WDFW Weekender Report

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

Hook, line, and adventure: summer salmon, crabbing seasons underway

Kayak angler fishing for sockeye on Baker Lake with Mt. Baker in background
Photo by Hermes Adrada
A kayak angler fishes for sockeye salmon on Baker Lake with Mt. Baker in background

“It’s hard to beat living and recreating in Washington — especially in the summer. With the warming temperatures and longer days, it’s time to get outside and play.”  

Click here to read the latest WDFW Director's Bulletin

Summer fishing, crabbing, and boating seasons are here! Be sure to check the rules for the marine area, lake, or river you plan to fish or crab before hitting the water, either online or through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)’s Fish Washington mobile app

The latest fishing regulations go into effect July 1, and the 2024-25 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet is now available online and at license dealers around the state. 

Many salmon fishing seasons get into full swing in July—including summer fisheries off the coast and in Puget Sound—and the updated rules can help anglers make decisions about how to spend their time on the water. Another resource is our new blog, “The Salmon Fishing Current”, which provides updates and reasoning behind rule changes. 

If you’re planning time on the saltwater where Southern Resident killer whales may be present, be sure to also review our Be Whale Wise guidelines, including our new short video.  

At a minimum, give Southern Resident killer whales at least 300 yards on either side and 400 yards in front of and behind them. Avoid approaching Southern Resident killer whales within 1,000 yards. Beginning in 2025, boaters will be required to stay at least 1,000 yards from these endangered orcas. These rules are especially critical given the low percentage of breeding females in the Southern Resident population and challenges with successful births and calf survival. 

Popular outdoor opportunities in July

Two young children with life jackets stand next to full crab pot on a boat.
Photo by David Whitmer

Summer crabbing seasons get underway

Summer crab-fishing or “crabbing” seasons get underway July 1 in many areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Detailed regulations and season dates are available on our webpage, or learn more in our news release

Summer crab seasons are typically closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the Puget Sound management area. The San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7 South) and Gulf of Georgia (Marine Area 7 North) will open later in July or August.

Extreme low tides around the July 4th holiday will pose a challenge for launching boats at some sites. Crabbers should target the portion of the day with the least tide exchange and make sure their pots are weighted down during these extreme low tides to avoid them moving and becoming lost. Crabbers can find helpful information on how to properly weight crab pots by going to the Northwest Straits Commission webpage

Biotoxin closures continue on coast, areas of Puget Sound

Varnish clam
Photo by WDFW
Varnish clams

When planning a bivalve shellfish gathering trip, check the WDFW regulations for public beaches in your area as well as the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)’s Shellfish Safety Map. Many areas of the coast and Puget Sound are currently closed to bivalve shellfish (clams, mussels, and oysters) harvest due to elevated risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning or other biotoxins.

WDFW works closely with DOH to ensure safe, legal harvest of shellfish on state beaches. In order to safely and legally harvest shellfish for human consumption, both the DOH health status and the WDFW season for a beach must be open. For open beaches, be sure to chill shellfish on ice or refrigerate immediately after gathering to slow the growth of harmful bacteria like Vibrio. The DOH shellfish illness prevention webpage has more tips and information. 

Head out on a hike or wildlife watching adventure

Pine trees of Chelan Wildlife Area
Photo by Alan Bauer
Trees at Chelan Wildlife Area

July is one of the best months to enjoy a hike or wildlife watching on Wildlife Areas or other WDFW-managed state public lands. As lower elevations heat up, consider visiting upland areas such as the wind-swept and wildflower-strewn hillsides of the Swakane Unit of Chelan Wildlife Area near Wenatchee, the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area off I-90 west of Ellensburg, the Rendezvous Unit of Methow Wildlife Area near Winthrop, or the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area near Omak. Each offers exceptional hiking, wildlife watching, and other recreational opportunities, often without the summer crowds common on other public lands.  

For an interactive map of WFDW lands and more ideas on where to recreate this summer, visit our Places to Go webpage

Fire restrictions on WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington

Beginning July 1, restrictions on campfires, target shooting, and other activities are in effect at all WDFW-managed lands in Eastern Washington to reduce the risk of wildfire as we move into the driest part of summer. You can see the full list of restrictions in the news release. As a reminder, fireworks are prohibited year-round on all WDFW-managed lands statewide. 

