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

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May 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 May 23, 2013)

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

Fishing seasons sprout in May
for halibut, shrimp and lingcod

May is a month when new fishing opportunities start popping open like tackle boxes at first light. Lingcod and shrimp in Puget Sound. Halibut there and off the coast. Spring chinook salmon in the Chehalis River and in some areas of the Columbia Basin.

State shellfish managers have also announced a morning razor clam dig a May 8-14 at Twin Harbors and May 10-11 at Long Beach. Details are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/.

With so many new options, anglers can find themselves facing some tough choices about how to spend their time on the water, said Kirt Hughes, a WDFW fishery manager based in Montesano.

“I know a lot of people who start the day digging razor clams or setting shrimp pots and then spend the afternoon fishing for trout on a lake,” Hughes said. “I’ve done it myself plenty of times.”

While every fishery has its fans, none draw bigger crowds than the lowland lakes trout-fishing season, which opened throughout the state on the last Saturday in April. Several hundred thousand anglers traditionally turn out for that event and most continue to fish for trout during the six-month season.

For catch rates at nearly 100 Washington lakes on opening day, see the news release on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/may0113a/.

To prepare for that day, WDFW planted millions of trout ranging from 11-inch “catchables” to 11-pound broodstock. Now the tanker trucks are rolling again, delivering more fish to Washington lakes.

“We stock lakes with trout for the whole season, not just opening day,” said Chris Donley, WDFW Inland Fish Program manager. “Trout fishing should be highly productive in lowland lakes through June, and then again in September. In higher-elevation lakes, fishing should be good right through the summer.”

For most anglers, a valid 2013-14 fishing license is required to fish in Washington state. The exception is young people under age 15, who fish for free.

Licenses and permits are avaiIable online (https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/), by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state. A list of license vendors is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/
and from local WDFW offices.

For more information about fishing seasons, hunting and other outdoor activities available this month, see the region-by-region Weekender Reports on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month for changes in fishing rules and other developments throughout the state.

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

Fishing: The lowland lakes fishing season is officially under way and anglers can expect to reel in some nice-size fish throughout May.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is adding more trout this month to several of the region’s lakes, including Cranberry Lake in Island County; Desire, Green, Meridian, Morton, Shadow and Spring lakes in King County; Mountain Lake in San Juan County; Pass and Vogler lakes in Skagit County; Ballinger, Blackmans, Shoecraft and Gissburg Ponds in Snohomish County; and Squalicum and Terrell lakes in Whatcom County.

Under statewide rules, anglers have a daily limit of five trout on most lakes. Released legal-sized trout, caught with bait, count toward the daily bag limit. Complete information on stocking schedules for rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout is available on WDFW's website.

Anglers are also encouraged to check the “Fish Washington” webpage for details on lake fishing opportunities. The map-based webpage includes fishing information by county, lake and fish species throughout the state.

On Puget Sound, fishing for lingcod and cabezon begins May 1. During the hook-and-line lingcod 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. Cabezon anglers have a daily limit of one fish with an 18-inch minimum size limit.

Saltwater anglers can also reel in halibut this month. Several areas of Puget Sound will open for the big flatfish in early May. Heather Reed, coastal policy coordinator for WDFW, said this year’s seasons were reduced by five days in the eastern region (Marine Areas 6-10) and nine days in the western region (Marine Area 5) to compensate for exceeding last year’s quota.

“Catch rates were up again in Puget Sound last year, so we had to make some adjustments,” Reed said. “In doing that, we made sure the seasons will open on the traditional opening dates, so folks can plan their annual halibut fishing trips well in advance.”

The 2013 Puget Sound halibut seasons are as follows:

  • Marine Area 5: From May 23-26, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Memorial Day weekend. From May 30 through June 1, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then will be open for one final day on Saturday, June 8.
  • Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10: From May 2-4, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From May 16-18, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From May 23-26, the fishery will be open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for Memorial Day weekend. The fishery will be open May 30 and 31, Thursday and Friday.
  • Marine Areas 11, 12, 13: These areas will remain closed to halibut fishing this year to protect threatened and endangered rockfish species.

In all marine areas open to halibut 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.

Prefer shellfish? The shrimp season opens May 4 in Puget Sound, where recreational shrimp fishers will get more days to fish and a larger share of the catch.

This year’s sport fishery for spot shrimp is expected to run from one day to several weeks longer in various areas of the Sound, due to policy changes recently adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“Recreational shrimp fishers will see a real difference in the length of this year’s seasons, particularly in the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca,” said Rich Childers, WDFW shellfish manager. “Sport fisheries in other areas are also likely to pick up some extra fishing days under the updated policy.”

In the San Juan Islands, the recent change in the state’s spot shrimp policy will increase the sport fishery’s share of the catch from 15 percent to 80 percent. To accommodate that change, WDFW split Marine Area 7-North into two subareas – 7 West and 7 South – each with its own season.

Under the higher sport quota, Chiders said the new Marine Area 7-West could be open for more than a month this year, up from six days of fishing in those waters last year. The spot shrimp fishery in Marine Areas 7 East and 7 South, also open six days last year, is expected to run 13 days during the 2013 season, he said.

A map of the new subareas is available on WDFW’s Recreational Shrimp Fishing webpage and is published in the 2013 Spot Fishing Rule pamphlet.

The shrimp season in Marine Area 6 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is also expected to expand by several weeks under the new allocation policy, which increased the sport fishery’s share of the catch in those waters from 15 percent to 22 percent this year.

The sport fishery in Hood Canal has received 100 percent of the state shrimp allocation in previous years, so it is not affected by the change in the commission’s policy, Childers said. However, sport shrimpers will have five days to fish – up from four days last year – because stock trends have been healthy in recent years, he said.

Childers said the new policy does increase sport fishing allocations in other areas of central Puget Sound, but WDFW will determine whether that will translate into additional fishing days during the course of the season.

