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

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August 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 August 21, 2014)

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

Summer fisheries are under way
as hunters begin to take the field

Washingtonians are reeling in chinook and coho salmon off the coast, pulling up pots full of crab in Puget Sound, and casting for trout in alpine lakes on both sides of the Cascades. Summer fisheries are in full swing, providing some of the best fishing opportunities of the year.

Also this month, hunters will take to the field to hunt for black bear in the first big-game hunt of the season. Many others will also be out scouting hunting areas to prepare for deer, elk and cougar seasons beginning in September.

“This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Dave Ware, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) game manager. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to be aware of fire danger and stay hydrated.”

WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. Wildfires have already burned tens of thousands of acres of land in eastern Washington, including portions of some WDFW wildlife areas. 

People recreating outdoors are reminded that a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30 on all DNR-protected lands – including WDFW lands. For more information, check DNR’s website at www.dnr.wa.gov/, as well as the Governor’s website at http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/wildfire/default.aspx.   

Meanwhile, the popular Buoy 10 chinook salmon season runs Aug. 1 through Sept. 1 at the mouth of the Columbia River. A huge run of 1.5 million fall chinook is expected to return to the river this year, with expectations that anglers will catch about 45,000 of them – primarily between Buoy 10 near the mouth of the river and Rocky Point, 16 miles upstream, by Sept. 1.

Anglers fishing at Buoy 10 may also retain marked, hatchery-reared coho salmon or steelhead as part of their daily catch limit.

“All signs point to a spectacular salmon fishery in the Columbia River,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for WDFW.

Thousands of salmon also are moving into Puget Sound, where anglers are reeling in fish throughout the region.

Rather catch shellfish? Crab fishing is open throughout the month in most areas of Puget Sound, the exception being Sub-Area 7 North, which opens for crabbing Aug. 15. See http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/ for all crab-fishing rules.

For a region-by-region description of fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available in August, 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 are reeling in chinook in Puget Sound, where crabbing is still an option and two additional marine areas open for salmon Aug. 1. Others are also having some success at Baker Lake, which opened for sockeye salmon July 10 and remains open through Sept 7.

Salmon projections indicate a solid season right into autumn. Summer and fall chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound are expected to total nearly 283,000 fish.

“Anglers should have a good chance of catching chinook and coho this year,” said Ryan Lothrop, recreational salmon fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Sockeye runs are also impressive, with some 23 million returning to the Fraser River, many swimming past our area.”  

An additional 873,000 Puget Sound coho are expected to return this summer, adds Lothrop, “and they typically start to show up in August.”

Where to start? Marine areas 8-1 (Deception Pass, Hope Island and Skagit Bay) and 8-2 (Port Susan and Port Gardner) open Aug. 1 with a daily limit of two salmon, and a requirement to release chinook. 

Most of marine area 7(San Juan Islands) is open as of August 1. One of the exceptions is Bellingham Bay in the San Juans, which opens August 16, with a daily limit of four salmon, two of which may be chinook.

Also in marine area 7, and marine areas 5 (Sekiu and Pillar Point), and 6 (East Juan de Fuca Strait), anglers can bag an additional two sockeye as the peak run develops early to mid-August. 

Marine areas 9 (Admiralty Inlet) and 10 (Seattle-Bremerton) remain open to salmon fishing in August. In Marine Area 9, salmon fishing opens Aug. 31 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point.

For more detail on these fisheries, please consult rules and restrictions outlined in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet.

“Fishing with two poles is a great way to have two lures in the water in order to try different techniques and depths to see what works,” said Lothrop. The Sinclair Inlet in Marine Area 10 and the Tulalip Bubble in Marine Area 8-2 are two of the many areas in the state that allow two pole fishing with purchase of a two-pole endorsement.  

The Puget Sound crab fishery is also under way in most marine areas. The exception is the northern portion (Gulf of Georgia) of Marine Area 7, which opens for crab Aug. 15. All marine areas of Puget Sound will be open for crabbing Thursday through Monday of each week except in Marine Area 13, where crabbing is allowed seven days a week. Additionally, opportunities to harvest spot shrimp continue in Marine Area 6 (outside of the Discovery Bay Shrimp District) and Marine Area 7 West seven days a week through Sept. 15, so long as sufficient quota remains. A portion of Marine area 7 South is also open for spot shrimp through August 3 as detailed in this rule change.

Information on the rules, including catch limits and how to properly record and report catch information is available on WDFW’s crab fishing webpage and recreational shrimp fishing webpage.

If you want to try two-pole angling in freshwater, anglers fishing Baker Lake can practice two pole fishing with purchase of the endorsement. At Baker, anglers are allowed to retain up to three adult sockeye that exceed 18 inches in length from the log boom barrier at Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the upper Baker River. All other salmon, as well as bull trout, must be released.

Fishing for trout and salmon also opens on the Samish River Aug. 1. The department reminds anglers to avoid snagging fish, avoid trespassing, and keep the river and banks clean. Only fish hooked inside the mouth may be retained. Details on fishing the Samish River are available on page 25 of the Fish Washington pamphlet.

Though many anglers focus on burgeoning opportunities for salmon in mid-to-late summer, August is also a great time to pursue yellow perch, bass, bluegill and catfish in lowland lakes.

