WDFW Weekender Report

Discover recreational opportunities in Eastern, North Central, South Central, North Puget Sound, Southwest, and Coastal Washington.

Coho salmon

Autumn outdoor viewing and foraging opportunities abound across Washington, salmon fishing is still going strong and many hunting seasons are underway

The sun is setting earlier, and the leaves are starting to turn – signs of another change of season.

Autumn is a time for the year’s major hunting seasons, outdoor viewing is awesome as the vibrancy of natural color turns to a golden glory and salmon anglers are seeing flashes of silver across Puget Sound, and in bays and estuaries.

Coho salmon – commonly referred to as “silvers” for their shiny silver-colored body – are beginning to show up in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and some have started to make their way into Puget Sound.

Silvers are one of the more exciting salmon species to catch and while not large (averaging 4 to 12 pounds) they’re admired for jumping out of the water and zipping erratically in all directions.

The combined 2022 Puget Sound hatchery and wild coho forecast is 666,468 compared to 614,948 in 2021; and 504,604 in 2020. A good indicator of tracking their arrival is by viewing the WDFW creel reports that are updated regularly.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sekiu (Marine Area 5) to Port Angeles (Marine Area 6) is usually the first place to find migrating coho. Both are open daily through Sept. 28 for hatchery-marked coho. There is also a Dungeness Bay hatchery coho fishery from Oct. 1-31.

The San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) is open daily through Sept. 30 for hatchery coho only, and  has been known to produce some good fishing opportunities for large hooknose coho.

The northeastern side of Whidbey Island (Marine Area 8-1) should see decent coho catches around Camano Island due to an improved coho return heading to the Skagit River (101,651 is the forecast compared to 80,451 in 2021). Marine Area 8-1 is open through Oct. 9 for coho only.

The southeastern side of Whidbey Island (Marine Area 8-2) below the Mukilteo-Clinton boundary line is a popular spot for coho and open daily through Sept. 19 for hatchery coho only.

Northern Puget Sound (Marine Area 9) is open for hatchery coho only through Sept. 25; central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) is open for all coho through Oct. 31; and southcentral Puget Sound (Marine Area 11) is open for all coho through Oct. 31.

Southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) is open for salmon fishing and areas around Peale Passage, Dana Passage and Hartstene Island should be good for coho this month.

Look for coho in the shipping lanes and rip tides off Port Townsend; Marrowstone Island; Bush Point and Lagoon Point off the west side of Whidbey Island; Possession Bar; Point No Point to Pilot Point; Browns Bay; Edmonds to Richmond Beach; Kingston to Jefferson Head; Meadow Point to West Point near Shilshole Bay; Alki Point in West Seattle to Redondo Beach/Des Moines area; and the Tacoma area.

Two popular Puget Sound fishing events are the Edmonds Coho Derby on Sept. 10 at the Edmonds Marina; and the Everett Coho Derby on Sept. 24-25 at the Port of Everett Marina.

A good coho location on the central coast is Grays Harbor, which is open through Sept. 15 in the North Bay for hatchery coho with a one-fish daily limit; and from Sept. 16 through Oct. 31, it’s open for coho in the south channel of the East Bay with a two salmon daily limit.

Anglers should check the WDFW emergency fishing and shellfishing rules webpage when planning to fish in marine areas.

Other popular autumn outdoor opportunities include: 

Coastal razor clam digging

Razor Clam at Copalis Beach

WDFW coastal shellfish managers completed summer razor clam population assessments and the early indication shows a strong number of razor clams at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Diggers can expect a number of digging dates similar to last season based on the abundance level.

Expect an announcement on fall digging dates and a public comment period very soon. Click here to find out more information about coastal razor clam digging.

Be Fire Safe

Wildfire watch

WDFW announced restrictions for campfires, and other activities on WDFW wildlife and water access areas in Eastern Washington.

To help prevent wildfires make sure campfires are dead out and keep a bucket of water and shovel handy. Ensure there is no vegetation leaning over your fire pit area and that needles, grass, and brush are far enough away not to ignite.

Campfire restrictions are currently in place throughout the Columbia Basin, Chelan, Big Bend, Wells, Sagebrush Flat, and Klickitat wildlife areas as well. As a reminder, campfires are restricted year-round on the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife Area.

A reminder that fireworks are prohibited year-round at all WDFW wildlife and water access areas around the state. Please also be careful not to drive or park on dry grass. When dry, it can present a fire danger if sparks land in it.

