With more than 1,000 lakes containing bass statewide, and some outstanding river fishing opportunities, both smallmouth and largemouth bass are plentiful in Washington waters. And, you don’t have to own a boat to catch bass – some of the state’s best fishing can be done from docks or along the shoreline!
During Bass Week we’ll highlight some of the best bass waters in Washington, provide bass fishing tips, and answer your questions on all things bass. Submit your best bass fishing photos to be featured on our Facebook and Instagram.
Reel in salmon in Puget Sound
Planning summer fishing trips? Puget Sound Chinook fishing gets underway July 1! For the best fishing, WDFW staff suggest heading to the San Juan Islands (Marine Area 7) in early July, then considering Sekiu and Pillar Point (Marine Area 5) and East Juan De Fuca Strait (Marine Area 6) when fishing is good in mid-July. Our biggest summer fisheries for Chinook start July 16 in Admiralty Inlet (Marine Area 9) and the Seattle-Bremerton Area (Marine Area 10). Pink salmon are also returning this year, with opportunities in all marine areas and most area rivers.
The historic Pacific Northwest heat wave may be over for now, but the summer weather continues, and fish need our help staying cool as air and water temperatures remain high. Fishing in the early morning, when air and water temperatures are cooler, can help reduce stress on fish -- and on the fisher! High lakes are also a great option this time of year thanks to cooler temperatures at higher elevations.
If you fish the same areas every year, try to be aware of water levels and temperatures – if the water seems especially low, or hotter than usual, maybe give fish a break by coming back another time.
If you're fishing an area where you may have to catch and release, it's critical to take steps to minimize the impact. Using appropriate gear and landing the fish quickly can help, as can making sure not to remove the fish from the water once it's reeled in. Quickly remove hooks, or cut the line if the hook is especially deep. You can also help the fish revive by pointing it into a slow current, and letting it swim out of your hands whenever possible.
Annual trout derby
The trout season shifted into high gear April 24, when several hundred lowland lakes throughout the state opened for fishing. The annual trout derby kicked off the same day, with thousands of dollars in prizes available to anglers in the form of tagged fish stocked in lakes across Washington. The derby is open to anyone with a valid 2021 fishing license; no entrance fee or registration required. Just catch a tagged trout anytime between April 24 and Oct. 31 and you win! Find a lowland lake near you.
Many other lakes statewide are open year-round, and regularly stocked with catchable rainbow trout jumbo-sized fish, and other species, including in the lead-up to opening day. See what lakes have been recently planted at our stocking report, and see this year's statewide trout and kokanee stocking plan for more information about when lakes in your area might be stocked.
Report your catch to help WDFW study triploid trout
WDFW is conducting a first-of-its-kind study to evaluate the movement and behavior of triploid and diploid rainbow trout in 29 Western Washington lakes — and we’re asking for the angling public to help by reporting their catch.
You can report their catch using this online tool. If you catch one or more trout, let us know if each one has a clipped or unclipped adipose fin. If the fish has no adipose fin (clipped) it is a triploid. If the fish has an adipose fin (unclipped) it is a diploid. The study will examine about 70,000 diploid trout and 65,000 triploid trout stocked in lakes across five Washington counties.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program wants boaters to be prepared this boating season by taking a safety education course. In Washington state, boaters who operate a vessel with a 15 horsepower engine or greater must be certified and carry a Boater Education Card to prove they passed an accredited boating safety education course. Boaters have three options to get certified: an instructor-led course; an online self-study; or a home study and equivalency exam for boaters who already have a lot of boating experience. More information about courses and the boater education card can be found at www.boatered.org.
Planning to hit the Puget Sound? Just by following a few simple steps, you can make a big difference for endangered Southern Resident killer whales and their ability to move about, find food, and socialize.
Stay at least 300 yards from Southern Resident killer whales and at least 400 yards out of their path or behind the whales.
Reduce your speed to seven knots within a half-mile of a Southern Resident killer whale.
Watch for the Whale Warning Flag, a tool to let others know that there might be whales nearby. If you see the flag, slow down! Get a flag of your own from our partners at the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee.
Turn off fish finders and/or depth sounders if you do see Southern Residents in the distance.
Help to encourage positive behavior: Report violations.
Buy your tickets by July 15 for raffle permit hunts
Expand your hunting opportunities by entering for a chance to win a coveted raffle hunt. Proceeds from the sale of single-species raffle tickets will be used for the management and benefit of that species. Proceeds from the sale of multiple-species raffle tickets will be used for general game management. There is no limit on the number of tickets a person may purchase.
Raffle tickets are not available to purchase online or over the phone. Washington gambling restrictions prohibit wire sales. You can purchase tickets at any authorized license dealer.
Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain Goat: $6/ticket
Bighorn Sheep: $11.50/ticket
Multi-species: $17/ticket for three-species raffles, $22.50/ticket for four-species raffles
Due to COVID-19, WDFW has cancelled all in-person hunter education classes until further notice. However, students 9 years of age and older can complete the online course for certification. Students 8 years of age and younger can still complete the online course, however they are required to complete an in-person field skills evaluation prior to certification.
