Discover Coastal Washington

Customer service staff in the Montesano Regional Office are available for walk-in service 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday excluding legal holidays.

The Port Townsend District Office is open by appointment only. Please call 360-302-3030 to schedule an appointment.

Fishing tips and news

New to fishing in Washington? Check out our Fish Washington blog post for a guide on how to get started. 

Buy your 2024 fishing license

Now that spring has arrived, Washingtonians will need to buy 2024-2025 recreational hunting and fishing licenses. People can buy licenses from WDFW’s licensing website, WDFW regional offices, or hundreds of license vendors around the state.

2023-24 Sport Fishing Rules 

The 2023-24 Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet is available online and at license dealers. The updated rules can help anglers make decisions about how to spend their time on the water. 

The 2024-25 sport fishing rules and pamphlet are expected in June, and go into effect on July 1, 2024. 

Current fishing regulations and emergency Fishing Rule Changes are also available online at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations.

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Spot shrimp caught in the San Juan Islands
Photo by WDFW

Recreational spot shrimp fishing continues

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Several Puget Sound marine areas remain open for shrimping, with additional days added in June. See our latest news release and fishing rule change for details.

Overall, the 2024 shrimp season will start with similar opportunities to 2023. Fishery managers selected these dates to offer opportunities to harvest shrimp while distributing participants and reducing the chance of exceeding recreational quotas.

Also known as prawns, spot shrimp are the largest shrimp in Puget Sound and may grow up to 9 inches in length. More details, including scheduled and tentative dates as well as regulations, are available on our recreational shrimp fishing webpage.

Annual Free Fishing Weekend is June 8-9

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family fishing for bass, all smiles
Photo by April O'Rourke

WDFW’s annual Free Fishing Weekend, when anglers can fish for many species without a license, will take place June 8-9. 

Opportunities include trout and warmwater fish in lakes throughout the state, lingcod and cabezon in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and rockfish on the coast (no boat required, see our blog post on jetty fishing).

Other requirements waived during the Free Fishing Weekend include Vehicle Access Passes and Discover Passes. You’ll still need a license for fish requiring catch record cards as well as shellfish. Learn more in our news release.

Other rules such as seasons, size limits, daily limits, and area closures still apply. Be sure to check current fishing regulations, valid through the end of June, before hitting the water, as well as any current emergency rules.  

Salmon fishing starts along the coast, in Puget Sound

Summer salmon fishing along the Washington coast and in areas of Puget Sound opens this month.

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Fishing in Westport for ocean salmon
Photo by Chase Gunnell

On the coast, Marine Areas 1, 3 and 4 (Ilwaco, La Push and Neah Bay) open June 22. Marine Area 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores) opens June 30-July 11 on Sundays through Thursdays, and then daily beginning July 14. Marine Areas 2, 3, and 4 are scheduled to stay open until Sept. 15, and Marine Area 1 closes Sept. 30. All ports could close sooner if catch quotas are met. 

Marine Area 10 (Seattle/Bremerton) opens daily June 1 for coho fishing only. See the fishing regulations or Fish Washington mobile app for details including catch limits.

Marine Area 11 (south-central Puget Sound around Tacoma-Vashon Island) opens June 5-30 on Wednesdays through Saturdays only of each week for hatchery Chinook and coho fishing (season may be adjusted or closed if quota or encounters approach allowable limits). Salmon fishing also continues in South Puget Sound (Marine Area 13).

Full details on tentative salmon seasons are available in our news release. Additional information on fisheries that begin after July 1 is expected to be published soon. 

Many rivers and streams open, certain rivers closed to protect salmon

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fly fishing woman having a great time fishing on the stream
Photo by Matt Cyr

Dozens of rivers and streams across Washington are open for gamefish, including trout, steelhead, char, and whitefish, as well as numerous non-native fish species like bass and perch. Areas such as the forks of the Snoqualmie and Skagit rivers hold surprisingly large native rainbow and cutthroat trout that can be caught using small spinners, spoons, jigs, or fly-fishing gear. 