“The question is whether the higher catch shares will be enough to add a third day of fishing in those areas,” he said. “We’ll be watching the catch totals during the season and will make that decision on an area-by-area basis.”

Puget Sound recreational shrimp season opening days are:

  • Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
  • Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
  • Marine Areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 and 13 (excluding Discovery Bay Shrimp District): Open daily beginning May 4 at 7 a.m. The spot shrimp season closes when the quota is attained or Sept. 15, whichever comes first. The exception is Marine Area 13, which closes for spot shrimp May 31.
  • Marine Area 7 East and South: Open May 4 at 7 a.m. for a one-day fishery and will reopen May 8-11, May 15-18, May 29-June 1.
  • Marine Area 7 West: Open May 4 at 7 a.m., open Wednesday through Saturday each week until June 1. After June 1 the area will be open Thursday through Saturday each week until the quota is reached or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.
  • Marine Areas 8-1, 8-2, 9, 10 and 11: Open May 4 and May 8 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marine area 11 and the portion of Marine Area 10 outside Elliott Bay will also be open May 22 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional dates and times will be announced if sufficient quota remains after the initial fishing days scheduled above.

In all areas of Puget Sound, fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day and a valid 2013-14 fishing license is required to participate in the fishery. For a description of the marine areas and fishing rules, see WDFW’s Recreational Shrimp Fishing website.

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season continues through May 31 around the state. Hunters have a three-gobbler limit – two birds in eastern Washington and one bird in western Washington. For more information and license fees, see the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphletonline.

Hunters looking ahead to fall have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

To apply for a special hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and necessary hunting licenses for each species they wish to hunt.

Applications must be submitted on the WDFW special permits website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and on the department’s website. Additional information is available on the special permits page.

Wildlife viewing:  Want to know more about wildlife close to home? If so, visit the annual Backyard Wildlife Festival in Tukwila. The free event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 11, at the Tukwila Community Center. Activities for both kids and adults include presentations by local experts on gardening and landscaping to attract wildlife, and create and preserve wildlife habitat. For more information, check the wildlife festival website.

One yard in a south Seattle neighborhood was recently visited by “a major wave of spring migrants,” according to a report on the Tweeters birding network. The birder’s yard was full of warblers, including two Wilson’s and several orange-crowned. He also spotted a Swainson’s thrush, as well as a hermit thrush bathing in a pond.  

Spring migration is under way on the water, too, with gray whales and transient orca whales spotted recently in central Puget Sound.  According to the Orca Network, small groups of gray whales sometimes head into Washington's inland waters during the spring northern migration, and some don’t leave until July. About a dozen grays return most years to northwestern Whidbey Island or southeastern Whidbey Island and Port Susan, Camano Island, feeding on ghost shrimp and tubeworms for several months.

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

Fishing:  A range of new fishing opportunities begin in May, when shrimp and lingcod seasons open in Puget Sound and halibut fishing gets under way in the Sound and off the coast. Anglers fishing coastal waters also will have an opportunity to hook hatchery chinook salmon during two short openers this month.

In addition, state shellfish managers approved a morning razor clam dig – the last of the season – May 24 through 26. Details are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/current.html.

Rather catch a salmon? Marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) will be open for hatchery chinook salmon May 10-11 and May 17-18. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, except they must release coho and wild chinook.

John Long, WDFW statewide salmon manager, said the two salmon openers overlap with halibut fisheries in those areas. “This a great opportunity for halibut anglers who make the trip to the northern coast to round out their weekend by putting some salmon in the cooler as well,” he said.

Anglers heading out to the north coast should note that halibut seasons in marine areas 3 and 4 are open May 9, two days per week, Thursdays and Saturdays through May 18. If there is available quota the fishery will re-open May 30 and/or June 1 and continue again starting Thursday, June 13 until the quota is reached.

Halibut seasons elsewhere on the coast and in Puget Sound are:

  • Marine Area 1:  Open Friday May 3, three days per week (Friday through Sunday) until 80 percent of the quota is achieved. If the early season quota is not obtained prior to Aug. 3, the fishery will remain open three days per week (Friday through Sunday), until the remaining quota is taken, or until Sept. 29, whichever occurs first.
  • Marine Area 2:  Open Sunday, May 5, two days per week, Sunday and Tuesday for three consecutive weeks. The primary fishery is closed May 26 and 28.  If sufficient quota remains, the fishery will open the following Sunday and/or Tuesday and continue until the quota is achieved, or Sept. 30, whichever occurs first. The northern nearshore area will be open on May 5, and continue seven days per week until the nearshore quota is reached or until Sept. 29, whichever occurs first.
  • Marine Area 5:  Open May 23-26, Thursday through Sunday; May 30-June 1, Thursday through Saturday and Saturday, June 8.
  • Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 (Marine Areas 11-13 are closed): Open May 2-4, Thursday through Saturday; Open May 16-18, Thursday through Saturday; May 23-26, Thursday through Sunday; May 30-31, Thursday through Friday.

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.

Anglers should also be aware that bottomfishing restrictions in marine areas 3 and 4 have changed from last year. Starting May 1, bottomfishing will be limited to waters shallower than 20 fathoms, except on days when halibut fishing is allowed. On those days, anglers may retain lingcod, Pacific cod and sablefish caught in waters deeper than 20 fathoms. 

“The change was made to help avoid exceeding our yelloweye harvest quota through accidental by-catch,” said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator.  Anglers should take note of bottomfishing restrictions in place by consulting the Fish Washington pamphlet for regulations for marine areas they are interested in fishing.