Be bear aware this summer 

Bear at bird feeder
Photo by Daryl Sylvester
Black bear at bird feeder

Longer days and warm weather provide opportunities to travel and see all that our beautiful state has to offer. When visiting and recreating in Washington, it’s important to take steps to keep wildlife wild – and that includes bears. Food and other travel essentials can attract bears, which can eventually cause the bears to lose their fear of people. This is unsafe for people and unhealthy for bears! 

Remember to Leave No Trace and Pack It In, Pack It Out when camping or backpacking. Keep a clean camp, and practice proper food storage to prevent bears from accessing your food and supplies. Learn tips for hiking, camping, and fishing safely in bear country from our partners at Be Bear Wise.   

If you visit a vacation rental, keep in mind that garbage pick up might not be scheduled until several days after your check out. Full garbage cans are a buffet for bears! Consider taking your garbage with you when you leave. If the nearby dumpster or garbage cans are full, don’t pile garbage around the bins; find another location where the garbage can be properly secured.  

Learn more about vacationing in bear country on this webpage. Or visit our black bear webpage

Outreach events this month 

Looking for summer fun? You'll find WDFW hosting and tabling at several events this July! Check out our events calendar for details or learn more below.   

Additional outdoor opportunities include:

Saltwater salmon fishing

Many anglers fishing from small boats in the central Puget Sound
Photo by Chase Gunnell
Puget Sound summer salmon anglers off Kingston.

The summer recreational salmon fishing season is underway in several marine areas. The Strait of Juan de Fuca at Sekiu/Pillar Point (Marine Area 5) and Port Angeles (Marine Area 6) open July 1 for salmon fishing. Each area has catch guidelines and could close for Chinook retention once they are met.  

Summer Chinook fisheries open on July 18-20 in San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7), Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9), Seattle/Bremerton (Marine Area 10), and Tacoma-Vashon Island (Marine Area 11). WDFW will assess the Chinook catch after the initial three-day openers and additional Chinook openings may occur in each marine area based on available quota. 

On the coast, Neah Bay (Marine Area 4), La Push (Marine Area 3) and Ilwaco (Marine Area 1) are open daily for salmon fishing. Westport-Ocean Shores (Marine Area 2) is open Sundays through Thursdays through July 11, and open daily beginning July 14. Marine Areas 4, 3, and 2 are scheduled to stay open until Sept. 15, and Marine Area 1 closes on Sept. 30. All ports could close sooner if catch quotas are met. Learn more in our news release.

The Salmon Daily Current blog 

Sockeye salmon fishing

Sockeye salmon
Photo by Andrew Moravec

The Baker River sockeye forecast is a strong 56,750 fish and should provide good fishing in the Skagit River as well as Baker Lake, which opens July 6 with a four-sockeye daily limit. A portion of the Skagit River is closed through July 2 and will then reopen through July 15.

Baker Lake anglers and boaters should be aware that WDFW Police and law enforcement partners will be conducting mandatory aquatic invasive species (AIS) checks on boats entering Baker Lake to help prevent the introduction of quagga and zebra mussels that can impact infrastructure and potentially cause tens of millions of dollars in damage. Please be respectful and cooperate during inspections to help get everyone on the lake as quickly as possible.

As sockeye returns also ramp up on the Columbia River, please note that retention of sockeye is now closed on the mainstem Columbia River from the Megler-Astoria Bridge upstream to the Highway 395 Bridge at Pasco. The recreational allocation of sockeye has been met given the current run size. The Columbia River sockeye run includes Snake River sockeye, which are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act and must not be overharvested.

Further upriver, the sockeye season from Priest Rapids Dam to Rock Island Dam, Rock Island Dam to Wells Dam, and from Brewster Bridge to Highway 17 Bridge opens July 1. The area from Wells Dam to Brewster Bridge opens July 16.

Baker sockeye counts

Summer scouting can lead to fall hunting success 

Mt Stuar
Photo by Austin Warne

With fall big game, waterfowl, and small game seasons fast approaching, now is the time to get ahead. Discovering new areas, identifying crucial habitat, and strategically placing trail cameras can significantly boost your chances of success later this year. Summer scouting also offers an excellent opportunity to physically prepare for the challenges of hunting. Beyond scouting, it's wise to inspect and prepare your gear to ensure it's both safe and functional. Begin your preparations today by visiting the WDFW Hunt Planner below or check out our myWDFW webpage

WDFW Hunt Planner webmap

Take hunter education before fall seasons

Youth archery hunter education
Photo by WDFW

New to hunting? Don’t procrastinate, get ahead of the upcoming hunting season by enrolling in your hunter education course this summer. Fall classes reach capacity quickly, so don’t miss out! Pick either a traditional in-person classroom experience, or a hybrid course blending online learning with a hands-on field skills assessment. 