“With warmer water temperatures, anglers should seek deepwater structure such as ledges and weed lines to find warmwater species during the heat of the day,” says Danny Garrett, WDFW lead warmwater fisheries biologist. “In clearer lakes, such as Lake Washington, start your search for perch and bass in 15 to 20 feet of water. In shallower lakes with stained water, such as Lake Cassidy, look for fish along the weed edge in five to 10 feet of water.”

Yellow perch is a species that will bite throughout the day, so perch fishing is a great way to introduce kids to the sport.

Though many trout fisheries have slowed with rising water temperatures, anglers in pursuit of trout or kokanee are still finding bountiful harvests in deeper Puget Sound lowland waters. 

“Try trolling for these fishes below the thermocline with common gear such as wedding rings, woolly buggers, hoochies, and even bare hooks baited with shoepeg corn behind a dodger--usually 12 to 30 inches--at slow speeds,” says WDFW biologist, Justin Spinelli. “Remember that kokanee, in particular, migrate vertically in the water column as they pursue invertebrates so try various depths until you find the schools.”

To find out more about fishing for these and other species in Washington, visit the Fish Washington website.

With the great variety of fishing available, summer is a terrific time to take a fishing vacation with friends and family. The fish are waiting, along with many other attractions and accommodations that make for unforgettable vacations. WDFW makes planning easy with its "Great Washington Getaways" web feature.

Hunting: The general hunting season for black bear opens Aug. 1 in most of the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

As described on page 64 of the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet, successful black bear hunters must submit a bear tooth to WDFW for age data collection and report their hunting activity over the phone (1-877-945-3492) or on-line. Successful bear hunters who report their harvest are entered in a drawing for special hunting permits.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar in September. “This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to be aware of fire danger and stay hydrated.”

Check the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules pamphlet for more information on all these hunts.

Wildlife viewing: Now's a good time to head to the Ballard Locks to check out salmon passing the fish ladder viewing windows. Several hundred sockeye pass through the fish ladder daily, and chinook numbers typically start peaking in the third week of August. The Ballard Locks are located in northwest Seattle where the Lake Washington Ship Canal enters Shilshole Bay and Puget Sound. For information, call the locks' Visitor Center in Seattle at (206) 783-7059.

Also, Eastside Audubon in Kirkland is offering field trips and birding walks throughout the month of August. Check their website for dates, times and locations. Additionally, Eastside Audubon has assembled a helpful list of birding outings perfect for summer excursions.

Fire precautions: WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. A Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under its jurisdiction – including WDFW lands. For more information, see DNR burn ban.

East of the Cascade Range, WDFW has prohibited the following activities on lands the department owns or manages:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted at trailheads; within designated parking areas; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. WDFW has also adopted regulations for specific state lands, such as the Wenas Wildlife Area near Ellensburg, where target shooting is prohibited until Oct. 1. 

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

Fishing: There are plenty of fishing opportunities in the region in August with salmon, halibut, kokanee and crab seasons open.

This year has been a good one for salmon fishing in Washington’s ocean waters and August should be no exception, said Doug Milward, ocean salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

Anglers are limited to two salmon daily in all four marine areas but can keep only one chinook as part of that total in marine area 1 (Ilwaco). Wild coho salmon must be released in all four areas.

Coho fishing was a little slow last month in marine areas 3 (La Push) and 4 (Neah Bay) but chinook fishing has been excellent up and down the coast, Milward said.

“The chinook are hanging out about 20 miles off the coast,” he said. “If you go out there, you’ll find them.”

Some anglers are heading out even farther – about 30 miles – to catch albacore tuna before or after catching chinook off the coast. August is a prime month for tuna fishing in Washington’s coastal waters.

Salmon fishing also continues in August in Puget Sound. Anglers fishing along the Strait of Juan de Fuca (marine areas 5 and 6) can retain two sockeye in addition to their daily catch. After Aug. 16, however, they can no longer retain chinook.

Coho tend to show up in Puget Sound waters around mid-August, said Ryan Lothrop, WDFW Puget Sound recreational salmon fishery manager  On Aug. 16, Quilcene and Dabob bays in marine Area 12 (Hood Canal) open for coho fishing only. In Marine Area 9, salmon fishing opens Aug. 31 south of a line from Foulweather Bluff to Olele Point.

Salmon fishing opens Aug. 1 on the Skokomish River. Night closures are in effect. From the Highway 106 bridge to the Highway 101 bridge, the river is closed to salmon fishing Monday through Thursday each week, Aug. 4 through Aug. 21.

Catch limits and retention in Washington’s waters vary by time and location, so anglers should check the Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet and emergency rule website before heading out.

Halibut fishing will continue in August along the mouth of the Columbia River (Marine Area 1). Anglers can hook a halibut any day of the week between the all-depth fishery, open Thursday through Sunday, and the new nearshore fishery, open Monday through Wednesday.

More information on the halibut fishery can be found on WDFW's recreational ocean halibut webpage. Anglers can keep bottomfish while having halibut onboard in the nearshore fishery on the days it's open, said Heather Reed, WDFW coastal policy coordinator. Both the nearshore and the all-depth fishery have a one-halibut daily catch limit.

Meanwhile, American Lake is having its best kokanee season in the last 15 to 20 years, said Larry Phillips, district fish biologist. Anglers fishing there have caught kokanee between 16 and 18 inches. “It’s pretty impressive,” Phillips said.