Meanwhile, lingcod fishing opportunities expand May 1, when the fishery opens in all Puget Sound marine areas except marine area 12 (Hood Canal). Lingcod fisheries in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) are already under way. For more information on lingcod fishing regulations, check the 2013-14 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

Don’t forget those shrimp pots. Shrimp fishing opportunities get under way May 4 in Puget Sound. Spot shrimp seasons for various areas of Puget Sound are:

  • Hood Canal Shrimp District (Marine Area 12): Open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
  • Discovery Bay Shrimp District (Marine Area 6): Open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 4, 8, 15, 18 and 22.
  • Marine areas 4 (east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5, 6 and 13 (excluding shrimp districts): Open daily beginning May 4 at 7 a.m. The spot shrimp season closes when the quota is attained or Sept 15, whichever comes first. The exception is Marine Area 13, which closes for spot shrimp May 31.
  • Marine Area 7 East and South: Open May 4 at 7 a.m. for a one-day fishery and will reopen May 8-11, May 15-18, May 29 – June 1.
  • Marine Area 7 West: Open May 4 at 7 a.m., open Wednesday through Saturday each week until June 1. After June 1 the area will be open Thursday through Saturday each week until the quota is reached or Sept. 15, whichever comes first.
  • Marine areas 8, 9, 10 and 11: Open May 4 and May 8 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Marine area 11 and the portion of Marine Area 10 outside Elliott Bay will also be open May 22 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Additional dates and times will be announced for these areas if sufficient quota remains.

In all areas of Puget Sound, fishers are limited to 80 spot shrimp per day. For a description of the marine areas and fishing rules, including regulations for coonstripe and pink shrimp fishing seasons, see WDFW’s Recreational Shrimp Fishing website

For freshwater anglers, trout are biting at dozens of lakes throughout the region. Opening day of the lowland lakes trout fishing season is over, but WDFW will keep stocking area waters with rainbow, cutthroat and triploid trout right through the season. Information on stocking schedules for trout is available on WDFW's website

Under statewide rules, anglers have a daily limit of five trout on most lakes. Released legal-sized trout, caught with bait, count toward the daily bag limit. Before heading out, anglers should check the Fish Washington pamphlet for all regulations.

Additionally, the Fish Washington website offers information for all levels of anglers. This website contains the when’s, where’s and how-to’s of fishing in Washington.

Anglers are reminded that the retention season for wild steelhead closed April 30 on the Bogachiel, Calawah, Dickey, Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers.  

However, some rivers remain open for salmon fishing, including the Quillayute and a portion of the Sol Duc. The Hoh River also opens for salmon May 16. For details on those and other fishing opportunities, check the Fish Washington pamphlet.

Also, for those interested in introducing kids to fishing this spring, youth fishing events are planned throughout May in cities around the state. Events on or near Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula are taking place May 4, May 11, and May 18. Visit WDFW’s Youth Fishing webpage for more information on some of the events taking place this summer.

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season runs through May 31 around the state. Hunters have a three-gobbler limit – two birds in eastern Washington and one bird in western Washington. For more information, a Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphletis available online and at WDFW regional offices.

Hunters have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington state. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in late June. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW’s website. Applications must be submitted on that website or by calling 1-877-945-3492. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

Instructions and details on applying for special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013-14 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and online. Additional information is available here.

Wildlife viewing: Guided walks are under way at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Thurston County. These include guided nature, bird and photography walks. The walks are open to the public and free of charge. However, a $3 refuge entrance fee applies. The programs typically last between one and two hours, depending on the presenter and topic.  For more information, look into the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge Guided Walk Spring Schedule or call (360) 753-9467.  

Whether on the Olympic Peninsula, near Puget Sound, or across the state, WDFW wildlife areas are probably nearby. Visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/ to learn more about nearly a million acres of land managed by the Department for recreation and conservation purposes.

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

Fishing:  The sport fishery for adult hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead will reopen May 25 and run through June 15 on the lower Columbia River from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river to the deadline below Bonneville Dam. For boat anglers, the upriver boundary is Beacon Rock.

Anglers may retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.
Barbless hooks are required and all chinook salmon and steelhead not marked with a clipped adipose fin must be released. Sockeye salmon must also be released.

“We know a lot of anglers have been waiting for this opportunity,” said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Now that we have a better idea of this year’s run size, more spring chinook have become available for harvest.”

Fishery managers closed the fishery April 13, after anglers had taken 3,539 upriver chinook. Although the size of the run was later reduced to 107,500 fish, Roler said 1,357 upriver chinook are still available for the recreational fishery.

Meanwhile, anglers have been catching hatchery steelhead, chinook jacks and trout on the Columbia River downstream from the Interstate 5 Bridge since May 16. Jack returns through May 6 were the second-highest on record.

Regulations for those fisheries are described in the 2013 Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, available online and from fishing license vendors throughout the state.

The best bet for spring chinook fishing may be the tributaries – including the Wind River, Drano Lake and Klickitat River – flowing into the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam. All three fishing areas typically heat up as fish passage begins to surge at Bonneville Dam, Roller said.

Anglers fishing the Wind River can catch and keep two chinook salmon per day starting May 23. Also that day, the fishery will open upstream from Shipherd Falls, as explained in the rule change on WDFW’s rule-change website.

Like last year, anglers will have more room to fish at the mouth of the Wind River, where the outside fishing boundary has been moved about 250 yards out into the Columbia, Roler said. “Our goal last year was to help relieve overcrowding in that area, which proved successful,” he said. Monitoring costs for that project are supported by the endorsement fee paid by anglers who fish the Columbia River and its tributaries.

Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist, said he also expects to see fishing for spring chinook salmon and hatchery steelhead improve this month on the Cowlitz River. Prospects for summer-run hatchery steelhead are looking up in the Kalama, East Fork Lewis, North Fork Lewis, and Washougal rivers this month, he said, noting that selective fishing rules will be in effect through early June on the lower East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers.

Anglers should be aware that – effective May 1 – barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon or steelhead on the Columbia River and most of its tributaries downstream from Chief Joseph Dam. That rule, adopted last month by WDFW, expands on a similar regulation previously in effect on the stretch of the Columbia River that constitutes the border between Washington and Oregon.

