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

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June 2013

(This document is updated periodically throughout the month to reflect current rules and opportunities. Please download the latest copy before heading out! Last updated June 20, 2013)

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

Catch trout, salmon, sturgeon
during Free Fishing Weekend

Anglers are reeling in salmon and sturgeon from the Columbia River, lingcod from Puget Sound, and trout from lakes and ponds throughout the state. Starting June 1, fishing seasons will also open for trout in hundreds of rivers across the state.

Sound like fun? Prospective anglers who are interested in fishing but don’t have a fishing license can get in on the action during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 8-9.

During those two days, no license will be required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington state. In addition, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required that weekend to park at any of the 650 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 take kids 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.

Of course, this month’s fishing opportunities don't begin or end with Free Fishing Weekend. For Father’s Day, WDFW hatchery crews are stocking 10,000 extra triploid trout in 20 popular lakes during the weekend of June 15-16. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • June 1 – Portions of the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers open to fishing for hatchery chinook salmon.
  • June 8 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon begin off the coast of Ilwaco and Westport in marine areas 1 and 2.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • June 22 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon begin off the coast of La Push and Neah Bay in marine areas 3 and 4.
  • July 1 – Crab fisheries open in most 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 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
(Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties)

Fishing: Anglers have their pick of several fishing opportunities in June. On Puget Sound, the Tulalip Bay bubble fishery is under way for salmon, while the lingcod fishery remains open through mid-month. Many area rivers open for trout June 1, when a few salmon seasons also begin.

Portions of the Skagit and Cascade rivers will open for hatchery chinook salmon fishing June 1-July 15. 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. 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 also opens June 1 on portions of the Skykomish River.

Meanwhile, trout fishing will open at several rivers and streams beginning June 1. 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 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.

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 such as worms, tubes, and creature baits.
 
Perch and bluegill can also be caught with an assortment of artificial jigs, spinners, and flies, although many anglers prefer to use live worms under a bobber, he said. Those 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.

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

On Puget Sound, the northern portion of Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) opens 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 is under way. The fishery is open each week from Friday through noon Monday through Sept. 2. The exception is June 15, when the bubble is closed for the Tulalip Tribes salmon ceremony. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit, plus two additional pink salmon, and can use two fishing poles with the purchase of a WDFW two-pole endorsement.

The halibut fishery in the region closes May 31, 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.

Prefer shrimp? Check WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing webpage for shrimp fishing opportunities available in June.

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 8-9. 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 access pass 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.

June also offers a special opportunity to hook large trout. WDFW fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16.

“This is the second straight year we’ve stocked trout before Father’s Day, and this year we’ve doubled the number of fish and added six more lakes to the list,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager. “A fishing license is a great Father’s Day gift and catching these big fish will make for some wonderful memories.”

Fishing licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.

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

  • King County: Green Lake, 1,500
  • Snohomish County: Blackmans Lake, 250; Gissburg Ponds (aka Twin Lakes), 250
  • Skagit County:  Campbell Lake, 250
  • Whatcom County: Padden Lake, 250

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

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. 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 22.

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.

WDFW wildlife managers ask that people recreating outdoors 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.

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

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

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 8 in Marine Areas 1 and 2 and June 22 in Marine Areas 3 and 4. The selective fishery runs through June 21 in Marine Area 1, June 22 in Marine Area 2 and June 28 in Marine Areas 3 and 4, or until a coastwide quota of 8,000 hatchery chinook are retained. 

For these initial seasons, anglers must release all chinook not marked as hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin and healed scar.

“We are seeing chinook in areas 3 and 4, and they were just starting to show up in area 2 at the end of May,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In all marine areas, the selective 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.

Those rules will change when then the traditional ocean salmon fishery gets under way June 22 in Marine Area 1, June 23 in Marine Area 2, and June 29 in Marine Areas 3 and 4.

Anglers fishing Marine Areas 1 and 2 will be allowed to retain one chinook – marked or unmarked – as part of a two-salmon daily limit. Anglers fishing Marine Areas 3 and 4 will have a daily limit of two marked or unmarked 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 Fish Washington pamphlet and the Fishing Regulation Hotline (360) 902-2500 for additional regulations.