Other public land managers are also putting fire restrictions into effect or considering them. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is restricting campfires and other activities at its properties statewide. The United States Forest Service (USFS) does not currently have public use restrictions in place for the Umatilla, Okanogan-Wenatchee, and Colville national forests; USFS phases in restrictions as conditions warrant.

Be careful where you park as the hot exhaust system from your vehicle can ignite vegetation if it comes into contact with a hot muffler or exhaust pipe. Park in a clear area. State land managers ask that visitors to any wildlife area check local fire danger information and take precautions to avoid igniting a wildfire. Learn more about Be Fire Safe.

Hike and help pikas

American pika in rocky habitat in the Okanogan National Forest

As you hike and fish in late-summer and fall, consider helping us collect data about pikas! While spending time outdoors, your observations could help biologists better monitor pika populations, which is critical for understanding how to protect these critters.

American pikas are small, round, rodent-like herbivores that are about 6–8 inches long — about the size of a russet potato. They look similar to hamsters with their big, round ears and are often mistaken for marmots, but they have no visible tail. In Washington, they are found primarily in high elevations of the Cascade Range. However, they have been known to also be found in the Columbia River Gorge. To read more about pikas and how you can help us collect valuable data, go to the WDFW blog.

Wildlife viewing and foraging

Picking huckleberries

Late summer and fall are a time for wildlife watching especially for a variety of migratory and resident birds. There are a plethora of bird watching festivals, and you can view them on the Audubon Washington website. Fall also brings an opportunity to gather mushrooms and huckleberries.

The Puget Sound Bird Fest is Sept. 10-11 in Edmonds. The Pilchuck Audubon and other local organizations invite you to Swift Night Out on Sept. 7 from 8:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., an annual festival to celebrate the peak of the Vaux’s migration in Monroe.

The Wings Over Willapa Festival is Sept. 22-25. The Chelan Ridge Hawk Migration Festival is happening now through Oct. 27. Click here to see our blog on getting to know wild edibles in your own backyard, neighborhood and beyond.

Statewide hunting

Archery hunter looks out on mountainous landscape
Ryan Driver

Hunters planning their seasons may want to check the 2022 Hunting Prospects reports, which outline hunting opportunities in specific game management districts.

Hunters can also use the hunting regulations web map, which allows them to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice, and more. Recent surveys indicate 2022 should be another good hunting year. For further information about statewide hunting, go to the WDFW hunting webpage.

Salmon fishing off the coast

Resident coho salmon caught in Marine Area 10 near Seattle
Chase Gunnell

Ilwaco, Westport, La Push and Neah Bay (Marine Areas 1, 2, 3 and 4) are open for salmon fishing through Sept. 30 but could close sooner if area catch quotas are achieved.

The Ilwaco fishery (Marine Area 1) has switched to hatchery-marked coho only and the Westport (Marine Area 2) is open for marked and unmarked coho only. All Chinook must be released.

Changes to seasons could occur so be sure to consult the regulation pamphlet or WDFW emergency rules webpage before going. For details on ocean salmon fishing, go to the WDFW webpage.

Columbia River salmon fishing

Columbia River

Fall salmon fishing is open in some sections of the Columbia River above Bonneville Dam. Lower mainstem areas from Buoy 10 up to Bonneville Dam are closed for all salmon fishing. Look for good fall Chinook fishing in the Hanford Reach area.

There will be a limited retention white sturgeon fishery on Sept. 10, 14 and 17 only from the Wauna powerlines to Bonneville Dam and includes the Cowlitz River. Anglers are advised to check WDFW's website routinely for emergency fishing rule changes and details on the rules for each of these river sections.

Eastern, north- and south-central Washington fishing

Lake Chelan
Lake Chelan

September is the last month of trout fishing for many Columbia Basin (Grant and Adams counties) waters and a few others in Okanogan County and Chelan County. There are year-round fisheries in Grant County, and many are in the Seep Lakes area, just south of Potholes Reservoir. Banks Lake, Moses Lake, and Potholes Reservoir are ideal choices for smallmouth and largemouth bass and walleye.

Walleye and bass are available throughout the Columbia and Snake rivers. Try Lake Chelan for a mix of kokanee, lake trout and Chinook salmon. Shore anglers at Lake Chelan can also do well for cutthroat trout and smallmouth bass in the Manson and Chelan areas.

Statewide river and stream fishing

River fly fishing

September is a great month to be a river or stream angler! Chinook and coho are increasingly nosing into freshwater, the first fall rains can turn steelhead on the bite, and cooler temperatures signal to trout and other species that it’s time to feed up in anticipation of winter.