Summit Lake hasn’t been as good for kokanee fishing this year as it was last season, he said. With warmer-than-average temperatures, however, anglers have been successful at catching kokanee when fishing in deeper water at Summit Lake.

Phillips also recommended Ward Lake, where angers have been catching 12 to13-inch kokanee. Lastly, anglers looking for the biggest bag limit should head to Alder Reservoir, where they can keep 10 kokanee in addition to five trout daily.

Crab fishers in the region have one more month – through Sept. 1 – to fill their crab pots in the region. Crabbing is open Thursdays through Mondays in Marine areas 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12 and daily in area 13.

The daily limit for crab fishers throughout Puget Sound is five Dungeness crab, males only, in hard-shell condition with a minimum carapace width of 6¼ inches. Fishers may catch six red rock crab of either sex per day, provided those crab measure at least 5 inches across. WDFW’s recreational crabbing webpage has additional information on regulations and on reporting crab catches.

With the great variety of fishing available, summer is a terrific time to take a fishing vacation with friends and family. The fish are waiting, along with many other attractions and accommodations that make for unforgettable vacations. WDFW makes planning easy with its "Great Washington Getaways" web feature.

Hunting: General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the Coastal and East Cascades zones, and Aug. 15 in the South Cascades zone, as shown on Page 64 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar beginning in September. “This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to be aware of fire danger and stay hydrated.”

Meanwhile, hunters have until Aug. 13 at midnight to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-26), muzzleloaders (Sept. 27-Oct. 5) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 11-19). See the news release on WDFW’s website for more information.

Want to know if you’ve been selected for one of Washington’s coveted 2014 raffle hunts? Results will be available by Aug. 1 online, and winners will also be notified. 

Wildlife viewing: Wildlife-viewing opportunities abound in the month of August. Look for migratory shorebirds along the coast or head to the rainforest to find Roosevelt elk.

A popular attraction in late-August and September is the return of hatchery chinook salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia as they begin their annual spawning run. Onlookers can watch thousands of fish gather below the Fifth Avenue Bridge in downtown Olympia before they enter Capitol Lake and move up the fish ladders to the Tumwater Falls Hatchery.

Admission is free Aug. 25 to all of Washington’s state parks in honor of the National Parks Service birthday. More information can be found on the Washington State Parks website.

The Olympia-Thurston County Stream Team is hosting “Marine Creature Mondays” through Aug. 25. Biologists will talk about marine creatures and their habitat during these twice daily sessions that last about 75 minutes.  The sessions take place at Boston Harbor Marina. Visit the steam team’s online calendar for details.

The organization offers another educational opportunity Aug. 12 when a WDFW biologist leads a discussion of marine fauna at Priest Point Park. More information is available on the stream team’s website.

Fire precautions:  WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. A Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under its jurisdiction – including WDFW lands. For more information, see DNR burn ban.

East of the Cascade Range, WDFW has prohibited the following activities on lands the department owns or manages:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted at trailheads; within designated parking areas; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. WDFW has also adopted regulations for specific state lands, such as the Wenas Wildlife Area near Ellensburg, where target shooting is prohibited until Oct. 1. 

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

Fishing: This year’s fall chinook fishery opens Aug. 1 on the Columbia River amid huge expectations. Based on current projections, 1.5 million fall chinook salmon will return to the river in the next few months – the highest number since at least 1938. Coho salmon are also expected to return in numbers well above the 10-year average.

“All signs point to a spectacular salmon fishery in the Columbia River,” said Joe Hymer, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “We’ve already seen the impact of these runs off the coast and they’re heading right this way.”

“Upriver brights,” known for their hard-hitting ways, are expected to make up 973,300 of the fall chinook returning this year, Hymer said.

Although the opener for fall chinook will extend upriver as far as Priest Rapids Dam, most of the action during the first few weeks focuses on the popular Buoy 10 fishery in the lower 16 miles of the river. Fishery managers estimate that anglers will catch nearly 45,700 chinook salmon in those waters by the end of the day Sept. 1, when the Buoy 10 retention fishery for chinook is scheduled close for the remainder of September.

Anglers are also expected to catch 56,500 coho in that area by the time that fishery closes at the end of the year. To increase the harvest of hatchery fish, the daily limit will increase to 3 adult coho Sept. 2-30.

Through Labor Day, the daily catch limit for the Buoy 10 fishery is two salmon, two hatchery steelhead, or one of each. Only one of those salmon may be a chinook. Anglers can keep any legal-size chinook – marked or unmarked – through Aug. 29.

However, only chinook salmon with a clipped adipose or left ventral fin may be retained Aug. 30 through Sept.1. For steelhead and coho, only fish marked with a clipped adipose fin and a healed scar may be retained.

Barbless hooks are required when fishing for salmon and steelhead on the mainstem Columbia River and many of its tributaries.

Additional rules for the Buoy 10 area and waters farther upriver are described in WDFW’s Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet. In particular, boat anglers should be aware of Oregon’s new sport fishing closure at the mouth of Young’s Bay that runs from Aug.1 through Sept.15. (See map)

For the latest creel-sampling results, check out WDFW’s website, which also includes information from previous years to help plan your trip to Buoy 10. Anglers may also want to take advantage of the newly improved state boat ramp at Deep River.  A WDFW Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass is required. 