In Puget Sound, salmon fishing continues in Marine Area 13 and opens June 1 in Marine Area 11. Anglers fishing those areas have a two-salmon daily limit, but must release wild chinook. There are also catch-and-release salmon fishing opportunities available in Marine Area 10, where fishing is open north of a line from Point Monroe to Meadow Point.

Halibut fishing is closed in most areas of Puget Sound, although the fishery will be open in Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) June 1 and June 8. On the coast, Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) is open three days a week (Friday through Sunday). The rest of the coast including Westport, La Push and Neah Bay is closed after reaching their quotas, said Heather Reed, a WDFW fish biologist.

In all marine areas open to fishing, there is a one-fish 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. The lingcod season on the coast remains open through mid-October.

Prefer shrimp? Check WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing webpage for shrimp fishing opportunities available in June.

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 101 Bridge in Aberdeen to Skookumchuck River, have a daily limit of one salmon. Other rivers open for salmon fishing include the Hoh, Quillayute and Sol Duc.

Elsewhere, trout fishing will open at several rivers and streams beginning June 1. Anglers should check the pamphlet for specific rivers and streams that are open.  Gear restrictions for each area can also be found in the Fish Washington sport fishing pamphlet.

Anglers should be aware that Lake Sylvia in Grays Harbor County, Montesano will be closed for a kids-only fishing event, effective 6 p.m. June 7 through 6 a.m. June 8.  For more information on the event, see this Washington State Parks web page.

Free Fishing Weekend is June 8-9 when licenses are not required, although all other rules apply. Newcomers to the sport who want to try it out at this time can check out how to get started and where to go in the “Fishing 101” information at Fish Washington.

For the second year, WDFW fish hatchery crews are stocking extra triploid rainbow trout in fishing lakes across the state just before Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16. This time twice as many fish – 10,000 – will be stocked in 20 lakes, six more lakes than last year.

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

  • Grays Harbor County: Vance Creek (Elma) Pond #2, 100
  • Jefferson County: Sandy Shore Lake, 150
  • Mason County: Mason Lake, 500
  • Pierce County: American Lake, 1,500
  • Thurston County: Clear Lake, 250; Hicks Lake, 160

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. 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 22.

Wildlife viewing:  Early June is the peak of birth for elk and moose calves and deer fawns, notes WDFW ungulate researcher Woody Myers. Depending on weather, this is also when more people are recreating outdoors. That can mean opportunities for unique wildlife viewing, or problems.

“If you find newborn fawns or calves,” Myers said, “leave them alone and appreciate them from a respectable distance. It often appears they have been abandoned, but they are not. The cow or doe is probably within a quarter mile away, feeding or resting. Leaving newborns alone periodically is typical and thought to be one way to avoid drawing predators by the cow or doe’s body scent.”

Information about why it’s not helpful to pick up wild babies of any kind, and is in fact illegal to remove them from the wild, is under WDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation webpage.

Myers also notes that at this same time of year there’s often a rise in the number of ungulate-vehicle accidents.

“That’s because yearling deer, elk, or moose are forced away by the adult cow or doe, which is now giving birth and raising new young,” he said. “The yearlings are now on their own and exploring new areas which can take them across roads and into suburban areas where accidents can occur.”

With summer officially starting and more people recreating outdoors this month, June is a time when encounters and conflicts with wildlife increase.  Some are simply a “nuisance,” like when skunks or raccoons take up residence to raise families under the backyard garden shed or garage. Tips on prevention and addressing these problems are at WDFW’s Nuisance Wildlife webpage. 

Encounters with black bears can be potentially dangerous, but there are many ways to prevent problems. When camping, put garbage in wildlife-resistant trash containers, store food in motor vehicle trunks or wildlife-resistant food lockers, and sleep at least 100 yards from your cooking area and food storage site. More on preventive actions and handling a close encounter with a bear is at the Living with Black Bears webpage.

Conflicts with cougars are rare, but can be dangerous. Outdoor recreationists are advised to hike in small groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a cougar, keep small children close to the group, keep camps clean, and do not approach dead animals, especially deer or elk, which could be cougar prey left for a later meal. More on preventive actions and handling cougar close encounters is at the Living with Cougars webpage.

