Ferry and Lincoln county lines, has big rainbow trout, kokanee, walleye and smallmouth bass. Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, is producing catches of rainbow trout, largemouth bass and catfish. Rock Lake in Whitman County has rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie.
 
In the south end of the region, the Tucannon River impoundments—Big Four, Blue, Curl, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes—continue to be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout and are still providing lots of catches, reports WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman.

June 9-10 is Free Fishing Weekend statewide when no fishing licenses are required. Discover Pass or vehicle-access pass also are not required June 9 and 10 at WDFW water-access sites.

“Free Fishing Weekend is the perfect time to take a non-fishing friend or family member along on your fishing trip,” said WDFW Eastern Regional Fish Program Manager John Whalen. “In this region we’re also offering an opportunity for un-licensed adults to learn how to fish.”

The fishing class will be held on Thursday evening, June 7, and Saturday morning, June 9. Registrations may be made through June 6 at WDFW’s Spokane Valley regional office or by calling (509) 892-1001. Class space is limited.

On Father’s Day weekend, June 16-17, Williams Lake in Spokane County will receive 365 extra triploid rainbow trout to encourage families to take dad fishing. Williams is one of 14 lakes across the state to receive extra jumbo trout; it was chosen for its excellent public and private shore and boat access. Learn more about the Father's Day fishing opportunity on the WDFW website.

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:  June is full of opportunities to see wild babies. Elk and moose calves, deer fawns, black bear cubs, Canada geese goslings, mallard ducklings, songbird nestlings, and families of raccoons, skunks, squirrels and more are all growing in the great outdoors now. Enjoy them from a distance with binoculars, scopes and camera telephoto lenses. But leave them alone.

“People out hiking, camping or fishing come across a wild baby and think it’s abandoned or needs rescuing, so they pick it up and bring it to us,” said WDFW Regional Wildlife Program Manager Kevin Robinette. “Most of the time it’s not abandoned, doesn’t need help and is best left in the wild.”

Robinette explained that deer fawns, for example, are initially without body scent. Their mothers leave them alone periodically to avoid drawing predators. Young birds learning to fly will often land on the ground and, as long as dogs and cats are kept confined, they usually survive.

Not only is it against state law to take wildlife into captivity, picking up juvenile wildlife can be dangerous. Wild parents are protective and the youngsters’ instinct is to use hooves, claws or beaks.  WDFW does not have staff or facilities to care for orphaned or injured wildlife, but trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators do, and some will accept wild babies. Learn more about when wildlife rescue is warranted and how to find a local rehabilitator at WDFW's wildlife rehabilitation webpage.

For animal families that take up residence in places you don’t want them, see WDFW’s information on preventing conflicts with nuisance wildlife.

June is also a great time to enjoy a variety of wildflowers, and the butterflies they attract. WDFW Wildlife Biologist Kurt Merg of Spokane reports biscuitroot or Lomatium species and larkspurs are in bloom, along with common camas lilies in the wetlands around Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.  Learn about the butterflies that use these and other flowering plants at the refuge on Saturday, June 2; call the refuge at (509) 235-4723 for more information.

There’s also lots of blooming and green-up in the Blue Mountains “thanks to lots of spring rain,” reports WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman. Mushrooms should still be plentiful because it’s also been relatively cool, she says. Bighorn sheep ewes have been producing lambs and family groups are sometimes seen on the cliffs above and near the Tucannon Fish Hatchery.

Northcentral Washington

Fishing:  A new trout fishery in the region opens June 1 on the Columbia River from 400 feet below Chief Joseph Dam to the Highway 173 Bridge in Brewster, (Okanogan County).

“This new fishery allows anglers to fish for and keep triploid rainbow trout that wash down river from Rufus Woods Lake,” said WDFW Okanogan District Fish Biologist Bob Jateff. “It could be quite a fishery if the numbers of fish in there are as high as we think they are.”

The new fishery, which is listed in the Special Rules section of the WDFW Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, is scheduled to run through August 15, with a daily catch limit of 10 fish, minimum size 12 inches.

June is also the start of river and stream fishing in many waterways throughout the region. Check the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet carefully to make sure of all special regulations on rivers and streams, like catch-and-release, selective gear restrictions, minimum size, and daily catch limits.

Jateff also reports that Okanogan County lakes have been producing well for both boat and shore anglers.  Trout-producing waters such as Spectacle, Wannacut, Pearrygin, and Conconully lakes, plus Conconully Reservoir, all are providing good fishing for rainbow trout.  Selective-gear waters, such as Big Twin, Blue (Sinlahekin) and Big Green lakes are predominately rainbow fisheries.  Anglers should consult the current sportfishing rules, Jateff notes, since some of the selective-gear lakes have varying bag limit restrictions.

Kokanee anglers should try Palmer, Bonaparte, and Patterson lakes in Okanogan County for fish in the 10 to 13-inch range.

“Spiny ray fisheries will pick up as water temperatures warm,” Jateff said. “Some of the best bets would be Patterson and Palmer lakes for yellow perch and Leader Lake for bluegills and crappie.”

Columbia Basin year-round waters, such as Banks Lake, Moses Lake and Potholes Reservoir, provide good fishing through June for smallmouth and largemouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, crappie and other species.

June 9-10 is Free Fishing Weekend statewide, when no fishing licenses are required. WDFW Northcentral Regional Fish Program Manager Jeff Korth says Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to take an unlicensed friend or family member along on a fishing trip. Discover Pass or vehicle-access pass are not required on June 9 and 10.