Bank anglers planning to fish near the mouth of the Columbia River should be aware they will need to purchase a Discover Pass to park on State Parks property near the North Jetty. The vehicle-access pass anglers receive with their fishing license only substitutes for a Discover Pass on WDFW lands.

Anglers are also advised that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to close access to the North Jetty in October for repairs.

But by mid-to-late August, the bulk of the chinook run usually begins to move upstream with increasing numbers of coho moving in behind them. There, anglers will find new rules approved by WDFW this year to increase opportunities to catch abundant chinook salmon starting Aug. 1:

  • Anglers may retain up to 2 adult chinook per day from the Warrior Rock line upriver to the Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal. (See map)
     
  • The daily catch limit is increased to 3 adult fall chinook from the Steamboat Landing Dock in Washougal upstream to the Hwy. 395 Bridge in Pasco. (See map)
  • Each angler aboard a vessel may deploy recreational salmon/steelhead gear until the daily salmonid limit for all anglers aboard has been achieved while fishing from Buoy 10 upstream to the Oregon/Washington border, 17 miles upriver from McNary Dam.

“Anglers will have an opportunity to catch a lot of nice fish in those areas if the fall chinook run even comes near to reaching projected levels,” Hymer said.

For anglers following upriver brights upstream, Hymer recommends fishing deep, between 40 and 60 feet down. For a lure, he suggests wobblers anchored with a heavy weight.

“Chinook go deep when water temperatures are high, so that’s a good place to find them,” Hymer said. “At the same time, anglers should take care not to drop anchor in the shipping channel. That can lead to real trouble.”

Hatchery coho are also expected to make a strong showing, after several years of sub-average returns. WDFW currently anticipates a return of about 638,300 coho this year – half again as high as the 10-year average. Hymer said coho salmon usually bite best at Buoy 10 on herring and spinners, and later on bait and lures in the tributaries.

Hatchery steelhead will also be available to round out the catch, said Hymer, noting that the smaller “A-run” fish should keep biting through mid-August. By then, the larger “B-run” steelhead – many weighing in the teens – will start arriving to pick up the slack. Together, returns of both runs are expected to total 281,000 fish at Bonneville Dam, about 90 percent of the recent 10-year average.

The procession of fall chinook, coho and hatchery steelhead should also provide good fishing on area tributaries for months to come, Hymer said. Like the mainstem Columbia River, most tributaries open for fall chinook Aug. 1, although those fisheries usually don’t take off until September. For steelhead, Drano Lake and the Wind River are popular spots to cast for migrating fish dipping into cooler waters.

The White Salmon River has historically been another productive dip-in fishery, but how the fish will respond after Condit Dam was breeched in late 2011 remains to be seen.

As in previous years, anglers will be allowed to retain up to six adult hatchery coho on all tributaries to the lower Columbia River with hatchery programs. Those rivers include the Cowlitz, Deep, Elochoman, Grays (including West Fork), Kalama, Klickitat, Lewis (including North Fork), Toutle (including Green and North Fork) and Washougal.

Unlike the mainstem Columbia River, chinook retention is limited to marked hatchery fish on those river systems, except on the Klickitat and Deep rivers where unmarked chinook can also be retained. Mark-selective fisheries also will be in effect on the Wind and White Salmon rivers.

Any fall chinook and coho may be retained at Drano Lake beginning Aug. 1 and any chinook on the North Fork Lewis River beginning in October.  At Drano Lake and the Klickitat River, up to 3 adult fall chinook may be kept as part of the extended salmon and steelhead combined daily limits. Starting Aug. 22, anglers fishing the Cowlitz River may also catch and keep up to 3 hatchery steelhead per day. Anglers are advised to check the Fishing in Washington rules pamphlet and any emergency rules applicable to specific waters before leaving home.

Of course, salmon and steelhead aren’t the only fish available for harvest in August. Walleye fishing can be good in the Columbia River near Camas, as well as in The Dalles and John Day Pools. Bass fishing is also heating up from Bonneville Dam to McNary Dam.

For trout, the high lakes in the southern Cascades offer unparalleled fishing experiences for those willing to brave the mosquitoes. Wilderness areas south of Mount  Rainier and around Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens are now accessible with the snowmelt. There are over a hundred lakes to explore with many different kinds of trout throughout these mountains.

A couple of drive-up lakes primed for fishing are Council and Takhlakh Lake on the northwest side of Mount Adams. Council was stocked June 24 with 3,317 rainbow catchable trout weighing almost a half-a-pound each. Takhlakh was also planted in late June with 3,325 catchables, along with 160 rainbows weighing almost 3.5 pounds each.

Hunting: General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the Coastal and East Cascades zones, and Aug. 15 in the South Cascades zone, as shown on Page 64 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar beginning in September. “This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to be aware of fire danger and stay hydrated.”

Meanwhile, hunters have until Aug. 13 at midnight to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-26), muzzleloaders (Sept. 27-Oct. 5) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 11-19). See the news release on WDFW’s website for more information.

Want to know if you’ve been selected for one of Washington’s coveted 2014 raffle hunts? Results will be available by Aug. 1 online, and winners will also be notified.  