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

Fishing:  Anglers can fish for salmon, steelhead and shad every day in June on the lower Columbia River, with new fishing opportunities for salmon starting at mid-month. A number of area tributaries are also open for salmon, steelhead or both, and retention fisheries for white sturgeon will be open on various days above and below Bonneville Dam. 

“There’s plenty to keep anglers busy in June, and the fishing opportunities expand throughout the month as we move into the summer season,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Through June 15, hatchery spring chinook salmon and hatchery steelhead are the main attraction for anglers fishing the Columbia River. The season is open from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the Columbia upriver to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam.

The daily limit is six fish, no more than two of which may be adults and only one of which can be an adult chinook salmon. Anglers fishing those waters are required to use barbless hooks and release all chinook salmon and steelhead not marked with a clipped adipose fin.

For details on the hatchery spring chinook fishery, check the rule changes on WDFW’s website.

Starting June 16, daily limits and fishing areas change on the Columbia River when the summer chinook fishery gets under way from the Megler Astoria Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. Barbless hooks are required. The six-fish daily limit can include two adult hatchery salmon, or two adult hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Anglers fishing below the 395 Bridge in Pasco may also retain sockeye salmon, which count as part of the adult daily limit.

The selective fishery for adult summer chinook and sockeye salmon is open June 16-30 in lower Columbia River, but extends through July 31 above Bonneville Dam. The pre-season forecast anticipates an above-average run of 73,500 summer chinook, some weighing up to 40 pounds apiece.

“There’s a reason why these fish are known as ‘June hogs,’ Hymer said. “Reeling in one of these fish can really brighten up your day.”

Anglers can also catch shad, which have been available for harvest 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.

Meanwhile, the Lewis River – including the North Fork from the overhead powerlines below Merwin Dam downstream– is open through July 31 for hatchery spring chinook salmon. The daily limit is six hatchery chinook, no more than two of which may be adults. Barbless hooks are required, and all salmon others than hatchery chinook must be released. For more details, see WDFW’s emergency fishing rule website.

Anglers can also catch and keep salmon and steelhead on the Cowlitz, Wind and Klickitat rivers, plus Drano Lake.

On the Wind River, for example, the daily limit has been increased to two chinook or two hatchery steelhead, or one of each through June 30. The river upstream from Shipherd Falls is now open for salmon and hatchery steelhead, but anglers must release all wild chinook downstream from the falls.

Starting June 1, the Klickitat River from the mouth to the Fisher Hill Bridge is open to fishing seven days per week with a six-salmon daily limit, of which no more than two may be adults. Wild chinook must be released.

Fishing for hatchery steelhead and hatchery chinook jacks also opens June 1 from 400 feet above fishway #5 to the boundary markers below the salmon hatchery. Starting June 13, regulations change for that stretch of the Klickitat, where anglers will be allowed to retain two adult salmon as part of their six-salmon daily limit. For details, check the emergency rule change.

Anglers must continue to release all spring chinook salmon on the Kalama River,  although fishing remains open there for hatchery steelhead. Blue Creek – a tributary of the Cowlitz River – is open for hatchery steelhead and hatchery sea run cutthroats.

Also starting June 1, anglers may use bait on the lower sections of the South Fork Toutle, Green, Washougal, and East Fork Lewis rivers. 

As noted in the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, anglers with a two-pole endorsement can use two rods to fish for spring chinook salmon and other species on sections of the Cowlitz and Lewis rivers and at Drano Lake.

Meanwhile, popular sturgeon fisheries above and below Bonneville Dam are set for an early closure after a burst of high catch rates and angler effort. Under emergency rules, the retention fishery for white sturgeon will close at the end of the day June 20 from Buoy 10 near the mouth of the Columbia River upstream to the Wauna power lines near Cathlamet.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon also agreed to make June 21 anglers’ last day to catch and keep sturgeon in the Bonneville Pool, which stretches from Bonneville Dam to The Dalles Dam.

