September brings early hunting seasons, new fishing opportunities
Enjoy the sun in Washington's wilderness all month long
The sun is setting earlier and the leaves are starting to turn color – signs of another change of season. Fall is in the air, and hunters are heading out for the first major hunting seasons of the year.
Salmon fisheries are also underway in the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and other waters, river fisheries are picking up across Washington, and anglers are still reeling in trout from lakes throughout Washington.
Stop by the WDFW table at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup! Chat with staff about fishing, hunting and other recreational opportunities across the state.
- Details: Sept. 7 - 10, Washington State Fair Events Center
Come celebrate the return of salmon at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival! Explore the life cycle of salmon and how the department codes and tags salmon through an interactive activity.
- Details: Sept. 23, Rocky Reach Dam Discovery Center
Connect with WDFW this September at upcoming events near you! Check out WDFW’s Event Calendar for more details.
Other popular outdoor opportunities this month:
Bird Fest 2023
Birders, unite! Enjoy a weekend full of feathered fun at Puget Sound Bird Fest in Edmonds. Guided walks, educational booths, a photo contest, a native plant sale, a boat cruise... there’s no end to the birdy excitement. Join the flock from Sept. 9-10! Click here to learn more.
Columbia River / Buoy 10 salmon and steelhead
Anglers’ focus will shift toward coho during September, though the section of river from Buoy 10 to west Puget Island is scheduled to see a few more days of Chinook opportunity through Sept. 4, with a daily limit of two fish, one of which may be a hatchery Chinook. After that, only hatchery coho can be retained for the rest of the month, with a daily limit of three. Further upstream, the mainstem remains open for coho and Chinook opportunity with varying open days and limits; be sure to check the permanent regulations for the section of river you hope to fish. See the full list of fishing regulations here.
River fishing for pink and coho salmon
September is arguably the best month for river anglers: pink salmon and early-run coho are flooding into the Puget Sound region, the first fall coho are showing up on coastal rivers, and summer steelhead and trout are becoming more active as waters cool. Be sure to doublecheck fishing regulations or the Fish Washington mobile app as special rules may be in place to protect wild Chinook and other species, including on the Snohomish, Samish, Duwamish, and other rivers. See the full list of fishing regulations here.
Archery hunting for deer and elk
With archery deer hunting opening Sept. 1, archery elk starting Sept. 9, and the fall general black bear season having already opened in August, the month of September is a great time to notch a big-game tag in Washington. The High Buck Hunt is another deer opportunity that is only open in select designated Wilderness areas. If you’ve got your sights set on success this fall, be sure to carve out time to prepare by reading our Hunting Highlights on myWDFW.com. Our latest articles there cover archery hunting for our state’s several species of deer and elk, as well as getting you and your gear ready for big-game seasons.
Halibut fishing continues, prime time for tuna
Several marine areas remain open for halibut through Sept. 30, or until catch quota is achieved, including the ocean areas and northern Puget Sound Region. Be sure to check regulations for details and any depth limits. Learn more in our news release. Offshore fishing for albacore tuna peaks in September, continuing until fall storms push the fleet back to Westport, Ilwaco, and other ports. Several mahi mahi and bluefin tuna were also landed by Washington anglers last month. Read more about halibut fishing here.
CWD in Eastern WA
WDFW is working to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) into, and throughout, Washington. CWD is a fatal illness of cervids, which include deer, elk, moose, and caribou. If you harvest a deer or elk this hunting season in WDFW’s Eastern Region, please have it tested for CWD. There are several free ways to get your animal tested.
WDFW is teaming up with the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers to encourage people to do the free testing. BHA helped pay for 100 multi-season deer tags. Pending final approval, hunters that have animals tested will be entered into a random drawing for the tags. More CWD info can be found on the WDFW website here.
Despite cooler weather and some rain, fire danger remains high in eastern Washington due to hot temperatures and dry conditions throughout much of August. Fire and target shooting restrictions are in place on WDFW-managed lands in eastern Washington. That means campfires, target shooting at certain shooting ranges, smoking outside of vehicles, operating motor vehicles off established roads, and other activities are not allowed at this time to reduce the chance of wildfire. All restrictions will remain in effect until further notice except for the target shooting restriction, which runs through Sept. 15. Visit our website to learn more about Washington wildfire information.
The outdoors fit into everyone’s life in unique and personal ways. We want to help people connect with nature wherever they are. Check out our Life Outdoors resources to plan your next adventure, whether it be birding in your neighborhood or camping across the state. We hope to see you in the field and on the water enjoying the Life Outdoors!
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. Click here to learn more.
Habitat at Home
Check out WDFW’s new Creating Songbird Habitat page to start creating more habitat for songbirds in your area.
A bird bath can be a great addition to your backyard wildlife habitat. Bathing is essential for songbirds in order to maintain their feathers. Clean feathers are necessary for flight, insulation, and to keep them waterproof and safe from disease. Dampening their feathers loosens dirt to make cleaning easier, while washing away parasites and bacteria.
During fall migration, bird baths will be used by more birds than usual as flocks stop by for the night. Please clean and refill your bird baths more often during the migration season in response to increased traffic.
Be sure to clean your birdbath often, two or three times per week, to avoid spreading bacteria from one bird to another. Use vinegar and water. Commercial cleaning products contain chemicals that can hurt birds. Wear gloves when doing this to further avoid the spread of bacteria.
Create a wildlife habitat tailored to local songbirds this fall!
Discover the Stillaguamish River, a relatively small waterway with a major impact on Chinook management across the West Coast. And a top priority for habitat restoration and salmon recovery. Despite the challenges, there's hope for the future! Collaboration is growing to revive this dynamic ecosystem, benefiting local tribes, fishers, communities, farms, and other fish and wildlife enthusiasts.
Watch our new 10-minute film, "Paddling Together," showcasing the efforts of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians. Learn about our innovative programs to recover Chinook salmon and restore vital river channels, then join the movement at: wdfw.wa.gov/stillaguamish
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 fish hatchery specialists to environmental engineers and budget analysts to wildlife biologists, a career with WDFW makes a difference.
Volunteer opportunity spotlight
WDFW’s National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration is a great, family-oriented way to introduce youth to target shooting, hunting and fishing, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. It's also an opportunity to recognize that hunters and anglers continue to be among the most active supporters of wildlife management and conservation.
This year’s event will be on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Camp Cowles in Newport Washington, in northeast Washington (map).
The Department needs volunteers to help staff the fishing dock, clean fish, serve as parking guides, help with registration, and more. Assignments will be made based on event needs and volunteers' skills and interests. Volunteers of all skills and abilities are welcome. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with shifts from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Volunteers are welcome to work all day or a half day. Please sign up for the timeslot that works best for you.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
WDFW is preparing for 500 youth at the event, accompanied by parents or guardians. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kristopher.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for this event or other upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit the WDFW volunteer webpage.