WDFW is always looking to certify new instructors. If you're interested in joining our team of instructors who are passionate about safely carrying on the hunting tradition, see our information on our webpage How to become a hunter education instructor. 

Sign up for Hunter Education

Puget Sound shrimp fishing continues

More recreational shrimp fishing or “shrimping” opportunities will occur in three Puget Sound marine areas in July, in addition to other scheduled openers. Following review of the recreational shrimping catch and effort data in Puget Sound to date, WDFW shellfish managers determined that enough quota remains to offer additional harvest opportunities in marine areas 8-1, 8-2, and 10. Refer to our news release and the webpage below for detailed regulations as well as fishery dates and hours.

Puget Sound shrimping

Fly casting
Photo by WDFW

Prime time for river and stream fishing 

With waters still flowing cold but settling after spring runoff, July is peak season for many river and stream fisheries. Whether it’s wading a quiet mountain stream for cutthroat, casting grasshopper dry flies for rainbows on the Yakima, Naches, Kettle, Spokane, or Cedar rivers, jigging for smallmouth in the Grande Ronde or Okanogan, or swinging spoons and spinners for summer hatchery steelhead in the Cowlitz, Lewis, Kalama, Wynoochee, Quillayute, Green, and other rivers.  

WDFW also continues development of a resident native trout policy that will provide high-level harvest management guidance. The policy will apply to resident native rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and their subspecies including coastal cutthroat, westslope cutthroat, and redband and coastal rainbow trout.

Freshwater fishing regulations

Light colored fish in a net.
Photo by Robert Conley
Shad caught in the Cedar River

Shad fishing continues on the Columbia, Cedar River 

We have been receiving reports of anglers catching American shad in the Cedar River. In recent years, shad have also been caught in the Sammamish River and by WDFW crews while netting Lake Washington to suppress populations of non-native predatory fish. Though shad are not classified as an aquatic invasive species, WDFW encourages anglers to retain shad caught in the Lake Washington watershed. Shad primarily feed on plankton, and potential effects on salmon, trout, and steelhead are not well documented. On the lower Columbia River, nearly 2 million shad have crossed Bonneville Dam, and anglers have reported great catches, which typically wane throughout July as the run winds down. 

American shad

Trout and kokanee fishing in lakes

Kokanee fishing is heating up, from Lake Stevens in Snohomish County to Rimrock Reservoir in Yakima County, and Keechelus and Kachess reservoirs in Kittitas County. Many lakes are open year-round, and due to the cooler weather this past spring there are thousands of rainbow trout waiting to be caught in early summer. For information on lowland lakes, visit our webpage or check catchable trout plant reports.

Photo by Tawney Clum

WDFW to phase out recreational fishing and shellfishing hotlines 

For several decades, WDFW provided phone hotlines where people could listen to prerecorded messages about fishing seasons and rule changes. In the years since we established the hotlines, WDFW launched several new options to find accurate, up-to-date fishing information. In summer 2024, we are phasing out the phone hotlines for recreational fishing and shellfishing. There are no changes to the commercial hotlines.  

There are many places to find WDFW fishing regulations and information. We encourage anglers who used the prerecorded hotlines to take advantage of one of the webmobile app, or other customer service phone options we offer. Visit Fishing Hotlines webpage to see the full list of new options and find more information.

Hotline information

Access changes coming to Vernita Bridge

Trucks, trailers and campers in a field
Photo by WDFW
Boat trailers and campers at Vernita Bridge

Many people have made the Vernita Bridge Water Access Area part of their fall fishing tradition. Located on the Columbia River, the site is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by WDFW as a day-use site. The Hanford Reach Chinook season is a very popular fishery that many people participate in; a number of them using the Vernita site as their home base during the season. Unfortunately, multi-day or season-long camping has become so popular that it is exceeding the capacity of the site, presenting sanitation issues and damaging the environment. Learn more at the link below.

Changes on the horizon

Provide input on shrubsteppe planning 

WDFW wants your input about the landscapes and habitats in South Central Washington! How do you think and feel about local habitats and landscapes? Take our survey to help inform WDFW's work when it comes to lands in south central Washington. This short, web-based bilingual survey (English and Spanish) will be open until Oct. 1, 2024. Adults (18 years and older) living in Benton, Franklin, Kittitas, and Yakima counties are invited to participate. 