The new rule extends the ban on barbed hooks another 250 miles upriver on the Columbia River and to dozens of its tributaries, including the Cowlitz, Wind, White Salmon, Klickitat, Snake, Yakima and Okanogan rivers. Anglers fishing any of those waters will still be allowed to use single, double-point or treble hooks, so long as the barbs have been filed off or pinched down.

With only a few exceptions, the rule requiring the use of barbless hooks will be in effect on rivers and streams where a Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Endorsement is required in addition to a current fishing license.

Other fishing rules that take effect May 1 include:

  • Cowlitz Falls Reservoir (Lewis County):  Salmon season opens year round in the reservoir, also known as Lake Scanewa.
  • Fort Borst Park Pond (Lewis County):  Opens to all licensed anglers until further notice.  Two poles may be used with a Two-Pole Endorsement.
  • Kalama River (Cowlitz County): Anglers may retain up to two hatchery steelhead starting 1,000 feet above the fishway at the upper salmon hatchery upstream to Summers Creek.
  • Merwin Lake (Clark/Cowlitz County): The kokanee limit increases to 10 fish, and kokanee will not count as part of the trout daily limit.

On May 25, fishing will open from the mouth of the Green River to 400 feet below the Toutle Hatchery water intake, and from the mouth of the South Fork Toutle River to the 4700 Road Bridge. Anglers must release all trout, but may retain up to two hatchery steelhead. Selective gear rules apply in both areas.

Emergency fishing rules are also in effect on several rivers to ensure that spawning goals for spring chinook are met at local hatcheries:

  • Lewis River: All chinook must be released from the mouth upstream to the mouth of the East Fork until further notice. The mainstem Lewis remains open for hatchery steelhead.
  • North Fork Lewis River: All chinook must be released from the mouth of the East Fork upstream to Merwin Dam until further notice. Through May 31, fishing is closed for all species from Johnson Creek (located downstream from the Lewis River Salmon Hatchery) upstream to Merwin Dam. The North Fork Lewis from Johnson Creek downstream remains open to fishing for hatchery steelhead,
  • Kalama River: All chinook must be released from the boundary markers at the mouth upstream to the upper salmon hatchery (Kalama Falls Hatchery). The Kalama River remains open to fishing for hatchery steelhead.
  • Wind River:  Through July 31, anglers are limited to one hatchery chinook or one hatchery steelhead per day from the mouth (boundary line/markers) upstream to 400 feet below Shipherd Falls. Wild chinook and wild steelhead must be released. All fishing is closed until further notice from 400 feet below Shipherd Falls upstream, including all tributaries.

Anglers fishing Swift Reservoir are also cautioned against retaining any rainbow trout more than 20 inches in length, as these fish are likely steelhead that have been released into the reservoir.  Steelhead fishing is closed in the reservoir, where WDFW and PacifiCorps recently moved 500 unmarked adults to help reestablish a wild population in the upper Lewis River. Keeping one of those fish, which are listed as a threatened species, is a violation of state and federal law.

For additional information, see the rule change notices on the WDFW website.

Meanwhile, anglers can catch and keep white sturgeon from Buoy 10 upstream to Bonneville Dam, and in The Dalles and John Day pools during the times specified below. Fishing has been slow, but anglers have been landing a few legal-size fish, particularly in the Dalles and John Day pools.

The limit is one legal-size white sturgeon per day, with a two-fish annual limit. The new annual limit was approved by the Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife commissions to help address the decline of legal-size sturgeon in the lower Columbia River in recent years.

Current fishing opportunities for sturgeon are as follows:

  • Buoy 10 to the Wauna powerlines:  Retention of white sturgeon is allowed daily from May 11 through June 30. During that period, sturgeon must measure between 41 inches to 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited.
  • Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam: Retention of white sturgeon is allowed three days per week (Thursday through Saturday) through June 15 and from Oct. 19 through Dec. 31. Sturgeon must measure between 38 inches and 54 inches (fork length) to be retained. Catch-and-release fishing is allowed on days when retention is prohibited.
  • Pools above Bonneville Dam: Bonneville Pool is open daily for catch-and-release fishing only, but will open for retention fishing June 14-15 and June 21-22. Anglers may currently retain legal-size sturgeon in the two reservoirs between The Dalles and McNary dams until their respective 300-fish and 500-fish guidelines are met.

Just as soon catch some trout? Several trout streams, stocked with feisty rainbows, will open for fishing on the Saturday of Memorial weekend. They include Canyon Creek and the upper Little White Salmon River in Skamania County, and Bird Creek, Outlet Creek, and Spring Creek and in Klickitat County.

WDFW also will continue to stock lowland lakes with catchable-size trout. Those receiving additional plants in May include Sacajawea, Kress, and Horseshoe lakes in Cowlitz county; Battleground Lake in Clark County; Kidney Lake in Skamania County; and Spearfish and Horsethief lakes in Klickitat County. Also, as the snow recedes in the mountains, many high lakes will become available to anglers. 

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season continues through May 31 around the state. Hunters have a three-gobbler limit – two birds in eastern Washington and one bird in western Washington. For more information and license fees, see the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphletonline.

Hunters looking ahead to fall have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

To apply for a special hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and necessary hunting licenses for each species they wish to hunt.

Applications must be submitted on the WDFW special permits website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and on the department’s website. Additional information is available on the special permits page.

Wildlife viewing:  With passage of spring chinook salmon at its peak, May is the best time to watch the annual pageant through the fish-viewing windows at Bonneville Dam. To check daily fish counts from home, check the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.

Or stop by the Washington Shore Visitor Complex and see the annual parade of fish for yourself. To get there, take Washington State Highway 14 east to Milepost 40 (about 5 miles from Stevenson) and turn into the Bonneville Dam visitor center. The visitor center is the glass building at the end of the powerhouse.