Many rivers and streams are managed under catch and release or selective gear rules — which prohibit using bait, barbs, and treble hooks — to protect wild steelhead and salmon. Be sure to check the fishing regulations and emergency Fishing Rule Changes or use the new and improved Fish Washington mobile app before heading out. 

Several rivers in the Puget Sound and coastal regions will remain closed to fishing this summer to protect Chinook salmon

Lowland lakes trout fishing, annual trout derby open through October

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Logo for the 2024 WDFW trout derby.

The statewide lowland lakes trout-fishing season is now open. Search for local fishing spots, with information on bank access, what’s in the water, and when it’s biting on our lowland lakes page. You can also find out how many fish were stocked in each lake by checking the stocking reports.

WDFW's annual statewide trout derby at more than 100 stocked lakes runs through Oct. 31. Over 100 businesses are offering more than 800 prizes valued at over $42,000. There is no entrance fee or registration required; just catch a tagged trout during this timespan and you win!

When fishing in certain coastal and southwest Washington lakes, you may catch a tagged steelhead. Over the past couple of months, WDFW released surplus adult hatchery steelhead into lakes that are open year-round for fishing. Planted fish have a yellow tag along their dorsal fin with a phone number for WDFW staff. Please call the number and answer a few questions to help us track the program's success.
 
Please note that these steelhead are NOT part of WDFW’s annual Trout Derby. Fish that are part of the derby have yellow tags reading “wdfwderby.com.” Learn more about our surplus hatchery steelhead plants in our blog post.

Boating season is here! Clean, drain, dry your boat 

Help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species this summer by having your boat checked every time you pass a watercraft check station and by cleaning, draining, and drying it every time you take it out of the water. Tips and more information available on our webpage.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are a huge threat to the state's native ecosystems. In particular, invasive mussels, recently found as close to Washington as the Snake River in Idaho, are a major concern, but you can take some quick, easy steps to try to help prevent their spread. European green crabs are another AIS of concern in Western Washington.

Coastal recreational bottomfishing continues

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Lingcod.
Photo by Kelly Rollins

Recreational coastal bottomfishing season is now open. Learn more and review regulations in our news release.

Bottomfish regulations remain the same as in 2023. Anglers are reminded that possession of copper rockfish, quillback rockfish, and vermilion rockfish will be prohibited through July, when peak effort for bottomfish occurs. More information on rockfish rules and identification is available in this blog post.

Yelloweye rockfish retention is prohibited in all areas of Washington and yelloweye rockfish must be released. Anglers are also reminded that a descending device must be on board vessels and rigged for immediate use when fishing for or possessing bottomfish and halibut. Information about descending devices can be found in this blog post and on WDFW’s webpage.

A bottomfish limit doesn’t include halibut, which have a daily limit of one halibut and separate fishing seasons depending on marine area. See our halibut news release for more information. 

Surfperch and shiner perch are not part of the bottomfish limit in coastal marine areas. Surfperch has a daily limit of 12 and shiner perch has a daily limit of 15 with no minimum size restriction. Fishing is open through the third Saturday in October except fishing for surfperch is open year-round from the beach.

Fishing for, retaining or possessing sixgill, sevengill, and thresher sharks is closed in all marine areas. A sixgill shark may not be removed from the water.

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Fish Washington mobile app

Fish Washington app receives major upgrades

WDFW launched an upgraded version of the Fish Washington mobile application on April 9, now available to download on both Apple iOS and Android devices. The new version is designed to run more smoothly while using less data and device memory.

Developers completely rewrote the app’s code, which now features a single code base for both iOS and Android platforms. This means a smaller app size, less frequent updates, and fewer bugs. Other improvements include:

  • Location-enabled United States Geological Service (USGS) river gauges.
  • More consistent emergency regulation delivery.
  • Map upgrades.

