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

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June 2014

(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 5, 2014)

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

Catch trout, salmon, crab
during Free Fishing Weekend

Some of the most popular fishing opportunities are available for anglers in the coming weeks, including trout in hundreds of rivers, crab in south Puget Sound, chinook in the Columbia River and salmon in ocean waters along the coast.

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 7-8.

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 700 water-access sites maintained by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

While no licenses are required on Free Fishing Weekend, other rules such as season closures, size restrictions and bag limits will still be in effect.

In addition, all anglers will be required to complete a catch record card for any salmon, steelhead or halibut they catch that weekend. They also must fill out a catch record card for crab, which is open only in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) during Free Fishing 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 and end with Free Fishing Weekend. Other key dates for anglers include:

  • May 31 – Selective fisheries for hatchery chinook salmon open in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 1 – Crab fishing opens in Marine Area 13 south of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
  • June 7 – Trout fishing opens in hundreds of rivers across the state.
  • June 14 – Traditional recreational ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4.
  • June 16 – Fishing for summer chinook and sockeye salmon opens on the Columbia River from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.
  • July 3 – 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. Three major rivers open for salmon fishing on rivers June 1, and many more open for trout fishing June 7. On Puget Sound, the Tulalip Bay bubble fishery is under way for salmon and the lingcod fishery remains open through mid-month.

Rivers opening for salmon fishing June 1 include:

  • Skagit River: Opens for hatchery chinook salmon fishing June 1-July 15. The fishery is open from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the Cascade River Road.
  • Cascade River: Opens from June 1-July 15. Anglers can fish for hatchery chinook salmon from the mouth of the river to the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.
  • Skykomish River: Opens June 1 for hatchery chinook salmon. The fishery is open from the mouth of the Skykomish to the mouth of the Wallace River.

The daily limit on the Skagit, Cascade and Skykomish rivers is four hatchery chinook, only two of which may be adults (chinook salmon at least 24 inches in length). Anglers fishing the Skagit can also retain sockeye salmon from Highway 536 at Mount Vernon to the mouth of Gilligan Creek from June 14 through June 29 with a daily limit of two sockeye. 

Fishing for sockeye on the Skagit River is easy and inexpensive, says Brett Barkdull, a fish biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The fish run near shore and can be caught from the bank at a variety of access points – without long casts.  

“An inexpensive rod and reel capable of handling an 8 ounce sinker, using a basic “plunking” set-up of a wing bobber, bead and bait such as sand shrimp or cured prawn is all that is needed to catch these tasty, scrappy, fish,” Barkdull said. “Anglers simply cast their offering out a few feet off the bank, and wait for the fish to come to them.”

For more tips, visit the estuaries and tidewater recreational salmon page.

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 on Monday through Sept. 1. The exception is June 21, when the fishery is closed due to a tribal ceremony. Anglers fishing the bubble have a two-salmon daily limit, and can use two fishing poles with the purchase of a WDFW two-pole endorsement.

Meanwhile, trout fishing will open at several rivers and streams beginning June 7.

Under the statewide rule for trout, there is a two-fish daily limit and a minimum size of eight inches in rivers and streams. Some of the region's streams have a rule requiring trout to be at least 14 inches in length to keep, as described in the Fish 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, another WDFW fish biologist. When fishing for these species, focus on areas where there are bridge pilings, boat docks, rocks, 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 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 “how-to” fishing videos.

Halibut anglers will have one last chance to catch a halibut on June 7 when marine areas 5-10 will open for one final day.

Fishing for lingcod remains an option through June 15in most marine areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, except Hood Canal (Marine Area 12). The fishing continues through October 15 in the portion of Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay) east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line.

Prefer shrimp? Check WDFW’s recreational shrimp fishing webpage for shrimp fishing opportunities available in June. WDFW is expanding the opportunity for shrimp fishing in Marine Area 7 West, which will be open daily beginning June 1 until the quota is reached or until Sept. 15, whichever comes first.

That’s a change from last season’s schedule of Thursday through Saturday for the same time period. “It is likely this area will be open for spot shrimp fishing well into the summer, due to an increase in allocation that was implemented last year,” said Mark O’Toole, a shellfish biologist with WDFW.

The fishery for non-spot shrimp – coonstripe and pink – will also re-open June 1 on a daily basis in marine areas 7 East, 8-1, 8-2, 9, and 11. For details, see the fishing rule on WDFW’s website.