Wildlife viewing:  Summer is far from over, but shorebirds are anticipating the season’s change. Tens of thousands of them – sandpipers, yellowlegs, dowitchers and other species – are already flocking to Washington’s coastal areas en route from their Arctic breeding grounds to points south. Clouds of shorebirds, especially sandpipers, can now be seen from Ilwaco to Ocean Shores.

Unlike their spring migration, shorebirds’ flight south is a disorderly affair. Adults often leave the Arctic before their chicks are fledged and join flocks departing at different times. They also travel at a more leisurely pace, departing anytime from July to October. Rare birds, such as off-course Asian shorebirds, are more likely to join the others in their southward flight than on their trip north.

Fire precautions: WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. A Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under its jurisdiction – including WDFW lands. For more information, see DNR burn ban.

East of the Cascade Range, WDFW has prohibited the following activities on lands the department owns or manages:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted at trailheads; within designated parking areas; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state.

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

Fishing:  This is the time of year to fish early in the morning or late in the evening when both air and water temperatures may be lower. 

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Northeast District Fish Biologist Bill Baker says kokanee fishing should be productive in August at Loon Lake in southern Stevens County. “Most anglers there are fishing during the nighttime hours with glow hooks and other gear,” he said. “But trolling with downriggers during day-time hours should also be good.”

Baker notes that kokanee can also be had in a few other northeast district waters including Bead, Sullivan, and Davis lakes in Pend Oreille County and Pierre and Deep lakes in Stevens County. 

“I’ve also heard anglers are catching some kokanee in the lower portion of Lake Roosevelt,” Baker said.  “Walleye fishing has been pretty good, but fish are scattered now that Lake Roosevelt is at full pool, so anglers will have to cover more water to find them.”

Baker suggests fishing for trout (rainbow, cutthroat, brook and tiger) in higher elevation lakes on U.S.Forest Service property.  Davis, Ellen, Empire, and Ferry lakes are good bets in Ferry County.  In Stevens County, Black, Little Twin, and Summit lakes should be good producers.  In Pend Oreille County, anglers should fare well at Carl’s, Frater, Halfmoon, Mystic, North and South Skookum, Petit, and Yokum lakes.

Randy Osborne, WDFW central district fish biologist in Spokane, says mixed species waters are a good bet. Catches of yellow perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and crappie, along with some trout, can usually be made at Coffeepot Lake in Lincoln County, Downs Lakes in southwest Spokane County, Newman, Silver, and Liberty lakes in eastern Spokane County, Eloika Lake in north Spokane County, and the Spokane River reservoir of Long Lake (or Lake Spokane). Anglers are also doing well on both rainbows and largemouth bass at Sprague Lake.

Osborne says some of the best rainbow and cutthroat trout lakes close to Spokane are Amber, Clear, Williams, and West Medical lakes in Spokane County, and Fishtrap Lake in Lincoln County. The lower Spokane River has nice rainbows and browns, but river anglers need to be aware of catch limits, gear restrictions, and other rules listed in the fishing pamphlet.

Steelhead numbers are increasing this month at the Snake River dams. Although the best Snake River steelheading will be this fall, anglers can retain up to three hatchery-marked steelhead daily now. 

Anglers should note that there could be another Snake River fall chinook salmon fishery scheduled in the coming weeks. Anglers should keep checking the department’s website for an announcement.

Hunting:  General season fall black bear hunting opens in a few game management units (GMUs) in the region in August.  GMUs 133, 136, 139 and 142 in Lincoln and Whitman counties, as part of the Columbia Basin zone, open Aug. 1 and GMUs 124-130 in Spokane County, as the Northeastern B zone, open Aug. 15.  The rest of the region opens Sept. 1 for black bear hunting.  (See details in the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.)

Bear hunters will share the field with others now scouting for early-season archery or muzzleloader deer or elk hunts that open in early September.

Whether scouting or hunting, remember that conditions are extremely dry and a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban, including all campfires, is in effect on all forest lands under its jurisdiction (including WDFW lands). For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the DNR website, the U.S. Forest Service website or the state Incident Information System website.

Wildlife viewing: It’s huckleberry and other wild fruit picking time – a good excuse to beat summertime heat at higher elevations and see some wildlife at the same time. But be alert and prepared for encountering black bears after the same goodies.

WDFW regional field staff advise berry picking in groups, not alone, and making your presence known to possible bears in a berry patch by talking or singing. Most bears will leave berry-pickers alone, if given the chance.

If camping in bear country, keep a clean camp to avoid drawing bears with their incredible sense of smell and seemingly insatiable appetites. Put garbage in wildlife-resistant trash containers, store food in in a motor vehicle trunk or in wildlife-resistant food lockers, or hang from a tree branch at least 10 feet high and four feet out from the trunk. Never store food in your tent, and sleep at least 100 yards from your cooking area and food storage site. More information about safe recreating in bear country is on WDFW’s website.

Mountain hikers this month might catch glimpses of bighorn sheep ewes with lambs, family groups of pikas or marmots, or broods of white-tailed ptarmigan or gray-crowned rosy finches. Lake or river recreationists are likely to encounter waterfowl families on the water, from hen mallards paddling around with a string of ducklings to Canada goose pairs with their goslings in tow.