The new version will show the full water body name and description on emergency regulation cards. With a data connection, the app also includes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) tidal predictions for marine waters and portions of the Columbia River, as well as river gauges from multiple data providers. Users can ask questions, make suggestions, or report issues at MobileAppDev@dfw.wa.gov. Learn more in our news release.

Hunting opportunities and news

For an overview of hunting in Washington and how to get started, visit our Hunt Washington blog post.

Buy your 2024 hunting license

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Black-tailed deer
Photo by WDFW

Now that spring has arrived, Washingtonians will need to buy 2024-2025 recreational hunting and fishing licenses. People can buy licenses from WDFW’s licensing website, WDFW regional offices, or hundreds of license vendors around the state.

2023-25 Hunting Regulations 

The 2023-24 Game Bird and Small Game Hunting Regulations and 2024-25 Big Game Hunting Regulations pamphlets are available online and at hundreds of license dealers around the state. The updated rules can help hunters make decisions about how to spend their time in the field. 

Current hunting regulations are also available online at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations.

Share your thoughts on proposed cougar hunting changes

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 Adult male cougar stands in tree.
Photo by Rich Beausoleil

WDFW is accepting public comments on proposed changes to cougar hunting seasons. 

If adopted, the proposed rule would set the Washington cougar hunting season from Sept. 1 to March 31, place a cap of 13% of each population management unit (PMU) using a specific statewide density, and include all known human-caused cougar mortalities to determine when to close a PMU during the season. Additionally, in PMUs that reach the 13% cap prior to the Sept. 1 season start, the cap would be increased to 20% of the population to provide hunting opportunity in those PMUs. 

The public may submit comments online; via email, phone, or mail; or during a public hearing at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s June meeting in Vancouver. 

Details on submitting comments are available in our news release.

New, prospective hunters must complete hunter education

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Two young hunter education students practicing at a shooting range while an instructor stands nearby giving direction
Photo by WDFW

Before hunting seasons start, be sure to complete your hunter education course.

Students may choose between a traditional classroom or hybrid course. The traditional course is a multi-session instructor-led training with an average of 15 hours of instruction. The hybrid course consists of a self-paced online class followed by a field skills evaluation by certified instructors.

Prospective hunters can learn more about hunter education requirements and register for either a traditional or hybrid course by visiting WDFW’s hunter education webpage.

Per Washington state law, all hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, must complete a hunter education course in order to buy a hunting license. A hunter education deferral is available for hunters 10 and older who want to try hunting with an eligible licensed hunter before completing a hunter education course themselves.

WDFW offers accessible hunting and wildlife-viewing blinds

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View of the lake from inside the hunting blind
Photo by WDFW

Did you know WDFW offers hunting and wildlife-viewing blinds and platforms throughout Washington that are accessible to people with disabilities? Learn about these Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) designated sites at wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/hunting-and-wildlife-viewing-blinds.

Some sites can be reserved through WDFW's Private Lands Hunting Access program. Others can be reserved by calling the wildlife area manager.

Hunters without disabilities should yield ADA hunting and wildlife-viewing blinds and platforms to those with disabilities if the site was reserved.

Many of these ADA hunting and wildlife-viewing blinds and platforms are built and maintained with support from volunteers, master hunters, and partners including Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and Washington Waterfowl Association. Thank you!

Wildlife watching and recreation

Find more tips on our wildlife viewing webpage. 

Rat Island closed through Aug. 31 to protect wildlife

Rat Island — which is part of the the WDFW-managed Marrowstone Wildlife Area Unit in Port Townsend Bay — is closed to public access through Aug. 31 to protect wildlife, including nesting shorebirds and seals with pups.

The island is closed from the vegetation line on the north end to the southern edge. The adjacent spit off of Fort Flagler State Park remains open. More information about the area and a map of the closure are available on our webpage.