In both cases, the states’ action also applies to rivers flowing into those sections of the Columbia River, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“We had to close retention fishing earlier than scheduled in both areas to keep the catch within annual harvest limits,” Roler said. “The combination of high catch rates and a high turnout by anglers caused the total harvest to ramp up quickly over the past week.”

Based on current catch rates, the harvest below the Wauna power lines is expected to rise to within 100 fish of the 4,042-fish limit by the close of fishing Thursday, Roler said. As a result, WDFW issued an emergency rule to close the retention fishery that was previously expected to run through the end of the month.

In the Bonneville Pool, the catch is expected to rise to within 23 fish of that area’s 1,100-fish annual limit by the time the fishery closes at the end of the day Friday. By emergency rule, WDFW eliminated a final day of retention fishing previously scheduled on Saturday (June 22).

As scheduled, the retention fishery for white sturgeon in the section of the Columbia River stretching from the Wauna power lines upriver to Bonneville Dam closed June 15, leaving no areas open for catch-and-keep sturgeon fishing below The Dalles Dam after Friday.

Roler noted, however, that The Dalles and John Day pools are still open for sturgeon retention, and all areas of the Columbia River except the spawning sanctuaries will remain open for catch-and-release fishing. In The Dalles and John Day pools, anglers may retain white sturgeon between 43 inches and 54 inches (fork length) until the catch guidelines for those areas are met.

Under current rules, anglers may retain one legal-size white sturgeon per day and no more than two sturgeon per year. Additional rules for Columbia River sturgeon fisheries are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

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

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

Starting June 1, anglers also have the option of catching trout in a number of rivers and streams throughout the region. Many of those waters – ranging from Rainey 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.

In addition, access to the high lakes is starting to open up with the gradual snow melt. Goose Lake in Skamania County is now accessible through Willard and Trout Lake. Excellent fishing should be available for cutthroat, eastern brook, and brown trout for both shore and boat anglers.

Those who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 8-9 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.

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

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

Anglers should check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for special regulations that apply to rivers that open in June, as well as those rivers that opened earlier.

Anglers should note that the spring chinook season on the Snake River near Clarkston was closed by emergency rule on May 31.Fishery managers closed the fishery after determining the catch quota for spring chinook in the Snake River had been reached, said John Whalen, WDFW regional fish program manager.

“The closure effectively marks the end of the season for spring chinook fishing on the Snake River,” said Whalen. Two other areas of the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam and Little Goose Dam closed for spring chinook fishing May 15.

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.

Farther north in the region, fishing is improving as snowpack melts at waters that opened in late April. 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, Mudgett, Rocky, Starvation, and Waitts lakes in Stevens County; Diamond Lake in Pend Oreille County; and Ellen Lake in Ferry County.

Year-round-open waters 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, said WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman.

June 8-9 is Free Fishing Weekend statewide when no fishing licenses are required, although all other rules apply. Newcomers to the sport who want to try it out during the Free Fishing Weekend can check out how to get started and where to go in the “Fishing 101” section online at Fish Washington.

Meanwhile, WDFW fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16. “This is the second straight year we’ve stocked trout before Father’s Day, and this year we’ve doubled the number of fish and added six more lakes to the list,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager. “A fishing license is a great Father’s Day gift and catching these big fish will make for some wonderful memories.”

Fishing licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.

In the Eastern Region, Spokane County’s West Medical Lake will receive1,250 triploids and Williams Lake will receive 400, and Pend Oreille County’s Diamond Lake will receive 600. More details are available at Fish Washington.

Hunting: Spring wild turkey hunting ended May 31, and unless hunters are planning to hunt turkeys this fall, it’s time to report spring turkey hunting activity.  Reports are required, whether turkeys were harvested or not. Hunters can file reports two ways: by telephone (toll free at 1-877-945-3492) or online.  Hunters who intend to hunt turkeys this fall should wait to report spring activity with their fall hunt information at the close of fall seasons. The information is used to better monitor hunter effort, distribution, harvest and trends.

Wildlife viewing:  Early June is the peak of birth for elk and moose calves and deer fawns, said Woody Myers, WDFW ungulate researcher. Depending on weather, it also tends to be when more people are recreating outdoors. That can mean opportunities for unique wildlife viewing, or problems.