Shrubsteppe planning

Bass Week

A woman holds two bass
Photo by Photo courtesy Reed Foster

Join us for Bass Week July 8-12 as WDFW celebrates bass anglers and all things bass fishing on our social media accounts. Bass Week also includes a Facebook Live Bass Week demonstration and Q&A session on July 11. Grab your gear, bring your questions, and get ready for this annual event! 

Tidepooling during super low tides 

Low tides during summer months bring excellent opportunities for exploring rocky tidepools and searching for aquatic life that are otherwise hidden underwater. Search for surprises like barnacles, squirting anemones, sculpin, sea stars, scurrying shore crabs, spiny urchins, and so much more.  
Upcoming low tides: July 3, minus-2.4 feet at 9:38 a.m.; July 4, -2.8 at 10:22 a.m.; July 5, -2.8 at 11:05 a.m.; July 6, -2.7 at 11:47 p.m.; July 7, -2.3 at 12:28 p.m.. More extreme low tides occur on July 19-23.

Treasure Trove in Tidepools

Watch: Sharp-tailed grouse releases

Sharp-tailed grouse are emblematic of the arid shrub-steppe, high grasslands, and Palouse prairie of eastern Washington. Populations of Columbian sharp-tailed grouse in our state may have once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, but today, fewer than 600 birds remain. A state endangered species, they occupy less than five percent of their historical range in seven remnant populations in Douglas, Lincoln, and Okanogan counties. In April, WDFW biologists worked with the Bureau of Land Management and authorities in British Columbia to successfully translocate 60 endangered Columbian sharp-tailed grouse from B.C. to sites in north-central Washington. See these rare birds take flight in our video!

Watchable Wildlife whale tale
Photo by WDFW

Wildlife viewing

Whale watching is a popular pastime that can be done on land and sea. Orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, minke whales, and harbor porpoise (just to name a few) can all be spotted during this time of year. Search for a reputable and responsible boat operator through the Pacific Whale Watch Association, or explore the Whale Trail for best viewing locations on shore.  

When viewing all wildlife, be sure to follow responsible and ethical viewing and photography practices to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Wildlife viewing in Washington

Wild Washington youth education
Photo by WDFW

Wild Washington youth education

For a fun and educational family activity, explore Washington's endangered species together. Start by researching local species such as the pygmy rabbit or the Pacific lamprey, using resources from our family education webpage. You can plan a visit to see local habitats where these species live, like wildlife areas or parks. Then engage your children by creating habitat models using cardboard, paint, and natural materials. Encourage discussions on conservation efforts and ways to protect these species.  

Endangered species family activities 

Habitat at Home

Habitat at Home water
Photo by WDFW

Summer is officially here! Summer in Washington means that the small pools of water wildlife rely on are drying up. Help wildlife stay hydrated by adding a bird bath and pollinator puddle to your Habitat at Home. Placing water features in the shade will keep the water cool and prevent it from drying up quickly. Change water daily to dissuade mosquitoes. 

Support wildlife at home

Look out for invasive European green crabs 

A hand holds up a European green crab against a background of blue sky and green grass.
Photo by WDFW
An invasive European green crab

Summer fun is just around the corner. While you enjoy your favorite outdoor activities around Washington's waters, be on the look out for European green crabs.

Use our simple "5 Point" approach to identify this aquatic invasive species— 

  • 5 Points outside of the eyes 
  • 4 Inches or smaller 
  • 3 Rostral bumps between the eyes 
  • 2 Semi-flattened rear swimming legs 
  • 1 Enormous threat to our native shellfish and aquatic habitat. 

Join us in the fight against this invasive species. If you spot a European green crab using these 5 points, report it at wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab

Learn about green crabs 

Statewide Trout Derby

Logo for the 2024 WDFW trout derby.

The annual WDFW Trout Derby continues through Oct. 31. Thousands of tagged trout are stocked in 100+ lakes. Catch a tagged trout and you win a prize!


The outdoors fits 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 blog 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! 

Volunteering: Partnerships and volunteers help create a successful event  

In early June, WDFW partnered with the Tacoma Urban League and Metro Parks Tacoma to host a youth fishing event at Wapato Lake in South Tacoma. In addition to youth fishing, the well-attended event included face painting, casting practice, fish print art, and beginning bird watching. Volunteers are key in making these events successful. Ready to join in on the fun this summer? We welcome volunteers of all abilities and experience levels. For more information about the volunteer program and upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit the WDFW volunteer webpage.

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 planners and budget analysts to wildlife biologists, a career with WDFW makes a difference.