Watchable Wildlife

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American pika standing on rocks lookup upward
Photo by WDFW

Looking forward to spending more time outside in the summer sunshine? That means you’re likely going to find some wildlife! Providing plenty of space for critters you encounter will keep them and yourself safe and comfortable. Learn more about keeping your distance and ethical wildlife viewing practices on our webpage.  

Heading to higher altitudes? We’re asking hikers to tell us when and where you’ve seen or heard pikas. With the simple click of a button on ArcGIS Survey 123, you can report pikas to WDFW’s researchers who are studying climate change effects on the species. Learn more about this project, pikas, and the simple steps you can take to help by reading our blog. Just want to see cute photos of pikas? The blog has those too. 

Help protect wildlife by keeping dogs leashed

With summer right around the corner, now’s the time to get out and enjoy Washington’s great outdoors. Also during this time, does are giving birth to fawns, ground-nesting birds are tending to their eggs and young chicks, and sensitive plants are growing to provide food and habitat for wildlife.

If you have a canine companion, chances are they’re eager to join you outdoors, too. While dogs are welcome at WDFW wildlife areas and water access areas, please keep in mind that they must be leashed through July 31. Learn more about how this helps to protect habitat, wildlife, and people in our 2022 blog post.

Take a hike — and practice safety!

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person hiking on a trail with mountains all around
Photo by Naomi Gross

Coastal Washington is full of hiking trails where you can see a variety of landscapes, wildlife, and plants. Proper planning can help keep you safe during your next hiking trip! 

  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be home. Travel with a buddy when possible. 
  • Stay aware of your surroundings and be sure you can easily see and hear what’s behind and in front of you. 
  • Carry survival gear, including a first-aid kit and extra clothing, food, and water. A sleeping bag or other form of shelter is also a good idea in case you need to spend the night outside. 
  • Bring a reliable map, compass, and GPS with extra batteries. Remember that electronic locators and communication devices, like cellphones, may not work in the backcountry. 

Wild neighbors: what to do if you encounter young wildlife

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A fawn in tall grass
Photo by WDFW

If you find fawns, baby birds, or other young animals, please leave them be, even if they appear to be orphaned or abandoned. Most animals have a parent foraging or hunting nearby. Read our blog to learn about when not to rescue wildlife and what to do if you encounter certain species.

For wildlife that do require care, WDFW relies on permitted rehabilitators. Rehabilitators are trained and highly skilled in providing the unique attention needed for injured or orphaned wildlife, and care deeply for the animals entrusted to them.

Visit our website to learn more about Washington’s wildlife rehabilitators and find one near you. Remember to thank the rehabilitators in your region for the important work they do on behalf of our state’s wildlife!

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A black bear in someone's back yard, standing near torn-open garbage bags and a grey garbage can that has been knocked over
Photo by Public submission

Practice black bear awareness this summer

Black bears are common throughout Washington, including suburban areas. Both when preparing for hibernation and awakening from it, they look for high-calorie foods that are easy to get. These may include garbage, bird feeders (both seed and liquid), fruit trees, and pet food.

As human populations encroach on bear habitat, people and bears have greater chances of encountering each other. Food sources provided by humans, whether intentionally or not, can attract bears. Removing these attractants is the best way to encourage bears to move along and focus on natural food sources

Ask your local waste management company if bear-resistant containers are available or if individually purchased bear-resistant containers are compatible with the company’s equipment. Secure your garbage cans, such as in a shed or garage, and put them out the morning of pickup — not the night before. To help reduce odors, freeze meat and fish waste before disposing of it and spray garbage cans with disinfectants.

More information on living with bears is available on our website.

Conserving species and habitats

Looking for more info on wildlife conservation and species management around Washington? Check out our Bi-Weekly Wildlife Program reports.