“If you find newborn fawns or calves, leave them alone and appreciate them from a respectable distance,” Myers said. “It often appears they have been abandoned, but they have not. The cow or doe is probably within a quarter mile of the newborn, feeding or resting. Leaving newborns alone periodically is typical and thought to be one way to avoid drawing in predators.”

Information about why it’s not helpful to pick up wild babies of any kind, and in fact illegal to remove them from the wild, is under WDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation webpage.

Myers also notes that at this same time of year there’s often a rise in the number of ungulate-vehicle accidents.

“That’s because yearling deer, elk, or moose are forced away by the adult cow or doe, which is now giving birth and raising new young,” he said. “The yearlings are on their own and exploring new areas which can take them across roads and into suburban areas where accidents can occur.”

Mike Atamian, WDFW wildlife biologist in Spokane, said now is the time to start looking for “little velvety nubs” of growing antlers on buck deer.  Also highly visible are rooster pheasants looking for hens, and early nesting hen pheasants with hatched-out broods. Bighorn sheep lambs are out and should be visible from some spots along Lake Roosevelt.

Bighorn sheep lambs are also visible on the Wooten Wildlife Area on the ridge above the Tucannon Fish Hatchery near the Tucannon River, said WDFW Wooten manager Kari Dingman. 

“Everything is lush and green on the Wooten now,” Dingman said. “All of the shrubs and wildflowers are blooming. People are finding morel mushrooms. The songbirds are all singing and there have been lots of butterflies around. The snakes are also coming out due to the warm weather, and that includes some rattlers, so visitors should be aware.”

Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
 
Alligator lizard
Alligator lizard

WDFW Vegetation Ecologist Kurt Merg said wildflowers are indeed blooming and in their prime throughout the region.  “While buttercups, Sisyrinchium lilies and biscuitroots have been blooming for weeks, we are also now seeing Camas, Larkspurs, Prairie stars and many others,” he said. “Their intense color will last through the month.”

Dana Base, WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist, said more neotropical migratory songbirds are returning, including western kingbird, Cassin’s vireo, Townsend’s warbler, yellow warbler, western tanager, and black-headed grosbeak. While Base was checking golden eagle nest territories, he observed two black bears, a bobcat, a moose, three mule deer, and a snowshoe hare, most while hiking above cliff faces near Swan Lake in Ferry County.

WDFW Sherman Creek Wildlife Area Assistant Manager Daro Palmer recently observed a northern goshawk on the area, the first since 2009 when a nest was discovered. Palmer also recently observed moose, Cooper’s hawks, an alligator lizard and a swallowtail butterfly on the West Branch Little Spokane Wildlife Area.

Kim Thorburn, WDFW volunteer prairie grouse tracker, recently filed this general birding report from Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area in Lincoln County:  “Bullock's orioles were chattering in the trees at the headquarters. There are lots of Wilson's phalaropes hanging around the Swanson Lakes.  We were seeing single females so I surmise that they're nesting.”

With summer officially starting and more people recreating outdoors this month, June is always the time when encounters and conflicts with wildlife increase.  Some are simply a “nuisance,” like when skunks or raccoons take up residence to raise families under the backyard garden shed or garage. Tips on preventing and addressing these problems are at Nuisance Wildlife.

Encounters with black bears can be potentially dangerous, but there are many ways to prevent problems. When camping, put garbage in wildlife-resistant trash containers, store food in motor vehicle trunks or wildlife-resistant food lockers, and sleep at least 100 yards from your cooking area and food storage site. More on preventive actions and handling a close encounter with a bear is at Living With Black Bears

While conflicts with cougars are rare, outdoor recreationists are advised to hike in small groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a cougar. They should also keep small children close to the group, keep camps clean, and do not approach dead animals – especially deer or elk – which could be cougar prey left for a later meal. More on preventive actions and handling close encounters with cougar is at Living With Cougars.

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

Fishing: June should be the best month to catch a hatchery spring chinook salmon from the Icicle River in Chelan County, said Travis Maitland, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) district fish biologist in Wenatchee.

