Discover Coastal Washington

Skokomish river winds through its estuary

Staff furloughs

With Washington’s economy hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is planning one day of agency-wide furloughs each month through November.

While public safety-related needs will remain staffed, most other WDFW services, including customer service, will be unavailable Friday, Oct. 16, and Wednesday, Nov. 25.

Counties served: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Thurston

Director: Larry Phillips

48 Devonshire Road
Montesano, WA 98563

Telephone: 360-249-4628

Fax: 360-249-1229

October fishing tips and news

Crab: Several marine areas of Puget Sound will reopen for recreational crab fishing on Oct. 1. Waters reopening to sport crabbing Oct. 1 include Marine Areas 4 (Neah Bay, east of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line), 5 (Sekiu), 6 (eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca), 7 (San Juan Islands), 9 (Admiralty Inlet), and 12 Hood Canal (North of Ayock Point).

In each open area, crabbing will be allowed seven days a week through Dec. 31. Coastal Marine Areas 1-3 and Marine Area 4 (Neah Bay - West of Tatoosh-Bonilla line) remain open year-round. 

Learn more in our news release

Razor clams: Abundant razor clams populations should give diggers a lot of opportunities to hit the beaches this fall (remember to follow responsible recreation guidelines).  Tentative digs are planned: 

  • Oct. 16, Friday, 7:00 pm, -0.7; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Oct. 17, Saturday, 7:47 pm, -1.3; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Oct. 18, Sunday, 8:35 pm, -1.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Oct. 19, Monday, 9:24 pm, -1.4; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Oct. 20, Tuesday, 10:16 pm, -1.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks
  • Oct. 21, Wednesday, 11:12 pm, -0.5; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis
  • Oct. 31, Saturday, 7:26 pm, 0.0; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Mocrocks

Final approval of all scheduled openings will depend on  results of marine toxin tests, which are usually conducted about a week before a dig is scheduled to begin. More information is available in our September 16 news release

Trout: Several lakes in the region will be teeming with trout after the department stocks them this month. Check WDFW’s website mid-month for a full list of lakes that will be stocked in October.

Ocean bottomfish: The bottomfish season wraps up on Oct. 20 in marine areas 1 (Ilwaco), 2 (Westport), 3 (LaPush), and 4 (Neah Bay) west of the Bonilla-Tatoosh line.

October hunting tips and news

Hunting prospects: Hunters planning their season may want to check WDFW's 2020 Hunting Prospects report and Game Harvest Reports, which together provide a look at upcoming opportunities and previous success rates in specific game management units (GMUs). 

Before going afield, hunters should check the Big Game Hunting pamphlet and the Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet for rules and regulations. Both are available online.  

Waterfowl: Hunting season starts Oct. 17 for migratory ducks, geese, and other waterfowl.  Plenty of waterfowl hunting opportunity can be found on public land.  Additionally, a number of private landowners in Region 6 have enrolled with WDFW to allow waterfowl hunting.  Please visit our website for specific property locations. 

Deer: Early muzzleloader general deer seasons wrap up early October and modern firearm general seasons for black-tailed deer begin Oct. 17

Many private timber companies require hunters to purchase a permit to access their lands and/or have other restrictions regarding type of and time access is allowed.  Hunters are advised to contact the timber company directly to inquire about access restrictions in areas they plan to hunt.

Elk: Most early muzzleloader seasons for elk start Oct. 3 in designated game management units (GMUs) throughout the region.

Bear: Bear hunts are underway in the region. Hunters can harvest two bear during the general season, which is open through Nov. 15, if they buy two tags. 

Forest grouse: The statewide hunting season opened Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31.  Blue (sooty) grouse tend to occur in the coniferous forests at higher elevations, while ruffed grouse can occur throughout the region in coniferous and mixed forests. In the fall, either species can be found feeding on berries like salal, Oregon grape, and huckleberry.

Quail: The season opened Sept. 28 in western Washington and runs through Nov. 30. Although frustratingly unpredictable, quail in District 15 (Mason, Kitsap and east Jefferson counties) are most likely to be found in two- to six-year-old clear-cut forests, under power lines, and in tall stands of scotch broom throughout Mason and Kitsap counties. Their tendency to run rather than fly or hold for a pointing dog makes them an especially challenging upland game bird. Locations to try include the DNR parcels on the Tahuya Peninsula northwest of Belfair and the industrial timberlands between Shelton, Matlock, and McCleary. Walk-in opportunities are also numerous on timber company clear-cut forests around Mason Lake.

Pheasants: Pheasant season in western Washington opened Sept. 26 and goes through Nov. 30. 

October wildlife viewing

Recreate Responsibly: Recreate Responsibly to protect yourself, others, and the outdoors. Review the guidelines below before heading out on your outdoor adventure! 

  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit. If it is closed, don't go. If it's crowded, have a back up plan (or two).  
  • Explore locally. Limit long-distance travel and make use of local parks, trails, and public spaces. Be mindful of your impact on the communities you visit. 
  • Plan ahead. Bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a face covering. 
  • Leave no trace. Respect public lands and waters, as well as native and local communities. Take all your garbage with you. 
  • Practice physical distancing. Keep your group size small. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth and give others space. If you are sick, stay home. 
  • Play it safe. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce your risk of injury. Search and rescue operations and health care resources are both strained.  
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities. 

Salmon-viewing: Late October is a great time to visit the Kennedy Creek Natural Area Preserve, which is located on Totten Inlet off U.S. Highway 101 between Olympia and Shelton. The creek is one of the most productive chum salmon streams in Washington. While there, visitors can find numerous species of migrating shorebirds or walk the Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail.

Elk-watching: Visitors to the Olympic Peninsula should be on the alert for the autumn Roosevelt elk rut. A great place to hear a bull elk bugle or clack antlers with a rival is the Quinault River valley upstream from Lake Quinault. The elk are most active during the early morning and evening hours. Observers should give the elk plenty of room, since they are easily disturbed and potentially dangerous.

Hunter orange: Birders and others afield in the coming weeks also should be aware that a number of hunting seasons are getting underway throughout the region. While most hunters make sure of their target before they shoot, non-hunters can help to avoid an accident by wearing orange to make their presence known to hunters.

Meet your Regional Director: Larry Phillips

Larry Phillips, South Puget Sound and Coast Region Director
Larry Phillips, South Puget
Sound and Coast Region

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.

Watch the Nov. 21 digital open house with Larry Phillips and Director Kelly Susewind. 

Event calendar

Types of events

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