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 7-8. 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 nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by WDFW. Anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

From now through July 20, WDFW is also offering current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders the opportunity to upgrade to a combination license for under $27. The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, WDFW licensing manager.

Visit WDFW’s news release to learn more about mid-season upgrades to licenses.

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 on-line. 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:  Eastside Audubon of Kirkland is offering terrific birding opportunities throughout the summer. In June, these include observing baby great blue herons at Marymoor Park in Redmond on June 7 and a family birding walk at Lake Sammamish State Park on June 14. See their calendar to learn about other opportunities.

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.

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

Fishing: Not only will anglers have more opportunities to catch salmon this month, but they also will have one last shot at hooking a halibut in Puget Sound. And crabbers get an early start to the season beginning June 1 in south Puget Sound.

The mark-selective fishery for hatchery chinook opens May 31 in Marine areas 1-4 and runs seven days a week through June 13. In all areas, anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release coho and wild chinook. The fisheries could close earlier if a coastwide quota of 9,000 hatchery chinook is reached.

The rules change June 14 when the traditional ocean salmon fisheries for chinook and hatchery coho get under way in marine areas 1-4. Anglers will have a daily limit of two salmon in marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay). Those fishing marine areas 1 (Ilwaco) and 2 (Westport/Ocean Shores) also will have a two-salmon daily limit, but can keep only one chinook per day.

“We predicted this would be a good year for salmon and we’re already seeing a lot of coho and chinook along the coast,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

In Puget Sound, fishing for salmon continues in June in Marine Area 13 (South Puget Sound) and opens June 1 in Marine Area 11 (Tacoma/Vashon Island). Anglers fishing those areas have a two-salmon daily limit but must release wild chinook. In Marine Area 13, anglers who have a two-pole endorsement are allowed to fish for salmon with two poles.

Catch-and-release fishing for salmon begins June 1 in a section of Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton). The fishery is open from Point Monroe to Meadow Point.

Before heading out, anglers should check the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet online or call the fishing hotline at (360) 902-2500 for additional regulations.

Meanwhile, halibut anglers are turning their attention toward the mouth of the Columbia River now that the rest of Washington’s coast is closed to halibut fishing. Anglers have four days, compared to three in 2013, each week to fish in Marine Area 1. They can fish Thursday through Sunday in the main fishery and Monday through Wednesday in a new nearshore fishery created this year, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator. “On days when the nearshore fishery is open, anglers can retain bottomfish while having halibut onboard,” Reed said.

Puget Sound anglers will have one last chance to catch a halibut on June 7 when marine areas 5-10 open for a final day. All marine areas open to halibut fishing have a one-fish daily catch limit with no minimum size requirement. Halibut anglers should check WDFW’s recreational ocean halibut webpage for updates.

Anglers have until June 15 to catch lingcod in marine areas in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, except Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), which is closed to lingcod fishing. Washington’s coastal waters will remain open for lingcod fishing until mid-October.

The recreational crab-fishing season starts early this year with an opening June 1 south Puget Sound (Marine Area 13). Sport crabbers have fallen short of their quota in Marine Area 13 in recent years, allowing WDFW to open that area early, said Rich Childers, shellfish policy lead for the agency. Most other marine areas open July 3 for crab fishing but crabbers should check WDFW’s recreational crab fishing webpage for the regulations.

Crabbers fishing Marine Area 13 should report their catch on 2014 catch record cards starting June 1. Language on the catch cards stating that they are “valid from July 1, 2014 through September 14” has been waived to accommodate a June 1 opening in that marine area.

The final day of the last razor clam dig of the season is set for June 1 on Twin Harbors, Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks beaches. Diggers should check WDFW’s razor clam web page for details. This season, which began last September, has been the most productive in more than 30 years, said Dan Ayres, WDFW shellfish manager. The next season for razor clams begins in the fall.

Information about other types of clams and oysters now in season is available on WDFW’s public clam and oyster beaches webpage.

Anglers who prefer trout fishing can head to streams in the region beginning June 7. Rivers that will open that day include Chehalis, Hoh, Queets, Quinnault, Calawah, Bogachiel, Dickey and Quillayute. Skookumchuck Reservoir, Wynoochee Reservoir, Quigg Lake near Montesano and Elk Lake in Clallam County also open June 7 for trout fishing. Anglers should check the sport fishing rules pamphlet for regulations.

Free Fishing Weekend, when licenses are not required, will be held June 7-8. All other rules apply. Newcomers to the sport who want to give it a try can check out how to get started and where to go in the “Fishing 101” information at Fish Washington.