Hunter Education Deferral: You may also qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime Hunter Education Deferral, which allows a one year deferral for individuals new to hunting who are accompanied by an experienced hunter. More information is available on the Hunter Education Deferral webpage.
Do your part to "Leave No Trace" when enjoying public spaces and encourage your family and friends to do the same!
Plan ahead and prepare
Travel and camp on durable surfaces
Dispose of waste properly
Leave what you find
Minimize campfire impacts
Be considerate of others
Avoid conflicts with wildlife
When camping and cooking outside this year, remember to secure food and garbage to prevent attracting wild animals of all kinds. To reduce the chance of problem encounters with wildlife both big and small:
Keep a clean campand clean grills and put garbage in wildlife-resistant trash containers where available.
Secure food and other scented items in wildlife-resistant food lockers when possible. Or hang food in backpacks or other containers from a tree branch at least 10 feet above the ground and four feet out from the tree trunk. Never store food in tents.
When camping, sleep at least 100 yards, preferably up wind, from the cooking area and food storage site.
When fishing, clean fish away from camp and dispose of entrails properly.
When hiking, make noise by singing or talking. Keep small children close and on trails.
Leave family pets at home or confine or restrain them in camp and on trails to avoid drawing wildlife.
Always carry bear spray and know how to use it. It is effective on bears and many other wildlife species.
When out fishing, hunting, or wildlife watching, please help prevent wildfires this summer as temperatures rise and grass and brush become dry.
Prescribed burns are still underway on some WDFW-managed lands in northeast and southeast Washington to improve wildlife habitat and reduce catastrophic wildfire risk. These burns will continue within fire lines and are carefully patrolled and monitored.
Strawberries, green onions, and salad greens are just a few of the delicious vegetable garden staples that have native alternatives to benefit both you and wildlife!
Growing native edible plants is ideal for those who:
Enjoy eating food
Like saving money, water, and time
Want to contribute to wildlife conservation
Native plants are a great choice for many reasons. First, they are adapted to the natural rainfall, climate, and soil of the area and as a result tend to be very low maintenance. This means you won’t have to spend as much time and money on watering and caring for your garden.
Additionally, these plants have co-evolved with native wildlife species and are best suited for supporting these species. One drawback of planting non-native plants is that they often don’t support insect species during all life stages. Studies have shown that caterpillar and bird abundance and overall biodiversity are significantly higher in urban gardens that are filled with native plants compared to gardens without native plants. By using native plants, you are helping to support a more robust insect population, which is critical to pollination and the support of many other wildlife species such as birds.
Keep in mind that some species will require you to plant more than one for them to reproduce via pollination. Research your plants ahead of time to gain a better understanding of what will work best for you. Most native plants will come back year after year with no need to replant. If you decide to grow a native edible garden this year, show us how you did! Use the hashtag #habitatathome to share your photos with us on social media.
Coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), and wild or blue-leaved strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) are three great native alternatives to traditional strawberries. In fact, the coastal strawberry is one of two varieties that were hybridized to create the modern supermarket strawberry. Coastal and wild strawberries are drought tolerant and prefer full sun and well-drained soils. Woodland strawberries do great in semi-shade under trees and shrubs. If you’d like to make full use of the plant, add the young leaves to salads and soups!
The nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is a delicious and stunning alternative to green onions. The entire plant is edible (raw or cooked), including the flowers! It’s a drought-tolerant plant often found in prairies and rocky bluffs. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It blooms in early summer, but you can harvest it for food year-round, though it will die back in the winter. The nodding onion is equally as beautiful as it is delicious and can be used ornamentally in your yard.
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is an easy-going plant that can be the main ingredient in your salads. It is thin and crunchy and has a mild sweetness to it. Like other lettuce plants, it is shade tolerant and will become bitter in taste if exposed to too much direct sunlight. It’s great eaten raw or cooked like spinach, and the whole plant is edible!
Share your backyard wildlife photos
We want to see what birds and other wildlife visit your habitat. Share your photos or videos with us at wdfw.wa.gov/share and select the category “Wildlife Viewing”.
Larry Phillips has served as the South Puget Sound and Coast (Region 6) Director since 2016. Larry was first employed by the Department in 1996 as a Fisheries Technician collecting creel survey data on the Snake River. In 1998 he was hired as a permanent employee by the Fish Program in Spokane and later transferred to Olympia to serve as the Area Fish Biologist for South Puget Sound. In 2007 Larry was promoted to District Fish Biologist. He remained in this position until 2015 when he was promoted to Inland Fish Program Manager with state-wide responsibilities. In 2016 Larry promoted to his current position.
Larry holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Lewis Clark State College in Lewiston (Idaho) and a master’s degree in Fisheries Science from Eastern Washington University. Larry enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking and camping.