WDFW Weekender Report

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

Salmon fishing, Free Fishing Weekend and a wide variety of other outdoor options thrive in June

summer salmon fishing Chinook
Mark Yuasa

The gates swing open to many of Washington’s most popular summer fishing opportunities that include salmon off the coast, Columbia River and Puget Sound, and be sure to introduce someone to the excitement of fishing on Free Fishing Weekend!

Many anglers are gearing up for the coastal salmon season with a decent forecast of near 1.2 million coho and 500,000 fall Chinook that should provide quality fishing in the ocean this summer.

La Push (Marine Area 3) and Neah Bay (Marine Area 4) are open daily for salmon retention beginning June 18; Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) on June 25; and Westport (Marine Area 2) on July 2. All areas are scheduled to remain open through Sept. 30 or until quotas are met, with species and size restrictions dependent on the area.

Fishery managers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced a temporary pause for all salmon fishing in south-central Puget Sound (Marine Area 11). The closure goes into effect after Friday, June 3.

Estimates from catch sampling and creel surveys indicate the fishery – which has been very good since it opened on June 1 – was approaching the harvest quota and had exceeded the unmarked Chinook encounter limits. The first half of the season was originally scheduled to be open through June 30 with an allowable catch quota of 580 hatchery-marked Chinook. The total encounter limit was 432 wild Chinook and 752 sublegal fish (Chinook under the 22-inch minimum size limit).

“Although we were excited to be able to offer this early season opportunity for the first time in a few years, and clearly Washington anglers were excited about it too, because we saw high effort for this time of year,” said Kirsten Simonsen, Ph.D., WDFW’s Puget Sound recreational salmon manager. “With such high effort though, unfortunately we reached the quota much faster than anticipated. The catch per unit effort was approximately three times higher than the historical average.”

The good news is the hatchery Chinook retention fishery in Marine Area 11 – from the northern tip of Vashon Island to the northernmost part of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge – was split into two distinct seasons to allow for additional summer fishing.

“We also plan to continue the Marine Area 11 test fishery to keep collecting valuable data that will help us to better understand the stock composition in the area during this time of year,” Simonsen said

Salmon fishing in Marine Area 11 will reopen daily from July 1 through Sept. 30. The allowable catch quota during the second half of the season is 2,816 hatchery-marked Chinook and a total sublegal encounter limit of 3,373 fish.

State fishery managers indicate the two summer segments were modeled separately due to the stock composition found in Marine Area 11 during June and the July to September time frames. This allowed fishery managers to meet all management objectives for stocks of concern and add time on the water.

In the meantime anglers can head to southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) which is open for salmon fishing south of the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge.

Other salmon options in June include central Puget Sound (Marine Area 10) opening June 16 for coho only; the Tulalip Terminal Fishery open Fridays to Mondays only for Chinook; and many docks and piers that are open year-round for salmon.

More summer fishing can be found on the WDFW website. Additional information about this year's sport salmon fisheries can be found on the WDFW North of Falcon webpage. Before going to your favorite fishing location, be sure to check for emergency rule changes that could arise prior to and during the season.

Popular spring-time outdoor opportunities include: 

Free Fishing Weekend

trout fishing
Denise Baumgardner

Anglers interested in fishing can join the fun during Free Fishing Weekend on June 11-12. During those two days, no license is required to fish or gather shellfish in any waters open to fishing in Washington. A valid Catch Record Card is still required for salmon, steelhead, halibut, and sturgeon. In addition, people do not need a Vehicle Access Pass or Discover Pass to park their vehicle at any public lands or water access areas managed by WDFW, DNR, or Washington State Parks in recognition of National Get Outdoors Day (June 11) and Free Fishing Day (June 12). Learn more about the Free Fishing Weekend.

Columbia River spring/summer Chinook

The number of upriver spring Chinook continues to exceed expectations and is the best return since 2015. State fishery managers updated the run-size upstream of Bonneville Dam to 188,400 adults, up from the pre-season forecast of 122,900. Fishing downstream of Bonneville Dam is open daily through June 15.  A limited summer Chinook fishery from the Astoria-Megler Bridge to Bonneville Dam on the Columbia mainstem opens June 16-22. The summer Chinook fishery from above Bonneville Dam to Priest Rapids Dam is open June 16-July 31. Sockeye retention is off limits in both areas of the Columbia mainstem but allowed upstream of the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco. Learn more about the Columbia River salmon fisheries.

Puget Sound Dungeness crab

Dungeness crab fishing
Debbie Galbraith

WDFW shellfish managers are working to finalize this summer’s Puget Sound Dungeness crab fisheries and hope to announce season information soon. Learn more about Dungeness crab fishing.

Shad in Columbia River

Another excellent shad return is expected and look for the run to peak later this month. In 2021, 5.8 million shad returned compared to the 10-year average of 3.7million shad. Once daily counts at the Bonneville Dam fish ladder hit 20,000+ shad, it is time to go fishing. Track shad counts online. Look for shad along the rip-rap shoreline below Bonneville Dam, and from Washougal to Kalama. Shad prefer fast, swift running current. Many are caught less than 15 to 30 feet from shore. Cast shad darts; red and white colored flies with a small hook; colored beads in red, bright orange or metallic silver or gold; small crappie-like jigs; or small wobbler type spoons or spinners. Learn more about Columbia River shad fishing.