Anglers should note Lake Sylvia, in Grays Harbor County, will close from 6 p.m. June 6 through 6 a.m. June 7 for a children-only fishing event. For more information about the event, visit Washington State Parks’ 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.

Resident orcas are making their return to Washington’s waters with multiple sightings being reported on Orca Network. WDFW reminds boaters to keep their distance from these and other marine mammals. For information on Washington’s regulations regarding boaters and whales, visit WDFW’s orca whale management webpage. Federal guidelines can be found at www.bewhalewise.org.

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

Fishing:  State fishery managers reopened the spring chinook fishery above Bonneville Dam on the last day of May, creating a seamless transition between spring and summer salmon fisheries stretching more than 300 miles up the Columbia River. Anglers can now fish for chinook salmon, steelhead and shad every day in June, with new fishing opportunities for summer chinook and sockeye salmon starting at mid-month.

But the opportunities to catch some nice fish don’t end there:

  • Hatchery spring chinook are still available for harvest on the Cowlitz River, and catch rates for hatchery summer run steelhead are picking up on tributaries such as the Elochoman, Cowlitz, Toutle, Kalama, Lewis, Washougal, and Klickitat rivers.  
  • Trout fishing opens June 7 on a number of area streams.  Swift Reservoir also opens for fishing that day, which also marks the start of Free Fishing Weekend.
  • Anglers can catch and keep legal-size white sturgeon they catch in the Bonneville Pool during summer openings June 13-14 and June 20-21.

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

Those who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 7-8 during Free Fishing Weekend. No fishing license is required to fish state waters open to fishing those two days and no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass is required to park at WDFW wildlife areas or water-access sites. However, anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead, or sturgeon are required to have a Catch Record Card, available free of charge from fishing license dealers.

For all that, hatchery spring chinook and hatchery steelhead are the main attractions for anglers fishing the Columbia River in June. The fishery is open from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river up to the Washington/Oregon state line, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam. (Bank fishing only from Bonneville Dam and the Tower Island power lines.)

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, plus all sockeye. For details, see 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 Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to Priest Rapids Dam. Anglers may also retain sockeye salmon, which count as part of the daily limit for adult fish. Any sockeye, adipose fin clipped or not, may be retained. 

The daily is six salmonids, which includes two adult hatchery chinook, or two adult hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Barbless hooks are required.

The 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 67,500 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.

Starting June 7, the Klickitat River will open to fishing for hatchery adult spring chinook salmon from 400 feet upstream from the #5 fishway (about a half-miles above the Fisher Hill Bridge) to the boundary markets below the Klickitat Salmon Hatchery. There is a six-salmon daily limit, of which no more than two may be adults. Wild chinook must be released. Those regulations match those in effect downstream from the #5 fishway, where fishing for hatchery adult spring got under way June 1.

The Cowlitz River continues to produce good catches of hatchery spring chinook and is expected to do so right through June, Hymer said. On Blue Creek, a tributary of the Cowlitz, fishing is open for hatchery steelhead and hatchery sea run cutthroats.

While the Lewis and Kalama rivers remain closed to chinook retention, prospects for summer-run hatchery steelhead are promising on those rivers and the Washougal, too.

The Green River opens for steelhead fishing May 31 from the mouth to 400 feet below the Toutle Hatchery water intake, and on the South Fork Toutle River from the mouth to the 4700 Road Bridge. Anglers may retain up to two hatchery steelhead but must release all other trout.

Selective gear rules apply in both areas through June 6. However, anglers may use bait on the lower sections of the South Fork Toutle, Green, Washougal, and East Fork Lewis rivers starting June 7. 

Ready to catch some sturgeon? The Bonneville Pool will open for retention fishing June 13-14 and June 20-21 with a catch guideline of 849 fish. The daily limit is one white sturgeon with a fork length of 38 to 54 inches. “This should be a very popular fishery,” said Brad James, a WDFW fish biologist. “Anglers are looking forward to taking home a sturgeon during those openings.”

The Dalles Pool is also open for sturgeon retention until further notice, but the John Day Pool is set to close June 14 when the catch is expected to reach the pool’s annual 500-fish guideline. Catch-and-release fishing will still be allowed in both pools.

Anglers are also advised that all sturgeon fishing is prohibited through July between The Dalles Dam downstream 1.8 miles to a line from the east (upstream) dock at the Port of The Dalles boat ramp straight across to a marker on the Washington shore.

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.