Top prospects include the Lewis and Samish for Chinook; Skagit, Stillaguamish, Quilcene, and Quillayute for coho; and the Humptulips and Green for both species plus summer steelhead, as well as the Snake River and tributaries for steelhead. The Yakima, Naches, Methow, Kettle, Upper Snoqualmie, and other popular trout rivers can also provide excellent fishing. For regulations, go to the WDFW webpage.

Fall is peak timing for yellow perch fishing across the state

Three yellow perch laying on the deck of a boat. Fish are light green in color with dark vertical stripes and dark backs

Yellow perch is one of several “panfish” species that are abundant in many lakes across Washington and it is a very popular fishery for anglers to easily catch, plus they’re a great “family fishing activity” and they are outstanding eating quality.

The peak of the yellow perch fishery in many lakes statewide is happening right now, and one of the better locations to chase these feisty fish is Lake Washington, which lies directly in the backyard of the Seattle skyline. Yellow perch are a very stable population in the vast lake that covers nearly 22,000 acres and stretches 20 miles from Kenmore on the northern tip to Renton in the southeastern most section.

What make these fish even more appealing is the fact they’re available to catch year-round with late summer through early fall being the best period. To learn more about how to catch yellow perch and what other lakes in Washington they inhabit, be sure click the WDFW blog.

Charter/guide fishing tips

Buoy 10 salmon fishing guide
Mark Yuasa

Booking a fishing trip of a lifetime can be a daunting task, from deciding what type of trip to finding the right captain and boat. One of the most popular and accessible ways to get started is booking a charter boat or guide. Charters and guides help thousands of Washingtonians and out-of-state visitors get on the water every year.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington has 426 licensed guides and 178 licensed charter boat operators in 2022.

There’s a lot to cover but we’ve got some helpful tips and advice to make your adventure in Washington a wonderful day on the water! Visit the WDFW Medium blog for tips on how to select a charter fishing guide.

Don’t be a litterbug

Don't be a litterbug
Washington Department of Ecology

Not littering… It’s that simple! If everyone does their part, we can keep Washington beautiful and litter free. While 75 percent of Washington residents never litter, 18 million pounds of waste accumulates on roads, parks, and recreation areas every year and costs the state millions of dollars in cleanup efforts, and negatively impacts the environment, wildlife, and public safety.

Simple tips to avoid this issue is to have a container for collecting trash; when visiting parks and recreation areas, bring a bag with you to pack out what you packed in; hold onto trash until you reach a waste receptacle at a gas station, rest area or your destination; safely secure your cargo on the road. When we all look out for each other, it makes a big difference! Visit the Washington Department of Ecology website for more information.

Puget Sound recreational crab fishing

two girls with crab in puget sound

The crab fishing season is winding down and open through Labor Day (Sept. 5) in several inner-marine waterways of Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands, and northern Hood Canal. The San Juan Islands "North and South" are open Thursdays through Mondays only through Sept. 30. South central Puget Sound (Marine Area 11) closed on Aug. 30. Days open vary for each marine area so be sure to check the rules before setting crab pots.

Remember to report your summer crab catch cards whether you caught any crab or not. Visit the WDFW website to find out additional details on recreational crabbing

WDFW Trout Derby in statewide lakes

trout fishing opening day lowland lakes
Edlin Nguyen

As fall weather arrives planted trout should become more active and willing to bite in many lakes. The WDFW Trout Derby continues through Oct. 31 with thousands of tagged trout lurking in more than 100 lakes. Anglers who catch a tagged fish can win over 800 donated prizes totaling around $37,000.

Read WDFW's blog for helpful tips for a successful day trout fishing. Learn more about the WDFW fish stocking program.

Most high elevation or alpine trout lakes are accessible for hikers packing their fishing rods while some may take a while to access due to the longer than expected colder weather this past spring. Almost 200 small lakes, ranging from about 3,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation, lie on public land around Washington. Visit the high lakes webpage for more information.

Bottomfishing in marine areas

Coastal lingcod fishing is open daily through Oct. 15. The western Strait from Sekiu River mouth west to the Bonilla-Tatoosh border is open through Oct. 15 for lingcod and open year-round for certain rockfish species and cabezon. Don’t have a boat? Read our article on where to catch bottomfish along a coastal jetty.

Halibut fishing

Angler poses by 140-pound halibut he caught from Puget Sound
Don Wood

Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) and Westport-Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) areas are open to all-depth halibut fishing on Sept. 3-4 and Sept. 23.

The halibut season at Neah Bay and La Push (Marine Areas 3 and 4) is open five days per week, Thursdays through Mondays; and starting on Sept. 6, the Neah Bay and La Push will be open seven days per week. Puget Sound (Marine Areas 5 to 10) will reopen daily from Aug. 11 through Sept. 30 or when the quota is taken.

