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September 2017
Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)
Two sisters showing off crab caught in Birch Bay.
Photo by Danny Garrett

Ocean salmon: Salmon fishing is winding down in Washington’s ocean waters. Marine areas 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay) are open to salmon fishing through Labor Day (Sept. 4). Anglers fishing these areas have a daily limit of two salmon but must release wild coho in both areas and chum in Neah Bay.

Salmon (Puget Sound):  Salmon fishing is open in some marine areas of Puget Sound, including the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7), Seattle/Bremerton (Marine Area 10), Tacoma/Vashon Island (Marine Area 11), Hood Canal (Marine Area 12), and South Sound (Marine Area 13). The Tulalip Bubble fishery (a portion of Marine Area 8-2) is also open for salmon fishing.

In Marine Area 7, anglers have a daily limit of two salmon, only one of which can be a chinook, plus they can retain two additional sockeye salmon. However, anglers must release coho and chum.

Anglers fishing Marine Area 10 have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release chinook and wild coho. In addition, anglers also must release chum through Sept. 15.

Those fishing Marine Area 11, have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release wild chinook. Anglers fishing Marine Area 13 also have a daily limit of two salmon, but must release wild chinook and wild coho.  

In Hood Canal, anglers fishing north of Ayock Point have a daily limit of four salmon but must release chum and chinook. Anglers fishing south of Ayock Point can keep up to two hatchery chinook as part of their four salmon daily limit. Anglers must release chum and, wild chinook and hatchery chinook that are less than 20 inches in size. Those fishing south of Ayock Point can fish with two poles if they have a two-pole endorsement.

Anglers fishing the Tulalip Bubble area have a daily limit of two fish but must release coho and wild chinook. Through Sept. 4, the area is open to salmon fishing Fridays through noon Mondays only. The bubble will be closed to fishing Sept. 5-9. Beginning Sept. 10, the area reopens to fishing Saturdays and Sundays only. Anglers fishing the Tulalip Bubble can use two poles if they have the two-pole endorsement.

Fishery managers remind anglers that Marine Area 9 is open only to fishing from the shoreline through Sept. 4.

Salmon (freshwater areas): Salmon fishing will get underway this month in several rivers, including the Humptulips and Clearwater rivers on Sept. 1, and the Hoh on Sept. 16.  

Anglers fishing for salmon in the Quillayute, Sol Duc or Chehalis rivers should be aware of changes in regulations that happen this month. Those changes are listed in the 2017-18 Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet
 
Atlantic salmon: State salmon managers are encouraging anglers to fish for thousands of Atlantic salmon that escaped recently from a salmon farm near the San Juan Islands.

The department has created a real-time map of catch reports from anglers to help track and target these fish. Fishery managers are also encouraging anglers who catch Atlantic salmon to report their catch at that webpage.

There is no size or catch limit on Atlantic salmon. However, anglers may only fish for Atlantic salmon in marine waters that are already open to fishing for Pacific salmon or freshwater areas open to fishing for trout or Pacific salmon. Anglers also must stop fishing for Atlantic salmon once they've caught their daily limit of Pacific salmon in marine waters or their daily limit of trout or Pacific salmon in freshwater.

Crab: Most areas of Puget Sound are open to crab fishing through Labor Day, Sept. 4. However, Marine Area 7 North (Gulf of Georgia) and South (San Juan Islands/Bellingham) remains open through Sept. 30.

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.

Crabbers are reminded their summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 and must be returned whether or not the cardholder caught or fished for crab during the season. Crabbers who fail to file catch reports for 2017 will face a $10 fine, which will be imposed when they apply for a 2018 Puget Sound crab endorsement. Completed summer catch cards can be mailed in or submitted online after Labor Day. Additional information is available on WDFW's website.

WDFW will announce winter crab seasons for Puget Sound in early October after completing its assessment of the summer fishery.

Crabbing in Washington’s ocean waters is open year-round.

Young hunter with the duck he successfully hunted.Photo by Ted Tatum

Hunting prospects: Hunters planning their season may also want to check WDFW's 2017 Hunting Prospects report and Game Harvest Reports, which together provide a look at upcoming opportunities and previous success rates in specific game management units (GMUs).

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for rules and regulations.

Deer: Early archery hunts for deer start Sept. 1 and overlap with archery hunts for elk later in the month. Most early muzzleloader seasons for deer start Sept. 30, while modern firearm general seasons for deer begin in mid-October.

