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May 2017
Region 6: South Sound/Olympic Peninsula
(Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, Thurston and Pacific counties)
Photo: Man standing in boat at beach launch holding the large halibut he caught.
Photo credit: Bob Haynes

Steelhead: Anglers can retain two hatchery steelhead daily while fishing the Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers on the north coast.  

Salmon: The Quillayute and Sol Duc rivers are also open for salmon fishing. Anglers can keep six fish daily, including two adults, but must release wild adult chinook and wild adult coho.

Anglers fishing Marine Area 13 (South Sound) should be aware of a recent rule change that allows them to retain hatchery coho as part of their two-fish daily limit. Anglers must release wild chinook.

Trout:  Trout are biting at dozens of lakes throughout the region. In Clallam County, anglers can try the south pond at Bogachiel Hatchery, which has been stocked with 2,400 rainbow trout. Another good bet is Failor Lake (Grays Harbor County) where WDFW staff and volunteers have stocked 3,500 trout, each averaging 2.4 pounds or more each. In Kitsap County, Mission Lake has been stocked with more than 6,000 trout. Lake Limerick in Mason County was stocked with 7,800 trout. And Pattison Lake in Thurston County has received roughly 24,000 rainbow trout since the beginning of April.   Be sure to check WDFW's online fish stocking reports before heading out. 

Catch a fish, win a prize:  WDFW's lowland lake trout derby continues in May and runs through Oct. 31.  Anglers with an applicable 2017-18 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.

Even if you don't land a prize, plenty of trout are available to harvest. WDFW has been stocking in the region for months. A complete trout-planting schedule for southcentral lakes and ponds is available on the region's catchable trout plant reporting page.

Halibut: Recreational halibut fishing in the all-depth area is open May 25 in Marine Area 1 (Ilwaco) but closes for the season at the end of the day. The nearshore area of Marine Area 1 will remain open Mondays through Wednesdays until further notice.

Sufficient quota remains to open another fishing day in the north coast (Marine Areas 3 and 4) and Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5-10) on Thurs. June 1. Catch data will be evaluated following the opening on June 1 to determine if enough quota remains for additional fishing days in the north coast and Puget Sound.

In all marine areas open to halibut fishing, there is a one-fish daily catch limit and no minimum size restriction. Anglers may possess a maximum of two fish in any form and must record their catch on a WDFW catch record card. Details on Washington's halibut fishing seasons can be found on WDFW's halibut webpage.

Lingcod: Anglers will have opportunities in May to fish for lingcod both in the ocean and Puget Sound. Along the Washington coast, anglers should be aware of a rule change that eliminates the minimum size limit in marine areas 1 through 3 and 4, west of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line. 

In Puget Sound, the lingcod season opens May 1 for hook and line fishing and May 21 to spearfishing for lingcod in marine areas 5 through 11 and 13.

Rockfish: Marine Area 5 (Sekiu) opens May 1 for rockfish fishing. All other Puget Sound marine areas remain closed. Washington's ocean waters also are open to fishing for rockfish. WDFW recently reduced the daily limit to seven (down from 10) in Marine Areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport), 3 (La Push), and 4 (Neah Bay, west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line). Cabezon: Fishing for cabezon also opens May 1 in Puget Sound marine areas 5-11 and 13. There's a minimum size limit of 18 inches and daily limit of one fish. Cabezon fishing is open year-round in Washington's ocean waters. Anglers have a daily limit of two fish with no minimum size in areas 1-3 and one fish, which must be 18 inches or larger, in Marine Area 4.

Spot shrimp: Spot shrimping remains open in marine areas 4 (east of the Tatoosh-Bonilla line), 5, 6 and 7 West. Shrimping is open year-round in Washington's ocean waters, including marine areas 1-3 and 4, west of Tatoosh-Bonilla Line.

Check WDFW's recreational shrimp fishing webpage for details.