Swift Reservoir in Skamania County opens June 7, and fishing should be very good. WDFW is planting nearly 60,000 catchable-size rainbow trout for opening day, but anglers are required to release any wild steelhead and bull trout they intercept.

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

Looking ahead, pre-registration is now open for Merwin Special Kids Day, which is expected to draw more than 100 young people and their families to the annual kids fishing event July 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Prior to the event, WDFW will plant the wheelchair-accessible hatchery waters with up to 3,000 trout ranging in size from one to four pounds. Sponsors ask that participants pre-register by June 30, by calling 1-800-899-4421.

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 hunters are now required to report their activities in the field, unless they are planning to hunt turkeys this fall. 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.

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

Fishing: Two sections of the Snake River will reopen to fishing for spring chinook salmon June 1, and two more will reopen June 5. Then, starting June 7, trout fishing gets under way on many rivers and streams throughout the region.

On the Snake River, waters below Ice Harbor Dam and Lower Granite Dam open for spring chinook fishing June 1 from Sunday through Tuesday each week until further notice. The river below Little Goose Dam and in the Clarkston area will be open June 5 from Thursday through Saturday each week.

Glen Mendel, district fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said fishery managers were able to reopen the fishery after transferring a portion of the upriver spring chinook allocation to the Snake River from the ongoing fishery in the lower Columbia River.

“With more than 600 fish now available for the Snake River fishery, we may be able to sustain fishing for the next several weeks,” said Mendel.

The daily catch limit for hatchery adult chinook has also been increased from the previous openings, Mendel said. Anglers will have a daily catch limit of two hatchery adult chinook – marked with a clipped adipose fin – and four hatchery jacks measuring less than 24 inches.

See the Fishing Rule Change for more information about the fishery.

Meanwhile, anglers will a range of new options to catch trout when dozens of rivers and streams open to fishing June 7. Regulations vary, so check the Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for rules on those waters.

One of the waterways opening that day is the upper Grande Ronde River in Asotin County.  Although a portion of the Grande Ronde is open year-round, it’s the longer upper stretch that draws both anglers and other recreationists. Just in time for the opening, a new public access map to the Grande Ronde is available for downloading on the eastern region webpage for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

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

Several trout waters are near public campgrounds, making great family outings during this first month of summer. Ferry County’s Curlew Lake, on a state park, and Ellen Lake, on the Colville National Forest, are recommended destinations.

In Stevens County, the Little Pend Oreille chain of lakes – Gillette, Heritage, Sherry, and Thomas – and Cedar, Mudgett, Rocky, Starvation, and Waitts lakes are providing catches. In Pend Oreille County, Diamond Lake is a good bet, as are higher elevation waters like Skookum and Yocum lakes.

Anglers hoping to catch a hatchery rainbow trout should head to the Tucannon River impoundments -- Big Four, Blue, Curl, Deer, Rainbow, Spring and Watson lakes – which continue to be stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, said WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area Manager Kari Dingman. 

Waters that are open year round are solid bets not only for trout, but also for warmwater fish species that begin to bite as temperatures rise. Lake Roosevelt, the Columbia River reservoir off Grand Coulee Dam, has big rainbow trout, kokanee, walleye, and smallmouth bass. Anglers fishing Sprague Lake, on the Lincoln-Adams county line, are having luck catching rainbow trout, largemouth bass, and catfish. Rock Lake in Whitman County has rainbow and brown trout, largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie.

Trout fishing at Lake Spokane or Long Lake, the Spokane River reservoir just west of the city of Spokane, will improve with this month’s stocking of 155,000 catchable-size rainbow trout. The trout, from WDFW’s Spokane Fish Hatchery and Trout Lodge, Inc. in Soap Lake, are sterile so they cannot reproduce with native fish in the river system. They are marked with clipped adipose fins for ease of monitoring harvest through creel surveys.

Central district anglers should note that the public access area at year-round Newman Lake in eastern Spokane County will be closed June 3-5 to allow for treatment of the lake with herbicide to control Eurasian milfoil and other aquatic invasive weeds.

Newcomers to fishing have a chance to try out the sport during Free Fishing Weekend, June 7-8. 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 nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by WDFW.  

That weekend, anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

From now through July 20, the WDFW also is offering current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders the opportunity to upgrade to a combination license for under $27. The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, WDFW licensing manager.

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. 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.

Bald eagle in nest
Bald eagle in nest

Wildlife viewing:  This month is the best for viewing young wildlife families. WDFW fish biologist Debbie Milks of Dayton in Columbia County reports a viewable bald eagle nest at the lower end of the Tucannon River, downstream from the Highway 261 bridge. 