WDFW will host a virtual public meeting, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., on Oct. 4 to discuss season structure and proposed dates for the 2023 sport halibut season.

For more information about how to participate in the Oct. 4 Zoom webinar, visit wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/halibut. The meetings will be recorded and posted online so people can also watch the meetings afterwards at their convenience. For more information on the halibut season-setting process visit PFMC's website. Additional information can be found on the recreational bottomfish and halibut page. Anglers must record their catch on a WDFW halibut catch record card.

Sign up for in-person hunter education

Hunter education instructor teaches young boy safe firearms practices

The minimum age to take the all-online hunter education course has now increased to 18. In 2020, we implemented an all-online hunter education course for students at least 9 years old.

Recognizing the importance and value of in-person and hands-on firearm safety instruction, WDFW’s goal has always been to move back to, or towards, in-person course delivery when it made sense to do so. While the COVID landscape is still a bit uncertain, things are getting back to normal. We recognize that this change may take some time to get used to, and we are committed to offering as many in-person courses as we can. Sign up for in-person hunter education today.

Rockfish survey

High definition photo of a Quillback rockfish

There’s still time to participate in the WDFW rockfish survey! Your participation will help to inform future outreach efforts and the management of rockfish in Puget Sound. This online survey only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. Questions cover rockfish biology, Puget Sound fishing regulations, and rockfish identification.

The survey is anonymous – project staff will not have the ability to link your name with responses to any question. You must be 18 years or older to complete the survey. Feel free to share this survey with other licensed anglers you know who interact with rockfishes in Puget Sound – we want to hear from as much of the angling public as possible!

#LifeOutdoorsWA

person hiking on a trail with mountains all around
Naomi Gross

The outdoors fits into everyone’s life in unique and personal ways, and we here at WDFW want to foster connections with and appreciation of nature, the wide variety of Washington landscapes, and all forms of outdoor recreation through the Life Outdoors resources.

You can find informative blog posts, reports of monthly recreational opportunities in your area, links to state and federal lands to explore, and how to share photos of your adventures with us. We hope to see you in the field and on the water enjoying the Life Outdoors!

Wild Washington Live!

Getting ready for school again? Check out our Wild Washington lesson plans and family educational resources that help your learners engage with Washington’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems. Lesson plans and educational resources include both classroom and outdoor learning components.

Puget Sound salmon gear selection

Gear selection has become an important factor when it comes to recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound. A key role in angler success is choosing the proper lure or bait, but gear also has an important role in fisheries management.

To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers learn how to reduce catching sublegal (undersized) Chinook. Click our YouTube video on salmon gear selection and click here to read about selecting the proper salmon gear. 

Anglers’ guide to releasing salmon properly

Selective fisheries for hatchery-produced salmon and catch-and-release fisheries are increasingly important to providing recreational fishing opportunities around Washington. To ensure these salmon fisheries are successful long-term, it is vital that anglers do their part to comply with all regulations, especially how to properly release unmarked, sublegal (undersized) and out-of-season fish to improve their survival.

Also be sure to watch out for more informative videos and blogs this summer in regards to salmon fishing including a proper gear selection video. Read how to properly release salmon. Watch the salmon release video below.

Habitat at Home: Bird migration

Bird watching

North America is home over 350 long-distance migratory birds. As the days get shorter migratory birds start making their way south for the winter, which means we’ll soon begin to see exciting birds in our home habitats.

Keep an eye out for Wilson’s Warblers, who spend summers in Canada and Alaska before migrating into Central America. Males are bright yellow with a distinctive black hat and a sweet song.

Help these feathered travelers out by keeping water sources cleaned and filled. Also, consider turning outdoor lights off during migration season to help birds navigate naturally. Learn more about bird migration and how you can help!

Boating in statewide waters

Boat on lake
Andy Walgamott

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program would like to remind you to take a boater safety education course, if you haven’t already, to be prepared when venturing on the water.

In Washington, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15-horsepower engine or greater must carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course.

Lastly, keep in mind wearing a life jacket in, on, or around water saves lives as drowning is one of the leading causes of fatalities especially among young children. For more information on the boater safety education course, go to the Washington State Parks boating webpage.

WDFW Logo

Join the WDFW team

If you’d enjoy preserving, protecting, and perpetuating the state’s fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities, then check out some of our current job openings or sign up for job alerts. From budget manager to community outreach and education specialist, environmental planners to electricians, fiscal technicians to wildlife biologists, a career with WDFW makes a difference.