Meanwhile, the trail to the top of Beacon Rock has reopened following completion of repairs to a bridge damaged in a January rock slide. The mile-long trail to the top of the rock is a popular day hike. On Jan. 25, falling rock damaged the beams of one of the bridges affixed to a cliff face. Beacon Rock State Park is 35 miles east of Vancouver along state Highway 14 in Skamania County.

Birders also should be aware that the northern loop of the popular Gibbons Creek Wildlife Art Trail at the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge will reopen on May 1. The northern loop of the trail is typically closed from Oct. 1 to April 30 to protect wintering waterfowl, according to the refuge.

The refuge supports anadromous fish, breeding neotropical birds, ducks, geese and other birds. The main entrance to the refuge is located on the south side of Highway 14, just east of Washougal in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

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

Fishing: Trout-stocked lake fishing is in full swing in May throughout the region with some of the best producing waters just open since April 27. Opening-day catch rates for nearly 100 lakes throughout the state are summarized in a news release on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website.

Two lakes in Spokane County and one each in Lincoln and Stevens counties were among the state’s top dozen lakes, ranked according to catch-and-keep rates during the first weekend of fishing.

West Medical Lake, near the town of Medical Lake in southwest Spokane County, has been producing daily limits of five trout – mostly rainbow and brown trout – within a few hours for most anglers. The 114 anglers surveyed on opening day had kept 477 fish and released 98 others for an average catch per angler of 5.4 fish, of which 4.3 were retained. The largest fish recorded caught on opening day at West Medical was a 20-inch rainbow.

The 78 anglers surveyed at Williams Lake, southwest of Cheney in Spokane County, had kept 330 fish and released 93 others. had about the same catch and keep rates on the opener. The largest fish recorded caught there then was a 19-inch rainbow. A 16-inch tiger trout and five smaller cutthroat trout were also checked on the opener.

Fishtrap Lake, east of Sprague on the Lincoln-Spokane county line, had a 4.7 fish per catch rate and 4.4 fish kept per angler rate on the opener. Randy Osborne, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), reported checking 37 anglers at Fishtrap with 161 rainbow trout and 12 released fish. The largest catch recorded was a 24-inch hatchery broodstock rainbow trout.

Based on a check of 15 anglers with 67 fish, WDFW northeast district fish biologist Bill Baker reported a 4.5 fish per catch rate on the opener at Rocky Lake, south of Colville in Stevens County. Baker said about a quarter of the trout caught were carryovers bigger than 14 inches, with the rest averaging 11.5 inches from fry plants last year. The largest trout recorded was a 17.5-inch rainbow.

At Fish Lake northeast of Cheney in Spokane County, anglers averaged 2.6 trout kept, but catch-and-release anglers using selective gear averaged 6.9 fish, making the overall catch rate one of the highest in the state. The biggest fish recorded that day was a 17-incher, and Osborne said anglers caught some nice Eastern brook trout, too.

Clear Lake, south of the town of Medical Lake in Spokane County, also had a high overall catch rate on the opener – 6.7 fish per angler, with a 3.9 kept fish per angler average, based on 22 anglers checked with 85 fish and 63 released fish. Many kept fish were 14-16-inch carryover rainbows, in addition to the 10-12 inch catchable-size rainbows recently stocked. About 11 percent of the harvest was brown trout. The largest fish recorded there was a 17-inch rainbow.

Another high overall catch rate on the opener was measured at Ellen Lake, north of Inchelium in Ferry County, where 16 anglers were checked with 58 fish and 39 released fish, for a 6.1 average catch rate and 3.6 average fish kept rate. Ellen’s largest fish on the opener was a 16-inch rainbow.

Stevens County’s Starvation Lake, southeast of Colville, had lots of happy anglers on the opener, Baker reported, with an overall average catch rate of 3.8 mostly kept fish. That was based on a check of 39 anglers with 137 fish and just 10 released. Baker says almost of half of the kept fish were carryovers bigger than 13 inches, with the largest fish a 16-inch rainbow.

Waitts Lake, in southern Stevens County near Valley, also had a good opener, with an overall average catch rate of 3.5 fish per angler, based on a check of 72 with 175 fish and 75 released. The largest measured that day was a 21-inch rainbow.

Diamond Lake, near Newport in Pend Oreille County, had an opening day average catch rate of 3.2 fish per angler, based on 25 with 81 fish.  The catch at Diamond is a mix of rainbow and brown trout, with the largest record on the opener a 22-inch rainbow.

Cedar Lake, north of Leadpoint near the Canada border in Stevens County, produced an average catch rate of 2.4 fish per angler on the opener, based on 23 with 55 fish and just one released. Baker reported anglers happy at Cedar with nice-sized carryovers; the biggest was a 16-inch rainbow.

Badger Lake, south of Cheney in Spokane County, produced an average of 2.2 trout per angler on the opener, based on 61 anglers catching 134 fish. The largest recorded were an 18-inch rainbow and a 17-inch cutthroat.

Mudgett Lake, in southern Stevens County near Fruitland, was slower on the opener, probably because the windy conditions throughout the region seemed to pick up there earlier in the day. The catch rate measured was 1.6 fish per angler, based on 13 with 21 fish. The largest was a 16.5-inch rainbow, one of the few carryovers from fry plants.

Deep Lake, southeast of Northport in Stevens County, had the least number of anglers checked on the opener, largely due to wind very early in the day. Just nine anglers were fishing in the morning and none had catches. With better conditions, fishing for rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout should pick up and stocked kokanee will come on strong next month.

In the southeast end of the region, lake fishing has been under way on all but one of several Tucannon River impoundments in Columbia County since March. Curl Lake, an acclimation pond for spring Chinook salmon smolts that are now gone, just opened April 27 for fishing on hatchery-stocked rainbow trout. Curl will have plenty of action through this month and next on10-12 inch rainbows and some “jumbos” that run about 1.5 pounds each.