“As expected, during the early part of the season on the Icicle the fishing was slow,” Maitland said.  “But as the run progresses, fishing should improve.”

Maitland reminds anglers that bank fishing on the Icicle is very limited. “There is a public boat launch right at the upper end of the fishery boundary and boat anglers can pull out at the public launch on the Wenatchee River located off East Leavenworth Road,” he said.  “Most bank anglers use herring and egg clusters, while boat anglers use a variety of plugs and spin-n-glo setups in conjunction with bait.”

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.

Okanogan County lakes usually produce well in June for both boat and shore anglers.  Trout-producing waters such as Spectacle, Wannacut, Pearrygin, and Conconully lakes, plus Conconully Reservoir, all provide good fishing for rainbow trout. Selective-gear waters, such as Big Twin, Blue (Sinlahekin) and Big Green lakes are predominately rainbow fisheries.  Anglers should check the current Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, since some of the selective-gear lakes have varying bag limit restrictions. Kokanee anglers should try Palmer, Bonaparte, and Patterson lakes.

Warmwater fish species start providing catches in June as water temperatures warm. Okanogan County’s Patterson and Palmer lakes can be good for yellow perch and Leader Lake can be good for bluegill 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 8-9 is Free Fishing Weekend statewide when no fishing licenses are required, although all other rules apply. Newcomers to the sport who want to try it out during the Free Fishing Weekend can check out how to get started and where to go in the “Fishing 101” section online at Fish Washington.

Meanwhile, WDFW fish hatchery crews will be stocking 10,000 triploid rainbow trout in 20 lakes just before Father’s Day weekend, June 15-16. “This is the second straight year we’ve stocked trout before Father’s Day, and this year we’ve doubled the number of fish and added six more lakes to the list,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager. “A fishing license is a great Father’s Day gift and catching these big fish will make for some wonderful memories.”

Fishing licenses can be purchased online; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license dealers across the state.

In the Northcentral Region, Grant County’s Park Lake will receive 400 triploids, and Okanogan County’s Alta Lake will receive 350 and Conconully Reservoir, will receive 750. More details are available at Fish Washington.

Hunting: Spring wild turkey hunting ended May 31, and unless hunters are planning to hunt turkeys this fall, it’s time to report spring turkey hunting activity.  Reports are required, whether turkeys were harvested or not. Hunters can file reports two ways: by telephone (toll free at 1-877-945-3492) or online.  Hunters who intend to hunt turkeys this fall should wait to report spring activity with their fall hunt information at the close of fall seasons. The information is used to better monitor hunter effort, distribution, harvest and trends.

Calliope hummingbird
Calliope hummingbird

Wildlife viewing:  June is an excellent month to see a wide variety of wildlife throughout the region.  WDFW staff in Okanogan County report that birding is at a peak and hiking at mid-elevations in the Methow Valley is particularly beautiful right now. 

Warblers of all kinds are beginning to return to the Methow, Scotch Creek, Sinlahekin and Wells wildlife areas, including the Nashville, Townsend, yellow, and yellow-rumped warblers. Calliope hummingbirds were recently photographed feeding on flowers near the Sinlahekin’s headquarters building.

In the Columbia Basin, WDFW District Wildlife Biologist Rich Finger reported some unusual bird sightings.  Common grackles, a southeastern U.S. species that usually only summers as far northwest as Montana and Alberta, were seen at Potholes State Park, south of Moses Lake.  Two white-faced ibis were seen in the Gloyd Unit of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area (specifically, two-thirds of a mile northwest of the junction of Road 10 and Stratford Road).

Finger also noted that western grebes on Potholes Reservoir should still be doing courtship displays this month.  A pair of osprey is nesting on a newly installed platform in Moses Lake along road K just south of road 7 NE, near the Columbia Basin fish hatchery.

Early June is the peak of birth for elk and moose calves and deer fawns, said Woody Myers, WDFW ungulate researcher. Depending on weather, it also tends to be when more people are recreating outdoors. That can mean opportunities for unique wildlife viewing, or problems.

“If you find newborn fawns or calves, leave them alone and appreciate them from a respectable distance,” Myers said. “It often appears they have been abandoned, but they have not. The cow or doe is probably within a quarter mile of the newborn, feeding or resting. Leaving newborns alone periodically is typical and thought to be one way to avoid drawing in predators.”