WDFW wildlife biologist Woody Myers said that moose wandering into suburban or urban areas at this time of year usually are yearling animals whose mothers, with newborn calves in tow, have pushed them out on their own. Other adult moose may be seeking water sources during this dry time of year, and lawn sprinkler systems and backyard pools can draw them in. Myers advises steering clear of any moose, and especially confining dogs, which moose may see as predators to challenge.  Most moose will move on without intervention. Those that don’t move on may need to be reported to the WDFW Eastern Region office in Spokane Valley at 509-892-1001.

Wherever wildlife viewing is enjoyed this month, remember that conditions are extremely dry and a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban, including all campfires, is in effect on all forest lands under its jurisdiction (including WDFW lands). For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the DNR website, the U.S. Forest Service website or the state Incident Information System website.

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

Fishing:  The upper Columbia River has been producing great sockeye salmon fishing this summer, especially near Brewster and the mouth of the Okanogan River. A record 600,000 fish run is expected, according to WDFW Northcentral Region Fish Manager Jeff Korth. About 280,000 of those fish are expected to cross Wells Dam and 65,000 are expected to reach the Wenatchee River. 

The Wenatchee River hatchery summer chinook salmon fishery opens Aug. 1. The fishery will be open from the mouth to the Icicle River Road Bridge (Hwy. 2 at Leavenworth) through Sept. 30. Check both the rules pamphlet and the fishing rule change for more information on the fishery.

Chelan County’s Lake Wenatchee will be open for sockeye salmon fishing through Labor Day (Sept. 1). At least 65,000 total sockeye are projected to be destined for Lake Wenatchee. This provides an estimated 42,000 sockeye to be available for harvest above the natural spawning escapement goal of 23,000 fish. The daily limit per angler is six sockeye, 12 inches in length or greater. Check the status of the fishery by calling the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or by visiting WDFW’s website.

Earlier last month Lake Osoyoos on the U.S.-Canada border in Okanogan County opened for retention of adult sockeye salmon through mid-October. Sockeye returns above Zosel Dam are predicted to be in excess of needs for wild fish escapement to the spawning grounds. The daily limit is six sockeye salmon (minimum size 12 inches). All sockeye with a colored anchor (floy) tag attached, and all other salmon, must be released. Through the end of August, anglers may fish with two poles with a Two-Pole endorsement.

Salmon daily retention limits were increased to eight, including up to six adult sockeye salmon, in the mainstem Columbia River above Hwy. 395 Bridge at Pasco. See all the details here.

Catch-and-release trout fishing in the Methow River is usually good this month. Selective gear rules are in effect and no bait is allowed. The open area of the Methow extends from the Lower Burma Road Bridge (below the town of Methow) upstream to the Weeman Bridge (eight miles north of Winthrop). 

Some sections of the Twisp and Chewuch rivers are open to catch-and-release trout fishing through the middle of the month. The Twisp is open from the mouth upstream to War Creek, and the Chewuch is open from the mouth upstream to Eight Mile Creek. Anglers can usually expect resident rainbow and cutthroat trout in the 8- to 16-inch range, along with whitefish up to 18 inches.

August is a good time to fish the smaller tributaries within the Methow River drainage as river and small creek flows recede. Boulder, Falls, and Eightmile creeks are all within easy driving distance from Winthrop and provide good fishing for eastern brook trout. Daily limit is five brook trout in Falls and Eightmile Creeks, no minimum size and bait is allowed.  In Boulder Creek the daily limit for brook trout is 10, no minimum size and bait is allowed.  In the Beaver Creek drainage, anglers can retain five brook trout, no minimum size, selective gear rules are in effect, and no bait allowed.

Hunting:  General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the East Cascades and Columbia Basin zones, and Aug. 15 in the Okanogan zone. (See details in the Big Game Hunting pamphlet.)

Bear hunters will share the field with others now scouting for early-season archery or muzzleloader deer or elk hunts that open in early September.

Whether scouting or hunting, remember that conditions are extremely dry and a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban, including all campfires, is in effect on all forest lands under its jurisdiction (including WDFW lands). For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the DNR website, the U.S. Forest Service website or the state Incident Information System website.

More than 24,000 acres of land managed by WDFW has burned this summer in the wildfires in eastern Washington. Six wildlife area units, including Indian Dan and Pateros (both near the town of Pateros), Texas Creek (south of Carlton), Chiliwist (northwest of Malott), Methow (near Winthrop) and Swakane (north of Wenatchee), were scorched to varying degrees. Fires are still burning at or near some of the units. WDFW is beginning to assess the conditions at each of those wildlife area units to determine available access as well as damage to wildlife and habitat. Contact each wildlife area for the latest information.

Hunters have until Aug. 13 at midnight to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-26), muzzleloaders (Sept. 27-Oct. 5) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 11-19). See the news release on WDFW’s website for more information.

Wildlife viewing:  With typically hot weather, this is a good month to head for the hills to view wildlife at higher elevations where it’s cooler in the region.  

Look for mountain goats, bighorn sheep, hoary marmots, pikas, golden-mantled ground squirrels, ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches and lots of other species. Good viewing sites in the western portion of Okanogan County are along roads and trails in the Harts Pass, Washington Pass, Cutthroat Lake/Pass areas, as well as along the Pacific Crest Trail in between these sites. There’s also lots of viewing opportunities in the higher elevations of the Chelan-Sawtooth and Pasayten Wilderness areas.