Meanwhile, only one stretch of the Snake River remains open for hatchery-marked spring chinook salmon fishing. The section of the river from the intersection of Steptoe Canyon and Wawawai River roads to the state line in Clarkston is open Sundays and Mondays each week. Two other areas of the river near Ice Harbor and Little Goose dams closed to spring chinook fishing May 15. Check the fishing rule change for details on the fishery.

Many more lake fishing opportunities are available throughout the region and can be found in detail by county on WDFW’s Fish Washington website.

Hunting:  Spring wild turkey hunting continues through the month of May throughout the statewide, but the best bets for bagging a gobbler are in this region. The northeast game management units (101-136) have good populations of Merriam’s subspecies and the southeast units (139-186) have Rio Grandes.

Kari Dingman, WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager in the southeast, reports that hunters have been harvesting turkeys on the area since the season opened April 15. “I’ve also heard from several that there either aren’t as many turkeys this year or they are just harder to find,” Dingman said.

Turkey hunters are encouraged to use the new Hunt by Reservation on-line system that includes some access to private lands with turkeys. Most of those are in the northeast units, but a few in Whitman County might provide turkey-hunting opportunities.

Turkey hunters are reminded to report hunting activity after the season closes May 31, unless they plan to also hunt turkeys this fall.

Hunters looking ahead to fall have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

To apply for a special hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and necessary hunting licenses for each species they wish to hunt.

Applications must be submitted on the WDFW special permits website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and on the department’s website. Additional information is available on the special permits page.

Wildlife viewing:  May is for the birds – neo-tropical migratory songbird species, that is, which are returning to or moving through Washington virtually every day this month.

These are species that winter south of the border, some in the tropics, and migrate north to nesting grounds here or in Canada, said WDFW district wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson of Spokane. They are among some of our most colorful birds, he noted, including common yellowthroats, Lazuli buntings, western kingbirds, western tanagers, and yellow warblers

The migrations of songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors, are celebrated in May each year with events on or around International Migratory Bird Day, always the second Saturday of the month, this year on May 11.

The Palouse Audubon Society is celebrating the day with a birding field trip in northwest Whitman County, the heart of channeled scabland, and including shallow lakes near Sprague, the Rock Creek drainage and the Palouse River area. Birders will be especially looking for burrowing owls, long-billed curlews and ferruginous hawks. Participants should meet at 7 a.m. at Dissmore’s in Pullman. For more information see http://www.palouseaudubon.org/fieldtrip.html

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, in southwest Spokane County, is celebrating a week later, on May 18, with the Feathers, Flowers and Floods Festival.  Ferguson notes it’s a good family event to learn about birds, wildflowers, and the ice age floods that created the diverse scablands habitat. Nature hikes, tours, kids’ activities, and informational booths are provided by a number of organizations.

WDFW northeast district wildlife biologist Dana Base of Colville just noted some “FOY” (First of Year) neo-tropical migratory songbirds -- yellow-rumped, orange-crowned, and Nashville warblers are beginning to sing on territory. Base also reported an osprey at Lake Ellen in Ferry County.

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman of Pomeroy reports songbirds of increasing species diversity are singing throughout the Tucannon River valley and Blue Mountains. “Trees and shrubs are leafing out, fruit trees are flowering, wildflowers are blooming, and morel mushrooms are popping up,” Dingman said.  “The bighorn sheep ewes up on the Tucannon Fish Hatchery ridge should be starting to lamb this month.”

Dingman also alerts viewers, hikers and campers to a few wildlife nuisances. Skunks have been raiding some Umatilla Forest campgrounds and the Camp Wooten environmental education center, and it may be only a matter of time until they become a problem at wildlife area campgrounds. Dingman advises campers to secure all sources of attraction, from camp food to fish-cleaning debris.

“It’s the same kind of problem prevention measures we recommend to avoid encounters with black bears,” Dingman said. “So far, bears have not been an issue, but it’s certainly the time of year when both bears and people are more out and about.”

Dingman also warns outdoor recreationists to be careful about picking up ticks.

Minimize time spent in wooded, brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and stay on trails whenever possible. Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants; the light coloring will make ticks easier to see. Use a tick repellant to protect exposed skin. When returning from outdoor activities, carefully examine people, pets and the indoor environment for ticks.

Another annual wildlife celebration this month is Endangered Species Day on May 17. Information and events are coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, although Washington state has its own list of protected species. That list, and a description of what WDFW is doing to recover those species, is available on the department’s website.

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

Fishing: A portion of the Icicle River will open to fishing for marked adult and jack spring chinook salmon May 18 through July 31. Fishing is allowed from the closure signs located 800 feet upstream of the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam. The daily limit is two adipose-fin-clipped spring chinook, minimum size 12 inches.

Meanwhile, lake fishing is in full swing in May throughout the region with some of the best trout-stocked waters open since April 27. Opening-day catch rates for nearly 100 lakes throughout the state are summarized in a news release on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) website.

Conconully Reservoir in Okanogan County was one of the state’s top dozen lakes on opening day with a catch-and-keep rate of 4.3 fish per angler. Bob Jateff, WDFW Okanogan district fish biologist, said the catch at the reservoir has been running about two-thirds rainbow trout in the 10-12-inch range and one-third kokanee in the 11-13-inch range.

Pearrygin, Alta, Fish, and Conconully lakes in Okanogan County are also producing good catches of rainbow trout in the 10-12 inch range, with larger fish to 18 inches, Jateff said.  On the opener, Pearrygin anglers checked averaged 5.8 fish caught, with 3.8 kept, including a five-pound brown trout and five-pound triploid rainbow.  At Alta Lake, anglers averaged 2.7 caught fish, with almost all kept. Conconully Lake anglers averaged 2.2 fish each, and Fish Lake anglers averaged 2.1 fish.