Boaters, remember to Be Whale Wise

When boating this summer, make sure to follow Be Whale Wise regulations and guidelines to help protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) and other marine mammals. Avoid approaching SRKW, and at minimum stay the required distance away.

Boaters are also encouraged to watch for the Whale Warning Flag, an optional tool from the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee that lets others know there might be whales nearby. If you see the flag, slow down and follow guidelines. For more on how to keep marine life and yourself safe, including specific laws, visit the Be Whale Wise website.

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An adult western snowy plover standing on a sandy beach
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Help protect snowy plovers when recreating on the beach

Snowy plover breeding season runs until mid-September. During this time, WDFW asks all beach visitors to respect closure areas and signs indicating snowy plover nesting habitat. Please also avoid throwing food or trash on the beach, as this can attract predators, and follow the beach speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

Native to Washington, western snowy plovers are listed as state endangered and as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Learn more about these rare shorebirds in our blog post.

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Close up of a western bumble bee on a plant.
Photo by Pacific Northwest Bumble Bee Atlas Gallery

Wild Washington Youth Education

As Pollinator Week buzzes into action June 17-30, families can embark on a journey to safeguard our vital pollinators. Dive into the world of bees, butterflies, and beyond with these engaging activities that can be done near and away from the home. Grab your smartphone, download iNaturalist, and join Pollinator Partnerships’ national pollinator bioblitz (ends July 31).  

Want to stay closer to home? Check out one of our many activities; from planting a pollinator garden, to crafting bee hotels, embarking on a pollinator scavenger hunt, or exploring pollinator-themed coloring books, there’s a Pollinator Week activity for every family! 

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Anna's hummingbird visits flower
Photo by John Knox

Habitat at Home: Welcome the bees, butterflies, and birds

It’s a great time to get outside and see your local pollinators! From bees to butterflies and moths to hummingbirds, all of Washington’s pollinators have a role to play in plant reproduction. 

Discover who’s buzzing and fluttering around your neighborhood, and learn how to support their habitat. Keep an eye on our social media pages and events webpage for Pollinator Week celebrations near you. 

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European green crab identification graphic, 2022
Photo by WDFW

Please report suspected European green crabs

Our Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) unit recently received a report from a concerned member of the public who claimed to have collected nine invasive European green crabs from a Hood Canal beach. Upon reviewing their photos, we quickly determined these were in fact helmet crabs, a common native species unlawful to kill or retain.

While we appreciate their concern about invasive species, the reporting party was reminded to photograph and report suspected European green crabs using the form at wdfw.wa.gov/greencrab, leaving the crab in question where it was found.

Incidents like this are one reason why WDFW has not yet opened recreational harvest for European green crabs in Washington. Other reasons include restrictions on access to private tidelands and shellfish beds, and concerns about bycatch of protected fish and shellfish, especially if traps are exposed during low tide. Read more in our blog post.

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 welcomes volunteers of all abilities who want to contribute to the conservation of fish, wildlife, and habitat. Diverse volunteer opportunities are available, including projects on state wildlife areas and water access areas, habitat restoration projects, Hunter Education instruction, and assisting at outreach events.   

For more information about the volunteer program and upcoming volunteer opportunities, visit the WDFW volunteer webpage.  

Regional Director: Heather Hall

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Heather Hall, Coastal Region Director
Photo by WDFW
Heather Hall

Heather Hall started in her role as Coastal Washington (Region 6) Director on May 1, 2024.

Heather is excited to return to Region 6, where she began her career at WDFW in 1995. Most recently, she served as Intergovernmental Ocean Policy Manager, overseeing state fisheries and fisheries extending into federal waters.

Heather is committed to public service. She brings expertise to her new role ranging from fieldwork to policymaking, giving her a unique perspective on fish and wildlife management in the Coastal Region.

Heather holds a bachelor’s degree in science from Western Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys recreating along the Washington coast, including kayaking, standup paddleboarding, crabbing, and gathering oysters on Hood Canal.