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  More to do Outside!

May 2017
Region 4: North Puget Sound
(Island, King, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties)
 Photo: Young girl holds up a large rainbow trout she caught.
Photo credit: Danny Garrett

Lowland lakes: The lowland lakes fishing season is officially under way offering great opportunities to reel in some nice-size fish this spring. "Opening day" of the statewide lowland lakes season has come and gone, but many of the 16 million trout stocked for the occasion are still snapping up lures. Most trout average 10-12 inches long, although several anglers are catching trout exceeding 15 inches. Anglers have a daily limit of five trout on most lakes.

Kokanee fishing has also begun to heat up with fish pushing 13 inches expected in several stocked waters.

This month also provides good fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass across western Washington as waters warm and adult fish prepare to spawn. Look for bass around grass lines, docks, pilings and rock piles. On larger lakes, look for shallow embayments and shorelines with a southern exposure that will warm quicker than the main lake. Fishing for yellow perch, pumpkinseed, sunfish bluegill, brown bullhead catfish and channel catfish will continue to improve as the month progresses.

For more information on fish species in your favorite lake, check out the Fish Washington webpage.

Catch a fish, win a prize:  WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues in May and runs through October 31.  Anglers with an applicable 2017 freshwater or combination fishing license who catch one of some 900 tagged fish can claim prizes provided by license dealers located across the state. A list of lakes with prize fish and details on how to claim prizes is available at the derby website.

Spot shrimp: The popular spot shrimp season opens May 6 in Puget Sound. Visit WDFW's Recreational Shrimp Fishing page for Marine Area spot shrimp schedules. There is a limit of 80 spot shrimp per day in all areas of Puget Sound.

Halibut: Several areas of Puget Sound will open for halibut in early May. For marine areas 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, the halibut fishery will be open:

  • Thursday, May 4
  • Saturday, May 6
  • Thursday, May 11

There is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Additional dates may be considered for re-opening the fishery if there is sufficient quota remaining.

Salmon: Starting May 1, both hatchery and wild coho may be kept as part of the two-salmon daily limit at Puget Sound fishing piers. Tulalip Bay in Marine Area 8-2 opens for wild chinook and coho fishing May 26, Fridays through noon on Mondays. 

Details on all recreational salmon fisheries for the 2017 seasons will be provided in the 2017-18 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet, which will be available in late June. To learn about notable changes to this year's Puget Sound sport salmon fisheries, visit WDFW's salmon-season setting webpage.

Youth fishing events: A variety of youth fishing events are scheduled in May across the state. Visit the WDFW youth fishing calendar to find local family-friendly opportunities to introduce kids to fishing.

Plan your fishing vacation: It's that time of year to plan fishing vacations for the spring and summer. Check out our web feature Great Washington Getaways to find the state's best family travel and fishing opportunities.

Photo: A young hunter and his dad walk down a path after a successful day of turkey hunting.
Photo credit: Nick Rezek

Wild turkey: The spring wild turkey season continues through May 31 around the state. For more information, see the Wild Turkey Spring Season pamphlet. For tips and techniques, check out our booklet on Turkey Hunting in Washington.

Apply for special hunting permits: Hunters have through May 24 to apply for special hunting permits for fall deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and turkey seasons in Washington. Special permits qualify hunters to hunt at times and places beyond those authorized by a general hunting license.

To apply for a special permit, hunters planning to hunt for deer or elk must purchase an application and hunting license for those species and submit the application with their preferred hunt choices. Permit winners will be selected through a random drawing conducted by WDFW in June.

Applications and licenses are available from license vendors statewide or on WDFW's website. Applications must be submitted on the website or by calling 1-877-945-3492 toll-free. To purchase or apply for a license online, hunters must first establish an online account by creating a username and password.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents and $3.80 for youth under 16. Results of the special-permit drawing will be available online by the end of June. Winners will be notified by mail or email by mid-July.

Photo: Two hummingbirds visit a birdfeeder in a backyard.
Photo credit: Russell Link

Backyard Wildlife Festival: For those interested in learning more about wildlife close to home, visit the annual Backyard Wildlife Festival in Tukwila. This free event will take place May 13 at the Tukwila Community Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the festival website

International Migratory Bird Day: The second Saturday of May in the U.S. and Canada is International Migratory Bird Day. This year's celebration theme is "Helping Birds Along the Way." The 2017 theme highlights the importance of migratory stopover sites where birds rest and refuel before continuing their journeys across oceans and continents. 

Urban Bird Treaty City: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will sign a treaty designating the City of Seattle as an Urban Bird Treaty City on May 5 at 11 a.m. at Lincoln Park in Seattle. The treaty signing celebration will recognize Seattle's migratory bird conservation and education accomplishments, and celebrate the renewed commitment of partners to develop programs in Seattle to protect birds and their habitat, as well as connect people to the natural world. More information about the Urban Bird Treaty Program is available on the USFWS website.

Meet other Puget Sound birders: The Seattle Audubon Society offers a variety of bird walks for beginner and experienced birders. Families and non-members are always welcome to attend. If you need to borrow a pair of binoculars, you can request them at the Seattle Audubon Nature Shop a week in advance.

Bird walk locations include the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area, Washington Park Arboretum, and Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. For more information, visit the event calendar page on their website.

Leave wild babies in the wild: It's that time of year when you may see young wildlife as you enjoy the outdoors. Remember to leave those wild babies in the wild – even when they might appear to be orphaned or abandoned. More often than not, just leaving a young animal alone affords it the best chance for survival. More information is available on WDFW's Living with Wildlife webpages.

Avoid wildlife conflicts:  Wild animals reproducing this month can become a nuisance if they take up residence under a porch, in a crawl space, or in a garage or attic. Skunks and raccoons are among the most common in this region, but bats, squirrels and woodpeckers can become problems, too. Sealing up spaces where these animals try to nest or den is the first step to avoid nuisance situations.  Learn more about Preventing Conflicts With Wildlife. 

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