The 75th anniversary of Washington’s first wildlife area – the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in northcentral Okanogan County – continues with another weekend of free public field trips and presentations in the “Explore the Sinlahekin – Past and Present” series.

The schedule for Saturday, Aug. 23, and Sunday, Aug. 24, includes WDFW Okanogan district wildlife biologist  Scott Fitkin discussing snakes and other reptiles and amphibians; North Seattle Community College geologist John Figge on the area’s geologic history; WDFW prescribed burn program manager Dale Swedberg and WDFW fire manager Tom Leuschen, along with retired U.S. Forest Service manager Richard Schellhaas, on wildfire history and prescribed burn management; and Friends of the Okanogan Lobe (FOOLs) geologists Don Hruska and Gary Mundinger on Sinlahekin geology. 

All sessions start at Sinlahekin headquarters, south of Loomis. See the complete schedule and all details on WDFW’s website.

Wherever wildlife viewing is enjoyed this month, remember that conditions are extremely dry and a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban, including all campfires, is in effect on all forest lands under its jurisdiction (including WDFW lands). For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the DNR website, the U.S. Forest Service website or the state Incident Information System website.

More than 24,000 acres of land managed by WDFW has burned this summer in the wildfires in eastern Washington. Six wildlife area units, including Indian Dan and Pateros (both near the town of Pateros), Texas Creek (south of Carlton), Chiliwist (northwest of Malott), Methow (near Winthrop) and Swakane (north of Wenatchee), were scorched to varying degrees. Fires are still burning at or near some of the units. WDFW is beginning to assess the conditions at each of those wildlife area units to determine available access as well as damage to wildlife and habitat. Contact each wildlife area for the latest information.

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

Fishing:  Walleye fishing is going strong, summer steelhead are still moving into the area and a record-breaking run of fall chinook salmon is expected to come in right behind them. These and other highlights – including stocked and naturally reproducing trout in the high lakes – should make August a great month to go fishing.

Walleye fishing on the Columbia and Snake rivers has been excellent this summer and is expected to remain strong throughout August. Paul Hoffarth, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), said the best catches have come from Lake Umatilla, the section of the Columbia River stretching 67 miles between John Day and McNary Dams. Angling upstream of McNary for the toothy warmwater fish has also been good.

Walleye are also numerous and active during August on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia and on the lower portions of the Snake River, especially below Ice Harbor Dam. Most anglers use diving plugs, jigs, blade baits, or ‘crawler harnesses to catch them.

“Walleye really tie on the feedbag when the water heats up, so we can expect to see some more great fishing in the weeks ahead,” Hoffarth said.

Hoffarth reminds anglers that there is no minimum size limit and no limit on the number of walleye you can keep upstream of the Washington-Oregon border (17 miles upstream of McNary Dam). Below the state line (downstream), there is a daily limit of 10 fish, only five of which can measure over 18 inches and only one of which can be over 24 inches.

Anglers are also boating smallmouth bass, often on the same trip. In August, smallmouth swim deep, but the fishing can be good for those in-the-know. Trolling with deep-diving plugs and fine-diameter braided lines 150 to 200 feet behind the boat allows anglers to get their plugs down to the fish. Smallmouth usually run even deeper than walleye during the burning heat and gentle flows of summer. As with walleye, retention limits for smallmouth bass vary above and below the state line.

Sturgeon are also biting on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, but July 31 was the last day for retention fishing on Lake Wallula and the Snake River below Ice Harbor Dam.  Lake Umatilla switched to catch-and-release-only on June 13. Sturgeon sanctuaries, located below many of the dams, reopen to catch-and-release fishing Aug. 1. 

Rather catch hatchery steelhead? Fishery managers are projecting a strong run of 281,000 summer-run steelhead, many bound for the Snake River and mid-to-upper Columbia River. As in past years, anglers may retain only hatchery steelhead identified by a missing adipose fin and a healed scar near their tail.

Areas of the Columbia River below the Highway 395 Bridge have been open to fishing for hatchery steelhead since mid-June, and the Snake River fishery is set to open Sept. 1. Hoffarth noted that WDFW expects to open sections of the Columbia River above the 395 Bridge in October and recommends that anglers watch for announcements on the WDFW website in case they open early this year.

Steelhead fishing in southcentral Washington can be tough during summer months due to sunny conditions and high water temperatures, even when large numbers of fish are moving upriver. However, fishing very early in the morning or from dusk into darkness increases the odds of hooking up with these temperature-sensitive fish, Hoffarth said.  

Odds of catching salmon should pick up dramatically later this month, when a huge run of fall chinook moves into the area. Fishery managers are expecting a record-breaking run of 1.6 million “falls” to return to the Columbia this year, including 300,000 upriver brights that will be heading for the Hanford Reach. 

While salmon fishing has been hot above Rocky Reach Dam since mid-July, fishing doesn’t really catch fire below Priest Rapids Dam until fall chinook arrive in late August and September, Hoffarth said.

“Most of the summer chinook and sockeye just sail right through Priest Rapids Dam,” he said. “But with a strong run of falls expected this year, salmon fishing in the Hanford Reach should pick up in late August.”

Starting Aug. 1, the daily limit increases to 3 adult salmon in the Columbia River upstream to Priest Rapids Dam.  Above the dam, the fishery opens Aug 30 upriver to Wanapum Dam to coincide with Labor Day weekend.

Downstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco, anglers may only retain up to 2 adult coho, or 2 adult hatchery steelhead, or 1 of each. The river above the Highway 395 Bridge is closed to fishing for steelhead until October.

Additional rules are posted on WDFW’s website. Given the large expected return of fall chinook to the Hanford Reach, Hoffarth said the regulations will likely be modified as these fish begin moving from the ocean into the Columbia River.

Eric Anderson, a WDFW fish biologist stationed in Yakima, noted that a record return of fall chinook is also projected for the Yakima River. Salmon fishing will open Sept. 1 for fall chinook and coho in the lower river below Prosser Dam. 

Meanwhile, water levels have dropped in streams flowing into the upper Yakima and Naches rivers, improving fishing conditions for wild rainbow and cutthroat trout, Anderson said. Anglers should be sure to check the regulations for those streams, and carefully release all salmon, bull trout, and steelhead, he said.

Another option is heading to the high lakes around White Pass, Chinook Pass and Snoqualmie Pass, which are now accessible to trout fishing. WDFW stocks many small, hike-in lakes with rainbow or cutthroat trout fry, and some also have naturally reproducing eastern brook trout populations.

Anderson suggests that anglers focus on lakes that have been stocked two or more years ago, during which time those fish have grown to a nice size. Information on which high lakes have been stocked in southcentral Washington (Yakima & Kittitas Counties) can be found on the WDFW website.

“Good fishing is now available for planted trout at Clear and Dog lakes in the White Pass area and for planted trout at Cooper Lake in the Snoqualmie Pass area,” Anderson said. “Kokanee fishing has also picked up with kokanee averaging over nine inches at Rimrock Lake off Highway 12.”

The fish are deep, but can be found all over the lake, Anderson said. “Trolling very slowly with pop gear (gang trolls) or dodgers, followed by a wedding ring spinner baited with maggots or tuna-scented shoe-peg corn is very effective,“ he said. “Kokanee are also available at Kachess and Keechelus Lakes off Highway 90, and fishing is good for both kokanee and cutthroat at Bumping Lake off Highway 410.”

At Cle Elum Lake, the daily combined trout and kokanee limit has been reduced to five fish in an effort to protect rebounding stocks of sockeye salmon. Juvenile sockeye remain in the lake for two or more years before migrating to sea and are nearly indistinguishable from kokanee, so reducing the kokanee bag limit reduces impacts on sensitive sockeye smolts, Anderson said.

There is a minimum size limit of 9 inches and a maximum size limit of 15 inches for retention of kokanee in Cle Elum and Cooper Lakes.

“All waters in southcentral Washington are closed to the taking of bull trout, so anglers need to release any bull trout they intercept,” Anderson said. He also reminds hikers and anglers that they should check trail conditions before heading out. Information about current trail conditions is available from the U.S. Forest Service office in Naches and the Forest Ranger office in Cle Elum.

Hunting: General hunting seasons for black bear open Aug. 1 in the East Cascades zone, as shown on Page 64 of the Big Game Hunting pamphlet. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington. Hunters are urged to avoid shooting sows with cubs.

Bear hunters will share the field with other big-game hunters scouting early-season hunts for deer, elk and cougar beginning in September. “This is a good time to locate game animals and get the lay of the land, particularly if you’re planning to hunt a new area,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “But it can get hot out there in August, so it’s important to be aware of fire danger and stay hydrated.”

Meanwhile, hunters have until Aug. 13 at midnight to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County. Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing to participate in the “limited-entry” deer hunt for bow hunters (Sept. 1-26), muzzleloaders (Sept. 27-Oct. 5) and hunters using modern firearms (Oct. 11-19). See the news release on WDFW’s website for more information.

Want to know if you’ve been selected for one of Washington’s coveted 2014 raffle hunts? Results will be available by Aug. 1 online, and winners will also be notified.  

Watchable wildlife:  Now is the time to see birds that migrate in early fall congregate and feed on insects throughout the region. In the high country of the South Cascades, hikers can often catch glimpses of everything from mountain bluebirds to mountain goats.

Around White Pass, check out Dog Lake and the surrounding forests and meadows for ring-necked ducks, Barrow’s goldeneye, osprey, red-naped and Williamson’s sapsuckers and pine siskin. Listen for barred owls in the dense forests behind nearby Leech Lake.

At Chinook Pass, look for whistling hoary marmots and browsing mule deer. Scan the peaks for mountain goats, and watch for blue grouse, gray jay, mountain chickadee and a variety of other birds.

Wildlife viewers are reminded to be extra careful with anything that could start wildfires in the region’s hot and dry conditions. Outing plans should include a check on campfire restrictions on public lands. For current wildfire information, see the websites maintained by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Fire alert: WDFW land managers are urging everyone planning to spend time outdoors this month to take care not to spark a wildfire. A Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) burn ban is in effect through Sept. 30 on all forest lands under its jurisdiction – including WDFW lands. For more information, see DNR burn ban.

East of the Cascade Range, WDFW has prohibited the following activities on lands the department owns or manages:

  • Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.
  • Welding and the use of chainsaws.
  • Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted at trailheads; within designated parking areas; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. WDFW has also adopted regulations for specific state lands, such as the Wenas Wildlife Area near Ellensburg, where target shooting is prohibited until Oct. 1.