Eastern and Central Washington fishing

Yakima River in Winter
Julie Cyr

The Yakima River provides excellent catch-and-release trout fishing between Easton and Roza Dam—use caddis nymph flies in the morning and dry flies in the afternoon. Small spinners and plugs also work well, as do San Juan Worm flies if the rivers are running high. Many other rivers and creeks are also open for game fish though waters will likely run high into June given late spring snowfall. Lake whitefish fishing should start to ramp up at Banks Lake as well as trout and kokanee. Sprague Lake is an ideal spot to catch rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Lake Chelan for a mix of kokanee, lake trout and Chinook salmon. Learn more about Washington fishing.

Lake Roosevelt white sturgeon

White sturgeon being held up by fisherman on a boat
AJ Porter

The popular white sturgeon fishery opens daily beginning June 18, until further notice, from Grand Coulee Dam to China Bend Boat Ramp (including the Spokane River from Highway 25 Bridge upstream to 400’ below Little Falls Dam, Colville River upstream to Meyers Falls Dam and the Kettle River upstream to Barstow Bridge). A robust sturgeon hatchery program coupled with fish survival has resulted in a surplus of harvestable fish. Be sure to check on specific regulations and harvest limits for this fishery on the WDFW website. Learn more about Lake Roosevelt white sturgeon.

 

 

 

Be Fire Safe

A small herd of deer at the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area after wildfire burned the area in 2020.

A friendly reminder to help prevent wildfires this summer as temperatures rise and grass and brush become drier and can ignite easier. 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. 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.

Spot shrimp in Puget Sound

A large spot shrimp being held in the palm of a hand showing pink coloration with white stripes on the legs and head
Eric Winther

The San Juan Islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca and several areas of Puget Sound have opened for recreational spot shrimp fishing and fishing dates vary by marine areas. Also known as prawns, spot shrimp are the largest shrimp in Washington waters and may grow up to 9 inches in length, and the popular spot shrimp fishery is an exciting spring-time activity.

Northern Puget Sound (Marine Area 9) reopens June 9 only, from 8 a.m. through 12 p.m. (noon), for all shrimp species; and south-central Puget Sound (Marine Area 11) reopens June 9 only, from 8 a.m. through 12 p.m. (noon), for all shrimp species.

Southern Puget Sound (Marine Area 13) is open daily beginning June 1, for all species except spot shrimp. It is unlawful to set or pull shrimp gear in waters greater than 200 feet deep. All spot shrimp captured must be immediately released.

Learn more about regulations, daily catch limits and other marine areas opening for shrimp fishing.

Trout fishing and WDFW Derby in statewide lakes

trout fishing opening day lowland lakes
Edlin Nguyen

The cooler weather this spring will keep trout in lowland lakes active and anglers can find loads of planted trout waiting to be caught. 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. Learn more about the WDFW Trout Derby and fish stocking.

 

 

Lingcod in Puget Sound

The lingcod fishery continues through June 15 in Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Marine Areas 5 to 11 and 13). Lingcod must be within the slot limit of 26- to 36-inches. Anglers should carefully release “oversized” lingcod, which are often breeding females. Best fishing is typically around slack tide, and a variety of gear works well including 4- to 8-oz jigs, mooching large herring with banana weights and 7/0 or larger barbless hooks, or fishing live bait such as Pacific sanddab, herring, or shiner perch below a sliding sinker. Cabezon and kelp greenling may be retained, check regulations for details. Learn more about lingcod regulations.     

Halibut and bottomfishing in marine areas

halibut fishing
Joey Pyburn

Coastal lingcod fishing are open daily through Oct. 15. The western Strait from Sekiu River mouth west to the Bonilla-Tatoosh border (Area 4) is open through Oct. 15 for lingcod and open year-round for certain rockfish species and cabezon. The eastern Strait and parts of Puget Sound (Marine Areas 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10) are open for halibut June 2-27 on Thursdays to Saturdays only, and June 30. The western Strait (Marine Area 5) is open for halibut June 2-25 on Thursdays to Saturdays only, and June 30. All halibut fisheries could close sooner if catch quotas are achieved. Don’t have a boat? Learn more here on where to catch bottomfish along a coastal jetty. Learn more about  halibut/bottomfishing regulations.   

Coexist with wildlife this spring

Black bears have emerged from their winter dens hungry and in search of calories after five months of not eating. During this time of increased activity, we're asking for your help to secure unnatural food sources to reduce bear encounters – especially around your home or while on the trail. Every year, we see people who want to “help” fawns left alone in the forest. But just because baby animals are alone does not mean they need help! Fight the urge to pick up and rescue bedded fawns — you might save their life. Read our blog for details, available in English or Spanish. Learn more about living with wildlife.