Information about why it’s not helpful to pick up wild babies of any kind, and in fact illegal to remove them from the wild, is under WDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation webpage.

With summer officially starting and more people recreating outdoors this month, June is always the time when encounters and conflicts with wildlife increase.  Some are simply a “nuisance,” like when skunks or raccoons take up residence to raise families under the backyard garden shed or garage. Tips on preventing and addressing these problems are at Nuisance Wildlife

Encounters with black bears can be potentially dangerous, but there are many ways to prevent problems. When camping, put garbage in wildlife-resistant trash containers, store food in motor vehicle trunks or wildlife-resistant food lockers, and sleep at least 100 yards from your cooking area and food storage site. More on preventive actions and handling a close encounter with a bear is at Living With Black Bears

While conflicts with cougars are rare, outdoor recreationists are advised to hike in small groups and make enough noise to avoid surprising a cougar. They should also keep small children close to the group, keep camps clean, and do not approach dead animals – especially deer or elk – which could be cougar prey left for a later meal. More on preventive actions and handling close encounters with cougar is at Living With Cougars.

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

Fishing:  Anglers have a variety of options available in June, starting with hatchery spring chinook salmon on sections of the Yakima River, followed by summer chinook on the Columbia River. Anglers may also catch and keep sockeye salmon June 21 through July 31 in the Hanford Reach from the Highway 395 Bridge in Pasco to Priest Rapids Dam.

Meanwhile, hatchery crews are still stocking trout in area lakes, and many rivers also open for trout fishing Saturday, June 1.

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

Prospective anglers who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 8-9 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.

“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.”

Spring chinook fishing is currently open on two sections of the Yakima River, where cooler weather has moderated flows and improved fishing prospects, Anderson said. “That should continue as long as we don’t experience hot weather that brings on rapid snow melt,” he said.

In the lower Yakima 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 15.

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.

As explained in the fishing rule, 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 3,000 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 chinook fishery, which gets under way June 16 upriver to Priest Rapids Dam. The daily limit is six hatchery fish, of which up to two may be adult hatchery chinook. Anglers must stop fishing for chinook when the adult limit is retained.

Fishery managers are anticipating a return of 73,500 summer chinook and a return of 180,500 sockeye to the Columbia River this summer. The Columbia River above the Highway 395 bridge in Kennewick will not be open for sockeye this year due to a relatively low run-size forecast. If the return comes in above expectations the sockeye fishery may be opened by emergency regulation later this summer. 

“Anglers often have a tough time landing summer chinook in the Columbia River between McNary and Priest Rapids Dam but it has been improving the last couple of years,” said Paul Hoffarth, a WDFW fish biologist based in the Tri-Cities.

Meanwhile, anglers have been reeling in channel catfish from the lower reaches of the Yakima and Walla Walla rivers. Flows are a bit lower and the water is a bit clearer this year compared to the past couple of years which is good for spring chinook and bass fishing but not as good for catching catfish. “Fishing for channel cats has been OK, but not great as recent years,” said Hoffard, noting that catfish typically run 2-8 pounds but can easily weigh twice that amount.

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 Umatilla (John Day Dam to McNary Dam) until the quota is reached and is 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, and from the I-82 bridge at Umatilla upstream to McNary 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, Kiwanas, Lavendar, Lost, Naneum and Quartz in Kittitas County; and Clear, Dog, Leech and Indian Flat in Yakima County.  Anglers can get more detailed information on lake fishing from the new “Fish Washington” link.

Starting June 1, 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 main stem 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.

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. 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 22.

Spring wild turkey hunting ended May 31, and unless hunters are planning to hunt turkeys this fall, it’s time to report your spring turkey hunting activity. Reports are required, whether turkeys were harvested or not. Hunters can file reports two ways: by telephone (toll free at 1-877-945-3492) or online. Hunters who intend to hunt turkeys this fall should wait to report spring activity with their fall activity at the close of fall seasons. The information from hunter reports is used to better monitor hunter effort, distribution, harvest and trends.

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.