Shrimpfest: Shrimp fans also can head to Brinnon's Shrimpfest, an annual festival celebrating Hood Canal spot shrimp. The festival features food booths, live music and kids' activities. Shrimpfest will be held May 27-28. Parking and admission information can be found on the Shrimpfest webpage.

Razor clams: WDFW has closed Washington's ocean beaches to razor clamming for the season. State shellfish managers will assess razor clam populations this summer and hope to open the beaches again this fall. The department will announce 2017-18 razor clam season information in late summer on WDFW's razor clam webpage.

Youth fishing:  The department teams up with a variety of businesses and organizations to host youth-fishing events around the state from April through June. Visit the WDFW youth fishing calendar to find local family friendly opportunities to introduce kids to fishing.

Photo: Successful young turkey hunter with the large tom turkey he hunted.
Photo Credit: Jim Eaton

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 state. 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.

Instructions on applying for special permit hunts are described on pages 12-13 of Washington's 2017 Big Game pamphlet, available online and at WDFW offices and license vendors.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under 16 years of age. The exception is the cost for residents purchasing applications for mountain goats, any bighorn sheep ram, any moose, and "quality" categories for deer and elk. Those applications cost $13.70.

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: An immature skunk in backyard.
Photo Credit: David Woodall

Shorebird festival: The Grays Harbor Shorebird and Nature Festival will be held May 5-7 in Hoquiam. Hosted by Grays Harbor Audubon Society, Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge and the City of Hoquiam, the annual festival includes field trips, lectures, a keynote speaker and a nature fun fair for kids. More information on this event can be found on the festival's website.

Birds:  "Helping Birds Along the Way" is the theme for the 24th annual International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) on Saturday, May 13, when birdwatchers celebrate the migration of nearly 350 bird species from their wintering grounds south of the U.S. border to nesting habitats in North America. The theme emphasizes the importance of migratory stopover sites where birds rest and refuel before continuing their journeys across oceans and continents.

Although IMBD is traditionally celebrated on the second Saturday in May, in reality every day is bird day, and programs, festivals, and other events occur throughout the year to help connect people to nature through birds.

One way that people can help birds along their way is to transform their backyards into safe stopover sites by planting native vegetation, providing fresh water, and keeping cats indoors. WDFW's Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary program provides detailed information about how to help birds in this way.

South Sound Prairies: The annual Prairie Appreciation Day, which celebrates South Sound Prairies, takes place May 13. Thurston County's Glacial Heritage Preserve, which is typically closed to the public, and Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, will both be open. Activities include wildflower walks, talks about birds, bees and butterflies of the prairies, and prairie restoration efforts. More information is available on the event website.

Whale-watching: The seasonal migration of whales north toward the Arctic Ocean is in full swing. Recent sightings in the region include orcas in Oakland Bay near Shelton, and near Squaxin and Harstine islands. Check the latest sightings posted on the Orca Network. Anyone whale-watching from a boat should be aware of boating regulations that protect southern resident killer whales.

Leave wild babies in the wild: This month and next many wildlife species produce young. WDFW biologists remind outdoor recreationists and backyard wildlife enthusiasts to leave those wild babies in the wild, even when they might appear to be orphaned or abandoned. 

Keep dogs and cats confined to avoid problems with baby birds fledging from nests and on the ground. Give a wide berth to deer fawns found alone; they seldom need your help because parent animals are foraging nearby and leaving them alone to avoid drawing predators with their own body scent.  Learn more about when not to rescue wildlife 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

Outdoor recreationists or rural homeowners may inadvertently have closer-than-comfortable wildlife viewing encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife, from protective cow moose with calves to black bears, coyotes or cougars. 

Conflict situations can be prevented by being alert and aware of surroundings and taking some precautions when hiking, picnicking or camping. Most wild animals want to avoid people, so hike in groups and make noise to alert wildlife in the area of your presence. Keep a clean picnic spot or campsite since food odors attract hungry animals, especially bears. Learn more about bears, cougars, coyotes and moose on WDFW's Living with Wildlife webpages.

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