“The nest is in a big cottonwood tree located next to the river where the river bends away from the highway,” Milks said. “The nest can be seen from the highway if you have a good eye for spotting nests.”

Milks had not yet spotted hatched eaglets, but encouraged viewers who observe young in the nest to report them and the observation date to WDFW wildlife biologist Gretchen Blatz at 360-902-2484, or local WDFW staff.

“If folks want to see wildlife, wildflowers and some spectacular scenery in the southeast district of the region while it is still relatively cool and green,” said WDFW fish biologist Glen Mendel. “There are lots of places to visit the Grande Ronde River corridor on public lands.”  A new public access map to the Grande Ronde is available online.

WDFW Wooten Wildlife Area manager Kari Dingman recently counted four new bighorn sheep lambs near the ridge above the Tucannon Fish Hatchery. More should be viewable this month.

Dingman noted turkeys, pheasants and quail, along with many songbirds, should be hatching young soon. She also noted the first rattlesnake has been seen on the Tucannon River road.

Rattlesnakes and other, potentially less dangerous, snakes also are active in the other end of the region, reports WDFW assistant district wildlife biologist Annemarie Prince.  She noted that the Western rattlesnake is distinguished by its broad, triangular head that is much wider than its neck, the diamond-shaped pattern along the middle of its back, and the rattles on the tip of its tail. They are most common near their den areas, which are generally in rock crevices exposed to sunshine.

Prince says that because snakes are particularly active and less wary during the breeding season, outdoor recreationists should be on the lookout for them now. If you encounter a rattlesnake, move away. A rattlesnake will only coil into a defensive posture if it cannot escape by crawling away. If you remain too close, the rattlesnake will usually warn you with its distinctive rattle before striking because they want to avoid you as much as you want to avoid them, Prince said.

“Stick to well-used, open trails to avoid surprising a rattlesnake,” Prince said. “In brushy areas, use a walking stick to alert a snake of your approach. Don’t step or put your hands where you cannot see.”

Prince also recommends leaving all wildlife babies where you find them. Deer fawns, and elk and moose calves often are left unattended periodically by their mothers, but they are not abandoned or in need of help.

“The young animals hold tight in the brush until the mother returns to feed them,” Prince explained. “This behavior is natural and the young animal’s coats are designed to camouflage them during this early time in their lives. While it may look abandoned, the adult is not far away. Never approach or remove a young animal from the wild and keep dogs on a leash while in the woods.”

Prince also noted that all house cats should be kept indoors, especially at this time of year. Young birds are extremely vulnerable after fledging from the nest and become easy prey for a roaming house cat.

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

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.

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

Fishing: Some of the best fishing in the region this month is on the Icicle River, where the spring chinook salmon fishery opened May 23.

“There are about 6,000 hatchery chinook predicted to return to the Icicle,” said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) District Fish Biologist Travis Maitland in Wenatchee. “That’s well beyond levels needed to fulfill hatchery broodstock requirements, so there should be a lot of fish available for harvest.”

The Icicle salmon season runs through July 31, with a daily limit of two adipose fin-clipped spring chinook (adult or jack), minimum size 12 inches. All details are in the emergency rule change on WDFW’s website.

Maitland noted there is also a possibility of a spring chinook fishing season on the Wenatchee River. “If we are able to open this fishery, it will be the first since the mid-90s,” he said. “Anglers need to keep checking WDFW’s website for an announcement.”

Aulin Smith, WDFW fish biologist, said fishing on Banks Lake is currently good, especially for bass.

“A lot of smallmouth are up on beds and big largemouth have been found cruising the pencil reeds,” Smith said. “Walleye fishing has been up and down. When there’s wind, there’s a good bite, but it’s slow when there isn't any wind. Trout are being caught around the north end of the lake.”

Smith just released 50,000 kokanee in Banks Lake. He notes that some chinook salmon from a 2012 plant, should still be out there and at about 10 to 12 pounds now.

Perch and crappie are being caught by anglers searching for other fish,” Smith said. “The carp are up in the shallows providing targets for bow fishermen. The lake is down about three feet and providing some good beaches, but remember that water levels can and do change.”

Newcomers to fishing have a chance to try out the sport during Free Fishing Weekend, scheduled June 7-8. 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 nearly 700 water-access sites maintained by WDFW.

Anglers will not need a Two Pole Endorsement to fish with two poles on selected waters where two pole fishing is permitted.