Other Okanogan County lakes that opened in late April but were not creel-checked are also producing well, Jateff said. Anglers at Blue and Big Twin lakes, which are under selective gear rules, are reportedly catching rainbows in the 10-16 inch range. Leader and Wannacut lakes received plants of 10-12-inch rainbows along with fish weighing a pound or more right before the opener.

Jateff also noted that Spectacle Lake, which has been open since April 1, continues to produce limits of rainbows in the 11-12 inch range for both shore and boat anglers. Patterson Lake, which is open year-round, continues to provide good fishing for kokanee in the 10-11 inch range along with catches of yellow perch. Year-round Palmer Lake has also been a consistent producer for kokanee in the 11-14 inch range.

In Chelan County, WDFW district fish biologist Travis Maitland of Wenatchee reports checking 75 anglers at Wapato Lake on the opener when they averaged 2.3 fish each, most in the 14-15-inch range with several over 19 inches. Clear Lake anglers averaged 3.4 fish caught, with the largest about 18 inches. Anglers fishing Beehive Lake anglers averaged 1.6 fish each, the largest 16.5 inches along with some tiger trout.

In Douglas County, 40 anglers were checked on the opener at Jameson Lake for an average of 3.3 fish caught, including rainbows from nine to 24 inches.

Many Columbia Basin fishing lakes have been open since the first of March or April, but some top producers opening on the fourth Saturday of April were worth the wait.  WDFW district fish biologist Chad Jackson of Moses Lake expects the good fishing measured on opening day will continue through May at Grant County’s Blue, Deep, Park, Perch, Vic Meyers and Warden lakes.

The 36 anglers checked at Blue Lake on the opener averaged 3.8 fish caught and 3.6 fish kept, with most averaging 12.5-13.5 inches and carryovers from 16 to 20 inches. Ninety-one anglers checked at Deep Lake had great fishing for 11-15-inch trout, averaging 4.7 fish caught and 3.8 fish kept. Park Lake was a little slower with an average of 2.9 fish caught, but anglers checked there were happy with the quality of the fish, Jackson said,.

Perch Lake generally has few anglers because it’s mostly a shoreline effort, Jackson said, but it has nice fish and it’s a good place to get away from the crowds at the other lakes. Seven anglers were checked on the opener at Perch with an average of 5.3 fish caught and 3.6 fish kept, most 11-13 inches with some 14-16-inch triploids.

Vic Meyers Lake anglers averaged four fish caught, most in the 11-13-inch range with some carryovers and triploids running 14 to 20 inches. Warden Lake has good fishing for mostly 11-inch yearling trout, with some carryovers 16-20 inches. On opening day, 65 anglers checked at Warden averaged 3.9 fish caught and 3.6 fish kept.

Many more lake-fishing opportunities are available throughout the region and can be found on WDFW’s Fish Washington website.

Hunting:  Spring wild turkey hunting continues through the entire month of May statewide. Turkey hunters are reminded to report hunting activity after the season closes May 31, unless they plan to also hunt turkeys this fall.

Meanwhile, hunters looking ahead to fall have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

To apply for a special hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and necessary hunting licenses for each species they wish to hunt.

Applications must be submitted on the WDFW special permits website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and on the department’s website. Additional information is available on the special permits page.

Wildlife viewing:  May is when birding opportunities really ramp up throughout the region, but especially in the Okanogan District, says WDFW district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin of Winthrop.

“Generally even the latest arriving neotropical migrant songbirds are back by the end of the month,” Fitkin said. “The magnitude and diversity of the dawn chorus is spectacular in key spots. Multi-storied deciduous forests in riparian environments arguably have the greatest bird diversity, with dry forest and shrub-steppe habitat also being good choices.”

Fitkin notes that WDFW wildlife areas include a couple of particularly good riparian birding spots, including the cottonwood gallery forest along the Methow River in the Big Valley Unit of the Methow Wildlife Area. To get there, follow the community trail southeast from the parking area at the northwest end of the unit. Another prime spot is the valley bottom in the original portion of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, particularly near any of the lakes from Blue Lake north and in the riparian vegetation along Sinlahekin Creek.

Everything from flashy western tanagers to pale-colored willow flycatchers can be spotted or heard now. These songbird migrations, and those of shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors, are celebrated in May each year with events on or around International Migratory Bird Day, always the second Saturday of the month, this year on May 11.

May 11 is also Foothills Day, which celebrates the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust Wenatchee Foothills recreation and access area. “It’s a pretty impressive viewing area for all things shrub steppe, and it’s coming into full glory as the spring season warms up this month,” said Carmen Andonaegui WDFW regional habitat program manager. The Foothills Day celebration includes trail runs, mountain bike rides and guided walks where you’ll likely see or hear sage sparrows, sage thrashers, meadowlarks, and much more. 

May 16-19 is the annual Leavenworth Spring Bird Fest, featuring field trips into habitats including snow-capped mountains, sunny ponderosa pine forests, lush riparian zones, and shrub-steppe. The event is a good opportunity to learn about the wide variety of migratory birds here only for the breeding season. While birding is the heart of the weekend, activities also include wildflower walks, arts events, and family activities.

Another annual wildlife celebration this month is Endangered Species Day on May 17. Information and events are coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, although Washington state has its own list of protected species. That list, and a description of what WDFW is doing to recover those species, is available on the department’s website.

Wherever and however you recreate outdoors this month, be careful about picking up ticks.  Minimize time spent in wooded, brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and stay on trails whenever possible. Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants; the light coloring will make ticks easier to see. Use a tick repellant to protect exposed skin. When returning from outdoor activities, carefully examine people, pets and the indoor environment for ticks.