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: June is full of opportunities to see baby animals. Deer fawns, black bear cubs, goslings, ducklings, songbird nestlings, families of raccoons, skunks, squirrels and more are all growing in the great outdoors now. Enjoy them from a distance with binoculars, scopes and camera telephoto lenses. But leave them alone.

“It’s a perennial problem,” said WDFW Regional Wildlife Program Manager Matt Monda. “Well-meaning people come across a baby animal and think it’s abandoned and needs rescuing so they pick it up and bring it to us. Most of the time it’s not abandoned, doesn’t need help, and is best left in the wild.”

Monda explained that deer fawns, for example, are initially without body scent so the doe will leave them alone periodically to avoid drawing predators. Young birds learning to fly will often land on the ground and, as long as dogs and cats are kept confined, they usually survive.

Monda said picking up young wildlife can be dangerous because of protective parent animals and the youngster’s instincts to use hooves, claws or beaks.  He also noted that it’s against state law to take wildlife into captivity.

WDFW does not have staff or facilities to care for orphaned or injured wildlife, but trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators do, and some will accept picked-up wild babies. Learn more about when wildlife rescue is warranted and how to find a local rehabilitator at WDFW’s wildlife rehabilitation webpage.

For wildlife families that take up residence in places you don’t want them, see information on preventing conflicts with nuisance animals.

With most neo-tropical 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, “to name a few.”

“Birds are flooding into the Sinlahekin Valley and there is a cacophony of bird noise everywhere,” he said.

Southcentral Washington

Fishing:  Anglers have a variety of options available in June, starting with hatchery spring chinook salmon on sections of the Yakima River, then summer chinook on the Columbia River. Meanwhile, hatchery crews are still stocking trout in area lakes, and many rivers also open for trout fishing Saturday, June 2.

Smallmouth bass and walleye are also warming up to anglers’ lures, and sturgeon fishing is still an option 

“This is the time of year when you see boats on trailers heading in every direction,” said Eric Anderson, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) based in Yakima. “June is a good time to catch fish in this part of the state.”

Starting June 1, the Yakima Reservation Boundary Reach will be open for spring chinook fishing through June 30 on the Yakima River from the Highway 223 Bridge (at Granger) upstream to the railroad bridge approximately 1,200 feet downstream of Sunnyside (Parker) Diversion Dam (20.9 river miles). Anglers may catch up to two hatchery chinook per day.

Non-tribal anglers fishing in the river bordering the Yakama Nation Reservation must purchase a Yakama Nation tribal fishing permit. For additional rules, see the WDFW Fishing Rule website.

Two other sections of the Yakima River are also open to spring chinook fishing.

In the lower river, the fishery will likely remain open through June 30 from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser, Anderson said. The upper river, from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam, is expected to remain open through July 31.

Anglers may keep two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery chinook per day.  All wild salmon, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water prior to release. The same is true for all steelhead, as noted in the fishing rule on WDFW’s website.

Anglers are required to use single-point, barbless hooks with a hook gap from point to shank of 3/4 inch or less when fishing for salmon. Use of bait is allowed, and anglers have the option of purchasing a two-pole fishing endorsement.

Fishery managers are predicting a return of approximately 5,000 adult hatchery chinook to the Yakima River this year.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish manager, noted that the department is seeking anglers’ cooperation in two aspects of the fishery – a hooking-mortality study and an effort to ensure continued access across Roza Dam to the popular fishing area downstream from the railroad bridge boundary. Both are described in a news release on the WDFW website.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE), which supports maintaining and expanding fisheries in the Columbia River Basin.

That is also the case with the summer salmon fishery, which gets under way June 16 upriver to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six salmon, of which up to two may be adult hatchery chinook. (Chinook jacks must also have clipped adipose fins.) Sockeye salmon, fin-clipped or not, may comprise part or all of the daily six fish limit.

Fishery managers are anticipating a strong return of 91,200 summer chinook and a record return of sockeye to the Columbia River this summer.

“Anglers often have a tough time landing summer chinook,” said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish biologist based in the Tri-Cities. “But with the high water and cooler temperatures this spring, anglers might be able to boat a few before the fish reach the Upper Columbia.”

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 2-8 pounds but can easily weigh twice that amount, Hoffarth said.

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

Steelhead fishing will remain closed until fall in the Columbia River upstream of the Highway 395 Bridge and in the Snake River, but Hoffarth recommends several other fisheries now under way on those river systems:

  • White sturgeon:  Fishing remains open in Lake Wallula (McNary Dam to Priest Rapids/Ice Harbor Dams) through July 31 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.

Rather catch some trout? WDFW will continue to stock lakes and ponds through June in the region, including Cooper, Easton, FioRito and Quartz in Kittitas County; and Bear, Clear, Dog and Indian Flat in Yakima County.

Starting June 2, a number of rivers will also open for fishing around the region. Anderson reminds anglers that most streams have reduced catch and size limits for trout, and there are catch-and-release zones on the Yakima River above Roza Dam, in sections of the Naches River and in Rattlesnake Creek where all trout must be released unharmed.  Also, in most large mainstem rivers and streams in the Yakima basin, anglers must use single-point barbless hooks and no bait.

Always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free at stores that sell fishing licenses. It also can be downloaded from WDFW’s website.

Those who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 9-10 during Free Fishing Weekend. During those two days, no license will be required to fish any waters open to fishing in Washington state. No vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required to park at WDFW wildlife areas or water-access sites those days.

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, WDFW carnivore section manager. 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.