“Free Fishing Weekend is a great time to try fishing in Washington, whether you are new to the sport, thinking about taking it up or looking to introduce a friend or family member to fishing,” said Chris Donley, WDFW inland fish program manager.

One Free Fishing Weekend event will be conducted on June 7 at the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Washington’s first wildlife area.  After a late morning ceremony at Sinlahekin headquarters, at about 2 p.m., WDFW fish and enforcement program staff, along with volunteers from local fishing clubs, will show newcomers to the sport some basic how-to-fish techniques at some of the Sinlahekin’s fishing waters.  More information is available here.  

From now through July 20, WDFW is also offering current freshwater or saltwater fishing license holders the opportunity to upgrade to a combination license for under $27. The upgrade will give those anglers all the fishing privileges of a combination license at the cost they would have paid if they had purchased one in the first place, said Bill Joplin, WDFW licensing manager.

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.

Sinlahekin Wildlife Area 75th Anniversary
Sinlahekin Wildlife Area 75th Anniversary
Mule deer with fawns
Steelhead spawning Beebe Creek

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 is particularly beautiful right now. 

“No better time to celebrate our first wildlife area in the state,” said Okanogan Lands Operations Manager Dale Swedberg, who is helping coordinate the 75th anniversary of the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area with a ceremony on June 7 and a summer-long series of free public field trips and presentations on the area’s fauna, flora, geology, and history.

Washington’s first use of funds from the 1937 Pittman-Robertson Act, which come from a federal excise tax on hunting arms and ammunition, was in 1939 with the purchase of mule deer winter range in the Sinlahekin Valley. Those are the first parcels of what is now the 14,314-acre Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, 15 miles west of the town of Tonasket in northcentral Okanogan County. It was the first of 33 wildlife areas across the state – a milestone worth celebrating, Swedberg said.

A brief late morning ceremony on June 7 at Sinlahekin headquarters includes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and WDFW Director Phil Anderson, and a Northcentral Audubon Society “Big Day” of birding tally. It will be followed by an early afternoon dedication of a hiking trail in memory of former WDFW wildlife biologist and administrator Dave Brittell, who left a legacy of wildlife lands, especially in Okanogan County. A memory sharing session with former residents and WDFW staff, and a Free Fishing Weekend how-to session on Sinlahekin fishing waters, will be conducted later in the afternoon.

The 75th anniversary celebration continues with a six-weekend series of field trips and presentations, starting June 14-15 with experts on native bees, bears, birds, mosses and lichens, mollusks, deer and moose, natural history, geology, and wildflowers. For all details and the full summer schedule, see WDFW’s website.

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.

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 hatchery summer chinook and sockeye on the Columbia River.

Meanwhile, many rivers open for trout fishing Saturday, June 7, and hatchery workers will continue stocking nearly a dozen lakes in Kittitas and Yakima counties. Smallmouth bass and walleye are also warming up to anglers’ lures, and sturgeon fishing is still an option. 

Those who don’t have a fishing license but would like to try fishing will get their chance June 7-8 during Free Fishing Weekend. No fishing license is required to fish state waters open to fishing those two days and no vehicle pass or Discover Pass is required to park at WDFW wildlife areas or water-access sites. However, anglers fishing for salmon, steelhead, or sturgeon are required to have a Catch Record Card, available free of charge from fishing license dealers.

“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 15 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 BNSF 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 3,300 harvestable 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, 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 eight fish, of which up to two may be adult hatchery chinook and up to four may be sockeye.

Fishery managers are anticipating a return of 67,500 summer chinook and a return of 347,100 sockeye to the Columbia River this summer. The Columbia River above the Highway 395 Bridge in Kennewick will open for sockeye this year on June 16. 

“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 have been up and down all spring. The catfishing tends to improve with the higher more turbid flows.

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 on 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 WDFW’s “Fish Washington” link.

Starting June 7, a number of rivers will also open for fishing around the region. Angers should be aware that many of those rivers have reduced catch and size limits for trout, and most large rivers and streams in the Yakima Basin have regulation requiring single-point barbless hooks and no bait. Catch-and-release zones are also in effect for the Yakima River above Roza Dam, sections of the Naches River, and in Rattlesnake Creek.

Always check the fishing rules pamphlet for details on a specific river or stream. The Fishing in Washington Sportfishing Rules guide is available free online and at stores that sell fishing licenses.

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 hunters are now required to report their activities in the field, unless they are planning to hunt turkeys this fall. 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.