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

Fishing: Two sections of the Yakima River will open next week to fishing for hatchery-reared spring chinook salmon, under regulations adopted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Starting May 15, the lower Yakima River will open to fishing for hatchery spring chinook from the Interstate 182 Bridge in Richland to the Grant Avenue Bridge in Prosser. On May 18, the upper Yakima River will open from the Interstate 82 Bridge at Union Gap to the railroad bridge below Roza Dam.

John Easterbrooks, regional WDFW fish program manager, said the lower river is expected to remain open through June 30, while fishing in the upper section will likely continue through July 15.

“Springers are running late this year, but they’re finally moving into the Yakima River,” said Easterbrooks, noting that state and tribal fishery managers are predicting a return of approximately 3,000 adult hatchery chinook to the Yakima River.
 
Anglers will have a daily limit of two adipose-fin-clipped hatchery chinook.  All wild salmon, identifiable by an intact adipose fin, must be released unharmed and must not be removed from the water prior to release. All steelhead must be released.

Bait is allowed, but anglers will be 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.

To participate in the fishery, anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement (CRSSE), along with a valid fishing license. Anglers also have the option of purchasing a “two-pole endorsement” and fishing with two poles during the fishery.

For additional information about the fishery, see the fishing rule change at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.

Trout are another option. Waters scheduled to be stocked with rainbow trout this month include Bear Lake, Clear Lake, Dog Lake, McCabe Pond and Columbia Park Pond. A complete trout-planting schedule for south-central lakes and ponds is available on the WDFW website.

The 13th annual Kids Fishing event will be held at Columbia Park Pond in Kennewick on May 11. All youths must pre-register at Kennewick Parks and Recreation to attend.

As of late April, anglers could still catch and keep legal-size sturgeon in Lake Umatilla (John Day Dam to McNary Dam), but that fishery will close as soon as the 500-fish quota for those waters is reached. Anglers planning to fish the lake should keep an eye on the WDFW website for possible updates. Farther upriver, the retention fishery for white sturgeon above McNary Dam (Lake Wallula) is scheduled to run through July 31. 

In both areas, anglers may retain only those white sturgeon that measure between 43 inches and 54 inches when measured from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Sturgeon spawning sanctuaries below Priest Rapids Dam and Ice Harbor Dam close to all sturgeon fishing (both harvest and catch-and-release) beginning May 1. They reopen for catch-and-release fishing on Aug. 1.

Rather catch warm-water fish? Catch rates should continue to improve on area rivers for smallmouth bass, channel catfish and walleye right through spring.

Anglers age 15 or older are reminded that they must purchase a 2013-14 license to fish state waters. Those who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries are also required to purchase an endorsement that helps maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River Basin. Licenses and permits are available online, by phone (1-866-246-9453) and from sporting goods stores and other retail license dealers around the state.

Hunting: The spring wild turkey season continues through May 31 around the state. Hunters have a three-gobbler limit – two birds in eastern Washington and one bird in western Washington. For more information and license fees, see the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet online.

Hunters looking ahead to fall have through May 22 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. The special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

Applications may be purchased from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any ram and any moose, as well as “quality” categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

To apply for a special hunt permit, hunters must purchase an application and necessary hunting licenses for each species they wish to hunt.

Applications must be submitted on the WDFW special permits website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. Instructions and details on special-permit hunts are described on pages 86-87 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet, available at WDFW offices, license vendors, and on the department’s website. Additional information is available on the special permits page.

Wildlife viewing: Starting at 6 a.m. May 1, the gates open to thousands of acres of prime wildlife-viewing lands at WDFW Wildlife Areas in southcentral Washington. Closed in winter to protect elk and other species from human disturbances, access roads snaking through Oak Creek, Wenas and other wildlife areas will again provide passage to Washington’s backcountry.

“A lot of people come out May 1 to look for shed antlers,” said Ross Huffman, manager of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area. “Last year we had close to 500 people lined up at the gates to get in, including both serious shed hunters and families looking to spend time together and enjoy the hiking in spring.”

Four gates will open May 1 at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area, located seven miles west of Naches. One is at the U.S. Forest Service 1400 Oak Creek Road, two provide access to the Bethel Ridge Road and another leads to Garret Canyon. The Oak Creek and Cowiche units will also open to the public at the same time.

Also open is the Tieton River Trail, which leads to two popular rock-climbing areas – Royal Columns and The Bend, said Bruce Berry, assistant manager at Oak Creek. “That trail is teeming with wildlife and spring flowers at this time of year.”

Located 15 miles west of Selah, the Mellotte gate at the Wenas Wildlife Area will open May 1, providing access to the north side of Cleman Mountain. “The area grades from riverine to shrub-steppe to forestlands, and provides plenty of bird-watching opportunities,” said Cindi Confer Morris, Wenas Wildlife Area manager.

Also opening May 1 at the Wenas Wildlife Area are the Hessler and Kelley Hollow gates, which were closed to motorized traffic last fall due to the Wenas Lake fire.

Confer noted that wildlife areas throughout the region operate on a “green dot road management” system: If a road is posted with a green reflective dot, it is open to motor vehicles. Otherwise, it is closed to motor vehicles. “But it’s important that visitors use good judgment,” she said. “If a road is soft and wet, we ask people not to drive on it, regardless if it has a green dot.”

At the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, two gates – Joe Watt and Robinson – will open May 1, as will the Whiskey Dick unit northeast of Ellensburg. At Colockum Wildlife Area south of Wenatchee, the West Bar Road will open to vehicle traffic May 1. Although the road is only 2.5 miles long, it provides access to the Columbia River and is a popular area to look for shed antlers in spring.

Campfires are prohibited through Oct. 15 at all of these areas and no developed campgrounds are available. Visitors are also required to display a current WDFW Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass for vehicle access to all WDFW lands and boat launches. Information about purchasing a state Discover Pass is available on WDFW’s website.