Sign up for in-person hunter education

Hunter education instructor teaches young boy safe firearms practices

Beginning June 1, the minimum age to take the all-online hunter education course will increase 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.

Wildflowers and butterflies

Mount Rainier covered in snow with wildflowers in the foreground

Wildflowers are in full bloom throughout all region, which means butterflies and bees are enjoying them. Yarrow, desert parsley, phlox, bitterroot, lupine, veiny dock, and other wildflowers are brightening up the Columbia Basin landscape. At least 86 species of butterflies – including swallowtails, skippers, azures, blues, whites, sulphurs, nymphs, crescents, fritillaries, and more – have been documented on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area in Okanogan County, and June and July are the best months to see the greatest variety across WDFW lands.

Birds around Washington

Pair of small yellow and black birds perched in thistle branches
Jim Cummins

June is a great month for birding across Washington, and notable is the Desert unit and others of the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area in Grant County that are havens for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, and more. Ducks can be seen throughout Washington including green-winged teal (as well as the rarer blue-winged and cinnamon teal species), goldeneye, mallard, ruddy, ring-necked, shoveler, gadwall, wigeon, and scaup. Wading birds include herons, egrets, bitterns, and rails. Shorebirds include avocets, dowitchers, stilts, phalaropes, snipe, and curlews. Raptors include great-horned owl, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier, and rough-legged hawk. Songbirds include blackbirds, goldfinches, kingbirds, swallows, and warblers. Learn more about birds around Washington.

#LifeOutdoorsWA

Clam digging success
Paul Kim

To highlight the bounty of healthy seafood available to us in Washington, WDFW is writing a four-part weekly series detailing the variety of shellfish that can be harvested on public tidelands. In this first of two installments, we focus on how to harvest, store, and prepare the most common shellfish found in Puget Sound and Hood Canal: “steamer” littleneck clams, and butter and horse clams. In general, spring is an excellent time for gathering clams and oysters as low tides switch to daylight hours. Visit the Washington shellfish safety map for an easy to navigate search tool to locate the precise beach you want to visit. To find optimal low tides, go to the tide chart. You can also find shellfish harvesting information on the Washington Department of Health webpage. Click here to view the Life Outdoors blog.

Amphibians and reptiles

Closeup of an Oregon spotted frog peering just above the water's surface
Andy O'Connell

Did you know Washington is home to at least 25 species of amphibians (salamanders and frogs) and 28 reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards)? If you hadn’t noticed there’s a lot of ribbit-ribbit, croaking, hopping, and slithering happening right now around ponds, waterways, and greenbelts. Amphibians and reptiles are both important members of aquatic (water) and terrestrial (land) ecosystems, and they may use different habitats throughout the year, and it is especially noticeable and visible during spring. Find out more information on the amphibian and reptile webpage.

Wild Washington Live! At Moran State Park: What’s a Newt?

Close up of an adult rough-skinned newt on a log.
Chayse Emge

Join WDFW and two Americorps interpretive specialists on Zoom to visit Moran State Park on Orcas Island on June 2 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. In this live-streamed event, we’ll explore the world of the rough-skinned newt and journey into one newt’s travels. We’ll also learn about how to find newts and ways you can create habitat for newts near your home. All ages friendly, best for K-3rd grade. Click on the Zoom link to watch Wild Washington Live!

 

To the Tides: Restoration at Leque Island

Leque Island, located between Stanwood and Camano Island, was once entirely tidal marsh. In the late 1800s, early settlers-built dikes around the perimeter of the island to convert the area to farmland. Beginning in 2013, WDFW undertook restoration of Leque Island in partnership with Ducks Unlimited with the goal of restoring habitat for Chinook salmon and other species. During the summer of 2019 the restoration project was completed, returning the diked island back to the tides. Watch the Leque Island video below.

Habitat at Home: Add water for amphibians 

Underwater close up of a Pacific treefrog tadpole
W.P. Leonard, Copyright

As summer approaches, warmer days and drier weather increases stress on many northwest wildlife species. Amphibians like frogs, toads, and salamanders who absorb moisture through their skin must have access to water/damp areas in hot, dry summers. As you garden, consider amphibian-friendly features such as small ponds or water features, compost heaps, and log piles. Welcoming amphibians into your yard not only encourages biodiversity, but also comes with a host of benefits including control of yard pests like insects, slugs, and snails. Learn about  the benefits of creating a wildlife pond.

 

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 this summer. 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.

Feeding wildlife

A Columbian white-tailed deer runs across an open field.

Many well-meaning Washington residents in urban and suburban areas enjoy feeding deer in their yards. Although some people see this type of feeding as helping these animals, it can hurt them and potentially cause illness and death for the animal. Learn to help us keep wildlife wild by following more tips.

 

Invasive species boat check stations

A new invasive species boat check station opens in Clarkston in June. If you plan to put your watercraft, motorized or not, in the Snake or Clearwater rivers, or other bodies of water in the area, please have it checked for aquatic invasive species at the station located at 1420 W. Port Drive. All vessels registered outside Washington state must have a valid Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Permit. Learn more about invasive species check stations.

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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.