Both elk and deer hunters should note that several private timber companies in the region are charging fees for access. Hunters are advised to check WDFW's hunter access webpage for details.
 
Elk: Early archery hunts for elk begin Sept. 9, overlapping with archery hunts for deer. Most early muzzleloader seasons for deer and elk start Oct. 7 in designated game management units (GMUs) throughout the region.

Hunters seeking mature bulls should focus on the Quinault Ridge (638) Matheny (618) or adjacent Clearwater (615) GMUs in District 17 (Grays Harbor and Pacific counties). All three GMUs are adjacent to Olympic National Park and have the reputation of producing some very nice bulls. The best success for five-point or better bulls is garnered by the September rifle permit hunters in either the Quinault Ridge (638) or Matheny (618) GMUs.

Bear: Bear hunts are underway in the region. Hunters are allowed two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, but only one bear can be taken in eastern Washington.

The prospects for harvesting a black bear in District 16 (Clallam and west Jefferson counties) remain good to excellent.

Cougars: Cougars are widespread in the forest lands of District 11 (Pierce and Thurston counties). Areas supporting high numbers of deer and elk also provide great opportunity for cougars. The Skookumchuck (GMU 667) annually provides the highest cougar harvest in the district and one of the highest cougar harvests of all western Washington GMUs. The early cougar season starts Sept. 1.

Forest grouse: The statewide hunting season opens Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. Although grouse occur throughout District 15 (east Jefferson, Kitsap and Mason counties), Mason County offers the most opportunity. The Olympic National Forest and Skokomish valley are two of the more popular grouse hunting areas.

In District 11 (Pierce and Thurston counties), hunters targeting ruffed grouse should focus on elevations below 2,500 feet, particularly in riparian forest habitats, early seral forests (5-25 years old), and deciduous-conifer mixed forest types. Prime forest grouse hunting may be found on JBLM (GMU 652), Elbe Hills and Tahoma State Forests (GMU 654), Weyerhaeuser’s Vail Tree Farm (GMU 667), and Capitol State Forest (GMU 663).

Canada goose: Early goose hunting seasons run Sept. 2-10 in goose management area 2 (which includes Grays Harbor and Pacific counties) and Sept. 9-14 in goose management areas 1 and 3 (which includes Clallam, Jefferson, Mason, Kitsap, Pierce and Thurston counties).

For those new to waterfowl hunting, check the "Let's Go Waterfowl Hunting" webpage to learn more about the sport.

Band-tailed pigeon: The season runs statewide Sept. 15-23. In District 17 (Grays Harbor and Pacific counties), there is only one mineral site where band-tails are known to congregate. If a hunter is lucky enough to locate a mineral site where band-tails congregate, it is likely to be a successful season. Band-tailed pigeons also frequently congregate in areas with red elderberry and cascara. These small trees are most abundant in 5- to 10-year-old clearcuts where hunting can be exceptionally good.

Pheasants: Western Washington hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Sept. 30.

Youth and senior hunts: The traditional bird hunt for hunters under age 16 has been split between two weekends this year, providing more options for them and the non-hunting parents, guardians or mentors who accompany them. The youth hunt for waterfowl is scheduled Sept. 16-17, followed by the youth hunt for pheasants and other upland game birds Sept. 23-24.

Hunters age 65 and older can participate in a special pheasant hunt Sept. 25-29.

Great blue heron taken at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.
Photo by Stein Lambert

Salmon-viewing: The return of hatchery salmon to the Deschutes River near Olympia is another draw for wildlife-watchers. 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.

Coastal cleanup: The Ocean Conservancy hosts its International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 16. Volunteers have the chance to spot some marine mammals and shorebirds while helping to pick up trash on Washington's beaches. Sign up on the conservancy's webpage.

Guided talks: Olympic National Park wraps up its ranger-led programs this month. Guided nature walks are offered at Hurricane Ridge, the Hoh Rain Forest, Kalaloch and Staircase. Schedules are listed in the park’s newspaper.  

Wildlife refuge: Migratory birds will begin showing up at the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, which will continue to offer weekend nature programs, including “A River Runs Through It” and “Birds of a Feather; Take Flight on a Bird Walk” this month. The refuge also hosts its annual Nisqually Watershed Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30.

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